Academic
Humor!
Q)
How many Engineers does it take to change a light bulb?
A) Three. One to hold the light bulb, and two more to turn
the chair around.
"Physics
Exam"
The following concerns a question in a physics degree exam at the University
of Copenhagen:
"Describe
how to determine the height of a skyscraper with a barometer."
One student* replied: "You tie a long piece of string
to the neck of the barometer, then lower the barometer from the roof of
the skyscraper to the ground. The length of the string plus the length
of the barometer will equal the height of the building."
This
highly original answer so incensed the examiner that the student was failed.
The student appealed on the grounds that his answer was indisputably correct,
and the university appointed an independent arbiter to decide the case.
The arbiter judged that the answer was indeed correct, but did not display
any noticeable knowledge of physics. To resolve the problem it was
decided to call
the student in and allow him six minutes in which to provide a verbal
answer which showed at least a minimal familiarity the basic principles
of physics.
For five minutes the student sat in silence, forehead creased
in thought. The arbiter reminded him that time was running out, to which
the student replied that he had several extremely relevant answers, but
couldn't make up his mind which to use. On being advised to hurry up the
student replied as follows:
"Firstly, you could take the barometer up to the roof
of the skyscraper, drop it over the edge, and measure the time it takes
to reach the ground. The height of the building can then be worked out
from the formula H = 0.5g x t squared. But bad luck on the barometer."
"Or if the sun is shining you could measure the height
of the barometer, then set it on end and measure the length of its shadow.
Then you measure the length of the skyscraper's shadow, and thereafter
it is a simple matter of proportional arithmetic to work out the height
of the skyscraper."
"But if you wanted to be highly scientific about it,
you could tie a short piece of string to the barometer and swing it like
a pendulum, first at ground level and then on the roof of the skyscraper.
The height is worked
out by the difference in the gravitational restoring force T = 2 pi sq
root (l / g)."
"Or if the skyscraper has an outside emergency staircase,
it would be easier to walk up it and mark off the height of the skyscraper
in barometer lengths, then add them up."
"If you merely wanted to be boring and orthodox about
it, of course, you could use the barometer to measure the air pressure
on the roof of the skyscraper and on the ground, and convert the difference
in millibars into
feet to give the height of the building."
"But since we are constantly being exhorted to exercise
independence of mind and apply scientific methods, undoubtedly the best
way would be to knock on the janitor's door and say to him, 'If you would
like a nice new barometer, I will give you this one if you tell me the
height of this skyscraper'."
* The
student was Niels Bohr, the only person from Denmark to win the Nobel
prize for Physics.
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 a 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 2001:
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?
