This is the context:

Finally, I would say that, even within physics, philosophers are sort of like theoretical physicists, and physicists are like experimental physicists. Experimental physicists don’t like theoretical physicists, because what are the latter really doing?— a lot of mathematical noodling, and they don’t really work at all. The experimentalists instead think they are getting results. The joke experimental physicists say is, “Theoretical physicists will never schedule a meeting on Wednesday because it spoils two weekends."

Source: The origins of the universe: why is there something rather than nothing? (in the Annals of The New York Academy Of Sciences)

Can anyone explain this joke?

  • This question might be more fit for Physics SE. It is likely a dig at position uncertainty in Quantum Mechanics, whereby matter doesn't have deterministic position, but rather wave functions that describe probability of existence at a location. In the same way that matter spills over into surrounding space, Wednesday equally spills over into the preceding Sunday and the following Saturday.
    – urnonav
    Nov 14, 2019 at 19:16

1 Answer 1


"Experimental physicists don’t like theoretical physicists, because [...] they don’t really work at all."

The joke is that theoretical physicists don't do any work. Usually the weekend is {Sat, Sun}. If you had a meeting on Saturday, you would spoil one weekend. But for theoretical physicists the weekend is {wed, thu, fri, sat, sun, mon, tue, wed}.

So a having a meeting on Wednesday would "spoil two weekends".

There is no clever use of English or punning in this joke, nor is there any physics needed to understand it.

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