Does a "Fair" Coin Really Exist?
These original Kirt's Cogitations™ may be reproduced
(no more than 5, please) provided proper credit is given to me, Kirt Blattenberger.
here to return to the Table of Contents.
Cog·i·ta·tion [koj-i-tey'-shun] – noun: Concerted
reflection; meditation; contemplation.
Kirt [kert] – proper noun: RF Cafe webmaster.
mathematical analysis has shown that no matter how vigorously a coin
is thrown into the air, it is more likely to land on the same face it
started out on. Using high speed photography techniques, researchers
at U. California and Stanford determined that only a superhuman ability
to toss the coin so it spins perfectly about a horizontal axis through
the coin's center would product a totally fair result. All other tosses
are biased. In experiments, they were surprised to learn that what was
believed to have happened by real-time observation often turned out
to be quite different than what was revealed on the high-speed film.
On many tosses, a coin that was thought to have rotated never rotated
at all, but merely wobbled wildly about a horizontal plane. In fact,
magicians and charlatans have exploited this effect as an illusion to
fool their audiences (or victims). Even with the best series of tosses,
the team calculated that the coin would land on its original face 51%
of the time. Yet another study has determined that the "heads" side
of most coins is slightly heavier than the tails side, producing a bias
toward heads. Even so, 1,000 or more tosses is usually required to observe