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Math Jokes and Archimedes

Mathematics is made of 40 percent formulas, 40 percent proofs and 40 percent imagination.

i to π: Be rational.
π to i: Get real.

There are 10 kinds of mathematitians in the world..... Those who understand Binary, and those who don't.

In math you don't understand things, you just get used to them!

True story:
A student walked into his discreet math class late and in order not to interrupt he put his late slip on the teacher's desk furtively without the teacher noticing. The teacher noticed the slip on his desk afterwards. He commented "I see you put this slip on my desk without me noticing. I guess that's why they call this class discrete mathematics."

It was mentioned on CNN that the new prime number discovered recently is four times bigger then the previous record.

What is the shortest mathematicians joke?
Let epsilon be smaller than zero.

The emperor's horse is about to participate in the international race in three months. The emperor summons his best nutritionist, best trainer, and best mathematician, and orders them to prepare the horse for the race. A week before the race, the emperor demands a report on their progress.
The nutritionist says, "I have fed it the most excellent mixture of herbs and cereals, it will give it speed and courage."
The trainer says, "I trained it to skip any obstacle, and take turns without slowing down."
The mathematician says, "I solved the case of a 2-dimensional horse."

Q: What is the first derivative of a cow?
A: Prime Rib!

A mathematician, a biologist and a physicist are sitting in a street cafe watching people going in and coming out of the house on the other side of the street.
First, they see two people going into the house. Time passes. After a while, they notice three persons coming out of the house.
The physicist: "The measurement wasn't accurate."
The biologists: "They have reproduced".
The mathematician: "If now exactly one person enters the house then it will be empty again."

A conjecture both deep and profound
Is whether a circle is round.
In a paper of Erdos
Written in Kurdish
A counterexample is found.

Pythagoras ( ca. 582–507 BC)

Philosopher and mathematician, born in Samos, Greece. He settled at Crotona, S Italy (c.530 BC) where he founded a moral and religious school. He eventually fled from there because of persecution, settling at Megapontum in Lucania. Pythagoreanism was first a way of life, of moral abstinence and purification, not solely a philosophy; its teaching included the doctrine of the transmigration of souls between successive bodies. The famous geometrical theorem attributed to him was probably developed later by members of the Pythagorean School, which is best known for its studies of the relations between numbers. Pythagorean thought exerted considerable influence on Plato's doctrines. Pythagoras' theorem states that the square on the hypotenuse of a right angle triangle equals the sums of the squares on the other two sides.

What is the Pythagoras' theorem all about?

Mathematics is made of 40 percent formulas, 40 percent proofs and 40 percent imagination.

Q: What caused the big bang?
A: God divided by zero. Oops!

This is how I remember X and Y axses:
X goes to the sky and Y tries to Fly!!!

"A mathematician is a blind man in a dark room looking for a black cat which isn't there."

– Charles Darwin

Statistics and Statisticians
Three statisticians go out hunting together. After a while they spot a solitary rabbit. The first statistician takes aim and overshoots. The second aims and undershoots. The third shouts out "We got him!"

A statistician can have his head in an oven and his feet in ice, and he will say that on the average he feels fine.

Q. Did you hear the one about the statistician?
A. Probably....

Old Euclid drew a circle
On a sand-beach long ago.
He bounded and enclosed it
With angles thus and so.
His set of solemn greybeards
Nodded and argued much
Of arc and of circumference,
Diameter and such.
A silent child stood by them
From morning until noon
Because they drew such charming
Round pictures of the moon.

– Vachel Lindsay

Euclid (ca. 325-270 BC)

Lived in Egypt, Alexandria; founded a school there about 300 BC. Thought to have been Greek. Euclid collected and rearranged all the known facts about geometry, up to his time, in step-by-step order and added some new propositions and proofs. This great collection was written out in 13 rolls of parchment or "books" which together were called elements. Modern textbooks used in schools are still based on Euclid’s ideas, however, these ideas are looked at in a rather different way.
The approach which obeys his axioms became known as Euclidean geometry.

A guy gets on a bus and starts threatening everybody: "I'll integrate you! I'll differentiate you!" So everybody gets scared and runs away. Only one person stays. The guy comes up to him and says: "Aren't you scared, I'll integrate you, I'll differentiate you!" And the other guy says: "No, I am not scared, I am e^x."

Math is like love – a simple idea but it can get complicated.

Q: How does a mathematician induce good behavior in her children?
A: "I've told you n times, I've told you n+1 times..."

As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain, and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.

– Albert Einstein

There are three types of mathematicians: those who can add and those who can't.

I've heard that the government wants to put a tax on the mathematically ignorant. Funny, I thought that's what the lottery was!

– Gallagher

Landau, E. asked for a testimony to the effect that Emmy Noether was a great woman mathematician, he said: "I can testify that she is a great mathematician, but that she is a woman, I cannot swear."

– J.E. Littlewood, A Mathematician's Miscellany, Methuen and Co ltd., 1953.

Archimedes (ca. 287-212 BC)

Greek mathematician, born in Syracuse. He probably visited Egypt and studied at Alexandria at the school which Euclid had started there.
In popular tradition he is remembered for the construction of siege-engines against the Romans, the Archimedes' screw still used for raising water, and his cry of eureka ("I have found it') when he discovered the principle of the upthrust on a floating body. His real importance in mathematics, however, lies in his discovery of formulae for the areas and volumes of spheres, cylinders, parabolas, and other plane and solid figures. He founded the science of hydrostatics, but his astronomical work is lost. He was killed at the siege of Syracuse by a Roman soldier whose challenge he ignored while immersed in a mathematical problem. Archimedes is notorious for the computation of π.

More about Archimedes

"Medicine makes people ill, mathematics make them sad and theology makes them sinful."

– Luther Martin

Mathematics contains much that will neither hurt one if one does not know it nor help one if one does know it.

– J.B. Mencken

"Mathematics consists of proving the most obvious thing in the least obvious way".

– Polya, George, in N. Rose Mathematical Maxims and Minims, Raleigh NC:Rome Press Inc., 1988.

"As long as algebra is taught in school, there will be prayer in school."

– Cokie Roberts

"Math was always my bad subject. I couldn't convince my teachers that many of my answers were meant ironically."

– Calvin Trillin

A Mathematician, an engineer and a physicist were traveling through Scotland when they saw a black sheep through the window of the train.
"Aha", says the engineer, "I see that Scottish sheep are black."
"Hmm", says the physician, "You mean that some Scottish sheep are black".
"No", says the mathematician, "All we know is that there is at least one sheep in Scotland, and that at least one side of that one sheep is black!"

What is π?
Mathematician: "π is the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter."
Engineer: "π is about 22/7."
Physicist: "π is 3.14159 plus or minus 0.000005."
Computer Programmer: "π is 3.141592653589 in double precision."
Nutritionist: "You one track math-minded fellows, Pie is a healthy and delicious dessert!"

Halloween math:
Q: Wadaya get when you take the circumference of your jack-o-lantern and divide it by its diameter?
A: Pumpkin π.

How Archimedes did compute the value of π.

π Limerick

If within a circle is a line
that goes through the center to each spine
and the line's length is D
the circumference will be
D times 3.14159

One of my undergrad professors was asked what kind of problems would be on the final. His answer: "Just study the old tests. The problems will be the same, just the numbers will be different. But, not all the numbers will be different. π will be the same. Planck's constant will be the same... "

In Alaska, where it gets very cold, π is only 3.00. As you know, everything shrinks in the cold. They call it Eskimo π.

"There are only two kinds of math books. Those you cannot read beyond the first sentence, and those you cannot read beyond the first page."

– C.N. Yang, Nobel Prize in Physics, 1957.

Came across this at school, early 1950s. Funny how some things stick!


Students of physics are frequently told
Of experiments performed by great physicists of old
Like Boyles and Charles - but greatest of these
Was the Principle discovered by Archimedes.

The Sicilian King, Archimedes was told,
Ordered a crown from a large lump of gold,
And though the weight of the gold was completely correct,
The goldsmith's eye made the King suspect
That he'd made up the weight with some cheaper metal
And stolen some gold, that his debts he might settle.
His problem was then of outstanding immensity
As he had no idea, whatsoever, of density.

Climbing into a bath he received a surprise
When he noticed the water beginning to rise.
He suddenly snapped, and let out a scream,
As he realized, with joy, his long-wished-for dream.

He found the upthrust, produced on a body's base*,
To be equal in weight to the water displaced,
And soon volumes and weights would make it quite plain
What various metals the crown could contain,
And so he could easily show to his Royalty
The absolute proof of the goldsmith's disloyalty.

Leaping out of the bath at remarkable rate,
He made for the palace by doorway and gate
But the men in the street were completely confounded
To see a naked man shout "Eureka! I've found it!"

* Is this the only error? The upthrust is not on the base, but at the Centre of Pressure!

Have you heard the one about the geometer who went to the beach to catch some rays and came back a tangent?

Graphing rational functions is a pain in the asymptote.

Life is complex. It has real and imaginary components.

Trigonometry for farmers: swine and cowswine.

A man camped in a national park, and noticed Mr. Snake and Mrs. Snake slithering by. "Where are all the little snakes?" he asked. Mr. Snake replied, "We are adders, so we cannot multiply." The following year, the man returned to the same camping spot. This time there were a whole batch of little snakes. "I thought you said you could not multiply," he said to Mr. Snake. "Well, the park ranger came by and built a log table, so now we can multiply by adding!"

Q: What does an analytic number theorist say when he is drowning?
A: Log-log, log-log, log-log, . . .

A retired mathematician took up gardening, and is now growing carrots with square roots.

Mermaid mathematicians wear algaebras.

Have no parts or joints
How then can they combine
To form a line?

– J.A. Lindon

This isn't really a joke, it supposedly happened in a UK GCSE exam some years ago, but it may amuse you:

Q: how many times can you subtract 7 from 83, and what is left afterwards?
A: I can subtract it as many times as I want, and it leaves 76 every time.

According to Plutarch (45-120 AD), Archimedes is said to have requested his friends and relations that, when he was dead, they would place over his tomb a sphere containing a cylinder, inscribing it with the ratio which the containing solid bears to the contained. Many sites were proposed for the location of the tomb but it seems the tomb is lost. To learn more about this topic, click here.

Practical Application:

He's teaching her arithmetic,
He said it was his mission,
He kissed her once, he kissed her twice
and said, "Now that's addition."

As he added smack by smack
In silent satisfaction,
She sweetly gave the kisses back
and said, "Now that's subtraction."

Then he kissed her, she kissed him,
Without an explanation,
And both together smiled and said,
"That's multiplication."

Then Dad appeared upon the scene and
Made a quick decision.
He kicked that kid three blocks away
And said, "That's long division!"

If I am given a formula, and I am ignorant of its meaning, it cannot teach me anything, but if I already know it what does the formula teach me?

– St. Augustine

2 and 2 is 22

Engineer, physicist and mathematician are asked to find the value of 2+2.
Engineer (after 3 minutes, with a slide rule): "The answer is precisely 3.9974."
Physicist (after 6 hours of experiments): "The value is approximately 4.002, with an error of plus-or-minus 0.005."
Mathematician (after a week of calculation): "Well, I haven't found an answer yet but I can prove that an answer exists."

In modern mathematics, algebra has become so important that numbers will soon only have symbolic meaning.

All the numbers went to a party and numbers being what they are, all the evens stayed around each other and all the odds did the same and neither group interacted with each other. Whilst two was chatting to four he noticed zero was on his own in the corner and suggested to four that because zero is sort of even he should be encouraged to mix with even numbers - four agreed. So off went two to invite zero into their little group. "Would you like to join our little group" enquired two, to which zero replied "I have nothing to add!"

"The number you have dialed is imaginary. Please rotate your phone 90 degrees and try again."

Apollonius of Perga (ca. 262–190 BC)

Greek mathematician of the Alexandrian school. He produced a treatise on conic sections that included, as well as his own work, much of the work of his predecessors, among whom was Euclid. Apollonius introduced the terms parabola, hyperbola, and ellipse. In his works Greek mathematics reached its culmination.

Prime time:
The math faculty decided they got too few first year students. So, they made a television commercial to show how exciting mathematics can be. Too get the biggest audience it was scheduled at prime time: 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 5 o'clock, 7 o'clock and 11 o'clock.

Two mathematicians were having dinner in a restaurant, arguing about the average mathematical knowledge of the American public. One mathematician claimed that this average was woefully inadequate, the other maintained that it was surprisingly high. "I'll tell you what," said the cynic, "ask that waitress a simple math question. If she gets it right, I'll pick up dinner. If not, you do". He then excused himself to visit the men's room, and the other called the waitress over. "When my friend comes back," he told her, "I'm going to ask you a question, and I want you to respond `one third x cubed.' There's twenty bucks in it for you." She agreed. The cynic returned from the bathroom and called the waitress over. "The food was wonderful, thank you," the mathematician started. "Incidentally, do you know what the integral of x squared is?" The waitress looked pensive; almost pained. She looked around the room, at her feet, made gurgling noises, and finally said, "Um, one third x cubed?" So the cynic paid the check. The waitress wheeled around, walked a few paces away, looked back at the two men, and muttered under her breath, " a constant."

A somewhat advanced society has figured how to package basic knowledge in pill form. A student, needing some learning, goes to the pharmacy and asks what kind of knowledge pills are available. The pharmacist says, "Here's a pill for English literature." The student takes the pill and swallows it and has new knowledge about English literature! "What else do you have?" asks the student. "Well, I have pills for art history, biology, and world history," replies the pharmacist. The student asks for these, and swallows them and has new knowledge about those subjects. Then the student asks, "Do you have a pill for math?" The pharmacist says "Wait just a moment", and goes back into the storeroom and brings back a whopper of a pill and plunks it on the counter. "I have to take that huge pill for math?" inquires the student. The pharmacist replied "Well, you know math always was a little hard to swallow."

Top Ten Excuses for Not Doing Math Homework

1. I accidentally divided by zero and my paper burst into flames.
2. It's Isaac Newton's birthday.
3. I could only get arbitrarily close to my textbook. I couldn't actually reach it.
4. I have the proof, but there isn't room to write it in this margin.
5. I was watching the World Series and got tied up trying to prove that it converged.
6. I have a solar powered calculator and it was cloudy.
7. I locked the paper in my trunk but a four-dimensional dog got in and ate it.
8. I couldn't figure out whether i am the square of negative one or i is the square root of negative one.
9. I took time out to snack on a doughnut and a cup of coffee. I spent the rest of the night trying to figure which one to dunk.
10. I could have sworn I put the homework inside a Klein bottle, but this morning I couldn't find it.

Philosophy is a game with objectives and no rules. Mathematics is a game with rules and no objectives.

God made the natural numbers. The others, were man-made.

– Leopold Kronecker (1823-1891)

I'm too thick to get a good laugh from calculus jokes, but I did come up with my own pure math joke some time ago:

There was a storm with thunder and lightening. Little Paul Erdos was in bed, frightened and fretting and his mother couldn't calm him. Then, as mothers seem to instinctively do, she found the right words. "It's all right dear", she said, stroking his shiny head, "there's always a prime between n and 2n". After that, little Paul drifted off into a blissful sleep.

Ernst Eduard Kummer (1810-1893), a German algebraist, was rather poor at arithmetic. Whenever he had occasion to do simple arithmetic in class, he would get his students to help him. Once he had to find 7 x 9. Kummer calculated 7 x 9. Kummer said to himself: "Hmmm the product cannot be 61, because 61 is prime, it cannot be 65, because 65 is a multiple of 5, 67 is a prime, 69 is too big - Only 63 is left."

– Paul Hoffman, de man die van 9etallen hield, 1998.

Chemistry is physics without thought. Mathematics is physics without purpose.

Why is there no Nobel Prize in Mathematics?

Six Nobel Prizes are awarded each year, one in each of the following categories: literature, physics, chemistry, peace, economics, and physiology & medicine. Notably absent from this list is an award for Mathematics. The reason for this conspicuous omission has been subject of extensive speculations. But, maybe the main reason for this is that Nobel, an inventor and industrialist, did not create a prize in mathematics simply because he was not particularly interested in mathematics or theoretical science. His will speaks of prizes for those ``inventions or discoveries'' of greatest practical benefit to mankind. To read more about this subject click here.
As a result, at the 1924 International Congress of Mathematicians (ICM) in Toronto, a resolution was adopted that at each ICM, two gold medals should be awarded to recognize outstanding mathematical achievement.

A physicist and a mathematician sitting in a faculty lounge. Suddenly, the coffee machine catches on fire. The physicist grabs a bucket and leaps towards the sink, fills the bucket with water and puts out the fire. The second day, the same two sit in the same lounge. Again, the coffee machine catches on fire. This time, the mathematician stands up, gets a bucket, hands the bucket to the physicist, thus reducing the problem to a previously solved one.

An engineer, physicist, and a mathematician were playing cards in a parlor. A fire breaks out. The engineer starts to calculate how much water it takes to put out the fire. The physicist figures out the best theory on how to put out the fire. The mathematician tries to prove the fire doesn't exist.

An engineer thinks that his equations are an approximation to reality. A physicist thinks reality is an approximation to his equations. A mathematician doesn't care.

Old mathematicians never die; they just lose some of their functions

There is no logical foundation of mathematics, and Godel has proved it!

A tragedy of mathematics is a beautiful conjecture ruined by an ugly fact.

Q: Why did the chicken cross the Moebius Strip?
A: To get to the other... um... er...

A topologist is a man who doesn't know the difference between a coffee cup and a doughnut.

Geometry of Space

During the nineteenth century rose the idea that there are different geometries. One of Euclid’s early results about the geometry of a plane, or flat surface, was that three angles of a triangle add up to 180 degree. But, for any triangle drawn on a sphere the angles always add up to more than 180 degrees. The smaller the triangle the closer you get to 180 degrees. On a small part of the earth’s surface it is easy to believe that it is flat. This type of geometry is called spherical geometry. But, in hyperbolic geometry the inside angles of a triangle add up to less than 180 degrees.

To learn how all these fascinating phenomena are possible, click here.

Biologists think they are biochemists, Biochemists think they are Physical Chemists, Physical Chemists think they are Physicists, Physicists think they are Gods, And God thinks he is a Mathematician.

Q : Did you hear about the murderous mathematician?
A : He went on a killing spree with a pair of axis!

A mathematician and a Wall Street broker went to races. The broker suggested to bet $10,000 on a horse. The mathematician was skeptical, saying that he wanted first to understand the rules, to look on horses, etc. The broker whispered that he knew a secret algorithm for the success, but he could not convince the mathematician.
"You are too theoretical," he said and bet on a horse. Surely, that horse came first bringing him a lot of money. Triumphantly, he exclaimed: "I told you, I knew the secret!"
"What is your secret?" the mathematician asked.
"It is rather easy. I have two kids, three and five years old. I sum up their ages and I bet on number nine."
"But three and five is eight," the mathematician protested.
"I told you, you are too theoretical!" the broker replied, "Haven't I just shown experimentally, that my calculation is correct! 3+5=9!"

Some famous mathematician was to give a keynote speech at a conference. Asked for an advance summary, he said he would present a proof of Fermat's Last Theorem - but they should keep it under their hats. When he arrived, though, he spoke on a much more prosaic topic. Afterwards the conference organizers asked why he said he'd talk about the theorem and then didn't. He replied this was his standard practice, just in case he was killed on the way to the conference.

The great logician Bertrand Russell once claimed that he could prove anything if given that 1 + 1 = 1.
So one day, some smartypants asked him, "Ok. Prove that you're the Pope."
He thought for a while and proclaimed, "I am one. The Pope is one. Therefore, the Pope and I are one."

By Ashley from my Math Class.....
"Your acute angle"

My geometry teacher was sometimes acute, and sometimes obtuse, but always, he was right.

Funny and Serious Math Links

Mathematics Science Fair Projects

Mathematics Trivia - mathematics humor, jokes, games, quizzes and trivia.

The Joy of Pi - by David Blatner.


Is Mathematics Discovered or Invented?

My Dog Kelly

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Last updated: June 2013
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