Thursday, January 29, 2009
Slashdot has a discussion of a paper by T. Ord et al. which attempts to demonstrate that the probability of a world-ending disaster at the Large Hadron Collider is much greater than previously thought.
They reach this conclusion by observing that 1 in 1,000 physics papers have to be withdrawn because of miscalculations. To be 'fair' to the LHC, they use a lower number: 1 in 10,000.Let's demonstrate how this works:
My calculations show that the probability the sun will rise tomorrow is 1; however, from Ord et al., we learn that there is a probability of 1 in 10,000 that physics calculations are wrong. It thus follows that there is a 1 in 10,000 chance that the sun will not rise tomorrow.I expect to live another 50 years. Simple probability demonstrates that there is an 84% change that the sun will fail to rise during that time.
But wait! In the 5000 years of recorded human history, the probability that the sun failed to rise at least once is asymptotically equal to 1.Everything we think we know is wrong!
posted by vepxistqaosani 12:05 PM