Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Stone Cold Whoopi

I was reading my journal and I came upon this amazing event from about a year ago:

"Yesterday my 8 year old watch and (my wife's) 5 year old watch both broke on exactly the same day, about 20 minutes apart from one another. What are the odds of that? A hundred million to one?"

But, as my statistician friend was telling me just a few weeks ago, the fact that something is very unlikely to occur doesn't mean that it won't happen. In fact, it means that it will almost certainly happen given a sufficient number of trials. In other words, with all of the couples in the world who both own watches, the scenario that happened to my wife and I had to occur sooner or later to someone.

I said to him, "By that logic, assuming there are millions of trillions of rocks in the universe and each one has a randomly determined shape, one of them is bound to look exactly like Gordon Jump."

He said, "Yeah, probably. In fact, if we assume an infinite universe with infinite space and an infinite number of events, then every event that could possibly happen, has to have happened somewhere. This is true because if infinity is your numerator, everything possible becomes a sure thing."

Therefore, in an infinite universe, this freakishly improbable object (thank you photoshop) has to exist somewhere. Click to enlarge.


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