[While I'm away for a week, I'm posting classic Boing Boing entries from the archives. Here's a gem from 2006.]
I'm reading a terrific book by William Poundstone called Fortune's Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System that Beat the Casinos and Wall Street. On page 153 Poundstone writes about a 1968 dinner meeting between mathematician Edward Thorp and fund manager Warren Buffett. Poundstone mentions in passing that Buffett and Thorpe discussed their shared interest in nontransitive dice. "These are a mathematical curiosity, a type of 'trick' dice that confound most people's ideas about probability," writes Poundstone.
Curious, I googled "nontransitive dice" and found a nice description of them by Ivars Peterson at the Mathematical Association of America's website.
Peterson introduces the subject with this intriguing paragraph:
The game involves four specially numbered dice. You let your opponent pick any one of the four dice. You choose one of the remaining three dice. Each player tosses his or her die, and the higher number wins the throw. Amazingly, in a game involving 10 or more throws, you will nearly always have more wins.
The trick is to always let your opponent pick first, and then you pick the die to the left of his selection (if he picks the die with the four 4s, then circle round to the die with the three ones). It's just like playing Rock, Paper, Scissors -- only you get to see what the other guy picks in advance.
With these dice, you always have a 2/3 probability of winning -- what a great sucker's bet!
Majestic Trinkets created a double-layered D20 that looks like something right out of a dingy pub in Waterdeep. It’s $80, but think how quickly you’ll win it back! This die is perfect for the most extra member of your adventuring party. This is the regular gaming D20 in my ‘Advantage’ design family of dice. It […]
The world has long celebrated the "critical hit" D20 face, the elusive 20 that doubles the damage and sets the players around the table baying with elation; but consider its opposite face, the lowly 1, the "critical failure" that lets a sadistic DM dream up all kinds of pratfalls and own-goals to punish the luckless […]
German pastry chef, gamer, cosplayer, and Twittizen, Sonja decided to make a batch of edible candy RPG/polyhedral dice. She posted pictures on Twitter and all the nerds came running to her yard. Realizing she might have a hungry market on her hands, Sonja has quickly opened up an Etsy store, the cleverly-named, Sugar and Dice. […]
Physics may have been that class you sleepwalked your way through in high school. But while it might have just slipped under your radar throughout your academic career, you probably shouldn’t have given it such shallow attention. Sure, we could focus on the immediate pluses of a career as a physicist, like the more than […]
If you’re out of work…well, first, you have our sympathies. Right now, about 31 million Americans are drawing some form of unemployment benefits, which makes competition for virtually any job savagely fierce. But since nobody wants to wallow in the miseries of unemployment, the only legitimate course left open is to scrap like crazy to […]
If you want swole arms cut like tree trunks, you start savaging the curl bars. If you want to sculpt a tight, firm core, you have lots of planking and bridges in your future. So what do you do if you want to knock out that double chin? Or put a little added definition into […]