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Can someone calculate a fun probability for me?

  1. Oct 16, 2005 #1
    Hello all,
    I have been involved in a discussion on another forum about the TV show Lost. For those who haven't seen it a character (Hurley) wins the lottery with numbers that are supposedly 'cursed' and ends up stranded on an island. It turns out that the island is actually all about these particular numbers in various ways.

    Someone is saying that this is just a highly improbable event. I would like to show exactly how improbable.

    The odds that I found for winning a 6 number lottery are 1 in 13,983,816, although Hurley's jackpot was over 100 million so the odds are actually much less I'm sure but I couldn't find a stat for this.

    The Earth has a surface area of 196,935,000 square miles.

    If we say that the island is 50 square miles, and use the lottery numbers as the coordinents for it, is it possible to calculate what the odds are for ending up at the same cooridinents as the numbers used to win the lotto?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 16, 2005 #2


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    Lets say there are 13,983,816 different lottery tickets and that each is keyed to an equal-sized part of Earth such that the entire surface is covered. This gives about 14 square miles per ticket. Thus on a 50 square mile island, there would be at least 4 tickets that would be keyed there, usin your figure for Earth's surface area. This gives 4/13,983,816 = 1/3,495,954.
  4. Oct 16, 2005 #3
    Wow that actually makes a lot of sense. I never would expect the odds of this to be more likely than that of winning the lotto alone.

    Anyone challenge this?
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2005
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