Author: Peter Fendrich

Date: 03:20:56 08/19/98

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On August 19, 1998 at 03:49:45, Tord Romstad wrote: >>P.S. Here is an interesting story about physists and mathematicians.... >> >>There was a famous physist (I can't remember his name) who claimed to be >>able to tell a physist from a mathematician by how they answered the >>following question: >> >> Two brothers live 10 miles apart. They both leave their houses one day, >> at the same time, and walk on a straight line towards one another. Each >> brother is walking at 4 miles an hour. One brother has a dog who leaves >> his house with him. The dog is running at 8 miles an hour. When the dog >> reaches the other brother, he turns around and goes back to his owner. >> When he reaches his owner, he turns around again towards the other brother. >> The dog keeps up this back and forth travel between the brothers until they >> meet. How far has the dog traveled? >> >>The fellow found that physists will reply with the correct answer instantly, >>while mathematicians will take several minutes to sum the series before >>giving the correct answer. He found this to be an excellent descriminator >>between physists and mathematicians. > >Being a mathematician myself, I feel slightly offended by this one. :-) >I found the "physicist solution" instantly, and I am sure most other >mathematicians would solve it equally fast. > >My personal experience is that mathematicians are generally much better than >physicists at spotting "tricks" which solve mathematical problems without >any calculations. Most mathematicians I know also dislike calculataing. >Faced with your problem, a mathematician would instantly see that the >problem could be solved by summing a geometric series. However, she would >not want do go through the labor of actually summing the series, and would >therefore spend a second looking for a simpler solution. She would certainly >be able to find the trick. > >Physicists are usually much better than mathematicians at making concrete >calculations. Like the mathematician, the physician would also quickly >discover that the above problem could be solved by summing a geometric >series. The physician, however, having confidence in his abilities to >calculate quickly and exactly, is much more likely to start summing >whithout looking for a simpler solution. > >Tord I agree with you except I don't think anyone would start summing... I think the typical physician solution is: The brothers will meet in 1 1/4 hour. The dog, runing back and forth, will during that time reach 8 miles/h * 1 1/4 h = 10 miles The mathematician approach is in a way more 'lazy' than the physician. I think the typical mathematician answear would be: The brothers are reachig each other with a speed of 8 miles/h which is the same speed as the dog is running. The dog must run the same distance as the brothers are walking, 10 miles. //Peter

- Re: Physicists and mathematicians
**fca***04:13:52 08/19/98*- Re: Physicists and mathematicians
**Peter Fendrich***05:36:08 08/19/98*- Re: Physicists and mathematicians
**Guido Schimmels***04:53:59 08/20/98*- Re: Physicists and mathematicians
**Steffen Jakob***21:24:40 08/20/98*

- Re: Physicists and mathematicians

- Re: Physicists and mathematicians

- Re: Physicists and mathematicians

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