Sunday, 12 July 2009

1 in 282 billion lottery coincidence?

In late April, two men ecstaticly celebrated winning the lottery. One man was from from Suihua in northerly Heilongjiang province and the other thousands of kilometres away in central China's Henan province.

It was only a month later that an eagle-eyed reporter noticed that as well as having the same ticket number, the two tickets were issued at exactly the same time - to the second.

A maths professor calculated that the odds against two people choosing the same number was about 1 in 282 billion. Then factor in the bit about those two people picking that same number at exactly the same time. Spooky.

If you placed an accumulator bet for Man Utd to finish rock bottom of the Premiership in 2009/10, Hull to win it, Scunthorpe to win the FA Cup and Angola to win the World Cup ..... that'd be odds of only 1 in 73 billion.

Sadly, more statute mathematicians have pointed the reality that in order to generate true random numbers, a seed number is needed first - and that an appropriate seed number is a unique time. So having solved the identical timing, we are left with 'just' the bit about the 1 in 282 billion odds.

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