It’s time to lighten up my blog a bit. Every area of human endeavor develops jokes that rely on specialized knowledge, and science is not an exception. So without further ado, I present to you some of my favorite science jokes with the accompanying technical explanation.
The critic said that the problem with Freud is that none of his theories are testicle.
The founder of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud, believed that “slips of the tongue” or “Freudian slips” occurred because the subconscious mind would transfer thoughts to the conscious mind. He thought these slips revealed what was really in the person’s mind when they were talking. In the case above, the intended word was “testable”.
A plant biochemist walks into a gardening store. He asks the clerk, “Do you have that inhibitor of enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase?" The clerk frowns and replies, “Do you mean, roundup?” The biochemist hits his forehead with the open palm of his hand and exclaims, “Yes, sheez, I can never remember that name!”
Enolpyruvylshikimate-3-phosphate synthase is an enzyme necessary for plants to convert sugars to many compounds vital for life. The herbicide roundup (a glyphosate derivative) inhibits the activity of this enzyme, thus killing the plant.
Q: Does the name Pavlov ring a bell?
A: No, but it makes me salivate.
Ivan Pavlov performed a series of famous experiments where he made dogs associate the presentation of food with the ringing of a bell. The dogs then would salivate in response to the sound of the bell, even if food was not presented. This is known today as classical conditioning.
Q: What are the two things all people enjoy?
A: Serotonin and dopamine
All pleasurable feelings are generated in the brain by systems of neurons that, upon activation, release the neurotransmitters serotonin or dopamine. Therefore, technically speaking, when you enjoy something you are really enjoying the release of these two chemicals which produce and maintain the pleasurable sensation.
An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first one says, “I’ll have one beer.” The second says, “I’ll have half a beer.” The third one says, “I’ll have a fourth of a beer.” The fourth one says, “I’ll have an eighth of a beer.” The bartender interrupts, saying, “You guys should know your limits.” and pours two beers.
The joke is based on an exponential function that has an asymptote that approaches a limit at infinity. After the first mathematician orders one beer, it can be shown that even if millions of mathematicians successively order a volume of beer which is half of that ordered by the previous one, all these volumes added together will approach one whole beer at infinity. Therefore the one beer ordered by the first plus the total volume of beer ordered by the rest for all practical purposes equals two beers.
Werner Heisenberg and Edwin Schrodinger are driving down the highway and they get stopped by a cop. The cop says to Heisenberg, “Do you know how fast you were driving?” Heisenberg replies, “No, but I can tell you where I am.” The cop says, “You were doing 90 miles per hour in a 55 miles per hour zone.” Heisenberg replies, “Oh no, now I’m lost!” Puzzled, the cop tells them to get out of the car and begins searching it. He finds a dead cat in the trunk, and says, “Do you know you have a dead cat here?” Schrodinger answers, “Now I do!”
The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle states that either the speed or the location of a particle can be known, but not both. Schrodinger’s Cat is a famous thought experiment meant to be critical of the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics which states that particles exist not in one state, but in a superposition of possible states until they are observed. Schrodinger’s experiment linked this interpretation to a cat in a box whose life depends on the state of a particle, leading to the inference that, until the box is opened and the cat is observed, the cat is neither dead nor alive, but both. Two additional jokes based on this premise are:
Schrodinger’s Cat walks into a bar. And doesn’t.
Wanted, dead and alive: Schrodinger's cat.
A chemist walks into a candy store, and says, “Do you have some Carbon-Holmium-Cobalt-Lanthanum-Tellurium?” The clerk nods his head and hands him a bar of chocolate.
The chemical symbols in the periodic table for these elements are, Carbon (C) Holmium (Ho) Cobalt (Co) Lanthanum (La) and Tellurium (Te). A related joke based on a similar premise is:
A chemist asks an attractive woman if she is full of beryllium, gold, and titanium because she is be-au-ti-ful!
The chemical symbols are: beryllium (Be), gold (Au), and titanium (Ti).
And one more chemistry joke:
Two atoms are walking down the street, and one says, “Oh dear, I think I’ve lost an electron. The second atom says, “Are you sure?” The first one replies, “Yes, I’m positive.”
When an atom loses an electron, it acquires a positive charge.
Q. Why did the chicken cross the Möbius strip?
A. To get to the same side.
A Möbius strip is a ribbon that only has one side.
The microbiology lab has a sign on the door which reads: “STAPH ONLY”.
Staph, is an abbreviation of Staphylococcus, a genus of bacteria that may cause infections in humans. Here it is used as a pun for “Staff”.
There are 10 kinds of people in this world, those who understand binary, and those who don’t.
Computers operate using a binary (base 2) language made up of zeros and ones. The number 2 in binary is “10”.
Basic astronomy exam trick question: How many weeks are there in a light year?
Answer: None, a light year is a unit of distance (the distance light travels in a year) not of time.
The math teacher says, “Multiplication and division are two different functions.” A cell sitting in the front of the class raises its pseudopod and says, “Not for me.”
To reproduce, cells multiply, and this involves dividing to form new cells.
A mushroom walks into a bar, sits next to a woman, and says, “Hey, can I buy you a drink?” The woman gives him a dismissive look, and asks, “Who are you?” The mushroom replies, “I’m a fungi.”
Here the plural of fungus, fungi (also the phyletic classification of the Kingdom “Fungi”) is used as a pun for “fun guy”. Mushrooms are fungi.
Note: these are jokes I’ve heard or read “here and there”. I have no idea who the original authors are, or if they are copyrighted. If that is the case, and you don’t want me to feature your joke here or you want me to attribute it, please let me know.
Photographic portrait of Sigmund Freud by Max Halberstadt is in the public domain and was modified from the original.