# Feynman joke (okay, a bit deep)

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### #1 Tormod

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Posted 23 December 2004 - 03:18 PM

If Richard Feynman applied for a job at Microsoft

Interviewer: "Now comes the part of the interview where we ask a question to test your creative thinking ability. Don't think too hard about it, just apply everyday common sense, and describe your reasoning process."

"Here's the question: Why are manhole covers round?"

Feynman: "They're not. Some manhole covers are square. It's true that there are SOME round ones, but I've seen square ones, and rectangular ones."

Interviewer: "But just considering the round ones, why are they round?"

Feynman: "If we are just considering the round ones, then they are round by definition. That statement is a tautology."

Interviewer: "I mean, why are there round ones at all? Is there some particular value to having round ones?"

Feynman: "Yes. Round covers are used when the hole they are covering up is also round. It's simplest to cover a round hole with a round cover."

Interviewer: "Can you think of a property of round covers that gives them an advantage over square ones?"

Feynman: "We have to look at what is under the cover to answer that question. The hole below the cover is round because a cylinder is the strongest shape against the compression of the earth around it. Also, the term "manhole" implies a passage big enough for a man, and a human being climbing down a ladder is roughly circular in cross-section. So a cylindrical pipe is the natural shape for manholes. The covers are simply the shape needed to cover up a cylinder."

Interviewer: "Do you believe there is a safety issue? I mean, couldn't square covers fall into the hole and hurt someone?"

Feynman: "Not likely. Square covers are sometimes used on prefabricated vaults where the access passage is also square. The cover is larger than the passage, and sits on a ledge that supports it along the entire perimeter. The covers are usually made of solid metal and are very heavy. Let's assume a two-foot square opening and a ledge width of 1-1/2 inches. In order to get it to fall in, you would have to lift one side of the cover, then rotate it 30 degrees so that the cover would clear the ledge, and then tilt the cover up nearly 45 degrees from horizontal before the center of gravity would shift enough for it to fall in. Yes, it's possible, but very unlikely. The people authorized to open manhole covers could easily be trained to do it safely. Applying common engineering sense, the shape of a manhole cover is entirely determined by the shape of the opening it is intended to cover."

Interviewer (troubled): "Excuse me a moment; I have to discuss something with my management team."

(Leaves room.)

...

(Interviewer returns after 10 minutes)

Interviewer: "We are going to recommend you for immediate hiring into the marketing department."

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Posted 12 January 2005 - 06:20 PM

Deep, I care not... I just love it

### #3 pgrmdave

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Posted 13 January 2005 - 06:00 PM

I like the true story of Feynman being found too "psychologically unstable" to be drafted.

### #4 sanctus

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Posted 15 January 2005 - 05:49 AM

I didn't get the joke, mainly because....er.... what is a manhole?

By the way this question is my 300 post.....

### #5 Tormod

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Posted 15 January 2005 - 06:05 AM

He he...a manhole is basically those holes in the streets where water is drained into - and they are usually round because even a fool can't lose a round manhole cover through a round opening...

### #6 gccbhu

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Posted 15 January 2005 - 07:44 AM

He he...a manhole is basically those holes in the streets where water is drained into - and they are usually round because even a fool can't lose a round manhole cover through a round opening...

what would have happened if einstein and dirac were posted in a nuclear power plant

### #7 gccbhu

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Posted 15 January 2005 - 07:51 AM

what would have happened if einstein and dirac were posted in a nuclear power plant

now an other question for all of you
what will be your first reaction if you see he einstein in your street?

### #8 pgrmdave

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Posted 15 January 2005 - 08:45 AM

If you meet Einstein on the road, kill him.

### #9 Tormod

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Posted 15 January 2005 - 09:01 AM

If you meet Einstein on the road, kill him.

### #10 Killean

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Posted 15 January 2005 - 09:25 AM

gcchbu said:
what will be your first reaction if you see he einstein in your street?

My first reaction would be to check my glasses as Tormod suggested. My second reaction would next be wondering how he got in my street. Third reaction, check to make sure the cement he is surrounded by is secure enough that I can cut him out in a giant square cube and then charge admission to the "Ask Einstein!" exhibition in my back yard.

Einstein - "When will you let me free?"
Killean - "When I've made enough to buy an island." *continues to count money*

### #11 Turtle

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Posted 21 January 2005 - 02:01 PM

godd bless thinking out of the box! If I met Al on the street I'd invite him over for a microbrew while I show him my math discoveries.

### #12 Fishteacher73

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Posted 21 January 2005 - 02:31 PM

I probably would make a quick inventory of all the zombie movie rules...Does he bite, come out only at night, alrady dead etc.?

But aside from that fact that a dead person would be walking in the streets, I would probably have to giggle at the irony.

### #13 pgrmdave

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Posted 25 January 2005 - 08:41 AM

BTW, I hopw that people realize that I'm paraphrasing a Buddist saying - If you meet the Budda on the road, kill him.

### #14 Buffy

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 02:19 PM

Something like this actually happened to me at Microsoft. I'm nowhere near as smart as Dick was, but this joke shows off his plain old weirdness, not really his smarts. They actually ask these kinds of questions, and at the time it was easier to deal with the pressure by immediately challenging the assumptions posed by the question in the most obscure way I could think of. My recommendation is, if you *are* interviewing for a job at M\$, be as weird as possible and you will probably get an offer, and not necessarily in marketing: my offer was in product management actually, turned it down tho. So funny they like weirdos, but I think it passes as a substitute for "brilliant" which is what they claim is the bar...

Cheers,
Buffy

### #15 Drakon1323

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 03:52 PM

hahahahahahahahahahah....awesome
the whole thread is great !

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Posted 28 January 2005 - 05:04 PM

If I met Einstein, I'd ask him, "what year is it" ?

If I met Feynman, he'd say, "are you sure" ?

If I met Descarte, he'd say, "don't bother me, I'm thinking..."

=========>

### #17 phision

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 09:51 PM

Feynman: "If we are just considering the round ones, then they are round by definition. That statement is a tautology."

Interviewer: "Surely you mean tautological? I'm sorry, there are no jobs at this prestigious corporation for anyone who would make such an obvious grammatical error! Good day sir."