A science joke for your Saturday morning

As told by Mr. Karl Sinfield in the comments section of a Tom Chivers blog post at the Telegraph:


A geneticist, a physiologist and a physicist were summoned to meet a wealthy racehorse magnate. He told them he would give a million pounds to the one who could accurately identify race-winning horses. After six months of hard work, they returned to present their results to the expectant millionaire.

The geneticist said, "I've looked into all the current genetic research, checked blood-lines going back decades, but there are just too many behavioural and environmental factors. I can't help."

The physiologist said, "I've looked at muscle mass, bone volume and density, and all the other factors I can think of, but the problem's too complex. There's just no guarantee of predicting a winner."

Finally, the physicist calmly walks up to the millionaire and gives him an index card. "Here you go," he says "I've found an equation that solves the problem for you."

"Wow," said the millionaire, "That's impressive...I'll get my cheque book."

"Great. But there's one thing you should know," said the physicist. "It only works for a spherically symmetric horse travelling in a vacuum."

(Via Martin Robbins)

Image:Some rights reserved by Tambako the Jaguar


    1. ’cause the shape would make a difference in how much rolling/dragging friction there was to slow the “horse” down.
      God, I hate dissecting jokes this early in the morning. :D

        1. Well, I did say friction, not drag. And I was assuming the spherical horse was rolling along the horse track. Now if the spherical horse was somehow floating above the track in a vacuum, then of course there would be no drag, friction or whatever.

          And please… don’t tell the Borg, ANYTHING. :)

  1. I’ve told a version of this joke for years except the punchline delivered by the physicist making the presentation is, “First, assume a spherical horse.”

  2. Or the one about the physicist hired to increase milk production in a dairy: “Consider a spherical cow, moving in simple harmonic motion…”

  3. The version I’ve heard involves dairy production, with the conclusion “Assume a spherical cow, radiating milk isotropically.”

  4. Or the shorted version of the joke, for those in a hurry:

    Engineering joke:

    Q: Why did the chicken cross the road?

    A: First assume the chicken is spherical.

    Laughter ensues.

  5. An architect, an artist and an engineer were
    discussing whether it was
    better to spend time with the wife or a

    The architect said he enjoyed time with his
    wife, building a solid
    foundation for an enduring relationship.

    The artist said
    he enjoyed time with his mistress, because the
    passion and mystery he
    found there.

    The engineer said, “I like both.”


    Engineer: “Yeah. If you have a wife and
    a mistress, they will
    each assume you are spending time with the
    other woman, and you can go to the lab and get
    some work done.”

    1. I heard a slight variation on this:

      “I told my wife I was going out with my friends, I told my friends I was going to see my mistress, I told my mistress I had to go home to my wife, and then I went to the lab and got some work done.”

  6. Three groups of mathematicians, engineers and physicists are grouped in different rooms and asked to solve a problem, to see who is smarter. They have an hour to compute the equation that describes the motion of an horse.

    After an hour the mathematicians say that they have proved that if a horse exists it’s not unique, and the full answer to the original question can be provided in a few days.

    The engineers finish just in time with an equation that approximates the solution within an acceptable range, going towards infinite.

    The physicists say that they solved the problems in just ten minutes, they just had to suppose that the horse is spherical.

  7. A little tangental (aha) but-

    Why don’t rock climbers and mosquitos mix?

    You can’t cross a scalar with a vector.

  8. The joke reminds me of one economists tell to poke fun at ourselves. It involves a physicist, an engineer, and an economist on a deserted island all struggling to figure out how to open up some canned food items that wash ashore. The physicist tries to calculate the height at which to drop the can to produce the forced needed to tear through the metal, the engineer tries to craft a tool with the rocks and such he can find, and the economist counters, asserting that all they need to do is assume they have a can opener.

  9. An urbanist, an engineer and a computer programmer are together in a car. While they’re driving down a steep slope, the car starts accelerating uncontrollably. Miraculously, they’re able to stop the car safely at the bottom of the slope without anybody getting hurt.

    The urbanist says “This road is dangerously is steep. We should demand that the city make it safer.”

    The engineer says: “The brakes must have broken under heat and wear. We should repair them.”

    The programmer says: “Wait. First, let’s get the car on top of the hill and see if we can reproduce the problem.”

  10. Bwahahahaha. Man, that beats the crap out of my

    Two atoms are walking down the street orbital in orbital, the one turns to the other and says, “I think I’ve lost an electron”.

    His mate responds, “Really?”.

    “Yes, I’m positive”

    I know, oof……: | Hey, at least its shorter than my Descarte joke!

  11. A neutron walks into a bar, and asks the bartender “how much for a drink?” The bartender says “for you, no charge.”

  12. I graduated from a specialist science/engineering university in the UK. There was a long run of observations involving how students from various disciplines might pick their National Lottery numbers:

    – the statisticians pick 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 because they know that all choices are equally as likely.

    – the mechanical engineers pick 44, 45, 46, 47, 48 and 49 because the numbers contain more paint and are heavier.

    – the mathematicians work out the average expectation and pick 23, 24, 25, 26, 27 and 28.

    – the software engineers work out the average expectation and pick 22½, 23½, 24½, 25½, 26½ and 27½.

    – the computer scientists work out the average expectation and pick 25, 25, 25, 25, 25 and 25.

    ..and so forth.

  13. A physicist, a biologist, and a mathematician are drinking in a bar across the street from an abandoned building. They noticed a person walking into the build and commented to each other it was curious, but ignored it and continued drinking.

    An hour later, and while a little drunker, the trio notice another person walking into the abandoned building. They note how odd it seemed but eventually ignored it and continued drinking.

    Two hours later, now very drunk they look across the street and see three people walk out of the building. Now this really got them going. They began arguing how this could be possible.

    The physicist said that of course the third person quantum tunneled from another dimension into the building, the two met the third and they all walked out together.

    The biologist scoffs at this theory and proposes that the two organisms in the building obviously procreated according to the natural order of things, created offspring, and the three walked out together (they were VERY drunk).

    The physicist thinks this is rediculous and they both turn to the mathematician for his thoughts on the matter.

    The mathematician says, “I don’t know how they did it, but if one more person walks into that building it will be empty.”

  14. An engineer shows up at works in a new sports car. His co-workers ask about it. He explains ‘I was walking down the street when a supermodel pulled up, took off all her clothes, and said I could have anything I wanted.’ Another engineer remarks ‘The car was good choice, the clothes would not have fit you anyways.’

  15. An engineer, a physicist, and a mathematician are on a train in Texas. The engineer looks out the window at a field with cows and says: “All cows in Texas are black.”

    The physicist says: “Sir, you have over-generalized. The correct statement is: All cows in this field are black.”

    The mathematician then speaks up: “Ma’am, you too have over-generalized. The correct statement is: All cows in this field are black on at least one side.”

  16. Two physicists meet in the street. One says “What’s new?”
    The other says “E/h”

    Q: What do you get when you cross an elephant with a grape?

    A: Elephant Grape cos (Theta)

  17. the shape still matters because distribution of mass/ centers of mass are still going to have to be factored in

  18. Because in a vacuum, and also in weightlessness of space, we will all seek the same level. Ultimately, we are all just bubbles of matter, like the earth.

  19. Two atoms are making love. The girl atom starts talking to the boy atom in the middle of it:
    “Our bonding is soooo, ionic! I like to think we are both-sharing things with one other, giving what the other lacks…. We really balance each other out, don’t we! What do you think?”
    Boy atom: “….Huh? Oh, sorry, I was too busy bonding with you!”

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