Note: I no longer blog here, and have not posted here since the mid 2010's. (😱) Please check out the homepage, which probably has links to more recent projects, photography, and (perhaps someday) writing.


In which I compare astronomical probabilities to the girlfriend this morning:

“You know it’s more likely to get struck by lightning twice in your life than it is to win the jackpot, right?”

“I’ve interviewed a guy who got struck by lightning twice!”

“But you've never met anyone who won the lottery, have you?”



Now for a totally technical aside:

The odds of picking Mega Millions correctly on one ticket is just 1 in 175,711,536. For the odds of getting struck by lightning twice in your lifetime to be better, then the odds of getting struck by lightning once in your lifetime should be better than 1 in √(175,711,536) — which is just about 1 in 13,256.

…Which is generally trueNOAA (in 2011) cites 1 in 10,000 for an 80 year lifespan (based on 400 US injuries/deaths per year ÷ the US population); others like National Geographic (citing NOAA figures in 2005) peg the figure even more likely at 1 in 3,000.