That’s magic! … not a lot

February 17, 2013

Numbers have always been associated with magic, from the Kabbalah to ‘unlucky’ numbers, such as 13 (down my street, the people next to house number 11 choose to live at 15A, much to the mailman’s bemusement).

The most recent version is exemplified in the online gaming shows, such as Jackpot247,  which tend to grace our airwaves in the unholy hours.

Watch the routlette shows (roulette having a negative chance of winning, so your optimal betting strategy here is to gather together all the money you ever, in your entire life, intend to gamble on routlette in a neat pile in front of you, and risk it all on one single, inglorious spin)

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I can highly recommend Marcus du Sautoy‘s video on the Guardian’s new Newton channel, exploring the world of chance and probability.

The good professor shows how probabilities become counter-intuitive as soon as a modicum of complexity is introduced. We all know that the chance of guessing heads on a coin-flip is one-in-two, and it’s fairly straightforward to show the chance of scooping the National Lottery jackpot is just under one in 14m.

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