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4 Answers


Why was 6 afraid of 7? Because 789Whether this pun makes you giggle or groan in pain, your reaction is a consequence of the ambiguity of the joke. Thus far, models have not been able to fully account for the complexity of humor or exactly why we find puns and jokes funny, but a research article recently published in Frontiers in Physics suggests a novel approach: quantum theory.

Virginia Rooster

Rooster, I did not understand the stuff in your link about "linear superpositions in a complex Hilbert space," but I love the idea that we might account for our sense of humour through quantum theory!

...plus the article had this GREAT pun in it...

“Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana.”

TheOtherTink Rooster
@ Rooster:

The article you cite is one of many attempts by the soft sciences (such as psychology or sociology) to interpret  their observations on a firmer mathematical basis.

In this case (i.e., jokes or puns), while the quantum formulation might have some vague qualitative merit for understanding the processes by which someone "gets" or doesn't "get" a joke, the task of finding the eigenstates of a particular joke tried out on a particular group of people seems to me impossible, because of the infinite possible variations in both the joke and the observers.

The above state of affairs is entirely different from that of quantum physics, which deals with particles and atoms, all of which of a given type are identical and all of which obey the same fundamental physical laws like momentum and energy conservation. The eigenstates of such entities can then be calculated by solving the Schroedinger equation (which is itself a statement of energy conservation), and then making probabilistic predictions.

With jokes, however, one cannot invoke unambiguous fundamental principles like momentum or energy conservation, and so no equivalent of the Schroedinger equation is possible in the joke case. Hence no eigenstates, hence no firm quantitative probability distributions of possible outcomes.

Marianne Rooster

Lol, Rooster, nine might have been too tasty - after all, a missing comma can transform Grandpa or Grandma into a dish ...



Wow, I know that barium rhymes with quite a few words, like vivarium, herbarium, rosarium, samarium, aquarium, solarium ...!

Now, I am wondering if you refer to this kind of "pun":

Q: Why do chemists call helium, curium, and barium the healing elements?

A: Because if you can't helium or curium, you barium!

(healing and curing is clear, but for "barium": there would be baring, barring, bearing, burying ...)

And besides "BA" (referring to a bad rear or a bad equine species), there are some interesting ideas in the Urban Dictionary:


So, you might as well bury them (does somebody have an idea for a suitable or sulfury obituary?) - lol.

Virginia Marianne

Oh Marianne, you got it! Plus it was amazing that Urban Dictionary included that too...

barium = bury 'em...

Marianne Marianne

Lol - I was not sure - just playing with rhymes and near rhymes - and checking the Urban Dictionary in the end ...



Say bye bye to our cell phones?

Virginia carbonproduct

Carbon Product people are giving VERY creative answers to my silly question, thank you! 


Old quantum mechanics never die... they just become more and more improbable. :(

carbonproduct TheOtherTink

Yes you are correct. Its all about probability. ;)

Virginia TheOtherTink

Oh Tink, I laughed and laughed...wait...this was something like one of our other questions? We had the electron that did not know whether it was a particle or a wave, but then you got it (or was it a photon) all straightened out?

Oh well, whatever it was, we are definitely doing important work here on SOLVED!

Marianne TheOtherTink

Lol, T(h)ink, this might be the pic of people trying to understand, reading, checking, reflecting - and coming to the conclusion that they can start things all over again (with confusing results):


Virginia TheOtherTink

Oh Marianne...you wrote this for O'Tink, but it is SO funny!

(Sniff) I am sad because I have never seen the Mona Lisa on my morning toast...

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink

The most astonishing thing about quantum probability is that the probabilities of possible outcomes can interfere with each other (as waves) to make yet other outcomes possible that would otherwise be impossible, or nearly so.

It's as if in a coin toss, the probability of a "head" interfered with the "tail" probability in such a way as to make the coin landing on edge the most probable. :O

Virginia TheOtherTink

O'Tink...as I look around, I am pondering the possibility that those quantum effects MIGHT be expressing in the macro world more than we realize. The idea that effects that shake up our shy photons or electrons get overwhelmed in larger systems...

So; is the moon still really there when I am not looking at it? Hmmm...

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink

@ Virginia, well, if you take quantum mechanics at its word, then yes, every elementary particle that makes up the moon assumes its probabilistic wave form when nobody is looking, but when you do look, the moon still appears in its usual form, because despite the fact that individual particles or atoms may collapse into different states, the aggregate, averaged over the whole moon, is still overwhelmingly likely to appear like the usual solid moon, rather than, say, a puff of moon vapor. The vapor would in principle be possible, but so unlikely, that you would not expect to see it in a quadrillion years of looking.

Virginia TheOtherTink


carbonproduct TheOtherTink

The moon and i will be a wave if i wave at the moon while not looking at it.

Virginia TheOtherTink

Dear CarbonProduct, oh that is SO brilliant, well I just really feel SURE yours is definitely the definitive resolution to the whole moon situation!  :D  ;)  :silly:

Marianne TheOtherTink

Lol - T(h)ink - I enjoyed your brilliantly formulated description. :) (applause) :) (wow, super) :angel: (elegant) :D (another applause) :)

And a romantic picture of the moon and of visible waves:


Marianne TheOtherTink

Virginia, it goes without saying that my answers are also for you, and I am hurrying to bring your Monalisa toast: :)



Virginia TheOtherTink

Well Marianne, I am certainly flabbergasted, here...waiting for this very special toast...plus, aren't you and I fortunate, to be sharing the company of such special folks as CarbonProduct and OtherTink, who give us such fancy information about the moon and all?  :P  

Marianne TheOtherTink

Lol - of course, Virginia.

Well, the toast is a bit burnt, I'd rather transmit this picture:


and instead of a half burnt toast, how about these crispy croissants?


And there's enough for all - lol. :):D

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink

Thank you, Marianne, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

The moon/wave picture is beautiful:)

Virginia TheOtherTink

Marianne, I will GLADLY accept shipment of both the (original) Mona Lisa as well as the yummy croissants...and in return I will send YOU this Vermeer, circa 1665, his "Girl With a Pearl Earring." (I have heard this painting called "the Mona Lisa of the North.")

Also, I just learned the word "tronie," it seems the word is Old Dutch for face, and indicates a style of exaggerated facial expression common in Dutch painting of the Golden Age and Flemish Baroque!


carbonproduct TheOtherTink

Aw, I think you all are special too. ;)

Marianne TheOtherTink

Lol, Virginia, I can't - the original Joconde is in the Louvre, and they say that it won't leave it any more.

As to the croissant said to be world's best, you'd have to go to Melbourne in Australia



basing on:



The real tedious job is the puff pastry; according to traditional recipes, you need about three days to prepare it, as you have to put the dough at rest after every "operation" (layering of dough and butter). The main ingredients are simple: flour, water, butter (and salt).


There are, of course, several ways of making puff pastry.

Weird, I saw the movie (based on a novel with the same name) about the Vermeer's "Mona Lisa of the North":


and that reminds of another painting by Vermeer and another dramatic movie, also based on a novel about an unknown girl (directed by Claude Goretta) with Isabelle Huppert:



Oops, I forgot about tronie; it is indeed a new element, and I am wondering if "tronche" (also face, head, grim face, etc., from the Latin word "trunca") has the same origin as the Dutch "tronie" ... 

Marianne TheOtherTink

Hello T(h)ink, I am glad that you like it.


carbonproduct TheOtherTink

Your pretty special yourself marianne. ;)

Marianne TheOtherTink

Aw, thank you, Carbonproduct - and may I return your compliment? :blush::)

Virginia TheOtherTink

Well Marianne, now I have lots more stuff to add to my bucket list!

I was hesitating a bit about the escargot croissants, but then in your link I saw flavours like chocolate and such, and I realized the term 'escargot' must have to do with the spiral shape of the croissants...and NOT the snail itself...much like I have always seen cinnamon rolls!

Whew, that's a relief...escargot croissants...

Marianne TheOtherTink

Lol - Virginia, are you referring to the "pain aux raisins" or "escargot"? Actually, it is indeed a spiral, and that with chocolate is a roll, the "pain au chocolat"




and Joe Dassin's song "Le petit pain au chocolat" is a nice little story:

translation: http://lyricstranslate.com/en/le-petit-pain-au-chocolat-little-chocolate-roll.html

But there are also various stuffed croissants, like those with almonds, hazelnuts, vanilla, etc., or unsweetened croissants (especially mini-croissants) with ham (au jambon), cheese (au fromage), tuna (au thon), shrimps (aux crevettes), etc., or even "croissants aux escargots" (with garlic and parsley).

Virginia TheOtherTink

Well Marianne, I guess I am getting used to the idea now...but I had a moment of nausea at the thought of  croissants stuffed with snails - really disgusting! 

I have spent most of my life as a vegetarian, unable to endure the thought of actually eating animal flesh. All that changed prolly ten years ago, when I realized I needed meat for my health... but still have difficulty.

But what I really loved was the song you posted, complete with translation, utterly delightful... :)

Marianne TheOtherTink


I am glad that you liked the song. Joe Dassin was the son of American film director Jules Dassin:


Actually, we must face reality: humans eat various meats - i.e. the locally available and edible protein sources - since praehistoric times, and besides various kinds of lifestock and fish, also snails (and other molluscs), arthropods, insects, etc.

You certainly remember that other primates, like chimpanzees, are eating insects and other monkeys, but you might be amazed about this information:



TheOtherTink TheOtherTink

@ Virginia,

Vegetarianism reminds me of a funny story from when I was little.

Our family had just finished a turkey dinner one Thanksgiving, and my Granddad said, as he had on some previous occasions, "Y'know, we really shouldn't eat meat. It's quite cruel."

I said, "Gee, Grampa, how come you only say that AFTER dinner, but never BEFORE?"

He smiled and laughed. :D

Marianne TheOtherTink

Lol - that was smart indeed, T(h)ink.


Virginia TheOtherTink

Dear Marianne, I appreciated and learned things from all three of your carefully chosen links.

And yes, I am now also one of the meat-eaters...I will put this under O'Tink's comment also, but I am now considering the possibility there are some people who actually require meat for their health...and I am one of those. Not everyone, some people their body chemistry somehow allows them a vegetarian option, but not me.

Virginia TheOtherTink

O'Tink, what I see with your comment is more indication of a close warm family...and btw, for me there was no philosophical objection to meat-eating, I was simply repelled, nauseated by the whole concept. This even began in babyhood (according to my mother), before I knew the difference. I would happily swallow the mashed-up peas/carrots etc., but would spit out any animal flesh, even scrambled eggs!

carbonproduct TheOtherTink

I too had no philosophical objection to meat eating yet was repelled by it as far back as I can remember. The taste of meat has never appealed to me. 

Virginia TheOtherTink

CP, that is quite fascinating! I think you are the first person I ever met who is like me in that regard; have you known others like us? Who don't have any philosophical objection to meat, but are just repelled by it?

carbonproduct TheOtherTink

No, just me, and now you. lol Interesting. Maybe we were meant to meat. hahahah get it? meat? Corny I know, but I do prefer vegetables anyway. ;+

Virginia TheOtherTink

Well I love it, CP...we clearly have a special (sniff) bond...yes I feel certain, indubitably we were meant to 'meat'...

Marianne TheOtherTink

Lol, Virginia, and there is also another problem; we can't transform our adorable cats and dogs into vegetarians. We should rather vary our own diet (reasonable doses of everything), instead of eating too much of any "category", as we are omnivorous mammals - and our food depends also on our natural surroundings, our climat and our resources ...

Virginia TheOtherTink

Yes Marianne, to the idea of the omnivore...I have read about people studying our teeth, or intestinal tract...and it seems we are built as omnivores! And the North American Eskimos, historically they had no access to any food other than meat, they relied on animal products. 

Still it is strange that a very few people have a revulsion to animal flesh. As you see above, I knew of no one like that other than myself, until comparing notes with Carbon Product, and it turns out she is the same way! Interesting...

Marianne TheOtherTink

Yes, Virginia, our food and our needs depend also on local conditions and availabilities.

But even in tropical surroundings with various fruits, vegetables, cereals, mushrooms, etc., humans need also proteins, lipids and other vitamines and minerals from wildlife or lifestock, including eggs, insects, arthropods, crustaceans, etc.

Virginia TheOtherTink

It is true, Marianne...!

And even all those years I did not eat meat, I still consumed dairy and cheese; however even that was not sufficient for my body, eventually.

TheOtherTink TheOtherTink

@ Virginia,

Yes, I have a lot of fond childhood memories, which I treasure to the core of my soul.

Virginia TheOtherTink

Beautiful, O'Tink...<3

Marianne TheOtherTink

Yes, Virginia, whatever the domain, extreme conditions and changes are not good.