Description: The fireman, the physicist, and the mathematician
"Three men are sharing a hotel room - a fireman, a physicist, and a
mathematician. In the middle of the night, the fireman gets up to go
to the bathroom down the hall, and discovers that there is a fire in a
trashcan in the hallway. Immediately, he runs back to his room, grabs
the ice bucket, and throws the water all over the fire. This not only
puts out the fire, but leaves the rug soaking wet. Nonetheless, the fire
is out, and the fireman goes to the bathroom and then back to bed.
"A few hours, the physicist wakes up to go to the bathroom. As he leaves,
he discovers that there is a fire in the same trash can. Horrified, he
springs into action, grabbing a slide rule, a measuring cup, and a bottle
of water. He rapidly measures the size of the fire and the burn rate of the
trashcan's contents, measures out a precise amount of water, and throws this
water on the fire. The fire dies with an angry *HISS*,and there is not
one drop of water left in the bucket. There is, however, a bit of
water on the floor. Satisfied with a job well done, the physicist proceeds
to the bathroom and then goes to bed.
"Just a few short hours later, the mathematician awakens to the smell of
smoke. He quickly opens the door, and sees that the trashcan down at the
end of the hall (same one again!) is full of flames! He grabs a spectrograph.
a glass of water, and a pocket calculator, takes careful measurements of the
fire, calculates oxygen consumption rate, burn speed, and relative rate of
rise of the flame. He jumbles all of these numbers together, looks at his
glass of water, and says,
"Yup! I could put that fire out!"
....and goes back to bed.