A Bit of Levity

Posted By Pamela on Sep 10, 2008 | 11 comments

In light of all my personal technical difficulties and the internets current cry of “The world is ending,” I decided that it was time for some levity.

Way back when I was at Michigan State University I had a website on Physics and Astronomy humor that then migrated to U-Texas, and now I share the link with you. I am contemplating resurrecting that site here, but it requires a bit more content. Anyone have any good ones from the days of email forwards?


  1. I seem to remember various chemistry jokes, like tetramethyl chickenwire and ferrous wheel.

    There’s a variation on the exothermic hell joke that includes “Since Joanne Darcy asserted during Freshman year that hell would freeze over before she’d have sex with me, and subsequent events indicate that hell has not frozen over, so therefore…”

    Of course, I was in engineering school, and the jokes tend to be of the concrete canoe and incompetent professor genres.


  2. I always liked the one about a farmer, engineer, and the physicist, all talking at the bovine convention. When the physisist gets his turn to talk he’ll start with approximating the cow with a sphere.

    google turned up a few versions of these more complete than above, one of which is here:


  3. The cow/physicist joke is so overused now.

    You might want to move the site back to Star Stryder…

  4. Have you had more quentions in the last two weeks because of media hype on the Hadon(we might in 10 years)or have you just said ahhrrr why are they asking now without learning first.

  5. By the we are yet to find a quention

  6. Off topic, but…
    It looks like the LHC/black hole nuttiness may have worked its way into the public meme-consciousness too deeply for us to be able to fix it. There are fearmongers at my wife’s workplace who have put the bug in her ear about it all. I did what I could to assuage her fears, but just the mere existence of fear around the topic makes it valid for her. Emotions seem to carry more weight than logic, somehow…

    Can’t let logic get in the way of a good story, ya know!

    Correct me if I’m wrong (I’ve been wrong before, once or twice 😉 but if the LHC creates conditions (on a micro scale, of course) similar to a millionth of a second after the big bang, and the first black holes formed millions or billions of years later, isn’t it very unlikely for conditions that energetic to have a ghost of a chance of making them?

    I think I read somewhere online that if they do form they’d have a mass of 170 protons (or something like that), which means that they’re far from massive enough to be stable enough to start Hoovering up the planet. I wonder how much mass a mini-BH would have to have, though, to start Hoovering? 1 Mount Everest mass? 1 Earth-mass? 5 Jupiter masses? I remember you saying long ago that the progenitor star of a BH has over 8 SM (solar masses) which “cooks down” (if you will) into a BH of 2-3 SM, so the LHC is WAY short of doing anything like that.

  7. I was watching the news last night and all they kept saying about it was that the scientists would be using this to re-create the big bang, and that’s it. I really couldn’t understand how that could be possible and figured the news had gotten it really wrong but is this what they are trying to do, re-create the big bang? How could that be possible? And it still doesn’t answer the question of what caused it to begin with. If all the matter in the universe was contained in that single piece that exploded, where did that piece come from? I’m sorry if these are questions that have already been asked or off topic, I’m a total science newbie but I read everything I can find on it and it just seems to raise more questions.

  8. @Anatai: They are creating a similar condition to that of the Big Bang, not the actual Big Bang itself. By that, they meant there’s a lot of high energy involved.

  9. My favorite graffito ever is the one I found in the men’s room of the Rice U physics building in 1967:

    Heisenberg may have slept here.

    Of course, Googling “astronomy humor” and “physics humor” brings up masses of stuff. Your UT page is #3 in the list for astronomy humor, at least today.


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