Math Humor


     This page is just a beginning of what I want it to be. And you, the readers can help me. Send me your favorite math joke. If it's nice enough, and clean enough (!), I'll include it here, giving you credit, of course. My e-mail address is given below.

     Two people are traveling in a balloon over unknown territory.

     "Hey!" they call out to a passerby, "where are we?"

     The person looks carefully for a moment at them and yells back, "You're in a balloon!"

     "He must be a mathematician," says one of the travelers to the other.

     "Why is that?" asks the other.

     "First, he thought awhile before answering. Second, his answer is absolutely precise. And third, it's utterly useless."


     Teacher: Chubb, use the word 'announce' in a sentence.

     Chubb: Yes, ma'am. Announce is one-sixteenth of a pound.

Evolution of Arithmetic Tests

1960s Arithmetic Test:

     "A logger cuts and sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is four-fifths of that amount. What is his profit?"

'70s new-math test:

     "A logger exchanges a set L of lumber for a set M of money. The cardinality of set M is 100. The set C of production costs contains 20 fewer points. What is the cardinality of Set P of profits?"

'80s "dumbed down" version:

     "A logger cuts and sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost is $80, his profit is $20. Find and circle the number 20."

'90s version:

     "An unenlightened logger cuts down a beautiful stand of 100 trees in order to make a $20 profit. Write an essay explaining how you feel about this as a way to make money. Topic for discussion: How did the forest birds and squirrels feel?"

(Original author unknown: found on the net! If you know the author, please let us know.)

Here is another version, updated to the year 2002 and beyond.

      Teaching Math in 1950:

     A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

     Teaching Math in 1960:

     A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

     Teaching Math in 1970:

     A logger exchanges a set "L" of lumber for a set "M" of money. The cardinality of set "M" is 100. Each element is worth one dollar. Make 100 dots representing the elements of the set "M." The set "C," the cost of production contains 20 fewer points than set "M." Represent the set "C" as subset of set "M" and answer the following question: What is the cardinality of the set "P" of profits?

     Teaching Math in 1980:

     A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

     Teaching Math in 1990:

     By cutting down beautiful forest trees, the logger makes $20. What do you think of this way of making a living? Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the forest birds and squirrels "feel" as the logger cut down the trees? There are no wrong answers.

     Teaching Math in 2002:

     A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $120. How does Arthur Andersen determine that his profit margin is $60?

     Teaching Math in 2010:

     El hachero vende un camion cargado de lena por $100. Su gasto de produccion es........

     Once upon a time in an Indian village, there lived three squaws. Two squaws had young sons who were very overweight. The first squaw, whose son weighed 150 pounds, always placed her son on a bear hide near a pine grove; the second squaw, whose son also weighed 150 pounds, put her son on a moose hide in the shade of a large oak tree; but the third squaw, who was expecting the birth of her first son, always rested on a hippopotamus hide beside a bubbling brook. Her weight? 300 pounds!

     To this day, mathematicians give credit to these women and their children for proving the Pythagorean Theorem, because you see: The squaw of the hippopotamus is equal to the sons of the squaws of the other two hides.

She: Why is "6" afraid of "7"?

He: Because "7, 8, 9".

Here are some quickies:

--Do Roman paramedics refer to IV's as "4's"?

--There are 3 kinds of people: those who can count and those who can't.

--Lottery: a tax on people who are bad at math

--If it's zero degrees outside today and it's supposed to be twice as cold tomorrow, how cold is it going to be?

Received on 1/12/03 from Andy...

teacher: how did you do on the math homework?

student: I didn't come across any problems ....

666i: the imaginary friend of the beast

Received from Wanting Zhong, March 2003:

     As an experiment, an engineer, a physicist and a mathematician are placed in separate rooms and left with a can of food but no can-opener. A day later, the rooms are opened one by one.

In the first room, the engineer is snoring, with a battered, opened and emptied can. When asked, he explains that when he got hungry, he beat the can to its failure point.

     In the second room, the physicist is seen mouthing equations, with a can popped open beside him. When asked, he explains that when he got hungry, he examined the stress points of the can, applied pressure, and 'pop'!

In the third room, the mathematician is found sweating, and mumbling to himself, 'Assume the can is open, assume the can is open...'

     -------Found in

     'Reading Humor Stories and Learning English Words' by Wuwei Geng

A team of engineers were required to measure the height of a flag pole. They only had a measuring tape, and were getting quite frustrated trying to keep the tape along the pole. It kept falling down, etc. A mathematician comes along, finds out their problem, and proceeds to remove the pole from the ground and measure it easily. When he leaves, one engineer says to the other: "Just like a mathematician! We need to know the height, and he gives us the length!"

And that's the truth!

Mother to her daughter: "Why did you just write the word 'truth' on the tablecloth?"

Daughter: "Because I want to turn the table into a truth table!"

As a forestry-service employee, my sister recorded the rainfall in her area. One drizzly day, her thoughts were apparently elsewhere as she typed "thirty three inches" instead of "thirty-three hundredths of an inch" into the computer. It was obvious that the machine had been programmed by someone with a sense of humour, for this message quickly appeared on the screen: "Build the ark. Gather the animals two by two. . . ."

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