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## Why Improbable Things Really Aren't166

First time accepted submitter sixoh1 writes "Scientific American has an excellent summary of a new book 'The Improbabilty Principle: Why Coincidences, Miracles, and Rare Events Happen Every Day' by David J. Hand. The summary offers a quick way to relate statistical math (something that's really hard to intuit) to our daily experiences with unlikely events. The simple equations here make it easier to understand that improbable things really are not so improbable, which Hand call the 'Improbability Principle:' 'How can a huge number of opportunities occur without people realizing they are there? The law of combinations, a related strand of the Improbability Principle, points the way. It says: the number of combinations of interacting elements increases exponentially with the number of elements. The 'birthday problem' is a well-known example. Now if only we could harness this to make an infinite improbability drive!"
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## Why Improbable Things Really Aren't

• #### Improbability drive (Score:4, Funny)

on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @04:11AM (#46274043)

How improbable is the Heart of Gold?

And Zaphod stealing it...

• #### Seems legit (Score:5, Funny)

on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @04:45AM (#46274107) Homepage

I found it highly improbable that an article on that topic could be boring. It explained to me in laborious detail why I was wrong.

• #### Re: The day before Fukashima happened (Score:5, Funny)

by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @05:57AM (#46274265)

They didn't need higher sea wall. A wall can permanently hold water away and that is overdoing. What they needed to do was to make a watertight, anchored to the ground building for auxiliary generators and connect them to main building by undersea power cables. Basically, build a submarine on land, complete with snorkel. When there is a water surge, it holds generators safe and dry so that they function after the water recedes.

• #### Re:Law of large numbers (Score:4, Funny)

on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @07:02AM (#46274367)

Law of truly large numbers [wikipedia.org] is the applicable law here, but the mistake is understandable.

In fact fairly probable

• #### Re:Duh (Score:5, Funny)

on Tuesday February 18, 2014 @08:00AM (#46274489)

"Feynman discussed this ages ago. And I'm sure he did it better."

That's highly improbable.

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