Milk production at a dairy farm was low so the farmer wrote to the local university, asking help from academia. A multidisciplinary team of professors was assembled, headed by a theoretical physicist, and two weeks of intensive on-site investigation took place. The scholars then returned to the university, notebooks crammed with data, where the task of writing the report was left to the team leader. Shortly thereafter the farmer received the write-up, and opened it to read on the first line: "Consider a spherical cow in vacuum. . . ."
The point of the joke is that physicists will often reduce a problem to its simplest form in order to make calculations more feasible, even though such simplification may hinder the model's application to reality.
It is used in the title of at least one book: Consider a Spherical Cow: A Course in Environmental Problem Solving by John Harte.
- ^ a b Harte, John (1988). Consider a Spherical Cow: A Course in Environmental Problem Solving. University Science Books. ISBN 978-0935702583. http://www.uscibooks.com/harte.htm .
- ^ Kirkman, T. W. (1996). "Spherical Cow: A Simple Model". Statistics to Use. http://www.physics.csbsju.edu/stats/WAPP2_cow.html. Retrieved 2007-02-19.
- ^ "Сферический Конь В Вакууме". 2010. http://ru.wiktionary.org/wiki/сферический_конь_в_вакууме. Retrieved 2010-07-15.
- ^ "Сферический конь в вакууме". 2010. http://lurkmore.ru/Сферический_конь_в_вакууме. Retrieved 2010-10-15.