Over the course of my many years doing physics, I have created an array of physics jokes when the alternative was doing something productive. For the large number of people I’ve not yet subjected to them, some are reproduced here, with explanations just in case they’re too nerdy. Which most of them are.
This kind of thing is why science has an image problem.
What do you call a river made entirely from chocolate and sweeties?
A confection current. 1
A man rings a hotel for mathematical concepts.
’How may I direct your call?’ asks the receptionist.
The man replies: ‘I’d like to speak to the operator.’ 2
A physicist walks into 750.06 Torr.
Whoops! Wrong system of units. 3
What did the physicist feel towards the hip Hindu?
Cool om attraction! 4
What do you call the man who collects the tickets on a maglev train?
A superconductor. 5
Why is a spherical electromagnetic wave-front which has been expanding for 5.4×10−44 s not very clever?
It’s as thick as two short Plancks. 6
My final physics joke has been typeset using in the style of an Oxford Physics exam paper. Download it here.
- 1 This is just a pun on ‘convection curent’. Geddit?!
- 2 This is a bit of wordplay based on the fact that mathematicians call something which acts on a function an operator and that there’s an everyday telephonic homonym. Geddit?!
- 3 The torr is an old-fashioned unit for pressure, equivalent to a millimetre of mercury. A more modern unit for pressure is the bar. So, but for a unit conversion, the joke reads ‘A physicist walks into a bar’. Geddit?!
- 4 Another pun, this time incorporating a bit of religious trivia. The Hindu is hip to get the cool, and ‘om’ or ॐ is the most sacred syllable in Hinduism. The physics appears because ‘Coulomb’ (‘cool om’) attraction is the name given to attraction between oppositely-charged bodies. Geddit?!
- 5 This is hilarious because maglev, or magnetic levitation, trains often use superconducting magnets to create a powerful enough field to lift the train above the rails.
- 6 5.4×10−44 s is the ‘Planck time’, defined as the amount of time it would take light to travel one Planck length. Consequently, a spherical wavefront expanding in all directions will be as “thick” as two such “short” Planck lengths (I think 1.6×10−35 m—0.000000000000000000000000000000000016 m—is pretty short). Geddit?!