Category Archives: Probability

Q: If you flip a coin forever, are you guaranteed to eventually flip an equal number of heads and tails?

The original question was: Lets say we have a fair coin that is flipped a hundred times and at the end of the trial there have been 40 tails and 60 heads. At this time there have been 20 more heads than … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Math, Probability | 13 Comments

Q: Are some number patterns more or less likely? Are some betting schemes better than others?

Physicist: First, don’t gamble unless you can be sure you won’t get caught cheating or you enjoy losing money. Games of chance come in two flavors: “completely random” and “not quite completely random”.  It’s not always obvious which is which, … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Combinatorics, Entropy/Information, Math, Probability | 8 Comments

Q: What are “delayed choice experiments”? Can “wave function collapse” be used to send information?

Physicist: There are a lot of big claims made about entanglement, but there are two carved-in-stone facts that help cut through some of the more grandiose claims.  First, (maximally) entangled states always act exactly like a perfectly random state, until … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Entropy/Information, Experiments, Philosophical, Physics, Probability, Quantum Theory, Skepticism | 4 Comments

Q: What fair dice can be simulated by adding up other dice?

The original question was: The five platonic solids (tetrahedron, cube, octahedron, dodecahedron, and icosahedron) are often used in games to make 4, 6,8,12, and 20-sided dice respectively. However, if you renumber the dice using nonnegative whole numbers you can create … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Brain Teaser, Combinatorics, Logic, Math, Probability | 3 Comments

Q: Why does it take thousands of years for light to escape the Sun?

Physicist: The original statement is often something like, “It takes tens of thousands of years for a photon to get from the core to the surface of the Sun, but only eight minutes to get from the Sun to the … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Math, Particle Physics, Physics, Probability | 2 Comments

Q: Why don’t “cheats” ever work on the uncertainty principle? What’s uncertain in the uncertainty principle?

Physicist: The Uncertainty Principle is often stated as “the position and momentum of a particle cannot be simultaneously and perfectly measured”.  Mathematically, it’s written as , which means that the product of the uncertainties in the position, x, and momentum, … Continue reading

Posted in -- By the Physicist, Physics, Probability, Quantum Theory | 3 Comments