Tuesday, July 20, 2010

17 | Number Detective . 2

Hey there! I'm Chychy.
Welcome to Number Detective.

My beat is the city streets. The job is to bring you the best numbers we can find out there. Then share all sorts of cool stuff about them with you.

Wow. This is a really old looking number, isn't it? But it's only 17! I found it above a door of a church on Hanover Street in the North End. That's the Italian part of Boston.

17 has some mysteries about it, one of which is that it's the least random number. A random number is any number that just pops into your head.

Try this on your friends, the more the better - simply ask them to pick a number between 1 and 20. Write down all the answers then look at how many times each number was chosen. You might find out, as many people do, that 17 comes out way, way ahead.

That's surprising because each number should have an equal chance of being chosen, therefore making it appear about 5% (1/20th) of the time. Some tests, however, show 17 appearing almost 20% of the time - 4 times the expected rate! A huge difference.

No one really knows why 17 is the least-random random number. But the Number Detective will keep looking into it.

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