Maximum number of mathematicians in this joke

That is correct. As I was thinking of the question as I was driving along the freeway today, I thought about how there are many different molecules floating around in beer (I’ll go ahead and choose Guinness in this case). The smallest unit of Guinness will contain specific amounts of each constituent molecule. Remove one of those molecules (say, you need 100 molecules of X, and you only have 99), and you no longer have Guinness. For simplicity, let’s call all of the necessary molecules to create one unit of Guinness a ‘beer molecule’.

If you’re a super-braniac, it would be nice to know how many ‘beer molecules’ there are in a pint. From there, a regular ol’ braniac could figure out the maximum number of mathematicians. (Hey, would this be a good PhD thesis? The research might be fun.)

Don’t forget the carbon dioxide the beer releases when poured. A poured beer gets lighter over time.

Each mathematician is half the size of the previous one.

So this is homeopathic beer?

This won’t answer the OP’s question but it’s tangentially relevant.

In the old Cosmos series CS stated that if you cut a cake in half, and that half in half, and that quarter in half, and so on…
It would take 64 cuts to reduce it to one atom.

(if memory serves me correctly)

To a zeroth approximation, a human-scale quantity of anything has about 1024 molecules. The number of halvings until you get to 1 is log2 of that number, and log2 of a number is a little over triple the base-10 exponent. So triple 24 to 72, then round up to 80. About 80 mathematicians.

I’ve always used the punchline,

The bartender holds up his hand, pours 2 beers, and says, “Youse guys oughtta know your limits.”

A finite number of mathematicians walk into a bar.

The first orders one beer. The second orders half a beer. The third orders a third of a beer. The fourth a quarter, the fifth a fifth, and so on to n.

The bartender happily starts filling their order, and says, “You can have it for a song.”

How harmonic.


Gasoline pumps here typically have small print saying something like “minimum order 2 litre”. I assume that they do this because for smaller quantities the price of gasoline can’t be guaranteed at the stated accuracy (0.1c/litre)

Disregarding the practical difficulties, what regulations affect the bar tender / proprietor in this joke?

I thought the answer to everything was 42?

Am I the only one who has noticed a significant problem with the way this issue has been discussed so far?
We’ve had 32 posts dealing with the precise details of molecular weight,percentage of water and ethanol,etc.

But nobody has yet discussed the most important inconsistency within the OP:
Guinness is not beer!!!

Guinness is a liquid substance which should be handled only when wearing a hazmat suit.
:slight_smile: :slight_smile:

“Liquid substance” is debatable. Guinness is a colloidal suspension of grit in a malt beverage. It has a significant non-liquid component.

you’re right! The best description I’ve heard is that Guinness is “thick”.
But it still needs a hazmat suit

I like Guinness, but I’ve always referred to it as “beer you can chew”.

Each beer was in an infinite sized mug, duh!

Only if you agitate it with a horsehair stick before each division.

@markn_1 : If you quote by highlighting some text then clicking the Quote button, then yes, Discourse loses most or all of the formatting information. But if you quote by clicking on the Reply button at the bottom of the post, then any formatting information is preserved.

If it’s a British or Irish pub (where the Guinness is better anyway) you need more mathematicians as the pint here is 568 ml.