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SMBC Comics Forum • View topic - [2019-11-03] Fossils

[2019-11-03] Fossils

Blame Quintushalls for this.

Moderators: NeatNit, Kimra

[2019-11-03] Fossils

Postby pgn674 » Sun Nov 03, 2019 5:00 pm

This reminds me of an interesting thought experiment I came up with a few years ago:

If the infinite universe theory were to be correct, and every outcome of every action took place in some universe somewhere, then there is a universe where all coins for all time have come up heads when flipped fairly. Always. By chance.

The people of this universe have developed theories of physics and probability describing and explaining this phenomena. Then, earlier today, suddenly all coins everywhere stated landing like they do in our universe, with an average of half heads and half tails. All by chance.

The people in that universe have no idea what's going on. Physics and probability have suddenly changed for no known reason. Technologies that depended on the fair toss theorem are failing. There's chaos everywhere right now.

I wonder if something like that is happening in our universe? Is there some universal constant, like perhaps the gravitational constant, that is constant only by chance, and in most universes it wavers a little all the time? Would there be any way for us to detect this and figure this out from within our universe?

I can see how the universe with the fair toss theorem would be able to figure it out without too much difficulty, unless I came up with something more intricate, like when they make a two sided flat disk that would normally land quite fairly, then the first side it lands on is the side it will always land on.

Remember, with the infinite universe theory, this universe exists. If you flip a coin 100 times, there is about a 1 in 1.27 nonillion {1/(1.27x10^30)} chance that it will land on heads the first 99 times, then tails the last time. Much much lower than infinity.
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Re: [2019-11-03] Fossils

Postby NeatNit » Sun Nov 03, 2019 7:55 pm

https://www.smbc-comics.com/comic/fossils-3

That's... a really disturbing thought experiment you've got there. I think we just have no other choice but to assume that the results of our experiments closely reflect the nature of the physics behind them.

In that universe, however, it would be possible to make coins deliberately fall on one side of choice. For example: place the coin with your preferred face up. Where is the line between placing a coin and flipping a coin? It's a spectrum.

And presumably they'd have the technology to build a robot which can flip coins with such accuracy that it can pick which side it lands on. It would still be flipping the coin, irrefutably - just with intent. With sufficiently precise manufacturing, this is doable. What then?
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Re: [2019-11-03] Fossils

Postby AlixeTiir » Sun Nov 03, 2019 9:05 pm



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Re: [2019-11-03] Fossils

Postby NeatNit » Sun Nov 03, 2019 10:32 pm

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Re: [2019-11-03] Fossils

Postby AlixeTiir » Mon Nov 04, 2019 2:10 am



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Re: [2019-11-03] Fossils

Postby RyanW » Mon Nov 04, 2019 1:18 pm

That reminds me of the 2012 NFL season. The Panthers lost their first 13 coin tosses (the coin toss to start their first twelve games, plus one at the start of overtime). When they finally broke the streak, it was celebrated more than the win that came after.
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Re: [2019-11-03] Fossils

Postby Guest » Wed Nov 13, 2019 2:04 am

There is a slim probability that it will happen but the chances are about nil.
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