- #1

chasrob

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This is a math/physics question, although it concerns an SF story I’m working on, so I thought I’d post it here.

Years ago, my high school physics teacher related this--concerning (if I remember correctly) “random motions--quantum fluctuations or brownian motions "or something similar. He said “Take an ordinary box with a removable lid. Ok, take a pencil (not a chicken) and put it in the box and close the lid. Then, open the lid and observe the pencil.

“After you open and see the pencil a sufficient, gargantuan number of times, you will open the box and viola, the pencil will be gone.” If I recall, he said what the approximate number of times was, or a lower bound number of openings. Which now I forget.

Anyone hear of such a thing? Is it similar in magnitude to 10^(10^33), the odds against a beer can spontaneously tipping over, according to Richard Crandall*, "The Challenge of Large Numbers", in a

*Richard E. Crandall received his Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Years ago, my high school physics teacher related this--concerning (if I remember correctly) “random motions--quantum fluctuations or brownian motions "or something similar. He said “Take an ordinary box with a removable lid. Ok, take a pencil (not a chicken) and put it in the box and close the lid. Then, open the lid and observe the pencil.

“After you open and see the pencil a sufficient, gargantuan number of times, you will open the box and viola, the pencil will be gone.” If I recall, he said what the approximate number of times was, or a lower bound number of openings. Which now I forget.

Anyone hear of such a thing? Is it similar in magnitude to 10^(10^33), the odds against a beer can spontaneously tipping over, according to Richard Crandall*, "The Challenge of Large Numbers", in a

*Scientific American. Or*10^(10^42), what mathematician John Littlewood of Cambridge calculated as the probability of a mouse surviving on the surface of the sun for a period of one week? In other words, something like a googolplex?*Richard E. Crandall received his Ph.D. in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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