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.
Does a "Fair" Coin Really Exist?
New 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 the phenomenon.