27

"...well maybe x e to the x"

I have a vague memory of a title something like: Tavern at the end of the world.

Probably from 70-80's?

My DuckDuckGo search wasn't productive.

5
  • Maybe one of the Callahan's Saloon stories? That sounds like the kind of insult they might fire off.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 22:48
  • yes Callahan's Saloon sounds likely, I'll look for it
    – f5r5e5d
    Commented Oct 18, 2021 at 22:54
  • 6
    Just in case someone forgot: the integral of "e to the x" is "e to the x" (plus a constant)
    – WoJ
    Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 10:13
  • 3
    This reminds me of old engineering schools’ cheer: “E to the x, dy-dx. E to the x, dx. Secant, tangent, cosine, sine. 3.14159. Cube root, square root, BTU. Compass, slide rule! Go [PuuurDUE / Rice U / Duke U / T(ulane)U]!” Commented Oct 19, 2021 at 16:23
  • @WoJ and for "maybe xeˣ", integration by parts yields (x-1)eˣ (+C of course)
    – Ruslan
    Commented Oct 20, 2021 at 20:12

1 Answer 1

55

The line appears in "Silence Please", a short story by Arthur C. Clarke that appears in "Tales from the White Hart", the White Hart being a London pub where, like Callahan's saloon, tall tales were told.

The story concerns the invention of "Fenton's Silencer". Fenton is described as:

Well, Rupert Fenton was one of our lab assistants. A very bright youngster, with a good mechanical background, but, naturally, not very well up in theory... But no-one expected he'd ever get very far, because I don't suppose he could even integrate e to the x."

"Is such ignorance possible?" gasped someone.

"Maybe I exaggerate. Let's say x e to the x. Anyway, all his knowledge was entirely practical—rule of thumb, you know.

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