3 thoughts on “How To Boil Water”

  1. Reminds me of a Math joke:

    An Engineer and a Mathematician were being tested to see which was a better problem solver. The Evaluator takes them to a room equipped with two stoves. Each stove has a sink beside it and a table in front of it. Each table has an empty pot on it. The Evaluator places the Engineer by one table and the Mathematician by the other.

    “The first problem to be solved,” announces the Evaluator, “is designed to see who can deliver me a pot of boiling water. You will be timed. Begin.”

    The Engineer and Mathematician each runs to the table, grabbing the empty pot as they head towards the sinks. Each turns the tap on full, each takes the water filled pot to the stove, each places the pot on the stove while turning up the burner to its highest setting. Each calmly waits while the water heats, the Engineer making notes about how many steps he took, estimating the water flow of the tap, adjusting the position of the table, muttering about maximizing this, minimizing that. The Mathematician listens to the Engineer, questions the assumptions the Engineer is making, suggesting refinements to the Engineer’s model of the problem. The water begins to boil in each pot at the same time and each Testee immediately carries a pot of boiling water to the Evaluator, each arriving at the same instant.

    “Excellent work,” says the Evaluator. “Now, I will ask you to complete the same task again. Deliver me a pot of boiling water.”

    The Engineer and Mathematician turn around and note the room is exactly as before, except now the empty pot is on the floor beside the table. The Evaluator says, “Begin.” The Engineer rushes to the pot, picks it up off the floor, rushes to the sink, manages to get the tap to flow faster (just as he had predicted!) fills the pot and gets it onto the stove and heating. He turns around to see the Mathematician’s pot empty and on the table and the Mathematician facing the Evaluator, saying, “From here we have demonstrated…”

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