Talk:1159: Countdown

Explain xkcd: It's 'cause you're dumb.
Revision as of 19:43, 12 January 2013 by Frankie (talk | contribs) (probability of zeroes)
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If you assume (with nothing else known), that large numbers have a probability about reciprocal to themselves to ensure a sum/integral of 1, the digits not being zeroes is extremely unlikely.

Whether black hat guy thinks a supervolcanoe eruption is a favourable event or being spared from one is not made entirely clear. Sebastian -- 08:56, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

I warmly recommend the article harmonic series (mathematics). ;-) -- 13:30, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
You are right, the harmonic series is divergent. However, the maximal number of digits - which can be possibly displayed - is finite. Which distribution would you suggest? Sebastian -- 19:35, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

Sebastian, do you know the specific name of the statistical principle you're invoking? I agree, but St.nerol does not, and he has a quick tendency to remove things. One part of it is that you don't know the magnitude of a number, exponential distribution is a more appropriate model than linear. Another part is about the unlikelihood of the middle digits being zero. - Frankie (talk) 21:37, 11 January 2013 (UTC)

Benford's law is about the probability of certain first digit(s). Sebastian -- 22:34, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
Hmm... "Benford's law also concerns the expected distribution for digits beyond the first, which approach a uniform distribution". I missed that the first time I read the article. Okay, that covers the essential parts of the argument. - Frankie (talk) 19:43, 12 January 2013 (UTC)


"I forget which one" may be a reference to the 7 known supervolcanoes, or it might be to a list published by the Guardian in 2005 of the top 10 existential threats to life on Earth, which went briefly viral. It included a supervolcano eruption, as well as viral pandemic, meteorite strike, greenhouse gases, superintelligent robots, nuclear war, cosmic rays, terrorism, black holes, and telomere erosion [1]

I understand how the hidden numbers could mean that a volcano could either erupt very soon or a very long time. But I don't get why this is a joke. Is there something funnny that I am missing?

It's a joke, because a supervolcano eruption would have a major impact on the earth, and Black Hat has a timer that will tell him when one will occur, but he is too lazy to see whether it will happen soon.