What Are the Odds That You Might See a Meteoroid While Skydiving?

You've seen the footage of a rock falling past a skydiver. It looks like this particular object might be a rock accidentally packed in his parachute. So we've done the statistical analysis to figure out what the real chances are that a skydiver would eventually see a meteoroid. » 4/09/14 11:25pm 4/09/14 11:25pm

How to manipulate people into choosing the worst option

When we are choosing which action to take, one of the most basic calculations which guide us is, "How likely is it to lead to one option or another." We need to think of all possible outcomes, and the rough probability of each one occurring. There is a problem with this. We are not great at assessing probability. But… » 3/06/14 8:00am 3/06/14 8:00am

Is your roulette hot streak based on more than random chance?

When stepping into a casino, it can be useful to have a clear sense of how probability works and how it applies to the games that you're playing. In today's discussion about gambling however, we're reminded that a gambler's fortune can depend on more than just random odds. » 1/08/14 4:20pm 1/08/14 4:20pm

There's a 50-50 chance of another 9/11-sized attack within a decade

As we approach the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attack, we can be grateful that nothing like it has happened since. But that doesn't mean that something very much like 9/11 — or even worse — couldn't happen again. In fact, new research suggests that we may be seriously underestimating the risk of another… » 9/05/12 12:00pm 9/05/12 12:00pm

Physicists and mathematicians discover a way to save time - literally

In order to calculate odds in a multiverse, a certain conceit has to be thrown down which 'ends time' for certain universes. This means that, conceptually at least, universes are destroyed. And so a group of intrepid theorists set out to save universes by saving time, and may have discovered a way to do it. » 8/12/11 7:00am 8/12/11 7:00am

How to use dice to stop people from lying on surveys

Whenever we turn on the news, we're treated to statistics about things there seem to be no way of verifying. How many people has the average person slept with? How many crimes has the average person committed? The numbers quoted are often the result of surveys. In a survey, there's nothing to keep people honest,… » 7/30/11 12:00pm 7/30/11 12:00pm