Miscellany and Trivia

Anecdotes about Mathematicians, Logicians and Scientists – Two


MTr 3 John von Neumann

The following problem can be solved either the easy way or the hard way.

Two trains 200 miles apart are moving toward each other; each one is going at a speed of 50 miles per hour. A fly starting on the front of one of them flies back and forth between them at a rate of 75 miles per hour. It does this until the trains collide and crush the fly to death. What is the total distance the fly has flown?

The fly actually hits each train an infinite number of times before it gets crushed, and one could solve the problem the hard way with pencil and paper by summing an infinite series of distances. The easy way is as follows: Since the trains are 200 miles apart and each train is going 50 miles an hour, it takes 2 hours for the trains to collide. Therefore the fly was flying for two hours. Since the fly was flying at a rate of 75 miles per hour, the fly must have flown 150 miles. That's all there is to it.

When this problem was posed to John von Neumann, he immediately replied, “150 miles.”

“It is very strange,” said the poser, “but nearly everyone tries to sum the infinite series.”

“What do you mean, strange?” asked Von Neumann. “That's how I did it!”

Anecdotes about Mathematicians, Logicians and Scientists– Three


MTr 4 Newton

The English mathematician John Wallis (1616-1703) was a friend of Newton. According to his diary, Newton once bragged to Wallis about his little dog Diamond.

“My dog Diamond knows some mathematics. Today he proved two theorems before lunch.”

“Your dog must be a genius,” said Wallis.

“Oh I wouldn't go that far,” replied Newton. "The first theorem had an error and the second had a
pathological exception.”

Anecdotes about Mathematicians, Logicians and Scientists – Four


MTr 5 Einstein

Albert Einstein, who fancied himself as a violinist, was rehearsing a Haydn string quartet. When he failed for the fourth time to get his entry in the second movement, the cellist looked up and said, “The problem with you, Albert, is that you simply can't count.”

Anecdotes about Mathematicians, Logicians and Scientists – Five


MTr 6 Ernest Rutherford

Ernest Rutherford was a physicist from New Zealand One student in Rutherford's lab was very hard-working. Rutherford had noticed it and asked one evening:
- Do you work in the mornings too?
- Yes, - proudly answered the student sure he would be commended.
- But when do you think? - amazed Rutherford.

Anecdotes about Architects – One

MTr 2

A contractor, an engineer, and an architect were standing inside their recently completed building, looking out at the street. A VERY attractive woman walks by. The contractor whistles, the engineer says, “Did you see the legs on that woman?” The architect says, “Did I miss something, I was admiring my reflection”

Anecdotes about Architects – Two

MTr 3

An architect is said to be a man who knows a very little about a great deal and keeps knowing less and less about more and more until he knows practically nothing about everything, whereas, on the other hand, an engineer is a man who knows a great deal about very little and who goes along knowing more and more about less and less until finally he knows practically everything about nothing. A contractor starts out knowing practically everything about everything, but ends up by knowing nothing about anything, due to his association with architects and engineers.

Anecdotes about Architects – Three

MTr 4

How many architects does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Nobody knows for sure, it has never been witnessed.

Anecdotes about Architects – Four

MTr 5

A demolition engineer is someone who designs ways to destroy building architecture.

A demolition architect is someone who builds ways to destroy design engineering.

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