Thursday, March 6, 2014

Miracles & Mathematics

In 2009, the Bulgarian lottery pumped out the exact same winning numbers in consecutive weeks. An investigation was ordered. The public couldn’t fathom that it was possible. The lottery must have been tampered with. Surely it couldn’t be coincidence?

Actually a similar occurrence has happened before, in North Carolina in 2007. It’s what mathematician David Hand calls the Improbability Principle, and the basic premise is that events that might seem miraculous, or freakish, shouldn’t really be particularly surprising because it’s just math.

Even with only 23 people in a room, the probability that two of them share the same birthday is 51%. Seems unlikely, but mathematically it’s been proven true. The odds of the same lotto numbers being drawn consecutively is at longer odds, but then given the amount of draws that take place around the globe, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it has happened. Twice. Not only is nothing impossible, it’s not improbable, either.