Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Schroedinger Lottery

Don't annouce the lottery results for one week after drawing
  (+7, -6)
(+7, -6)
  [vote for,

The Schroedinger Cat is a classic illustration of the dual nature of existance in quantum mechanics. In this illustration, a cat is kept in a box with a poison gas vial that can be broken at any time by a random trigger. If you close the box, you don't know if the cat is alive or dead until you look. Until you look, the cat being both alive and dead exists as a probability.

Apply this to Lottery tickets. You buy the ticket for a drawing at a certain date. They lottery officials draw the numbers, but don't announce them for a week. Anyone who has a ticket can walk around for a week with a probability (however small) of actually being a millionaire. With a normal lottery ticket, you have the same chance of *becoming* a millionaire, but when the drawing is public, you never have the chance of *being* a millionaire unless you win. This allows people who buy Lottery tickets to enjoy the idea that they might actually be a winner for a week. There is no change in the cost or wager or payout, but millions of exist with the finite probablity of being a millionaires for a finite period of time.

The major drawback is that the only people who would most likely appreciate the subtle difference are also know enough about statistics that they wouldn't buy lottery tickets.

siwel, Oct 28 2005

Let's Make A Deal http://mathforum.or...ath/view/52143.html
probability [sleeka, Oct 31 2005]

Baked... more or less Schr_f6dinger_20lottery_20chamber
Another Shrodinger's Lottery [Flux, Oct 31 2005]


       Wouldn't there be the same effect if the lottery ticket was bought 1 week in advance: a finite chance of *becoming* a winner for longer?   

       Anyway, more chance of being hit by lightning... Hey, how about having a winner decided by the number of lightning strikes that he gets in a week? Maybe Not.
Ling, Oct 28 2005

       //the only people who would most likely appreciate the subtle difference are also know enough about statistics that they wouldn't buy lottery tickets//

Anybody who buys a lottery ticket has got exactly the same chance of winning as anybody else who buys one.

       As with all other financial investments, the return on your capital outlay varies according to the risk you are prepared to take.   

       If I wanted a secure and steady income then I would invest my £1 a week in an interest-bearing account with a bank with a high credit rating. My annual investment of £50 might make a return of £2 in a year (assuming an interest rate of, say, 8% - and there are some specialist accounts that will do that) assuming any bank was prepared to pay out that sort of interest on such a small sum. This is hardly a life changing financial boost.   

       However, my extremely high risk investment in a lottery ticket (i.e. I doubt I'll ever see my £50 again) could make me a return of £millions and mean I could give up work and retire immediately. My £1 a week outgoing is mere pin money and makes no difference whatsoever to my standard of living, so the equation of risk (none whatsoever in real terms):return(potentially humungous) is very attractive indeed.
DrBob, Oct 28 2005

       Following Ling's line of thought, surely this is how those Willy Wonka type competitions work. Either there is a prize inside the chocolate bar or there isn't; the wave form only collapses when you open the chocolate bar.*   

       * Of course, that is not strictly true: in the real world, as opposed to a thought experiment, you can determine which bars have a prize by weighing them. Prhaps a better analogy would be scratch-off lottery tickets.
DrCurry, Oct 28 2005

       DrBob, your analysis works for a year, but how about over 40 years?   

       $1 (or one pound) every week for forty years at 4% amounts to $4744   

       So, 2080 shots at a 1-in-a-million chance, or a sure-thing 4k+?   

       The only way to justify the lottery is entertainment. If you have fun doing it, and thinking up ways to spend the money, go ahead. If you actually expect to win, you're nuts.   

       For my part, I get more entertained by making fun of people who play the lottery than I ever would from buying a ticket myself.
Madai, Oct 28 2005

       Well if you're going to think in the longer term, Madai, then most of your interest would be swallowed up by inflation anyway. Better to spend your pound now, I say.
DrBob, Oct 28 2005

       Actually DrBob, that's precisely why I used a much lower return than you did-- to adjust for inflation.   

       Meanwhile, I don't believe that inflation will be that big of a problem in the near future. Inflation is, in large part, contained by cheap labor.   

       China and India have near inexhaustable reserves of cheap labor, but should the day come when the cheap labor reserves of these countries are exhausted, you can just move down the GDP per capita chart for the next big labor pool.   

       Exhausting a cheap labor reserve is a *GOOD* thing, it means everyone has high quality jobs, better living standards, and products operate on increased economies of scale.   

       After India and China run out of poor people, There's Indonesia, (.24), Pakistan (.16) Bangledesh, (.14) Nigeria (.12), Vietnam (.08), Ethiopia (.07) Congo (.06), Burma (.04), Sudan (.04), Tanzania (.03) and Kenya (.03). There's your next billion of cheap labor.\   

       Until there's not a single country with a GDP per capita under 1/4 the gdp per capita of the EU/US, labor-driven global inflation will be well-contained.   

       Energy-driven inflation is another story, to be sure, but concerns about it are overblown. There's going to be perhaps a decade of pain before that all sorts itself out.   

       And all in all, the energy crunch will improve the quality of life. One of the biggest changes that needs to be made is people have to cut their commute times. Affordable, desirable housing will have to be built where the jobs are, perhaps cities can even be arranged arcologically. Telecommuting will be another reducing factor.   

       The other change will be product transportation. Trucks are more expensive than trains, but with the power of the internet, it will be much easier to greatly increase the amount of train traffic. Warehouses will have to be built, etc, but it will get to the point where trucks rarely haul anything more than 50 miles.   

       One sign of the times to watch for: Walmart starts building train tracks.   

       Anyway, fuel prices will be rising for a while, but then peak and start to drop slowly. They will go past $100/barrel in less than a decade, but in less than a decade after that, they will drop to under $50/barrel (in 2005 dollar terms), and not rise above that in our lifetimes. I could be wrong, but that's my bet. In we'll see high inflation in the next decade, energy-driven, but experience deflation-or damn well near it, in the decade after that, and then have smooth sailing until the world runs out of poor people.
Madai, Oct 28 2005

       Wow, that thread went off course, but in a fun way.   

       Ling, you are absolutely correct, that the effect of buying a ticket 1 week in advance is the same, unless you enjoy the subtle difference between the chance of BECOMING a winner and the chance of BEING a winner. As Madai pointed out, the only justification is entertainment. This would appeal to someone who gets a rush of watching the wave form collapse as the winner is revealed. Judging from the response, that's a small population. With such few players, it would not sustain itself (This week's Jackpot, $247).   

       Winner chosen by lighting? What are the chances that you would be hit... oh, I get it.
siwel, Oct 29 2005

       One other thing. I was hoping that someone would pick up on the juxtaposition of sophisticated quantum mechanics and a gambling racket that preys on poor people. *sigh*
siwel, Oct 29 2005

       Interesting. A quick search of on-line and paperback dictionaries define juxtaposition as placing two things side by side. No mention of them having to be relevent. I've always thought of juxtaposition being used when items are dissimilar. Can you refer me to a usage manual that recommends the use of juxtaposition when items are of relevence? I don't doubt your recommended useage, just want to check it out.
siwel, Oct 29 2005

       la, (may I call you la?) I really enjoyed the last bit, since my favorite saying about the lottery is that thing about it being a tax on people who are bad at math... or at least who do not understand statistics.   

       I don't really know for sure what the half bakery is designed to host, but I have a feeling that it isn't for ideas that are actually obviously good (jutta has objected to some of those or at least to people who constantly post basic, obvious, good ideas) and I don't think it is for ideas that are obviously bad or impossible.   

       It seems to me that it is the "Island of unwanted toys" but for ideas instead. A place for ideas that /would/ be good /if only.../ or for ideas that need a bit more thinking out.   

       If so, and it is not for me to decide, then this idea is a perfect example of what the half bakery exists for. And idea that would be great, if only there were more people who both understand quantum mechanics and still enjoy playing the lottery.   

       And so, since my vote IS up to me, a bun for you.
James Newton, Oct 29 2005

       On the ticket there should be a scratch-away bit. Underneath you find the amount of money you have won written in light sensitive ink. Light sensitive ink completely dissapears when light shines upon it. Did I win? Am I rich? Better not scratch. Maybe [siwel] needs to rethink the cat stuff.
zeno, Oct 30 2005

       Madai, yes, I agree your calculation on the figure over 40 years (well I had to check it didn't I!) but I still reject your argument because (as Pa've's anno hints) if you start thinking over as long a period as 40 years then there are a whole lot of other risks you have to take on board in your calculation. For example, what is the likelihood of actually surviving those 40 years to collect? And even if you do collect then it's hardly likely to be a life-changing event.

I agree though that nobody with an iota of common sense would depend on the lottery. I like to look on it as life's 'hail Mary'. Nobody expects it to work but it's glorious when it comes off.

PS: You're a brave man if you think you can predict oil prices even five years into the future, let alone for our lifetime. In economic calculations politics, technology and natural disasters are non-standard variables.

PPS: Delaying the announcement of the lottery results for a week might create an interesting second hand market in lottery tickets. Especially if the number of winners was announced at the time of the draw but not the winning numbers.
DrBob, Oct 30 2005

       Aren't we all fogetting about the Monty Hall problem? [link]
sleeka, Oct 31 2005

       Dangit, I always do that. Sorry.
sleeka, Oct 31 2005

       Ok, sleeka, I'll bite.   

       I read the link, and have great difficulty in understanding the solution that the contestant should switch doors.
The way I see it is that once one of the empty doors is opened (and Monty can always open an empty door regardless of the contestant's choice), then the prize is behind one of the two remaining doors. There is 1/2 chance that it is behind each of the remaining doors. Oh well.
Ling, Oct 31 2005

       Semi-baked? See link.
Flux, Oct 31 2005

       //You're a brave man if you think you can predict oil prices even five years into the future, let alone for our lifetime. In economic calculations politics, technology and natural disasters are non-standard variables.//   

       Naw, not bravery at all. Natural disasters are of course horrible, and cause loss of life, etc. But economically, they can only cause temporary spikes.   

       Politics and technology are closely intertwined. Laws and funding, to an extent, focus the research done. Politicians occaisionally do stupid things, but once they find something that works, they don't abandon it.   

       It reminds me of a Churchill quote:   

       "Americans always do the right thing, but only after exhausting all the other possibilities."   

       The political issues will be shortlived. A loud public will enable the politicians to steer the laws to viable alternative forms of production. $100/barrel is a key psychological barrier, but it is also important because back when oil was $30/barrel, people were saying alternative fuels were about 3X more expensive. At $100/barrel, it will become more economic than ever before to abandon oil for any one of many alternatives. And once the alternatives get a foothold, advancing technology and economies of scale will drive the price down.   

       This will, of course, take time. A decade is a convenient time period to speak with, but I'm using it with high leeway. If following the current trend, we could see $100/barrel oil in two years. However, I think world demand won't quite be high enough to push it that far in two years, plus we have some nice alternatives people are already making the switch to. Hence, a decade, for 8 years leeway.   

       I don't think law&order will break down at $100/barrel. We may have a riot at the LA rodney king riot scale, but they will be mostly contained in the city they started at. The doomsayers predicting a collapse of society are a little out of it.
Madai, Oct 31 2005

       I see now that [Flux] had a similar idea (and judging from the voting, a better idea). In his version, everyone is simultaneously a winner and a loser and since the result are not shown, they stay that way. I would not have posted had a done a search on the correct umlate spelling of Schrödinger. I used the more common, but less correct Schroedinger spelling. My keyboard is umlate challenged and I was too lazy to look up the ASCII code.
siwel, Nov 02 2005

       As I always say, the lottery is simply a tax on people who can't do math.
Weirdo55, Nov 03 2005


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