Smile of the Day

Life is getting much too serious, yes? Who doesn't need a daily smile?

Wednesday, June 7

Problem solving

It is said, statistically, that the average person changes careers every five years: so the mathematician decided, at the end of five years, to walk down to the fire department and become a fireman. The fire chief decides to test him first, so he takes the mathematician to the alley behind the fire department, which contains a dumpster, a fire hydrant, and a hose. "If you see the dumpster here on fire," asks the fire chief, "what would you do?"

"Well," says the mathematician, "I hook up the hose to the fire hydrant, turn on the water, and put out the fire."

So far, so good. But the fire chief adds another question: "Now, what do you do if you are walking down this alley and you see the dumpster is not on fire?"

The mathematician puzzles over this one for awhile. Finally he answers: "I light the dumpster on fire."

The fire chief can't believe he heard this right. "Why on earth would you light the dumpster on fire?"

"Well," says the mathematician, "that way I reduce the problem to one I have already solved."


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