Engineering Joke of the Day

Proving, once again, that engineers really do have a sense of humor.

No, really.

All jokes (C) listed date, Mark E. Phair

Note: Not so much "of the day" anymore... Now more "when I think of one."

At least two of these jokes have been used in engineering classrooms to help students remember concepts and to lighten the mood. Please feel free to use them in your own classroom, and let me know what you think! (mphair at gmail dot com). Would you like me to write some jokes for your classroom material? Drop me an email and we can arrange something.

About this site.

Joke 10/28/08

I keep trying to find a phone number in Atlanta, but all the websites keep returning "Not Found" errors.

Explanation 10/28/2008

An area code for phone numbers in Atlanta is 404, which is also a response code from webservers that means "not found." Here is a wikipedia article about HTTP 404.

Joke 04/21/08

Hmm. The sophisticated AI I released onto the 'net didn't do quite what I expected. A few hours later, every link had been replaced with one to this code:

while (1)
around.Run() && you.Desert();
lie.Tell() && you.Hurt();

Explanation 04/21/2008

In C-like langauges, while (1) { } does nothing forever, so everything below that will never happen. Everything else is a rendering of Rick Astley's song "Never Gonna Give You Up" ... See the Wikipedia article on Rickrolling for more information on the meme, which involves sending people links claiming to be one thing and actually being a link to the aforementioned music video.

Joke 09/24/07

29A: The apartment number of the beast

Explanation 09/24/07

29A is the hexidecimal (base 16) representation of the decimal number 666.

Joke 04/27/2006

Boole and Zadeh were chatting over dinner one night.
Zadeh: I've got a job for you: track down Mr X. so we can talk to him.
Boole: What is the reason that you want to talk to Mr. X?
Zadeh: I'm not certain.
Boole: Then, logically, it's an inappropriate assignment... We don't know Y!

Explanation 04/27/2006

Boole and Zadeh are famous logicians. An "appropriate" assignment of variables is one in which all of the unknowns are assigned values. Above, they want to know X, but they also want to know "Y", so the assignment is "inappropriate" for the unknowns.

Joke 02/27/2006

ii = True
if (ii):
***Error: Invalid argument (begging the question)

Explanation 02/27/2006

This is more of a philosophical logic joke than engineering... but that's okay, right? Begging the question is a logic falacy (an invalid method of arguing) in which you assume the conclusion is true as part of the premise. Here, we are setting a variable to true and then checking if it is true, yielding a fanciful error message. "Invalid argument" typically means that you've passed an inappropriate parameter to a function.

Joke 11/16/2005

Q: Which tenant of a world religion states that all beings will eventually tend towards normal?
A: The Zen-tral limit theorm!

Explanation 11/16/2005

The Central limit theorm states that, under certain conditions, aggregrate probabilities tend towards a normal distribution.

Joke 05/06/2004

Q: Has the biomedical imaging engineer done anything useful lately?
A: No, he's mostly been working on PET projects.

Explanation 05/06/2004

Positron Emission Tomography (PET) is a biomedical imaging technique.

Joke 02/26/2004

Why wont the following C++ code work?

class Pen
   Pen& operator+= (const Pen& pen);
   Pen& operator-= (const Pen& pen);
   Pen operator -- (const Pen& pen);

Because it has run out of INKrament!

Explanation 02/26/2004

The incrament operator (++) is equivalent to x = x + 1. If you still don't get it, note the name of the class.

Joke 02/20/2004

Q: How do you ensure that a singing group that never strays far from their lead singer's monotone stays out of a contest?
A: Use a band reject filter!

Explanation 02/20/2004

A band reject filter cuts out a range (band) of frequencies from a signal, so a band that didn't have a wide range of pitches could easily be completely removed from a signal with a band reject filter.

Joke 01/29/2004

Have you heard of Base 2 Ball?

Eleven strikes you're out!

Explanation 01/29/2004

Base 2, also called binary, has only two digits: 0 and 1. You count in binary as follows: 0, 1, 10, 11, 100, 101, 110, 111, 1000, etc.

Joke 07/12/2003 (Weekend)

Q: If Abraham Lincoln had a pointer, what would it be?
A: The &Gettysbeurg

Explanation 07/12/2003 (Weekend)

In C and other languages, a pointer is a variable that points to another variable. A way to get a pointer to a variable is the "address of" operator, &().

Joke 07/11/2003 (#100!!!)

So, I was walking down by the waterfront the other day when I saw a homeless man sitting by the docks muttering to himself. What interested me about him was that he was wearing an old-time train conductor's uniform. I went up to talk to him, and found that he was quite nice. He complimented me on my choice of clothing for the day, and said that he had been wearing his uniform since he had been a intern-conductor for the local shipping company. He also claimed that he had invented modern integrated circuit engineering practices... the latter led me to believe that he was a little bit insane... although, it did occur to me later that he was a COMPLIMENTARY MENTAL DOCK-SIDE SEMI-CONDUCTOR.

Explanation 07/11/2003 (#100!!!)

Complimentary metal oxide semiconductors (CMOS) tranistors are the basis of modern computer chips.

Joke 07/10/2003

Q: Why didnt the malfunctioning circuit have any friends?
A: His short temper.

Explanation 07/10/2003

A short, or short circuit, is when two wires touch that should not touch and the electrical current goes the wrong way.

Joke 07/09/2003

Q: Which James Bond characer is FIFO?
A: Queue

Explanation 07/09/2003

Q is an inventor character in the James Bond series. FIFO means "first in, first out," or the first thing that goes into the queue is the first thing that comes out of it. The prototypical example of a FIFO is a queue.

Joke 07/08/2003

Q: How do you know when a farmer has gone unstable?
A: When he starts seeing crop encirclements.

Explanation 07/08/2003

The Encirclement Property is a method used to determine the stability of systems.

Joke 07/07/2003

Q: Why did the weightlifter lose the specific strength contest?
A: He was too dense.

Explanation 07/07/2003

Specific strength is defined as strength divided by density.

Joke 07/05/2003

Q: Why did the baby stack get grounded?
A: He PUSHed his POP too far.

Explanation 07/05/2003

A stack is a memory construct that functions like a stack of cards. To add something to the stack, you PUSH the thing onto the stack, and to remove something from the stack you POP it off the stack.

Moving for a few days...

Joke 07/02/2003

Q: Why did the chip forget everything when it got lost in the snow?
A: It must have been the cold boots.

Explanation 07/02/2003

A "Cold boot" is when you reset a chip or a full computer to the state that it is in when it first starts, or when it is still "cold."

Joke 07/01/2003

Q: Which logical function predicts the future?
A: NOR-stradamus.

Explanation 07/01/2003

The NOR function is defined as follows:
Given True/False inputs A and B,
NOR(A,B) =
TRUE if A and B are FALSE
FALSE otherwise.
The NOR function is the opposite of the OR function, hence NOT-OR, NOR.

Joke 06/30/2003

Q: What is it called when all of the railroad tracks stretch the same amount?
A: The iso-train condition.

Explanation 06/30/2003

The Isostrain condition is when everything in a material stretches the same amount under a load. If the load is in the right direction, it is possible that different parts can stretch different amounts.

Joke 06/28/2003 (Weekend)

Programmer 1: So, I've got two processes communicating with one another, but some of the data that is getting transmitted isnt always showing up where it is supposed to be showing up...
Programmer 2: Maybe it's a leaky pipe.

Explanation 06/28/2003 (Weekend)

In some operating systems, "pipes" are used to communicate between different programs, or processes.

Joke 06/27/2003

Q: Where is the best place to wash jewels?
A: In the heat sink!

Explanation 06/27/2003

A Joule is a unit of energy, and a heat sink is something that can absorb large amounts of heat, i.e. energy.

Joke 06/26/2003

Q: What is a Systems engineer's favorite dance?
A: The unit step.

Explanation 06/26/2003

A unit step is a signal that starts at zero, and then "instantaniously" jumps to a higher value and stays there.

I went on vacaction for awhile, here.

Joke 06/18/2003

Q: How do filter designers get to see their favorite musicians up-close?
A: Simple, they use bandpasses.

Explanation 06/18/2003

A bandpass filter removes everything from a signal that isn't within a certain frequency range, or, frequency "band"

Joke 06/17/2003

Ad in personals
Me: Wirey, sensative
You: A little resistive
We'll make a great thermocouple!

Explanation 06/17/2003

A thermocouple is a simple device used to measure temperature electrically.

Joke 06/16/2003

Q: How do you send a message to a DSP engineer?
A: With a spectragram!

Explanation 06/16/2003

A spectragram is a method used by people involved with DSP of visualizing signals in the frequency domain, i.e. looking at its spectrum.

Joke 06/14/2003

Q: What do you call it when a whole bunch of chemical engineers change schools?
A: Mass transfer.

Explanation 06/14/2003

For things to happen in chemical systems, mass tpyically must be moved around, be it reagents or product or coolant streams. This movement of mass is called mass transfer.

Joke 06/13/2003

Q: What do you call rude pictures that a mechanical engineer draws and then gives away without charge?
A: Free bawdy diagrams

Explanation 06/13/2003

Mechanical engineers often use free body diagrams as a starting point for analysis. They are sketches that have relevent forces drawn in.

Joke 06/12/2003

Q: What do you call a dumb software QA person?
A: Crash Test Dummy

Explanation 06/12/2003

Software QA is the procedure of testing programs to make sure that they work properly, e.g. they don't crash.

Joke 06/11/2003

Q: Why is it difficult to contact tarantulas?
A: Their webservers are down.

Explanation 06/11/2003

Tarantulas don't spin webs. It is difficult to contact people on the internet if their webserver is down.

Joke 06/10/2003

Q: Why did the binary number blush?
A: Probably because of two's complement.

Explanation 06/10/2003

Two's complement is a way of writing numbers that typically makes computerized computation easier and faster.

Joke 06/09/2003

Q: Why do civil engineers make great musicians?
A: They know all about timber!

Explanation 06/09/2003

Yes, I know that it is spelled timbre and that it is pronounced completely differently. It's been a long morning.

Joke 06/07/2003 (Weekend)

Q: Where do old Apple computers go when they crash?
A: Core dump.

Explanation 06/07/2003 (Weekend)

A core dump is when a program crashes and all its memory is sent to the screen so you can see what went wrong.

Joke 06/06/2003

Q: What government organization spies on foreign laptops?

Explanation 06/06/2003

PCMCIA = "Personal Computer Memory Card International Association" PCMCIA cards are most commonly found in laptops and fufill a wide array of functions from modems to extra memory.

Joke 06/05/2003

Q: Why are DVD players sadder than CD players?
A: Their lasers are more often blue.

Explanation 06/05/2003

DVD players use blue lasers for their smaller wavelength compared to red or green lasers. It is possible to get more data in a smaller area if you can make the data physically smaller. Think of those tiny dictionaries and of the included magnifying glass as the blue laser.

Joke 06/04/2003

Q: When do sheep most like to go swimming in the river?
A: When the flow is lamb-inar.

Explanation 06/04/2003

Laminar flow is when fluids, such as rivers, flow smoothly.

Joke 06/03/2003 (#75!!!)

Q: Why are C++ programmers so snobby to C programmers?
A: Well, frankly, the latter don't have much class.

Explanation 06/03/2003 (#75!!!)

A class is an important part of object-oriented programming, one of the major features that C++ has that C does not.

Joke 06/02/2003

I don't think I feel to safe holding that guy up...
... I just don't truss him.

Explanation 06/02/2003

A truss is a structure used to support something or, alternatively, a type of bridge.

Joke 05/31/2003 (Weekend)

Q: How do you know when someone is trying to contact your network?
A: When the token rings.

Explanation 05/31/2003 (Weekend)

A token ring is a name for a type of network.

Joke 05/30/2003

Q: What did the CPU say to the non-writable memory who insisted that he was actually writable?
A: I'm sorry, but you're absolutely ROMng.

Explanation 05/30/2003

ROM = Read-Only (non-writable) Memory. ROM sounds like wrong, it really does. i just had to help it along a bit. really.

Joke 05/29/2003

Did you hear about the programmer who walked for hours but never found his destination?
... It wasn't in his path!

Explanation 05/29/2003

The path is the set of directories that the operating system looks in to find programs when one tries to run something.

Joke 05/28/2003

Q: How can you describe the mood mechanical engineers experience as they continue their education?
A: More stress, tensor.

Explanation 05/28/2003

The stress tensor is a multi-dimensional matrix (a tensor) that characterizes the stress a body is under

Joke 05/27/2003

Q: How do engineer witches manipulate curses?
A: With hex editors!

Explanation 05/27/2003

A hex editor is a tool that allows the user to view binary files in hexadecimal (base 16), which is a convenient shorthand for binary because 2^4 = 16, so every 4 binary digits is 1 hex digit.

Joke 05/26/2003

Q: What design tool is completely in the eyes of the beholder?
A: A Subjectives Tree.

Explanation 05/26/2003

An Objectives Tree is a design tool that allows an engineer to organize the requirements and the desired properties for a project.

Joke 05/24/2003 (Weekend)

Q: How can you analyze the Pase Doble in the frequency domain?
A: With the La Passe Transform!

Explanation 05/24/2003 (Weekend)

The Pase Doble ("double step") is a French dance celebrating the Spanish Bullfight. La Passe (thanks, Victor, for the proper spelling!) is a step in said dance. The Laplace transform is a method used in engineering to look at signals and systems in the "s-domain," which is closely related to the frequency domain. Looking at something in the frequency domain means looking at how often events occur rather than when they occur.

Joke 05/23/2003

Did you hear about the nun who liked old operating systems and was really good at repairing old floppies?
...She was a Disk Operating Sister

Explanation 05/23/2003

The Disk Operating System (DOS) is an old type of operating system.

Joke 05/22/2003

Did you hear about the outdoorsy logic designer who committed a crime, but managed not to get caught? ...
It was a Field Programmer Get-Away.

Explanation 05/22/2003

A Field Programmable Gate Array (FPGA) is a chip that can be programmed multiple times to do almost anything a custom chip can do. Each individual chip is typically more expensive than a custom chip, but the initial investment is orders of magnitude lower.

Joke 05/21/2003

Q: What type of system can move heavy loads and is mildly amusing?
A: A hy-droll-ic one.

Explanation 05/21/2003

hydraulic. get it? ugh. sorry 'bout this one.

Joke 05/20/2003

Q: What do you need when you are tired of the dark and heavy, yet happy, solitary poems?
A: You need a light, embittered, di-ode.

Explanation 05/20/2003

A Light-Emitting Diode (LED) is an electronic component that lights up when you run enough current through it in the correct direction.

Joke 05/19/2003

Q: If I were a piece of lab equipment, what would I be?
A: A graduated cylinder!

Explanation 05/19/2003

Yesterday was the big day for my classmates and me. Now, on to bigger and better things - well, that's the plan anyway.

Joke 05/17/2003 (Weekend)

Q: Why did the electrical engineering student prefer resistance to capacitance and inductance?
A: Because impedance is much too complex.

Explanation 05/17/2003 (Weekend)

Impedance is the ratio of voltage to current in a circuit. With just resistors in a circuit, you can call it resistance instead, and it is always a real number. With capacitors and inductors in the circuit, the ratio is no longer real, it becomes a complex number.

Joke 05/16/2003 (Joke #60)

Q: What is the most common type of meat electrical engineers eat?
A: Ground beef.

Explanation 05/16/2003 (Joke #60)

In electrical circuits, lines are common if they are connected to eachother, and ground is the low reference state for the entire circuit. So, oftentimes ground and common are somewhat synonomous.

Joke 05/15/2003

Q: How do electrical engineers meditate?
A: They contemplate V = IR.

Explanation 05/15/2003

V = IR is called "Ohm's Law." Get it? "Ohmmmmmmmmm..."

Joke 05/14/2003

Q: Why did the polite assembly language programmer have trouble writing device drivers?
A: He didn't want to interrupt.

Explanation 05/14/2003

You typically have to use interrupts (routines that stop the processor whatever it is doing and transfer control to your program) when you are writing device drivers.

Joke 05/13/2003

Q: Why didnt the assembly language programmer get to attend the data storage conference?
A: He forgot to register.

Joke 05/13/2003

Registers are the part of computer processors where data that will be used immediately is stored. Assembly language programmers use them quite a bit.

Joke 05/12/2003

Q: When the audio engineer lost his temper and began to scream at the judge, what did he try to blame it on?
A: A busted AGC.

Explanation 05/12/2003

An Automatic Gain Control (AGC) keeps levels constant. For example, they are used oftentimes in audio systems to keep the volume level nearly the same to avoid blowing out speakers, etc.

Joke 05/10/2003 (Weekend)

Q: Why did the humble engineer have a mental breakdown after a good design review?
A: Too much positive feedback.

Explanation 05/10/2003 (Weekend)

Positive feedback is when a signal feeds back into a system. It can have disasterous results. For example, when a microphone gets too close to a speaker that it is connected to, the loud whiny noise is called "feedback".

Joke 05/09/2003

Q: Why do programmers hate pancakes?
A: They dont want a short stack!

Explanation 05/09/2003

The stack is a place for programs to store special types of information. If a stack were short, it would run out of space too quickly. Another interpretation is that "short" is a datatype in C, which would prehaps be too short for the type of data people want to put on the stack. Either way.

Joke 05/08/2003

Q: Why did the civil engineer head to the dentist?
A: She needed some bridgework.

Explanation 05/08/2003

I love cheap puns. No, Really.

Joke 05/07/2003

Q: What kind of shoes does a LILO programmer wear? A: Boots.

Explanation 05/07/2003

LILO is a program that loads the operating system when a computer starts up, i.e. when it boots. It is part of a category of software called boot loaders.

Joke 05/06/2003

Q: What must old composite engineers remember to do?
A: Eat lots of fiber.

Explanation 05/06/2003

Many composites consitst of some sort of thin fiber in a solid matrix.

Joke 05/05/2003 (***** JOKE #50 *****)

Prof: You have so much potential.
Student: Watt? Watt did you say?
P: Don't resist your destiny! You have the capacity to do well!
S: Currently, I just don't have the power.
P: Look, I know that you are under a lot of pressure right now.
S: It's the stress, professor, I know I'm going to fail!
P: You have to be more elastic.
S: I know, I know, the same old schtick, "You're only Young once."
P: Look, am I going to get an honest response out of you?
S: Not continuously, professor. Only on impulse.
P: That doesn't Bode well for your future. I'm worried about you.
S: Look, I think its just a phase I'm going through.
P: It's just the magnitude of your problem that I'm worried about.
S: Look, I know you think I'm a nut.
P: You've got it nailed.
S: I gotta bolt.

Explanation 05/05/2003 (***** JOKE #50 *****)

Yay 50.

Joke 05/03/2003 (Weekend)

Q: Why did the chip design team stop trying to build the fastest processor ever using a Monte Carlo method?
A: It wasn't a very Logical Effort.

Explanation 05/03/2003 (Weekend)

Monte Carlo methods involve trying a whole bunch of random possibilities and is never (AFAIK) used for design purposes, but rather for testing models or finding solutions to nasty equations. Logical Effort, in addition to refering to a sensible undertaking, also denotes a method used in chip design to avoid time-wasting simulation using "back of the envelope" calculations.

Joke 05/02/2003

Q: What is the modulus of elasticity before it grows up?
A: Young modulus.

Explanation 05/02/2003

Young's Modulus is the modulus of elasticity.

Joke 05/01/2003

Q: Back in the day, how could you easily get a bunch of engineers drunk?
A: Spike the punch cards.

Explanation 05/01/2003

Punch cards were used as input to computers before there were keyboards.

Joke 04/30/2003

I don't care for cool computers. I'm not a CPU fan.

Explanation 04/30/2003

Fan. As in spinny-spinny-cooly-cooly. Get it? Sorry about inflicting this one on you all (is anybody really out there?)

Joke 04/29/2003

Q: What fundamental law of the universe states that misinterpretation of weather in Shakespeare's plays is always increasing?
A: The Second Law of Thermoiambics.

Explanation 04/29/2003

The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that entropy (disorderliness) is always increasing. For the rest, read some more about Shakespear's verse.

Joke 04/28/2003

Q: Did you hear about the new high-jump technique designed by computer?
A: It's called the Fonsberry Flip-Flop.

Explanation 04/28/2003

A flip-flop is a nearly fundamental part of digital circuits. The Fonsberry (sp?) Flop is the current standard in high-jump techniques.

Joke 04/26/2003 (Weekend)

Q: What crime family controls the plastics industry?
A: The MERfia.

Explanation 04/26/2003 (Weekend)

mer = element of a polymer. There are probably a billion of these types of jokes. I really should stop being so lazy.

Joke 04/25/2003 (#42!!!)

Q: What did the dolphin / nuclear engineer say when she left?
A: Bozon and thanks for the the fisson!

Explanation 04/25/2003 (#42!!!)

A Bozon is a type of particle. Fisson is a type of nuclear reaction. For the rest of the reference, think Douglas Adams.

Joke 04/24/2003

Q: What is the result of applying a boring stress?
A: Plain strain.

Explanation 04/24/2003

Plane strain is stretching that occurs in a plane because a stress has been applied to the plane.

Joke 04/23/2003 (#40!!!)

Q: Did you hear about the electronics engineer / vampire named Tara who, for extra money, started a Taxicab service?
A: Her current work involves Tara bite hard, drives.

Explanation 04/23/2003 (#40!!!)

Tera- is a prefix, like giga- or mega-. Hard drive sizes are tpyically mesured in gigabytes, currently, but terabyes are soon on their way!

Joke 04/22/2003

Q: How is a script kiddie like a flower?
A: He starts to grow when he first takes root, but all it takes is a good slug to stop him.

Explanation 04/22/2003

A script kiddie is someone who relies on the work (scripts) of others to crack computer systems. "Taking root" is stealing administrator privilages on a computer. A slug, of course, can either be from a 9mm or a fist, both will suffice. Script kiddies are not looked upon with admiration by anyone other than themselves.

Joke 04/21/2003

Q: Who are the beings that live beneith the sea, but are made of plastic?
A: The Mer-People.

Explanation 04/21/2003

Plastic is another name for polymers, poly-mer. sorry. this is truely horrible.

Joke 04/19/2003 (Weekend)

Q: Why did the Ancient Egyptians like their ruler, even if he ruled with an iron fist?
A: It was probably the Pharaohmagnitism!

Explanation 04/19/2003 (Weekend)

Pharaoh was the ruler of the ancient Egyptians. Ferromagnetism is the type of innate magnatism associated with iron.

Joke 04/18/2003

Q: What do you call sausages made from polymers?
A: Cross-links.

Explanation 04/18/2003

Cross-linking is when two strands of polymers are connected in a few points.

Joke 04/17/2003

Did you hear about the bad experience the unhip engineer (NOT A REDUNDANCY!) had, trying to be otherwise?
... He tried to smoke a solder joint.

Explanation 04/17/2003

Soldering is joining pieces of metal my melting another alloy with a low melting point onto both pieces, and then allowing it to cool. The result of two pieces joined is a solder joint. If you dont get the other half of the pun, there's not much I can do to help.

Joke 04/16/2003

A bunch of scientists and engineers were rather drunk, and when one decided to yell out his favorite equation, "E = MC^2," others started to follow suit.
"F = ma"
"a^2 + b^2 = c^2"
but when one engineer yelled out "F = c*(d/dt)(x1 - x0)" the crowd groaned and the yelling stopped. He later apologized to his friend, "I didn't mean to put a damper on things..."

Explanation 04/16/2003

F = c*(d/dt)(x1 - x0) is a constitutive equation for a mechanical damper.

Joke 04/15/2003

F = kx, y = (x1 + x2 + x3 + ...), a = g, BLUE SCREEN...
Spring, Summer, Fall, Win-tear.

Explanation 04/15/2003

F = kx is the equation for a SPRING. y = (x1 + x2 + ...) is a SUMMER - something that sums. a = g : acceleration equals gravity when you are free-FALLing. The "BLUE SCREEN OF DEATH" is the colloquial name for the blue screen that appears when Microsoft Windows (TM) crashes horribly, leading to a WINdows TEAR; that can either be tear as in cry or tear as in rip - either one works.

Joke 04/14/2003

Q: What did the Fourier transform of the arbitrary signal say to the Fourier transform of the sinc function?
A: "You're such a square!"

Explanation 04/14/2003

The sinc function, sinc(x) = (sin x)/x, has Fourier transform typically called a "rectangle" function, which looks like a single cycle of a square wave. If the constants are all picked properly, it is a square. If you don't know what a Fourier transform is, I am not going to be able to impart that to you in a single webpage, let alone a single paragraph. Try google or a course in signal processsing.

Joke 04/13/2003 (Weekend)

When it comes to floating point arithmatic, who cares about the exponent and sign bits? They're not significand.

Explanation 04/13/2003 (Weekend)

IEEE Standard 754 lays out the standard for digital floating-point arithmatic. Numbers are represented with a sign bit, exponent bits, and significand bits, in something like the following form: (-1^[sign])*significand*(2^exponent). Of course, the exponent really has more significance than the significand, but that is not what the latter's name is referring to.

Joke 04/11/2003

That's right, kids! The Big Top is back in town! This time, there is a reason - but you'll have to see it to find out. Make sure to come early, because we are always filled to capacity...
...That's right, we're an Application Specific Inundated Circus.

Explanation 04/11/2003

Application Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs) are microchips designed for very specific applications, ranging from digital signal processing to system flow control.

Joke 04/10/2003 (Joke #30!)

Q: How did the mother know her daughter would grow up to be a memory designer?
A: The child was so RAMbunctious!

Explanation 04/10/2003

RAM is random access memory, a common type of computer memory.

Joke 04/09/2003

Q: What types of ships do overworked engineers take cruises on?
A: Pressure vessels.

Explanation 04/09/2003

A pressure vessel is a container designed to withstand high internal pressures.

Joke 04/08/2003 (Thanks to Marcus for inspiration)

Did you know that materials engineers have determined the exact day that the end of the world will occur?
...They used the modulus of rapture.

Explanation 04/08/2003

The modulus of rupture is a value used in materials engineering to determine how reliable a ceramic design is. The rapture, on the other hand, is the time fortold in the Christian Bible when all believers will be lifted up to heaven before the end of the world.

Joke 04/07/2003

A mad engineer (like a mad scientist) was hard at work, trying to finish a project that he had been asked to build not once, but twice. Its sole task was to send cow cousins forward in time. When he had finally finished and taken the device outside, however, it started to rain and the whole thing got wet. What was he left with?
...A second-order damped oxen-later.

Explanation 04/07/03

A second-order system is one whose governing equation is at least of order 2. A damped system is one that oscillates, but eventually the oscilations die out over time (because they are damped). As far as I know, cows and oxen are cousins.

Joke 04/05/2003 (Weekend)

claim: Control Theory has no further to progress
proof: (by contradiction)
Assume, for the sake of contradiction, that there is a next step in the progress of control theory. Given that control theory has progressed from classical control to modern control, that next step must be postmodern control. But postmodern control is a contradiction. Q.E.D.

Explanation 04/05/2003 (Weekend)

Control Theory has indeed been divided into classical and modern control, with the split occuring in the middle of the twentith century. The fundamentals of what we call modern control were first discovered by engineers in the then U.S.S.R., and its subsequent worldwide adoption is one of many innvoations that allowed space travel. Postmodernism is a style and a movement in many of the different arts, and has a slightly different interpretation in each; one can say, however, that postmodern control is probably a contradiction in most cases.

Joke 04/04/2003

When you've been up coding external hardware to computer interfaces, nothing quite says breakfast like a byte of serial.

Explanation 04/04/2003

The serial (one bit at a time) port is a common interface from the computer to the outside world, and a byte is eight bits.

Joke 04/03/2003

Did you know that a pig farmer in China in the year 1634 did some amazingly early work with information theory?
... His work was in Ham-Ming codes.

Explanation 04/03/2003

Hamming codes, developed by Richard Hamming in 1948, have absolutely nothing to do with pig farming, unless a pig farmer wants some good error correction for his communications. The year 1634 was not particularly special, except that it was during the Ming Dynasty.

Joke 04/02/2003

A Bainite chunk of steel was at the psychiatrist's and was relating his childhood to the good doctor. "Doctor, when I was younger, I am sure that I was Austinite!"
"Don't worry," the shrink assured him, "it was just a phase you were going through."

Explanation 04/02/2003

Bainite and Austinite are so-called phases of steel, and steel must usually first be Austinite before it can become Bainite.

Joke 04/01/2003

Did you know that a knight actually discovered the usefulness of nonmetallic, inorganic engineering materials?
... his name was Sir Ammic.

Explanation 04/01/2003

Ceramics can be defined as nonmetalic inorganic engineering materials. Their usefulness was actually discovered when people first made pottery - a VERY long time ago as far as human discoveries go.

Joke 03/31/2003

Q: Why is C++ one step away from failing?
A: Because C++ = = D

Explanation 03/31/2003

Software joke here, if you couldn't tell. C++ is a programming language. x++ is shorthand for x = x + 1. The code above will not actually return true, unless the variables C and D are equal before the statement, because x++ is so called post-increment, which means that it gets incremented after the comparison is made. Of course, the fact that the variable name D comes after C doesnt matter, because a variable name does not always betray its contents. If you don't all know this, you probably don't care, but I wanted to make sure that people don't email me saying, "that doesn't work! you are a horrible programmer!" It's a joke. Get over it.

Joke 03/29/2003 (weekend, JOKE #20!)

PCB Layout Engineer: One of the few professions from which you can be fired for missing the bus.

Explanation 03/29/2003 (weekend)

Printed Circuitboard (PCB) Layout Engineers design things like motherboards, cards for computers, and special application boards. A bus is something that computer parts usually use to talk to the computer. If a design cannot connect to the buses that it needs to connect to, it is most likely worthless.

Joke 03/28/2003

Q: Why shouldn't you bother steel that has been heated, quenched quickly, and then reheated?
A: Because it has quite a temper!

Explanation 03/28/2003

Tempering is the process of heating, quenching quickly, and then reheating. It is used to fine-tune metal properties.

Joke 03/27/2003 - warning: especially horrible

Q: Why should chip designers take more calculus?
A: Well, it's all about Very Large Scale Integration!

Explanation 03/27/2003

Very Large Scale Integration (VLSI), refers to complex chip design. The integration part really means "pulling different parts together" as opposed to my punny reference to calculus. I'm sorry about this one.

Joke 03/26/2003

The semiconductor engineer was quite upset - the substrate/dopant combination that he had chosen just wouldn't deliver what he needed.
... He should have chosen a different carrier.

Explanation 03/26/2003

The electrons and electron "holes" in semiconductors are called charge carriers, and by choosing the right ratio of materials, one can design a semiconductor to have the most desireable characteristics. As far as the non-engineering component of the joke, the pun is on deliver/carrier...

Joke 03/25/2003

Two materials engineers were giving a talk. One was moving along quite well, but when questions came along the audience started getting vicious. He stammered a bit, and his partner had to take over for him.
"What happened to you out there? You were flowing so well, and then you just froze up!" "I don't know... the audience got so cold, I must have passed the eutectic point!"

Explanation 03/25/2003

A eutectic point is where a slight decrease in temperature can turn a liquid into a solid.

Joke 03/24/2003

Two guys walk into a small pub and walk up to the front as if to order a drink. All of a sudden, they run to opposite ends of the serving area, and jump up on top of it!
The pubowner, also an engineer, screams, "What do you two think you're doing? This is a bar, not a beam!"

Explanation 03/24/2003

In engineering mechanics, bars are traditionally loaded by pushing and pulling along the bar, whereas beams are loaded normal to the beam, such as jumping on the ends.

Joke 03/22/2003 (weekend - sorry this one is so bad... i'm in a rut)

Q: What did the monserous voltage source say to the chunk of wire?

Eplxination 03/22/2003

Wire has very low resistance to begin with, and large voltages can more easily overcome small resistances.

Joke 03/21/2003

Q: Why did the communications company go out of business?
A: They overspent their link budget!

Explanation 03/21/2003

Link budgets in communications engineering refer to the amount of signal power you can lose to different factors. If you lose too much signal, then you don't recieve a meaningful message from it. As a side note, any company that routinely did a poor job of managing link budgets would probably go out of business.

Joke 03/20/2003

Did you hear about the digital filter engineer who went back to school and became a doctor?
...He was prety good at it, except that he kept blaming the ringing in people's ears on ideal filters.

Explanation 03/20/2003

Ideal filters have sharp edges, which causes a distinctive "ringing" effect.

Joke 03/19/2003

Q: What do you call a legislator that writes laws about output of power plants, but ignores current and resistance?
A: A voltage regulator.

Explanation 03/19/2003

Power output depends on current, resistance, and voltage, which are all related through the equation V = IR. A voltage regulator is a device which keeps voltage within a defined range.

Joke 03/18/2003

Q: If the masters of classical music were all engineers as well as composers, how would a symphony be designed?
A: Well, they would start with a Bach diagram.

Explanation 03/18/2003

Drawing a block diagram is usually a key component of the design process - it helps sort out the different parts of the system and how they are connected.

Joke 03/17/2003

Q: Why did the systems engineer overpay for the frequency response experimental equipment that he purchased?
A: He bought it on impulse.

Explanation 03/17/2003

Systems engineers can use an approximation of an ideal impulse (a very short burst of energy) to measure the frequency response of a system.

Joke Weekend (03/15-03/16/2003)

Q: What do you call a no-exceptions knife-size policy at the most expensive campgrounds?
A: Zero tolerance at MMC.

Explanation Weekend (03/15-03/16/2003)

In mechanical drafting, "MMC" means "maximum material condition," and "Zero tolerance at MMC" refers to the allowed size of features.

Joke 03/14/2003

"I! I! I! I! I! I! I!"
"What are you talking about?"
"...Just a moment..."

Explanation 03/14/2003

In mechanics (both engineering and physics), I is the moment of inertia.

Joke 03/13/2003

Q: How did the chemical engineer know that her friend was under alot of pressure?
A: She measured her head.

Explanation 03/13/2003

Head is a way of expressing pressure in chemical engineering.

Joke 03/12/2002 (shortened)

Q: Which engineer has the most ill-gotten gains and how did he come by them?
A: Bode, plots!

Explanation 03/12/2003

Bode plots are graphs used by engineers to analyze the response of systems; the concept of gain is an important part.

Joke 03/11/2003

"Hey baby... what if I told you that I was time-dependent plasticity?"

Explaintion 03/11/2003

Creep is a materials engineering term that means time-dependent plasticity, or the property that causes materials to slowly, but permemently, deform under a small load.

Joke 03/10/2003

Q: Why did the digital filter designer get attacked by People For the Ethical Treatment of Animals?
A: He was selling FIRs.

Explanation 03/11/2003

A digital filter designer designs different types of signal processing "filters" for various tasks, like filtering out certain frequency ranges in audio, for example. A Finite Impulse Response (FIR) filter is a typical type of filter.

Weekend Joke (03/08-09/2003)

A student is taking an oral exam.

Professor: When is Burger's Vector parallel to the dislocation line?

Student: Umm... umm... oh no! I've forgotten!

P: Oh, c'mon... you remember! We've been covering dislocations for awhile, now! I thought you liked it...

S: I can't remember... I can't remember... ahhhhhh....

P: I KNOW that you know this! Didn't you like this section?

S: No! I hated it! Screw dislocation!

Explanation (03/08-09/2003)

In materials science and engineering, Burger's vector is a good way to chacterize line defects. A certain type of defect to which the Burger's vector is parallel involves spiral stacking of planes around a dislocation line. It is called a screw dislocation

Joke 03/07/2003

Q: Why do transistors tend to live longer than resistors?
A: Most likely it is due to their active lifestyles.

Explanation 03/07/2003

Transistors are called "active" components because they can amplify a signal - or provide a larger output signal than the input signal they recieve. Resistors, on the other hand, are called "passive" because they can only reduce the signal.
Whether a transitor actually lasts longer than a resistor depends on a varity of factors, including manufacturing and application.

This site

There are too many math jokes. This site is so engineers can have some jokes that mathematicians don't get. I am writing them all, but there is a chance that I am digging them from my subconcious. Please let me know if I am doing so. It is also possible that the site will not be updated daily. I will try, but I make no promises. The jokes will also be, most likely, horribly horribly not funny.

More writing by Mark E. Phair

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