27 January, 2021

Rules Of The Roulette

We can predict the ultimate fate of the universe. But not of the tiny atom.

Rules Of The Roulette
Followers of the Indian cricket team, at least those inclined to be charitable, might attribute the World Cup debacle to plain bad luck. Well played, boys, better luck next time. That raises an interesting question though: scientifically, is there such a thing as luck? Does chance have any basis in science?

Consider the coin toss at the beginning of a match. You might think there's a 50 per cent chance that the coin will land heads up. But that's not truly a matter of chance. If you were to carefully observe the way in which you flicked the coin with your thumb, if you were to account for the size and weight and shape of the coin, you would be able to predict—correctly, with 100 per cent accuracy—just how the coin would land. The seeming randomness of the coin toss comes about merely as a result of our ignorance of the precise details of the toss. Similarly, when we say there's a 30 per cent likelihood of rain, the indefiniteness of that forecast only reflects our incomplete data on the weather. Randomness, like guessing on an exam where...


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