- Ask Stacy: If I Temporarily Lose My Health Insurance, Will I Get Fined?
- 15 Awesome Adult Uses for Baby Powder
- Tons of Simple Hacks for Stuff You Do Every Day
- How to Keep Your Grandparents From Being Ripped Off by Mail Scams
- The Restless Project: Can’t Get By on $60K, $80K, Even $100K?
- Take 5: A Roundup of Reads From Around the Web
- 8 Foods That May Spike in Price This Fall
- Afraid of a Hack Attack? Here’s a Simple Way to Make Hackers’ Lives Harder and Yours Easier
The Smithsonian reports…
Diaconis is a professor of mathematics and statistics at Stanford University and, formerly, a professional magician. While his claim to fame is determining how many times a deck of cards must be shuffled in order to give a mathematically random result (it’s either five or seven, depending on your criteria), he’s also dabbled in the world of coin games. What he and his fellow researchers discovered (here’s a PDF of their paper) is that most games of chance involving coins aren’t as even as you’d think. For example, even the 50/50 coin toss really isn’t 50/50 — it’s closer to 51/49, biased toward whatever side was up when the coin was thrown into the air.
But more incredibly, as reported by Science News, spinning a penny, in this case one with the Lincoln Memorial on the back, gives even more pronounced odds — the penny will land tails side up roughly 80 percent of the time.
So next time you have to settle something with a coin toss, offer to do a coin spin. (Now that you know how to win most of the time.)