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Page history last edited by dm 15 years, 5 months ago

1 + 1 = 3, for large values of 1.


1 Billion dollars of budget deficit        = 1 Gramm-Rudman

6.023 x 10 to the 23rd power alligator pears    = Avocado's number

2 pints                        = 1 Cavort

Basic unit of Laryngitis            = The Hoarsepower

Shortest distance between two jokes        = A straight line

6 Curses                    = 1 Hexahex

3500 Calories                    = 1 Food Pound

1 Mole                        = 007 Secret Agents

1 Mole                        = 25 Cagey Bees

1 Dog Pound                    = 16 oz. of Alpo

1000 beers served at a Twins game        = 1 Killibrew

2.4 statute miles of surgical tubing at Yale U. = 1 I.V.League

2000 pounds of chinese soup            = 1 Won Ton

10 to the minus 6th power mouthwashes        = 1 Microscope

Speed of a tortoise breaking the sound barrier    = 1 Machturtle

8 Catfish                    = 1 Octo-puss

365 Days of drinking Lo-Cal beer.        = 1 Lite-year

16.5 feet in the Twilight Zone            = 1 Rod Serling

Force needed to accelerate 2.2lbs of cookies    = 1 Fig-newton

    to 1 meter per second

One half large intestine            = 1 Semicolon

10 to the minus 6th power Movie            = 1 Microfilm

1000 pains                    = 1 Megahertz

1 Word                        = 1 Millipicture

1 Sagan                        = Billions & Billions

1 Angstrom: measure of computer anxiety        = 1000 nail-bytes

10 to the 12th power microphones        = 1 Megaphone

10 to the 6th power Bicycles            = 2 megacycles

The amount of beauty required launch 1 ship    = 1 Millihelen


(1)    A sheet of paper is an ink-lined plane.

(2)    An inclined plane is a slope up.

(3)    A slow pup is a lazy dog.

QED: A sheet of paper is a lazy dog.

        -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"


(1) Alexander the Great was a great general.

(2) Great generals are forewarned.

(3) Forewarned is forearmed.

(4) Four is an even number.

(5) Four is certainly an odd number of arms for a man to have.

(6) The only number that is both even and odd is infinity.

    Therefore, all horses are black.


(1) Alexander the Great was a great general.

(2) Great generals are forewarned.

(3) Forewarned is forearmed.

(4) Four is an even number.

(5) Four is certainly an odd number of arms for a man to have.

(6) The only number that is both even and odd is infinity.

Therefore, Alexander the Great had an infinite number of arms.


(1) Never draw what you can copy.

(2) Never copy what you can trace.

(3) Never trace what you can cut out and paste down.


(1) X=Y                ; Given

(2) X^2=XY            ; Multiply both sides by X

(3) X^2-Y^2=XY-Y^2        ; Subtract Y^2 from both sides

(4) (X+Y)(X-Y)=Y(X-Y)        ; Factor

(5) X+Y=Y            ; Cancel out (X-Y) term

(6) 2Y=Y            ; Substitute X for Y, by equation 1

(7) 2=1                ; Divide both sides by Y

        -- "Omni", proof that 2 equals 1


1.79 x 10^12 furlongs per fortnight -- it's not just a good idea, it's

the law!


10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.


13. ...  r-q1


"355/113 -- Not the famous irrational number PI, but an incredible simulation!"


    7,140    pounds on the Sun

       97    pounds on Mercury or Mars

      255    pounds on Earth

      232    pounds on Venus or Uranus

       43    pounds on the Moon

      648    pounds on Jupiter

      275    pounds on Saturn

      303    pounds on Neptune

       13    pounds on Pluto

        -- How much Elvis Presley would weigh at various places

           in the solar system.


A bunch of Polish scientists decided to flee their repressive government by

hijacking an airliner and forcing the pilot to fly them to the West.  They

drove to the airport, forced their way on board a large passenger jet, and

found there was no pilot on board.  Terrified, they listened as the sirens

got louder.  Finally, one of the scientists suggested that since he was an

experimentalist, he would try to fly the aircraft.

    He sat down at the controls and tried to figure them out.  The sirens

got louder and louder.  Armed men surrounded the jet.  The would be pilot's

friends cried out, "Please, please take off now!!!  Hurry!!!"

    The experimentalist calmly replied, "Have patience.  I'm just a simple

pole in a complex plane."


A conclusion is simply the place where someone got tired of thinking.


A conference is a gathering of important people who singly can do nothing

but together can decide that nothing can be done.

        -- Fred Allen


A fail-safe circuit will destroy others.

        -- Klipstein


A failure will not appear until a unit has passed final inspection.


"A fractal is by definition a set for which the Hausdorff Besicovitch

dimension strictly exceeds the topological dimension."

        -- Mandelbrot, "The Fractal Geometry of Nature"


A gangster assembled an engineer, a chemist, and a physicist.  He explained

that he was entering a horse in a race the following week and the three

assembled guys had the job of assuring that the gangster's horse would win.

They were to reconvene the day before the race to tell the gangster how they

each propose to ensure a win.  When they reconvened the gangster started with

the engineer:


Gangster: OK, Mr. engineer, what have you got?

Engineer: Well, I've invented a way to weave metallic threads into the saddle

      blanket so that they will act as the plates of a battery and provide

      electrical shock to the horse.

G:      That's very good!  But let's hear from the chemist.

Chemist:  I've synthesized a powerful stimulant that disolves

      into simple blood sugars after ten minutes and therefore

      cannot be detected in post-race tests.

G:      Excellent, excellent!  But I want to hear from the physicist before

      I decide what to do.  Physicist?

Physicist: Well, first consider a spherical horse in simple harmonic motion...


"A horrible little boy came up to me and said, `You know in your book

The Martian Chronicles?'  I said, `Yes?'  He said, `You know where you

talk about Deimos rising in the East?'  I said, `Yes?'  He said `No.'

-- So I hit him."

        -- attributed to Ray Bradbury


A mathematician is a device for turning coffee into theorems.

        -- P. Erdos


A mathematician, a doctor, and an engineer are walking on the beach and

observe a team of lifeguards pumping the stomach of a drowned woman.  As

they watch, water, sand, snails and such come out of the pump.

    The doctor watches for a while and says: "Keep pumping, men, you may

yet save her!!"

    The mathematician does some calculations and says: "According to my

understanding of the size of that pump, you have already pumped more water

from her body than could be contained in a cylinder 4 feet in diameter and

6 feet high."

    The engineer says: "I think she's sitting in a puddle."


A method of solution is perfect if we can forsee from the start,

and even prove, that following that method we shall attain our aim.

        -- Leibnitz


A pain in the ass of major dimensions.

        -- C. A. Desoer, on the solution of non-linear circuits


A physicist is an atom's way of knowing about atoms.

        -- George Wald


A rope lying over the top of a fence is the same length on each side.  It

weighs one third of a pound per foot.  On one end hangs a monkey holding a

banana, and on the other end a weight equal to the weight of the monkey.

The banana weighs two ounces per inch.  The rope is as long (in feet) as

the age of the monkey (in years), and the weight of the monkey (in ounces)

is the same as the age of the monkey's mother.  The combined age of the

monkey and its mother is thirty years.  One half of the weight of the monkey,

plus the weight of the banana, is one forth as much as the weight of the

weight and the weight of the rope.  The monkey's mother is half as old as

the monkey will be when it is three times as old as its mother was when she

she was half as old as the monkey will be when when it is as old as its mother

will be when she is four times as old as the monkey was when it was twice

as its mother was when she was one third as old as the monkey was when it

was old as is mother was when she was three times as old as the monkey was

when it was one fourth as old as it is now.  How long is the banana?


A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and

making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually

die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it.

        -- Max Planck


A sense of desolation and uncertainty, of futility, of the baselessness

of aspirations, of the vanity of endeavor, and a thirst for a life giving

water which seems suddenly to have failed, are the signs in conciousness

of this necessary reorganization of our lives.

It is difficult to believe that this state of mind can be produced by the

recognition of such facts as that unsupported stones always fall to the


        -- J. W. N. Sullivan


A Severe Strain on the Credulity

    As a method of sending a missile to the higher, and even to the

highest parts of the earth's atmospheric envelope, Professor Goddard's rocket

is a practicable and therefore promising device. It is when one considers the

multiple-charge rocket as a traveler to the moon that one begins to doubt...

for after the rocket quits our air and really starts on its journey, its

flight would be neither accelerated nor maintained by the explosion of the

charges it then might have left.  Professor Goddard, with his "chair" in

Clark College and countenancing of the Smithsonian Institution, does not

know the relation of action to re-action, and of the need to have something

better than a vacuum against which to react... Of course he only seems to

lack the knowledge ladled out daily in high schools.

        -- New York Times Editorial, 1920


A sine curve goes off to infinity, or at least the end of the blackboard.

        -- Prof. Steiner


A social scientist, studying the culture and traditions of a small North

African tribe, found a woman still practicing the ancient art of matchmaking.

Locally, she was known as the Moor, the marrier.


A statistician, who refused to fly after reading of the alarmingly high

probability that there will be a bomb on any given plane, realized that

the probability of there being two bombs on any given flight is very low.

Now, whenever he flies, he carries a bomb with him.


A transistor protected by a fast-acting fuse will protect the fuse by

blowing first.


A triangle which has an angle of 135 degrees is called an obscene triangle.


According to convention there is a sweet and a bitter, a hot and a cold,

and according to convention, there is an order.  In truth, there are atoms

and a void.

        -- Democritus, 400 B.C.


According to the latest official figures, 43% of all statistics are

totally worthless.



Das machine is nicht fur gefingerpoken und mittengrabben.  Ist easy schnappen

der springenwerk, blowenfusen und corkenpoppen mit spitzensparken.  Ist nicht

fur gewerken by das dummkopfen.  Das rubbernecken sightseeren keepen hands

in das pockets.  Relaxen und vatch das blinkenlights!!!


Actually, the probability is 100% that the elevator will be going in the

right direction.  Proof by induction:

N=1.    Trivially true, since both you and the elevator only have one

    floor to go to.

Assume true for N, prove for N+1:

    If you are on any of the first N floors, then it is true by the

    induction hypothesis.  If you are on the N+1st floor, then both you

    and the elevator have only one choice, namely down.  Therefore,

    it is true for all N+1 floors.



After a number of decimal places, nobody gives a damn.


After an instrument has been assembled, extra components will be found

on the bench.


    After the Children of Israel had wandered for thirty-nine years

in the wilderness, Ferdinand Feghoot arrived to make sure that they would

finally find and enter the Promised Land.  With him, he brought his

favorite robot, faithful old Yewtoo Artoo, to carry his gear and do

assorted camp chores.

    The Israelites soon got over their initial fear of the robot and,

as the months passed, became very fond of him.  Patriarchs took to

discussing abtruse theological problems with him, and each evening the

children all gathered to hear the many stories with which he was programmed.

Therefore it came as a great shock to them when, just as their journey was

ending, he abruptly wore out.  Even Feghoot couldn't console them.

    "It may be true, Ferdinand Feghoot," said Moses, "that our friend

Yewtoo Artoo was soulless, but we cannot believe it.  He must be properly

interred.  We cannot embalm him as do the Egyptians.  Nor have we wood for

a coffin.  But I do have a most splendid skin from one of Pharoah's own

cattle.  We shall bury him in it."

    Feghoot agreed.  "Yes, let this be his last rusting place."

    "Rusting?" Moses cried.  "Not in this dreadful dry desert!"

    "Ah!" sighed Ferdinand Feghoot, shedding a tear, "I fear you do not

realize the full significance of Pharoah's oxhide!"

        -- Grendel Briarton "Through Time & Space With Ferdinand



After the last of 16 mounting screws has been removed from an access

cover, it will be discovered that the wrong access cover has been removed.


After this was written there appeared a remarkable posthumous memoir that

throws some doubt on Millikan's leading role in these experiments.  Harvey

Fletcher (1884-1981), who was a graduate student at the University of Chicago,

at Millikan's suggestion worked on the measurement of electronic charge for

his doctoral thesis, and co-authored some of the early papers on this subject

with Millikan.  Fletcher left a manuscript with a friend with instructions

that it be published after his death; the manuscript was published in

Physics Today, June 1982, page 43.  In it, Fletcher claims that he was the

first to do the experiment with oil drops, was the first to measure charges on

single droplets, and may have been the first to suggest the use of oil.

According to Fletcher, he had expected to be co-authored with Millikan on

the crucial first article announcing the measurement of the electronic

charge, but was talked out of this by Millikan.

        -- Steven Weinberg, "The Discovery of Subatomic Particles"

Robert Millikan is generally credited with making the first really

precise measurement of the charge on an electron and was awarded the

Nobel Prize in 1923.


After years of research, scientists recently reported that there is,

indeed, arroz in Spanish Harlem.


    Against his wishes, a math teacher's classroom was remodeled.  Ever

since, he's been talking about the good old dais.  His students planted a small

orchard in his honor; the trees all have square roots.


Air is water with holes in it.


Air pollution is really making us pay through the nose.


Albert Einstein, when asked to describe radio, replied: "You see, wire

telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat.  You pull his tail in New

York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles.  Do you understand this?

And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they

receive them there.  The only difference is that there is no cat."


Alexander Graham Bell is alive and well in New York, and still waiting

for a dial tone.


Algebraic symbols are used when you do not know what you are talking about.

        -- Philippe Schnoebelen


All Finagle Laws may be bypassed by learning the simple art of doing

without thinking.


All great discoveries are made by mistake.

        -- Young


All great ideas are controversial, or have been at one time.


All laws are simulations of reality.

        -- John C. Lilly


All life evolves by the differential survival of replicating entities.

        -- Dawkins


All power corrupts, but we need electricity.


All science is either physics or stamp collecting.

        -- Ernest Rutherford


All seems condemned in the long run to approximate a state akin to

Gaussian noise.

        -- James Martin


All syllogisms have three parts, therefore this is not a syllogism.


All the evidence concerning the universe has not yet been collected,

so there's still hope.


All theoretical chemistry is really physics; and all theoretical chemists

know it.

        -- Richard P. Feynman


Although the moon is smaller than the earth, it is farther away.


Although we modern persons tend to take our electric lights, radios, mixers,

etc., for granted, hundreds of years ago people did not have any of these

things, which is just as well because there was no place to plug them in.

Then along came the first Electrical Pioneer, Benjamin Franklin, who flew a

kite in a lighting storm and received a serious electrical shock.  This

proved that lighting was powered by the same force as carpets, but it also

damaged Franklin's brain so severely that he started speaking only in

incomprehensible maxims, such as "A penny saved is a penny earned."

Eventually he had to be given a job running the post office.

        -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"


Always draw your curves, then plot your reading.


Always leave room to add an explanation if it doesn't work out.


Always think of something new; this helps you forget your last rotten idea.

        -- Seth Frankel


Always try to do things in chronological order; it's less confusing that way.


An age is called Dark not because the light fails to shine, but because

people refuse to see it.

        -- James Michener, "Space"


An American scientist once visited the offices of the great Nobel prize

winning physicist, Niels Bohr, in Copenhagen.  He was amazed to find that

over Bohr's desk was a horseshoe, securely nailed to the wall, with the

open end up in the approved manner (so it would catch the good luck and not

let it spill out).  The American said with a nervous laugh,

    "Surely you don't believe the horseshoe will bring you good luck,

do you, Professor Bohr?  After all, as a scientist --"

Bohr chuckled.

    "I believe no such thing, my good friend.  Not at all.  I am

scarcely likely to believe in such foolish nonsense.  However, I am told

that a horseshoe will bring you good luck whether you believe in it or not."


An anthropologist at Tulane has just come back from a field trip to New

Guinea with reports of a tribe so primitive that they have Tide but not

new Tide with lemon-fresh Borax.

        -- David Letterman


    An architect's first work is apt to be spare and clean.  He knows

he doesn't know what he's doing, so he does it carefully and with great


    As he designs the first work, frill after frill and embellishment

after embellishment occur to him.  These get stored away to be used "next

time." Sooner or later the first system is finished, and the architect,

with firm confidence and a demonstrated mastery of that class of systems,

is ready to build a second system.

    This second is the most dangerous system a man ever designs.

When he does his third and later ones, his prior experiences will

confirm each other as to the general characteristics of such systems,

and their differences will identify those parts of his experience that

are particular and not generalizable.

    The general tendency is to over-design the second system, using

all the ideas and frills that were cautiously sidetracked on the first

one.  The result, as Ovid says, is a "big pile."

        -- Frederick Brooks, "The Mythical Man Month"


An authority is a person who can tell you more about something than you

really care to know.


An economist is a man who would marry Farrah Fawcett-Majors for her money.


An egghead is one who stands firmly on both feet, in mid-air, on both

sides of an issue.

        -- Homer Ferguson


An engineer, a physicist and a mathematician find themselves in an

anecdote, indeed an anecdote quite similar to many that you have no doubt

already heard.  After some observations and rough calculations the

engineer realizes the situation and starts laughing.  A few minutes later

the physicist understands too and chuckles to himself happily as he now

has enough experimental evidence to publish a paper.  This leaves the

mathematician somewhat perplexed, as he had observed right away that he

was the subject of an anecdote, and deduced quite rapidly the presence of

humour from similar anecdotes, but considers this anecdote to be too

trivial a corollary to be significant, let alone funny.


And the French medical anatomist Etienne Serres really did argue that

black males are primitive because the distance between their navel and

penis remains small (relative to body height) throughout life, while

white children begin with a small separation but increase it during

growth -- the rising belly button as a mark of progress.

        -- S. J. Gould, "Racism and Recapitulation"


And this is a table ma'am.  What in essence it consists of is a horizontal

rectilinear plane surface maintained by four vertical columnar supports,

which we call legs.  The tables in this laboratory, ma'am, are as advanced

in design as one will find anywhere in the world.

        -- Michael Frayn, "The Tin Men"


... Another writer again agreed with all my generalities, but said that as an

inveterate skeptic I have closed my mind to the truth.  Most notably I have

ignored the evidence for an Earth that is six thousand years old.  Well, I

haven't ignored it; I considered the purported evidence and *then* rejected

it.  There is a difference, and this is a difference, we might say, between

prejudice and postjudice.  Prejudice is making a judgment before you have

looked at the facts.  Postjudice is making a judgment afterwards.  Prejudice

is terrible, in the sense that you commit injustices and you make serious

mistakes.  Postjudice is not terrible.  You can't be perfect of course; you

may make mistakes also.  But it is permissible to make a judgment after you

have examined the evidence.  In some circles it is even encouraged.

        -- Carl Sagan, "The Burden of Skepticism"


Any circuit design must contain at least one part which is obsolete, two parts

which are unobtainable, and three parts which are still under development.


Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from a rigged demo.


Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

        -- Arthur C. Clarke


Anyone who cannot cope with mathematics is not fully human.  At best he

is a tolerable subhuman who has learned to wear shoes, bathe and not

make messes in the house.

        -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"


Anyone who imagines that all fruits ripen at the same time

as the strawberries, knows nothing about grapes.

        -- Philippus Paracelsus


"Anything created must necessarily be inferior to the essence of the creator."

        -- Claude Shouse

"Einstein's mother must have been one heck of a physicist."

        -- Joseph C. Wang


Anything cut to length will be too short.


Arithmetic is being able to count up to twenty without taking off your shoes.

        -- Mickey Mouse


Artificial intelligence has the same relation to intelligence as

artificial flowers have to flowers.

        -- David Parnas


"As an adolescent I aspired to lasting fame, I craved factual certainty,

and I thirsted for a meaningful vision of human life -- so I became a

scientist.  This is like becoming an archbishop so you can meet girls."

        -- Matt Cartmill


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


As you will see, I told them, in no uncertain terms, to see Figure one.

        -- Dave "First Strike" Pare


Ask five economists and you'll get five different explanations (six if

one went to Harvard).

        -- Edgar R. Fiedler


At any given moment, an arrow must be either where it is or where it is

not.  But obviously it cannot be where it is not.  And if it is where

it is, that is equivalent to saying that it is at rest.

        -- Zeno's paradox of the moving (still?) arrow


At the heart of science is an essential tension between two seemingly

contradictory attitudes -- an openness to new ideas, no matter how bizarre

or counterintuitive they may be, and the most ruthless skeptical scrutiny

of all ideas, old and new.  This is how deep truths are winnowed from deep

nonsense.  Of course, scientists make mistakes in trying to understand the

world, but there is a built-in error-correcting mechanism:  The collective

enterprise of creative thinking and skeptical thinking together keeps the

field on track.

        -- Carl Sagan, "The Fine Art of Baloney Detection"


Back in the early 60's, touch tone phones only had 10 buttons.  Some

military versions had 16, while the 12 button jobs were used only by people

who had "diva" (digital inquiry, voice answerback) systems -- mainly banks.

Since in those days, only Western Electric  made "data sets" (modems) the

problems of terminology were all Bell System.  We used to struggle with

written descriptions of dial pads that were unfamiliar to most people

(most phones were rotary then.)  Partly in jest, some AT&T engineering

types (there was no marketing in the good old days, which is why they were

the good old days) made up the term "octalthorpe" (note spelling) to denote

the "pound sign."  Presumably because it has 8 points sticking out.  It

never really caught on.


Base 8 is just like base 10, if you are missing two fingers.

        -- Tom Lehrer


Before Xerox, five carbons were the maximum extension of anybody's ego.


Besides the device, the box should contain:

    * Eight little rectangular snippets of paper that say "WARNING"

    * A plastic packet containing four 5/17 inch pilfer grommets and two

        club-ended 6/93 inch boxcar prawns.

YOU WILL NEED TO SUPPLY: a matrix wrench and 60,000 feet of tram cable.


and say: "Margaret, you know why this country can't make a car that can get

all the way through the drive-through at Burger King without a major

transmission overhaul?  Because nobody cares, that's why."

WARNING: This is assuming your spouse's name is Margaret.

        -- Dave Barry, "Read This First!"


Between infinite and short there is a big difference.

        -- G. H. Gonnet


Biology grows on you.


Biology is the only science in which multiplication means the same thing

as division.


Bistromathics is simply a revolutionary new way of understanding the

behavior of numbers.  Just as Einstein observed that space was not an

absolute, but depended on the observer's movement in space, and that

time was not an absolute, but depended on the observer's movement in

time, so it is now realized that numbers are not absolute, but depend

on the observer's movement in restaurants.

        -- Douglas Adams


But it does move!

        -- Galileo Galilei


But you who live on dreams, you are better pleased with the sophistical

reasoning and frauds of talkers about great and uncertain matters than

those who speak of certain and natural matters, not of such lofty nature.

        -- Leonardo Da Vinci, "The Codex on the Flight of Birds"


Celestial navigation is based on the premise that the Earth is the center

of the universe.  The premise is wrong, but the navigation works.  An

incorrect model can be a useful tool.

        -- Kelvin Throop III


Chapter 2:  Newtonian Growth and Decay

    The growth-decay formulas were developed in the trivial fashion by

Isaac Newton's famous brother Phigg.  His idea was to provide an equation

that would describe a quantity that would dwindle and dwindle, but never

quite reach zero.  Historically, he was merely trying to work out his

mortgage.  Another versatile equation also emerged, one which would define

a function that would continue to grow, but never reach unity.  This equation

can be applied to charging capacitors, over-damped springs, and the human

race in general.


Chemist who falls in acid is absorbed in work.


Chemist who falls in acid will be tripping for weeks.


Chemistry is applied theology.

        -- Augustus Stanley Owsley III


Chemistry professors never die, they just fail to react.


Congratulations!  You have purchased an extremely fine device that would

give you thousands of years of trouble-free service, except that you

undoubtably will destroy it via some typical bonehead consumer maneuver.









        -- Dave Barry, "Read This First!"


"Consider a spherical bear, in simple harmonic motion..."

        -- Professor in the UCB physics department


"Contrariwise," continued Tweedledee, "if it was so, it might be, and

if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain't.  That's logic!"

        -- Lewis Carroll, "Through the Looking Glass"


"Deep" is a word like "theory" or "semantic" -- it implies all sorts of

marvelous things.  It's one thing to be able to say "I've got a theory",

quite another to say "I've got a semantic theory", but, ah, those who can

claim "I've got a deep semantic theory", they are truly blessed.

        -- Randy Davis


Did you hear that there's a group of South American Indians that worship

the number zero?

Is nothing sacred?


Did you hear that two rabbits escaped from the zoo and so far they have

only recaptured 116 of them?


Did you know that if you took all the economists in the world and lined

them up end to end, they'd still point in the wrong direction?


Dimensions will always be expressed in the least usable term, convertible

only through the use of weird and unnatural conversion factors.  Velocity,

for example, will be expressed in furlongs per fortnight.


Dinosaurs aren't extinct.  They've just learned to hide in the trees.


Do molecular biologists wear designer genes?


Duct tape is like the force.  It has a light side, and a dark side, and

it holds the universe together ...

        -- Carl Zwanzig


E = MC ** 2 +- 3db


Earl Wiener, 55, a University of Miami professor of management science,

telling the Airline Pilots Association (in jest) about 21st century aircraft:

    "The crew will consist of one pilot and a dog.  The pilot will

    nurture and feed the dog.  The dog will be there to bite the

    pilot if he touches anything.

        -- Fortune, Sept. 26, 1988

           [the *magazine*, silly!]


Economics is extremely useful as a form of employment for economists.

        -- John Kenneth Galbraith


Economists can certainly disappoint you.  One said that the economy would

turn up by the last quarter.  Well, I'm down to mine and it hasn't.

        -- Robert Orben


Economists state their GNP growth projections to the nearest tenth of a

percentage point to prove they have a sense of humor.

        -- Edgar R. Fiedler


Electricity is actually made up of extremely tiny particles, called

electrons, that you cannot see with the naked eye unless you have been

drinking.  Electrons travel at the speed of light, which in most American

homes is 110 volts per hour.  This is very fast.  In the time it has taken

you to read this sentence so far, an electron could have traveled all the

way from San Francisco to Hackensack, New Jersey, although God alone knows

why it would want to.

The five main kinds of electricity are alternating current, direct current,

lightning, static, and European.  Most American homes have alternating

current, which means that the electricity goes in one direction for a while,

then goes in the other direction.  This prevents harmful electron buildup in

the wires.

        -- Dave Barry, "The Taming of the Screw"


Elegance and truth are inversely related.

        -- Becker's Razor


Elliptic paraboloids for sale.


Entropy isn't what it used to be.


Entropy requires no maintenance.

        -- Markoff Chaney


Enzymes are things invented by biologists that explain things which

otherwise require harder thinking.

        -- Jerome Lettvin



        -- Archimedes


Every little picofarad has a nanohenry all its own.

        -- Don Vonada


Every nonzero finite dimensional inner product space has an orthonormal basis.

It makes sense, when you don't think about it.


Every paper published in a respectable journal should have a preface by

the author stating why he is publishing the article, and what value he

sees in it.  I have no hope that this practice will ever be adopted.

        -- Morris Kline


Everyone knows that dragons don't exist.  But while this simplistic

formulation may satisfy the layman, it does not suffice for the scientific

mind.  The School of Higher Neantical Nillity is in fact wholly unconcerned

with what ____does exist.  Indeed, the banality of existence has been

so amply demonstrated, there is no need for us to discuss it any further

here.  The brilliant Cerebron, attacking the problem analytically,

discovered three distinct kinds of dragon: the mythical, the chimerical,

and the purely hypothetical.  They were all, one might say, nonexistent,

but each nonexisted in an entirely different way ...

        -- Stanislaw Lem, "Cyberiad"


Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.

        -- Albert Einstein


Everything that can be invented has been invented.

        -- Charles Duell, Director of U.S. Patent Office, 1899


Everything you've learned in school as "obvious" becomes less and less

obvious as you begin to study the universe.  For example, there are no

solids in the universe.  There's not even a suggestion of a solid.

There are no absolute continuums.  There are no surfaces.  There are no

straight lines.

        -- R. Buckminster Fuller


Evolution is as much a fact as the earth turning on its axis and going around

the sun.  At one time this was called the Copernican theory; but, when

evidence for a theory becomes so overwhelming that no informed person can

doubt it, it is customary for scientists to call it a fact.  That all present

life descended from earlier forms, over vast stretches of geologic time, is

as firmly established as Copernican cosmology.  Biologists differ only with

respect to theories about how the process operates.

        -- Martin Gardner, "Irving Kristol and the Facts of Life".


Experience varies directly with equipment ruined.


Experiments must be reproducible; they should all fail in the same way.


Extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof.  There are many examples

of outsiders who eventually overthrew entrenched scientific orthodoxies,

but they prevailed with irrefutable data.  More often, egregious findings

that contradict well-established research turn out to be artifacts.  I have

argued that accepting psychic powers, reincarnation, "cosmic conciousness,"

and the like, would entail fundamental revisions of the foundations of

neuroscience.  Before abandoning materialist theories of mind that have paid

handsome dividends, we should insist on better evidence for psi phenomena

than presently exists, especially when neurology and psychology themselves

offer more plausible alternatives.

        -- Barry L. Beyerstein, "The Brain and Conciousness:

           Implications for Psi Phenomena".


Factorials were someone's attempt to make math LOOK exciting.


Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.


Federal grants are offered for... research into the recreation

potential of interplanetary space travel for the culturally disadvantaged.


Five is a sufficiently close approximation to infinity.

        -- Robert Firth

"One, two, five."

        -- Monty Python and the Holy Grail


Florence Flask was ... dressing for the opera when she turned to her

husband and screamed, "Erlenmeyer!  My joules!  Someone has stolen my


"Now, now, my dear," replied her husband, "keep your balance and reflux

a moment.  Perhaps they're mislead."

"No, I know they're stolen," cried Florence.  "I remember putting them

in my burette ... We must call a copper."

Erlenmeyer did so, and the flatfoot who turned up, one Sherlock Ohms,

said the outrage looked like the work of an arch-criminal by the name

of Lawrence Ium.

"We must be careful -- he's a free radical, ultraviolet, and

dangerous.  His girlfriend is a chlorine at the Palladium.  Maybe I can

catch him there."  With that, he jumped on his carbon cycle in an

activated state and sped off along the reaction pathway ...

        -- Daniel B. Murphy, "Precipitations"


For every complex problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.

        -- H. L. Mencken


For God's sake, stop researching for a while and begin to think!


For large values of one, one equals two, for small values of two.


Fortunately, the responsibility for providing evidence is on the part of

the person making the claim, not the critic.  It is not the responsibility

of UFO skeptics to prove that a UFO has never existed, nor is it the

responsibility of paranormal-health-claims skeptics to prove that crystals

or colored lights never healed anyone.  The skeptic's role is to point out

claims that are not adequately supported by acceptable evidcence and to

provide plausible alternative explanations that are more in keeping with

the accepted body of scientific evidence.

        -- Thomas L. Creed, The Skeptical Inquirer, Vol. XII,

           No. 2, pg. 215



    A guinea pig is not from Guinea but a rodent from South America.

    A firefly is not a fly, but a beetle.

    A giant panda bear is really a member of the racoon family.

    A black panther is really a leopard that has a solid black coat

        rather then a spotted one.

    Peanuts are not really nuts.  The majority of nuts grow on trees

        while peauts grow underground.  They are classified as a

        legume -- part of the pea family.

    A cucumber is not a vegetable but a fruit.



    Zebras are colored with dark stripes on a light background.



What to do...

    if reality disappears?

    Hope this one doesn't happen to you.  There isn't much that you

    can do about it.  It will probably be quite unpleasant.

    if you meet an older version of yourself who has invented a time

    traveling machine, and has come from the future to meet you?

    Play this one by the book.  Ask about the stock market and cash in.

    Don't forget to invent a time traveling machine and visit your

    younger self before you die, or you will create a paradox.  If you

    expect this to be tricky, make sure to ask for the principles

    behind time travel, and possibly schematics.  Never, NEVER, ask

    when you'll die, or if you'll marry your current SO.



What to do...

    if you get a phone call from Mars:

    Speak slowly and be sure to enunciate your words properly.  Limit

    your vocabulary to simple words.  Try to determine if you are

    speaking to someone in a leadership capacity, or an ordinary citizen.

    if he, she or it doesn't speak English?

    Hang up.  There's no sense in trying to learn Martian over the phone.

    If your Martian really had something important to say to you, he, she

    or it would have taken the trouble to learn the language before


    if you get a phone call from Jupiter?

    Explain to your caller, politely but firmly, that being from Jupiter,

    he, she or it is not "life as we know it".  Try to terminate the

    conversation as soon as possible.  It will not profit you, and the

    charges may have been reversed.



What to do...

    if a starship, equipped with an FTL hyperdrive lands in your backyard?

    First of all, do not run after your camera.  You will not have any

    film, and, given the state of computer animation, noone will believe

    you anyway.  Be polite.  Remember, if they have an FTL hyperdrive,

    they can probably vaporize you, should they find you to be rude.

    Direct them to the White House lawn, which is where they probably

    wanted to land, anyway.  A good road map should help.

    if you wake up in the middle of the night, and discover that your

    closet contains an alternate dimension?

    Don't walk in.  You almost certainly will not be able to get back,

    and alternate dimensions are almost never any fun.  Remain calm

    and go back to bed.  Close the door first, so that the cat does not

    wander off.  Check your closet in the morning.  If it still contains

    an alternate dimension, nail it shut.


Friction is a drag.


Fundamentally, there may be no basis for anything.


Genetics explains why you look like your father, and if you don't, why

you should.


(German philosopher) Georg Wilhelm Hegel, on his deathbed, complained,

"Only one man ever understood me."  He fell silent for a while and then added,

"And he didn't understand me."


God doesn't play dice.

        -- Albert Einstein


God made the integers; all else is the work of Man.

        -- Kronecker


God runs electromagnetics by wave theory on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday,

and the Devil runs them by quantum theory on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday.

        -- William Bragg


Going the speed of light is bad for your age.


Good morning.  This is the telephone company.  Due to repairs, we're

giving you advance notice that your service will be cut off indefinitely

at ten o'clock.  That's two minutes from now.


Gosh that takes me back... or is it forward?  That's the trouble with

time travel, you never can tell."

        -- Doctor Who, "Androids of Tara"


Got Mole problems?  Call Avogadro at 6.02 x 10^23.


Gravity brings me down.


Gravity is a myth, the Earth sucks.


GREAT MOMENTS IN HISTORY (#7):  April 2, 1751

Issac Newton becomes discouraged when he falls up a flight of stairs.


Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.

        -- Albert Einstein

They laughed at Einstein.  They laughed at the Wright Brothers.  But they

also laughed at Bozo the Clown.

        -- Carl Sagan


He keeps differentiating, flying off on a tangent.


He:    Let's end it all, bequeathin' our brains to science.

She:    What?!?  Science got enough trouble with their OWN brains.

        -- Walt Kelly


Heard that the next Space Shuttle is supposed to carry several Guernsey cows?

It's gonna be the herd shot 'round the world.


Heavier than air flying machines are impossible.

        -- Lord Kelvin, President, Royal Society, c. 1895


Heisenberg may have been here.


Heisenberg may have slept here...


Help fight continental drift.


Here is a simple experiment that will teach you an important electrical

lesson: On a cool, dry day, scuff your feet along a carpet, then reach your

hand into a friend's mouth and touch one of his dental fillings.  Did you

notice how your friend twitched violently and cried out in pain?  This

teaches us that electricity can be a very powerful force, but we must never

use it to hurt others unless we need to learn an important electrical lesson.

    It also teaches us how an electrical circuit works.  When you scuffed

your feet, you picked up batches of "electrons", which are very small objects

that carpet manufacturers weave into carpets so they will attract dirt.

The electrons travel through your bloodstream and collect in your finger,

where they form a spark that leaps to your friend's filling, then travels

down to his feet and back into the carpet, thus completing the circuit.

    Amazing Electronic Fact: If you scuffed your feet long enough without

touching anything, you would build up so many electrons that your finger

would explode!  But this is nothing to worry about unless you have


        -- Dave Barry, "What is Electricity?"


Hi! How are things going?

    (just fine, thank you...)

Great! Say, could I bother you for a question?

    (you just asked one...)

Well, how about one more?

    (one more than the first one?)


    (you already asked that...)

[at this point, Alphonso gets smart...    ]

May I ask two questions, sir?


May I ask ONE then?


Then may I ask, sir, how I may ask you a question?

    (yes, you may.)

Sir, how may I ask you a question?

    (you must ask for retroactive question asking privileges for

     the number of questions you have asked, then ask for that

     number plus two, one for the current question, and one for the

     next one)

Sir, may I ask nine questions?

    (go right ahead...)


Houston, Tranquillity Base here.  The Eagle has landed.

        -- Neil Armstrong


How can you do 'New Math' problems with an 'Old Math' mind?

        -- Charles Schulz


How many weeks are there in a light year?


How often I found where I should be going only by setting out for somewhere


        -- R. Buckminster Fuller


Human beings were created by water to transport it uphill.


I am not an Economist.  I am an honest man!

        -- Paul McCracken


I cannot believe that God plays dice with the cosmos.

        -- Albert Einstein, on the randomness of quantum mechanics


I do hate sums.  There is no greater mistake than to call arithmetic an

exact science.  There are permutations and aberrations discernible to minds

entirely noble like mine; subtle variations which ordinary accountants fail

to discover; hidden laws of number which it requires a mind like mine to

perceive.  For instance, if you add a sum from the bottom up, and then again

from the top down, the result is always different.

        -- Mrs. La Touche


I do not remember ever having seen a sustained argument by an author which,

starting from philosophical premises likely to meet with general acceptance,

reached the conclusion that a praiseworthy ordering of one's life is to

devote it to research in mathematics.

        -- Sir Edmund Whittaker, "Scientific American", Vol. 183


"I don't think so," said Ren'e Descartes.  Just then, he vanished.


I had a feeling once about mathematics -- that I saw it all.  Depth beyond

depth was revealed to me -- the Byss and the Abyss. I saw -- as one might

see the transit of Venus or even the Lord Mayor's Show -- a quantity passing

through infinity and changing its sign from plus to minus.  I saw exactly

why it happened and why tergiversation was inevitable -- but it was after

dinner and I let it go.

        -- Winston Churchill


I have a theory that it's impossible to prove anything, but I can't prove it.


    "I have examined Bogota," he said, "and the case is clearer to me.

I think very probably he might be cured."

    "That is what I have always hoped," said old Yacob.

    "His brain is affected," said the blind doctor.

    The elders murmured assent.

    "Now, what affects it?"

    "Ah!" said old Yacob.

    "This," said the doctor, answering his own question.  "Those queer

things that are called the eyes, and which exist to make an agreeable soft

depression in the face, are diseased, in the case of Bogota, in such a way

as to affect his brain.  They are greatly distended, he has eyelashes, and

his eyelids move, and cosequently his brain is in a state of constant

irritation and distraction."

    "Yes?" said old Yacob.  "Yes?"

    "And I think I may say with reasonable certainty that, in order

to cure him completely, all that we need do is a simple and easy surgical

operation -- namely, to remove those irritant bodies."

    "And then he will be sane?"

    "Then he will be perfectly sane, and a quite admirable citizen."

    "Thank heaven for science!" said old Yacob.

        -- H. G. Wells, "The Country of the Blind"


I have hardly ever known a mathematician who was capable of reasoning.

        -- Plato


I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when

you looked at it in the right way, did not become still more complicated.

        -- Poul Anderson


I myself have dreamed up a structure intermediate between Dyson spheres

and planets.  Build a ring 93 million miles in radius -- one Earth orbit

-- around the sun.  If we have the mass of Jupiter to work with, and if

we make it a thousand miles wide, we get a thickness of about a thousand

feet for the base.

And it has advantages.  The Ringworld will be much sturdier than a Dyson

sphere.  We can spin it on its axis for gravity.  A rotation speed of 770

m/s will give us a gravity of one Earth normal.  We wouldn't even need to

roof it over.  Place walls one thousand miles high at each edge, facing the

sun.  Very little air will leak over the edges.

Lord knows the thing is roomy enough.  With three million times the surface

area of the Earth, it will be some time before anyone complains of the


        -- Larry Niven, "Ringworld"


I put up my thumb... and it blotted out the planet Earth.

        -- Neil Armstrong


I tell them to turn to the study of mathematics, for it is only there that

they might escape the lusts of the flesh.

        -- Thomas Mann, "The Magic Mountain"


"I think it is true for all _n.  I was just playing it safe with _n >= 3

because I couldn't remember the proof."

        -- Baker, Pure Math 351a



        -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.


"I think the sky is blue because it's a shift from black through purple

to blue, and it has to do with where the light is.  You know, the

farther we get into darkness, and there's a shifting of color of light

into the blueness, and I think as you go farther and farther away from

the reflected light we have from the sun or the light that's bouncing

off this earth, uh, the darker it gets ... I think if you look at the

color scale, you start at black, move it through purple, move it on

out, it's the shifting of color.  We mentioned before about the stars

singing, and that's one of the effects of the shifting of colors."

        -- Pat Robertson, The 700 Club


I THINK THERE SHOULD BE SOMETHING in science called the "reindeer effect."

I don't know what it would be, but I think it'd be good to hear someone say,

"Gentlemen, what we have here is a terrifying example of the reindeer effect."

        -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.


I THINK THEY SHOULD CONTINUE the policy of not giving a Nobel Prize for


        -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.


I use technology in order to hate it more properly.

        -- Nam June Paik


I would have you imagine, then, that there exists in the mind of man a block

of wax...  and that we remember and know what is imprinted as long as the

image lasts; but when the image is effaced, or cannot be taken, then we

forget or do not know.

        -- Plato, Dialogs, Theateus 191

    [Quoted in "VMS Internals and Data Structures", V4.4, when

     referring to image activation and termination.]


I'm often asked the question, "Do you think there is extraterrestrial intelli-

gence?"  I give the standard arguments -- there are a lot of places out there,

and use the word *billions*, and so on.  And then I say it would be astonishing

to me if there weren't extraterrestrial intelligence, but of course there is as

yet no compelling evidence for it.  And then I'm asked, "Yeah, but what do you

really think?"  I say, "I just told you what I really think."  "Yeah, but

what's your gut feeling?"  But I try not to think with my gut.  Really, it's

okay to reserve judgment until the evidence is in.

        -- Carl Sagan


If A = B and B = C, then A = C, except where void or prohibited by law.

        -- Roy Santoro


If a camel is a horse designed by a committee, then a consensus forecast is a

camel's behind.

        -- Edgar R. Fiedler


If A equals success, then the formula is _A = _X + _Y + _Z.  _X is work.  _Y

is play.  _Z is keep your mouth shut.

        -- Albert Einstein


If all else fails, immortality can always be assured by spectacular error.

        -- John Kenneth Galbraith


If all the world's economists were laid end to end, we wouldn't reach a


        -- William Baumol


If an experiment works, something has gone wrong.


If entropy is increasing, where is it coming from?


If for every rule there is an exception, then we have established that there

is an exception to every rule.  If we accept "For every rule there is an

exception" as a rule, then we must concede that there may not be an exception

after all, since the rule states that there is always the possibility of

exception, and if we follow it to its logical end we must agree that there

can be an exception to the rule that for every rule there is an exception.

        -- Bill Boquist


If God is perfect, why did He create discontinuous functions?


If I had only known, I would have been a locksmith.

        -- Albert Einstein


If I have not seen so far it is because I stood in giant's footsteps.


If I set here and stare at nothing long enough, people might think

I'm an engineer working on something.

        -- S. R. McElroy


If in any problem you find yourself doing an immense amount of work, the

answer can be obtained by simple inspection.


If it is a Miracle, any sort of evidence will answer, but if it is a Fact,

proof is necessary.

        -- Samuel Clemens


If it smells it's chemistry, if it crawls it's biology, if it doesn't work

it's physics.


If it wasn't for Newton, we wouldn't have to eat bruised apples.


If mathematically you end up with the wrong answer, try multiplying by

the page number.


If scientific reasoning were limited to the logical processes of

arithmetic, we should not get very far in our understanding of the physical

world.  One might as well attempt to grasp the game of poker entirely by

the use of the mathematics of probability.

        -- Vannevar Bush


If the aborigine drafted an IQ test, all of Western civilization would

presumably flunk it.

        -- Stanley Garn


If the facts don't fit the theory, change the facts.

        -- Albert Einstein


If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it,

we would be so simple we couldn't.


If they can make penicillin out of moldy bread, they can sure make

something out of you.

        -- Muhammad Ali


"If value corrupts then absolute value corrupts absolutely."


If you analyse anything, you destroy it.

        -- Arthur Miller


If you are smart enough to know that you're not smart enough to be an

Engineer, then you're in Business.


If you can't understand it, it is intuitively obvious.


If you haven't enjoyed the material in the last few lectures then a career

in chartered accountancy beckons.

        -- Advice from the lecturer in the middle of the Stochastic

           Systems course.


If you push the "extra ice" button on the soft drink vending machine, you won't

get any ice.  If you push the "no ice" button, you'll get ice, but no cup.


    If you rap your knuckles against a window jamb or door, if you

brush your leg against a bed or desk, if you catch your foot in a curled-

up corner of a rug, or strike a toe against a desk or chair, go back and

repeat the sequence.

    You will find yourself surprised how far off course you were to

hit that window jamb, that door, that chair.  Get back on course and do it

again.  How can you pilot a spacecraft if you can't find your way around

your own apartment?

        -- William S. Burroughs


If you steal from one author it's plagiarism; if you steal from

many it's research.

        -- Wilson Mizner


If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.


Imagination is more important than knowledge.

        -- Albert Einstein


In 1750 Issac Newton became discouraged when he fell up a flight of stairs.


In 1869 the waffle iron was invented for people who had wrinkled waffles.


In a minimum-phase system there is an inextricable link between

frequency response, phase response and transient response, as they

are all merely transforms of one another.  This combined with

minimalization of open-loop errors in output amplifiers and correct

compensation for non-linear passive crossover network loading can

lead to a significant decrease in system resolution lost.  However,

this all means jack when you listen to Pink Floyd.


IN MY OPINION anyone interested in improving himself should not rule out

becoming pure energy.

        -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.


In Nature there are neither rewards nor punishments, there are consequences.

        -- R. G. Ingersoll


In order to dial out, it is necessary to broaden one's dimension.


"In order to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the


        -- Carl Sagan, Cosmos


In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really

good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they actually change

their minds and you never hear that old view from them again.  They really

do it.  It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are

human and change is sometimes painful.  But it happens every day.  I cannot

recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion.

        -- Carl Sagan, 1987 CSICOP keynote address


"In short, _N is Richardian if, and only if, _N is not Richardian."


In specifications, Murphy's Law supersedes Ohm's.


In the beginning there was nothing.  And the Lord said "Let There Be Light!"

And still there was nothing, but at least now you could see it.


    In the beginning there was only one kind of Mathematician, created by

the Great Mathamatical Spirit form the Book: the Topologist.  And they grew to

large numbers and prospered.

    One day they looked up in the heavens and desired to reach up as far

as the eye could see.  So they set out in building a Mathematical edifice that

was to reach up as far as "up" went.  Further and further up they went ...

until one night the edifice collapsed under the weight of paradox.

    The following morning saw only rubble where there once was a huge

structure reaching to the heavens.  One by one, the Mathematicians climbed

out from under the rubble.  It was a miracle that nobody was killed; but when

they began to speak to one another, SUPRISE of all suprises! they could not

understand each other.  They all spoke different languages.  They all fought

amongst themselves and each went about their own way.  To this day the

Topologists remain the original Mathematicians.

        -- The Story of Babel


In the course of reading Hadamard's "The Psychology of Invention in the

Mathematical Field", I have come across evidence supporting a fact

which we coffee achievers have long appreciated:  no really creative,

intelligent thought is possible without a good cup of coffee.  On page

14, Hadamard is discussing Poincare's theory of fuchsian groups and

fuchsian functions, which he describes as "... one of his greatest

discoveries, the first which consecrated his glory ..."  Hadamard refers

to Poincare having had a "... sleepless night which initiated all that

memorable work ..." and gives the following, very revealing quote:

    "One evening, contrary to my custom, I drank black coffee and

    could not sleep.  Ideas rose in crowds;  I felt them collide

    until pairs interlocked, so to speak, making a stable


Too bad drinking black coffee was contrary to his custom.  Maybe he

could really have amounted to something as a coffee achiever.


In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice.  In practice,

there is.


In these matters the only certainty is that there is nothing certain.

        -- Pliny the Elder


    "In this replacement Earth we're building they've given me Africa

to do and of course I'm doing it with all fjords again because I happen to

like them, and I'm old-fashioned enough to think that they give a lovely

baroque feel to a continent.  And they tell me it's not equatorial enough.

Equatorial!"  He gave a hollow laugh.  "What does it matter?  Science has

achieved some wonderful things, of course, but I'd far rather be happy than

right any day."

    "And are you?"

    "No.  That's where it all falls down, of course."

    "Pity," said Arthur with sympathy.  "It sounded like quite a good

life-style otherwise."

        -- Douglas Adams, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy"


Information is the inverse of entropy.


Interchangeable parts won't.


Invest in physics -- own a piece of Dirac!


"Irrationality is the square root of all evil"

        -- Douglas Hofstadter


Is knowledge knowable?  If not, how do we know that?


Isn't it interesting that the same people who laugh at science fiction

listen to weather forecasts and economists?

        -- Kelvin Throop III


Isn't it strange that the same people that laugh at gypsy fortune

tellers take economists seriously?


"It could be that Walter's horse has wings" does not imply that there is

any such animal as Walter's horse, only that there could be; but "Walter's

horse is a thing which could have wings" does imply Walter's horse's

existence.  But the conjunction "Walter's horse exists, and it could be

that Walter's horse has wings" still does not imply "Walter's horse is a

thing that could have wings", for perhaps it can only be that Walter's

horse has wings by Walter having a different horse.  Nor does "Walter's

horse is a thing which could have wings" conversely imply "It could be that

Walter's horse has wings"; for it might be that Walter's horse could only

have wings by not being Walter's horse.

I would deny, though, that the formula [Necessarily if some x has property P

then some x has property P] expresses a logical law, since P(x) could stand

for, let us say "x is a better logician than I am", and the statement "It is

necessary that if someone is a better logician than I am then someone is a

better logician than I am" is false because there need not have been any me.

        -- A. N. Prior, "Time and Modality"


It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats.


It is contrary to reasoning to say that there is a vacuum or space in

which there is absolutely nothing.

        -- Descartes


It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable,

as one's hat keeps blowing off.

        -- Woody Allen


It is much easier to suggest solutions when you know nothing about the problem.


It is not every question that deserves an answer.

        -- Publilius Syrus


It is not for me to attempt to fathom the inscrutable workings of Providence.

        -- The Earl of Birkenhead


It is not that polar co-ordinates are complicated, it is simply

that cartesian co-ordinates are simpler than they have a right to be.

        -- Kleppner & Kolenhow, "An Introduction to Mechanics"


It is now quite lawful for a Catholic woman to avoid pregnancy by a resort to

mathematics, though she is still forbidden to resort to physics and chemistry.

        -- H. L. Mencken


It is true that if your paperboy throws your paper into the bushes for five

straight days it can be explained by Newton's Law of Gravity.  But it takes

Murphy's law to explain why it is happening to you.


It seems intuitively obvious to me, which means that it might be wrong.

        -- Chris Torek


It seems that more and more mathematicians are using a new, high level

language named "research student".


"It's easier said than done."

... and if you don't believe it, try proving that it's easier done than

said, and you'll see that "it's easier said that `it's easier done than

said' than it is done", which really proves that "it's easier said than



It's hard to think of you as the end result of millions of years of evolution.


It's later than you think, the joint Russian-American space mission has

already begun.


It's not an optical illusion, it just looks like one.

        -- Phil White


It's not hard to admit errors that are [only] cosmetically wrong.

        -- J. K. Galbraith


Just because they are called 'forbidden' transitions does not mean that they

are forbidden.  They are less allowed than allowed transitions, if you see

what I mean.

        -- From a Part 2 Quantum Mechanics lecture.


Kleeneness is next to Godelness.


Klein bottle for rent -- inquire within.


Last yeer I kudn't spel Engineer.  Now I are won.


Lawrence Radiation Laboratory keeps all its data in an old gray trunk.


Life is a biochemical reaction to the stimulus of the surrounding

environment in a stable ecosphere, while a bowl of cherries is a

round container filled with little red fruits on sticks.


Life is a whim of several billion cells to be you for a while.


Life is difficult because it is non-linear.


Logic is a little bird, sitting in a tree; that smells *_____awful*.


Logic is a pretty flower that smells bad.


Logic is a systematic method of coming to the wrong conclusion with confidence.


Logic is the chastity belt of the mind!


Love makes the world go 'round, with a little help from intrinsic angular



Lucas is the source of many of the components of the legendarily reliable

British automotive electrical systems.  Professionals call the company "The

Prince of Darkness".  Of course, if Lucas were to design and manufacture

nuclear weapons, World War III would never get off the ground.  The British

don't like warm beer any more than the Americans do.  The British drink warm

beer because they have Lucas refrigerators.


Ma Bell is a mean mother!


Machines have less problems.  I'd like to be a machine.

        -- Andy Warhol


Make it myself?  But I'm a physical organic chemist!


Make it right before you make it faster.


Man will never fly.  Space travel is merely a dream.  All aspirin is alike.



    Please, don't drink and derive.






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

        -- R. Drabek


Mathematicians are like Frenchmen:  whatever you say to them they translate

into their own language and forthwith it is something entirely different.

        -- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Mathematicians often resort to something called Hilbert space, which is

described as being n-dimensional.  Like modern sex, any number can play.

        -- Dr. Thor Wald, "Beep/The Quincunx of Time", by James Blish


Mathematicians practice absolute freedom.

        -- Henry Adams


Mathematics deals exclusively with the relations of concepts

to each other without consideration of their relation to experience.

        -- Albert Einstein


Mathematics is the only science where one never knows what

one is talking about nor whether what is said is true.

        -- Russell


Mathematics, rightly viewed, possesses not only truth but supreme beauty --

a beauty cold and austere, like that of a sculpture, without appeal to any

part of our weaker nature, without the gorgeous trapping of painting or music,

yet sublimely pure, and capable of a stern perfection such as only the

greatest art can show.  The true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense

of being more than man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is

to be found in mathematics as surely as in poetry.

        -- Bertrand Russell


Matter cannot be created or destroyed, nor can it be returned without a receipt.


Matter will be damaged in direct proportion to its value.


Measure twice, cut once.


Measure with a micrometer.  Mark with chalk.  Cut with an axe.


Mediocrity finds safety in standardization.

        -- Frederick Crane


Men love to wonder, and that is the seed of science.


Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves

up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.

        -- Winston Churchill


Modern psychology takes completely for granted that behavior and neural

function are perfectly correlated, that one is completely caused by the

other.  There is no separate soul or lifeforce to stick a finger into the

brain now and then and make neural cells do what they would not otherwise.

Actually, of course, this is a working assumption only. ... It is quite

conceivable that someday the assumption will have to be rejected.  But it

is important also to see that we have not reached that day yet: the working

assumption is a necessary one and there is no real evidence opposed to it.

Our failure to solve a problem so far does not make it insoluble.  One cannot

logically be a determinist in physics and biology, and a mystic in psychology.

        -- D. O. Hebb, "Organization of Behavior: A Neuropsychological

           Theory", 1949


More than any time in history, mankind now faces a crossroads.  One path

leads to despair and utter hopelessness, the other to total extinction.

Let us pray that we have the wisdom to choose correctly.

        -- Woody Allen, "Side Effects"


"Multiply in your head" (ordered the compassionate Dr. Adams) "365,365,365,

365,365,365 by 365,365,365,365,365,365".  He [ten-year-old Truman Henry

Safford] flew around the room like a top, pulled his pantaloons over the

tops of his boots, bit his hands, rolled his eyes in their sockets, sometimes

smiling and talking, and then seeming to be in an agony, until, in not more

than one minute, said he, 133,491,850,208,566,925,016,658,299,941,583,225!"

An electronic computer might do the job a little faster but it wouldn't be

as much fun to watch.

        -- James R. Newman, "The World of Mathematics"


Murphy's Law, that brash proletarian restatement of Godel's Theorem.

        -- Thomas Pynchon, "Gravity's Rainbow"


My geometry teacher was sometimes acute, and sometimes obtuse, but always,

always, he was right.

    [That's an interesting angle.  I wonder if there are any parallels?]


    My message is not that biological determinists were bad scientists or

even that they were always wrong.  Rather, I believe that science must be

understood as a social phenomenon, a gutsy, human enterprise, not the work of

robots programmed to collect pure information.  I also present this view as

an upbeat for science, not as a gloomy epitaph for a noble hope sacrificed on

the alter of human limitations.

    I believe that a factual reality exists and that science, though often

in an obtuse and erratic manner, can learn about it.  Galileo was not shown

the instruments of torture in an abstract debate about lunar motion.  He had

threatened the Church's conventional argument for social and doctrinal

stability:  the static world order with planets circling about a central

earth, priests subordinate to the Pope and serfs to their lord.  But the

Church soon made its peace with Galileo's cosmology.  They had no choice; the

earth really does revolve about the sun.

        -- S. J. Gould, "The Mismeasure of Man"


Mystics always hope that science will some day overtake them.

        -- Booth Tarkington


Natural laws have no pity.


Nature abhors a hero.  For one thing, he violates the law of conservation

of energy.  For another, how can it be the survival of the fittest when the

fittest keeps putting himself in situations where he is most likely to be


        -- Solomon Short


Nature always sides with the hidden flaw.


Nature is by and large to be found out of doors, a location where,

it cannot be argued, there are never enough comfortable chairs.

        -- Fran Lebowitz


Nature, to be commanded, must be obeyed.

        -- Francis Bacon


Neil Armstrong tripped.


Neutrinos are into physicists.


Neutrinos have bad breadth.


Never worry about theory as long as the machinery does what it's supposed to do.

        -- R. A. Heinlein


No amount of careful planning will ever replace dumb luck.


No amount of genius can overcome a preoccupation with detail.


Nondeterminism means never having to say you are wrong.


Nonsense.  Space is blue and birds fly through it.

        -- Heisenberg


Not far from here, by a white sun, behind a green star, lived the

Steelypips, illustrious, industrious, and they hadn't a care: no spats in

their vats, no rules, no schools, no gloom, no evil influence of the

moon, no trouble from matter or antimatter -- for they had a machine, a

dream of a machine, with springs and gears and perfect in every respect.

And they lived with it, and on it, and under it, and inside it, for it

was all they had -- first they saved up all their atoms, then they put

them all together, and if one didn't fit, why they chipped at it a bit,

and everything was just fine ...

        -- Stanislaw Lem, "Cyberiad"


Nothing is faster than the speed of light ...

To prove this to yourself, try opening the refrigerator door before the

light comes on.


Nothing is rich but the inexhaustible wealth of nature.

She shows us only surfaces, but she is a million fathoms deep.

        -- Ralph Waldo Emerson


Nuclear powered vacuuum cleaners will probably be a reality within 10 years.

        -- Alex Lewyt (President of the Lewyt Corporation,

           manufacturers of vacuum cleaners), quoted in The New York

           Times, June 10, 1955.


Numeric stability is probably not all that important when you're guessing.


"Obviously, a major malfunction has occurred."

        -- Steve Nesbitt, voice of Mission Control, January 28,

           1986, as the shuttle Challenger exploded within view

           of the grandstands.


Of course you can't flap your arms and fly to the moon.  After a while you'd

run out of air to push against.


Often statistics are used as a drunken man uses lampposts -- for support

rather than illumination.


On a paper submitted by a physicist colleague:

"This isn't right.  This isn't even wrong."

        -- Wolfgang Pauli


Once upon a time, when I was training to be a mathematician, a group of

us bright young students taking number theory discovered the names of the

smaller prime numbers.

2:  The Odd Prime --

    It's the only even prime, therefore is odd.  QED.

3:  The True Prime --

    Lewis Carroll: "If I tell you 3 times, it's true."

31: The Arbitrary Prime --

    Determined by unanimous unvote.  We needed an arbitrary prime in

    case the prof asked for one, and so had an election.  91 received

    the most votes (well, it *looks* prime) and 3+4i the next most.

    However, 31 was the only candidate to receive none at all.

41: The Female Prime --

    The polynomial X**2 - X + 41 is

    prime for integer values from 1 to 40.

43: The Male Prime - they form a prime pair.

Since the composite numbers are formed from primes, their qualities

are derived from those primes.  So, for instance, the number 6 is "odd

but true", while the powers of 2 are all extremely odd numbers.


    Once, when the secrets of science were the jealously guarded property

of a small priesthood, the common man had no hope of mastering their arcane

complexities.  Years of study in musty classrooms were prerequisite to

obtaining even a dim, incoherent knowledge of science.

    Today all that has changed: a dim, incoherent knowledge of science is

available to anyone.

        -- Tom Weller, "Science Made Stupid"


One Bell System - it sometimes works.


One Bell System - it used to work before they installed the Dimension!


One Bell System - it works.


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