Smile of the Day

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

Tuesday, April 24

The astronomical lightbulb

Q: How many astronomers does it take to change a lightbulb?

I thought astronomers used standard candles.

A: Two: one to change the bulb, the other to complain about the light pollution.

A: Only one, but you have to go to Hawaii to get the really good bulbs.

A: Three, plus or minus seventy-five.

A: Four:
  • A research student to sit around and not learn anything
  • His/Her supervisor to explain how much harder it was to change lightbulbs when he/she was a research student
  • An amateur astronomer to make sure it is a low pressure sodium lightbulb with proper shading to reduce light pollution
  • Some technical johnny to actually change the lightbulb and generally keep the place running while the astronomers contemplate their NGCs
A: None, they wouldn't change it because it ruins their night vision.

A: Four:
  • One to actually change the darn thing.
  • Two more: one to operate the CCD camera to measure the number of photons it emits, while his friend operates the computer to do the task
  • And finally another to complain about how the CCD is out of focus and how the lightbulb actually looks like a polo mint.
A: 10^8, because astronomers love really big numbers !

A: Eight:
  • 1 observational astronomer to measure luminosity and redshift of bulb
  • 1 theoretical astronomer to calculate spherical coordinates of bulb
  • 1 departmental head to write to SERCPPARC, for project funds
  • 1 astronomical engineer to design and build the bulb replacing satellite
  • 1 starling SIG programmer to write satellite control and data reduction software
  • 1 NASA mission control expert to arrange satellite launch and say "t-2 go for main engine start ..." etc
  • 1 remote observer to manipulate the satellites arm once in elliptical orbit around lightbulb
  • 1 Grad student to act as scapegoat in event of mission failure
A: What's a lightbulb?


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