need some nerdy chemist/engineer humor
July 9, 2010 9:48 AM   Subscribe

I'm giving a presentation next month need a funny joke about the difference between chemists/scientists and engineers (because I'm an engineer doing chemistry)

Here's an example:

The optimist says the glass is half full. The pessimist says the glass is half empty. The engineer says the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Now I need one about and scientist and an engineer and/or a chemist and an engineer. (PS: I already found the one about the broken car, but I didn't get it)
posted by beammeup4 to Grab Bag (22 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
How about this cartoon mad scientists versus mad engineers ... The original site for the cartoon seems to be down.
posted by carter at 9:51 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

There's a neurosurgeon, a biochemist and a civil engineer sitting in a pub.

Suddenly, the neurosurgeon says 'God is a neurosurgeon, it's obvious'.

'How so?' say the other two.

'Well, look at the human brain. Millions of connections, capable of speech, high speed image processing, conscious and unconscious control - it's a marvel of creation. God has to be a neurosurgeon to have created that'.

The biochemist scoffs and says 'Not at all. Consider the chemical reactions in the human body. Conversion of water, air and chemical fuel in the form of food into motive energy. Inter-cellular transfer of that energy and waste products. All automatic, all essential. God is a biochemist to have created a system of such beauty, simplicity and balance'.

The civil engineer puts down his pint and chuckles. 'No chaps, you're both wrong. God is a civil engineer'.

'Nonsense!' cry the other two. 'Prove it!'

The civil engineer smiles. 'Who else but a civil engineer would route a waste system right through the middle of a leisure area?'
posted by Happy Dave at 9:57 AM on July 9, 2010 [9 favorites]

A scientist and an engineer were sharing a prison cell, both sentenced to be shot at dawn.
Fortunately, they came up with a plan. As the physicist was led out to the firing squad, the engineer set fire to a small pile of straw on the window-ledge of their cell.

"Look!" the physicist yelled to his captors. "The prison is burning!" The firing squad dropped their weapons and ran to put out the conflagration. Furthermore, the Warden decided that the scientist deserved a pardon for saving the prison.

The next day the firing squad came for the engineer. As you might guess, the scientist was having a much harder time getting a large enough fire going outside the prison to draw attention. As it happens, it wasn't until the engineer was staring down the rifle barrels that he finally saw enough smoke. So, as fast as he could, the engineer yelled "Fire!"
posted by namewithoutwords at 10:02 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

PS: I already found the one about the broken car, but I didn't get it

I know a few of these, so if you post it here we can probably explain it to you.
posted by griphus at 10:03 AM on July 9, 2010

When I see the words chemist and engineer all I can think about are the Chemical Engineers. A chem-e gets referred to often as a 'sledgehammer chemist' because apparently their only thought processes are, "With enough heat and enough pressure we can change anything!"
posted by komara at 10:07 AM on July 9, 2010

In my circles, the joke trinity was engineer, physicist (which you can substitute for scientist/chemist), and mathematician.

An engineer, a scientist, and a mathematician are on holiday in Scotland and riding a train through the countryside. Looking out the window, the engineer sees a black sheep and says: "Look guys, the sheep in Scotland are black.". The scientist says: "No, all you can say is that there is at least one black sheep in Scotland." The mathematician says: "No, all you can say is that at least one side of one sheep in Scotland is black."
posted by mhum at 10:08 AM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

This very intelligent and confident former co-worker of mine had to give a speech to a room full of male engineers early in her career. To open it up with a joke, she told them this:
'How do you get a dog to stop humping your leg?

You suck it's dick.'

1/2 of the room lost it, and the other half were not pleased. It is one of her many classic stories.
posted by glaucon at 10:18 AM on July 9, 2010 [20 favorites]

Not quite but:

In the late hours of a biochemistry house party (they have the best beer), young profs from the engineering, chemistry and math departments are passed out on the living room couch. In the mess of overturned bottles and scriff, a cigarette smolders on the rug and catches fire.

Smelling smoke, the engineer wakes to see a small flame by her feet. Looking around, the first thing she sees is a a half-empty drink on end-table. She empties it on the fire, putting out the flame. Still quite drunk, she passes out again, knowing that her practical solution solved the problem.

But the cigarette is still warm and the flame starts up again. This time the chemist wakes up and see the fire. He thinks: "Fire is an oxidative process. It needs oxygen. No oxygen, no fire." He quickly takes off his shirt (exposing his manly, sculpted pectorals, developed from long days doing liquid-liquid extractions in the analytical lab) and smothers the fire with it. Job done, he too passes out again.

But the fire burns through the shirt and caught flame again. This time, the mathematician wakes up to the smell of smoke. Seeing a fire-extinguisher by the door, he passes out again, happy that a solution exists for his problem.

Needless to say, they all burned to death. The moral, of course, is that all scentists or engineers need a grad student to actually get any work done.
posted by bonehead at 10:19 AM on July 9, 2010 [18 favorites]

A mob boss kidnapped a physicist, a chemist, and an engineer. "Whichever one of you mugs tells me how to rig and win this horse race will get a cash reward and your freedom. You other losers will swim with the fishes."

The engineer offered, "I can design a cheating bridle with a mechanical device to stimulate your horse to go faster."

The chemist offered, "I can whip up a drug that will make your horse run like the wind, and it will be undetectable!"

The physicist began, "Consider a spherical horse..."
posted by cairnish at 10:30 AM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

The "In the Pipeline" blog (which was previously featured on the Blue) has some funny and informative stories about Chemistry Gone Wrong in the "How Not to Do It," "Safety Warning" and "Things I Won't Work With" sections. I never really understood the difference between a chemist and a chemical engineer until I read the one about the MCMT plant exploding.

I'm not sure if the blog is what you're looking for, but you might find some funny story that has a good moral about the difference between the fields. Oh, and the comments are mostly as worthwhile as the blog posts themselves.
posted by richyoung at 11:00 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

To quote a line from the show, Big Bang Theory, "Engineers are the Oompa-Loompas of the science world."
posted by availablelight at 11:22 AM on July 9, 2010

Also, my favorite joke (which I've trotted out here before): "What's the difference between a doctor and an engineer? Doctors only kill people one at a time."
posted by availablelight at 11:24 AM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh, snap. Should have read the *first* comment in the thread before posting.
posted by schmod at 11:38 AM on July 9, 2010

In the French revolution all of the academic elite were rounded up for execution. A chemist, a physicist, and an engineer were brought out to the guillotine as the crowd cheered. The chemist was read a list of his crimes against the people as his head placed on the block. The executioner pulled the lever and the blade fell...but jammed halfway down. The people saw this as a sign from God and the chemist was freed.
Next up was the physicist, and just to be sure there were no more "signs from God", the guillotine mechanism was liberally greased up. His charges were read, the lever pulled, and again the blade jammed halfway down, so he was let go.
While the engineer had his extensive list of charges read, workers pored over the guillotine, greasing and shaving and adjusting to make sure everything was in working order. Since his crimes were especially egregious, he was sentenced to die face up, and watch his own demise. As they placed his head face up on the block he screamed "STOP! STOP!" and, pointing up at the guillotine blade said "I think I see what your problem is!"
posted by rocket88 at 11:54 AM on July 9, 2010 [3 favorites]

Three hungry cannibals --- who were a chemist, a physicist and an engineer --- found a human thigh bone.

* The chemist licked it, and put it in water to try to dissolve it.
* The physicist tried to break it open to get at the marrow.
* The engineer took it, hit the other two over the head, and ate them.

Definition of a Chemical Engineer

CHEMICAL ENGINEER: n. A person who does for profit what a chemist does for fun. see also "Prostitution"


Q: What is the difference between a chemist and a chemical engineer?
A: Oh, about $10 K a year.
posted by CathyG at 12:18 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

Inspired by the blog richyoung linked to:

Chemist: Hey, CE look at this cool pop I get when I forget to cool this mixture ....
ChemEng: Oh shit! RUN!
posted by forforf at 12:30 PM on July 9, 2010

Best answer: To quickly finish this one...

The optimist says the glass is half full. The pessimist says the glass is half empty. The engineer says the glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

The chemist sees 50% H2O, 39% N2, 10.5% O2, and 0.5% argon and other trace gases contained by solid amorphous SiO2.
posted by hangashore at 1:04 PM on July 9, 2010 [2 favorites]

(I tell jokes even more poorly than I write them)

At a university behavioral experiment, an engineer, physicist and mathematician were presented, each in turn, with the same controlled situation: they were placed in a burning room with centrally located tub of water, pump and hose.

- The engineer immediately got the pump running, hooked up the hose, soaked the entire room with water and put out the fire. He dumped the remaining water on whatever dry spots were left.
- The physicist, after first running a few calculations, got the pump running, hooked up the hose and carefully metered out the water to the appropriate areas and put out the fire without wasting a drop.
- The mathematician (or chemist), after running a few calculations, pronounced "yes, it can be done". And left the room.
posted by klarck at 1:15 PM on July 9, 2010

"The difference between theory and reality is that in theory, there is no difference"
posted by -harlequin- at 2:27 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

Harlequin's is a quote from Yogi Berra: "In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."


A mathematician, a physicist, and a computer programmer were all asked the same question: "Prove or disprove the theorem that all odd numbers are prime."

The mathematician says, "1 is prime. 3 is prime. 5 is prime. 7 is prime. 9 is not prime, so the theorem is false."

The physicist says, "1 is prime. 3 is prime. 5 is prime. 7 is prime. 9 is experimental error. 11 is prime. 13 is prime, and that's enough data for a conclusion. The theorem is true."

The programmer says, "1 is prime, 3 is prime. 5 is prime. 7 is prime. 9 is prime. 11 is prime. 13 is prime. 15 is prime. 17 is prime. 19 is prime. 21 is prime..." and on and on.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 3:42 PM on July 9, 2010 [1 favorite]

One that got funnier and funnier as I worked through my MechE degree:

A mathematician, a scientist, and an engineer are asked to find the volume of a rubber ball.

The mathematician gets a ruler, measures the diameter of the ball, and calculates d^3/6.

The scientist gets a graduated beaker, pours a measured volume of water into it, drops the ball in, measures the volume again, and subtracts.

The engineer finds the model and serial number printed on the ball, then gets out his copy of Rubber Ball Manufacturing Standards Vol. IX, check in the index for the "Rubber, red" table...

In some variants the "scientist" is specifically a physicist; IIRC the "chemist" version is "weighs the ball, takes a 1mm^3 sample of rubber, weighs it, and divides".
posted by roystgnr at 5:36 PM on July 9, 2010 [4 favorites]

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