A joke that I've seen in several places today (first from my friend Karen): "An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first one orders a beer. The second orders half a beer. The third, a quarter of a beer. The bartender says "You're all idiots", and pours two beers."

I can "improve" this joke. An infinite number of mathematicians walk into a bar. The first one orders a beer. The second orders two beers. The third orders three beers, and so on. The bartender takes a twelfth of a beer from the first one and they all walk away happy.

(Why, you ask? Because ζ(-1)=-1/12.)

## 19 November 2008

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## 9 comments:

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countablyinfinite number of mathematicians!Ok, there's no universe where something that is accomplished via a limit is improved by changing it to something accomplished via analytic continuation. That's far, far worse.

Your improvement was absolutely hilarious. Of course string theory makes me laugh too.

Hilbert never told us what shenanigans went down in the cocktail lounge of that famous hotel!

(The physicist's version is much shorter: "So, a bar walked into a physicist. Oh, wait, wrong reference frame.")

The original was pretty good, but...can you dumb your "improvement" down for those of us who aren't mathematicians?

Joe, try reading this: http://math.ucr.edu/home/baez/week124.html

Okay, I think I get it (to some degree, at least) now. Thanks. (I think the analytic continuation to reach that result is way over my head, but what am I gonna do about it?)

Then the (countably) infinite number of mathematicians stumble out of the bar to the nearby Hotel Hilbert only to find it's full...

I think the analytic continuation to reach that result is way over my head, but what am I gonna do about it?You're going to read this:

http://unapologetic.wordpress.com/2008/09/18/uniqueness-of-power-series-expansions/

and continue back through the links to the previous pages until you see something you recognize about power series leading up to that page.

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