Littlewood's Law of Miracles

"The Scientist as Rebel" by Freeman Dyson is a collection of essays on how science resists authority --
"the best way to understand science is by understanding those who practice it". It's an interesting
approach to a subject I wouldn't otherwise be inclined to read up on. Notable essays include
"On Beauty and Consolations" and "One In a Million", an essay that discusses the "Law of Miracles".
Talk about an oxymoron.

"Littlewood's Law of Miracles states that in the course of any normal person's life, miracles happen at
a rate of roughly one per month. The proof of the law is simple. During the time that we are awake
and actively engaged in living our lives, roughly for eight hours each day, we see and hear things
happening at a rate of about one per second. So the total number of events that happen to us is
about thirty thousand per day, or about a million per month. With few exceptions, these events are
not miracles because they are insignificant. The chance of a miracle is about one per million events.
Therefore we should expect about one miracle to happen, on the average, every month"


A Miracle, it should be noted, is defined here as "an event that has special significance when it occurs,
but occurs with a probability of one in a million"


Published Nov 21 2007, 01:52 PM by mayap
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jordynt said:

Wow. That is incredibly amazing... now I'm trying to remember the last miracle I had.


November 21, 2007 5:19 PM

jocelynp said:

That is really cool. I'm also trying to remember my last miracle, but I'm coming up with nothing.

November 21, 2007 6:29 PM