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Surely you jest: The anatomy professor

Posted by John McIntyre at 8:47 AM | | Comments (17)


What, not even a snark about the feeble attempt at a Scottish accent?


I am informed privately by a credible medical source of a scientific error in this joke: It is the pupil of the eye, not the retina, that has an extraordinary capacity for dilation.

Of course, if you were coming to this site for medical information, you're doomed to a life of continual disappointment.

That was Scottish? I thought it was German.

And is that true even if it's the pupil and not a retina? If the pupil of your eye is 1/8th inch wide and it expanded seven times wouldn't it be 7/8th's of an inch wide? That's seems like one big pupil to me.

Maybe my math is over-simplified. If so, I'm sure that some of the people over in the Sandbox who were calculating the area of a pizza will correct me.

The joke was funny, though.

If it's possible to veer off-topic from a joke:
The annual highlight of my professor's first-semester biology class was his five-minute dissertation, illustrated on the chalkboard, of the symbols he imagined beyond the basic ones for the male and female of the species (O-> and O+; please tilt the first 45 degrees counterclockwise, the second 90 degrees clockwise). This involved interpretations of sexuality devoid of taste and political correctness.
He didn't teach the second semester during my year: He was suspended for impregnating one of my classmates.
The lesson: Beware of college anatomy lessons.
Come to think of it, he had a Scottish-sounding last name.

Math was my worst subject in school, but here it goes, nice and slow:

So, let’s set up our question: Is the largest pupil size seven times (or more) larger than the smallest pupil size?

Pupils generally can range in diameter from 2 to 8 millimeters. (There are studies to support this range, regardless of what Wikipedia says. There’s also the fact that the two pupil diameter scales I have on hand run from 2mm to 9mm.)

Let’s label diameter “D”. D1=2mm and D2=8mm

However, the pupil size is actually an area, so we need to calculate the area. The area of a circle, which we’ll label “A” is as follows:

A = π(D/2)^2

Therefore, if the area of the smallest pupil is A1 and the area of the largest pupil is A2:

A1 = π(2/2)^2 = 3.14 mm^2

A2 = π(8/2)^2 = 50.26 mm^2

Now, we’re asking if the area of the largest pupil is seven times (or more) greater than the area of the smallest pupil. In terms of a formula, we’re trying to prove the following:

A1 x 7 ≤ A2

Rearrange that formula and it becomes:

A2/A1 ≥ 7

So, it turns out that A2/A1 = 50.26/3.14 = 16.01 . 16.01 ≥ 7 is a true statement. And there you have it: a pupil expands 16.01 times (at maximum) under the proper stimulation.

LOL. At this rate we're going to start calling this the Sandbox Annex. Certainly enough of the membership wanders over.

Abigail - In humans?

Is there any explanation for why AP used to insist that "student" was to be used for ninth grade and up, and eighth-graders and younger must be referred to as "pupils"?

Bucky - Yes, I took my numbers from studies of the human eye.

Having lived in Scotland, your Scottish accent was okay, almost pretty good. Especially the "sit doon" part.

You'll nae get a snark from me.

a) why did this joke need to take place in Edinburgh? Just b/c the Scottish accent adds to the humor?
b) I would have guessed stomach. Don't know what that says about me.

I would have guessed stomach. Don't know what that says about me.

Ms patricia, it says you need to visit Dining@Large. You are clearly a right thinking person.

Sorry, but this joke suffers from a rather serious defect - an important part of its anatomy is missing.

Putting that another way: if the bit at the end merely repeats one or more thoughts that the listener has been thinking all along, then it ain't a punchline . . .

That's what you were thinkin' was it, Adrian Morgan? I was thinking with the young woman and side-thinking, "Is McIntyre telling a dirty joke on video??"

"I was thinking with the young woman and side-thinking, 'Is McIntyre telling a dirty joke on video?"

Ah, what a wonderful construction the mind is, bringing thoughts unbidden to the forefront. I once knew a young lady who once asked me to "stop whistling those dirty songs."

I don't have sound on my work computer. . .and was thus horrified not to have an audio explanation behind John's joke involving the word "anatomy" and making a hand gesture I initially interpreted as "the shocker." I'm so relieved to find out it was about Scots and eyes. :-P

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at
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