Science, Art, Litt, Science based Art & Science Communication

"Luck?'' 'What is it?' This question 's asked by several scientists! Not lay men! 


Some people asked me to define luck in terms of science. So I made an attempt.

True scientists don't believe in luck! They are go-getters and think only well planned hard work will yield good results. While lazy people believe in it and escapists blame 'bad' luck when they lost control over their lives and the situation they are in.

What others call luck, true scientists call chance of finding something while searching for it vigorously and whole-heartedly using all your capabilities, keen observation and knowledge and grabbing the chance when the opportunity presents itself to you.
There is maths angle to it too ...
You just flipped four heads in a row, so the next one has to be tails, right? Wrong—the odds of flipping heads or tails is still 50/50, exactly the same as it has been every other time. This is called the “gambler’s fallacy,” and, according to a study published  in PNAS, our brains may be seeking out these sorts of patterns. “A major function of the human brain is to deal with the uncertainty in the real world in order to find regularities. Our neurons detect these patterns naturally and pay special attention to their timing.
When you’re placing bets on a game like craps or roulette that is based on chance, it turns out that your betting shifts your odds. A person who wins two bets in a row has a 57 percent chance of winning the next one, but a person who has lost two bets in a row has only a 40 percent chance of winning the next. Why? According to a study published, people again fear that their bets will regress to the mean—that if they won, they are more likely to lose the next time, so they compensate for it by making safer bets each successive time.
When people who have been winning take safer bets, it means they'll probably keep winning; when people have been losing, they take riskier bets to try to win, which means they actually lose more. The actual event the gambler bets on doesn't become any more or less probable, but past outcomes affect how the bettor allocates funds the next time around.  

What a person might perceive as “luck” has more to do with psychology of the person. It might have a placebo effect. Some studies show that superstitions might work, though not in the way that we think they do and have peculiar psychology to the whole process. In one, from 2010, golfers who were told that they were using a “lucky ball” performed significantly better than those who were told that theirs was “the same ball everyone else had used so far.” The test subjects also performed better when they were allowed to hold on to their “lucky charms” from home while solving an anagram problem. The researchers hypothesized that the people with their lucky charms by their side persisted at problems longer because they felt more effective, because they thought  they had the assistance of some other power. People feel empowered when they think that something else is helping them, so they actually do better at the tasks at hand!

But, science has a better way to deal with this. If you have the full knowledge about the game you are playing, the wind pattern, moisture of the atmosphere, the  dynamics  of the ball in those conditions, your correct hand movements to handle all the above, you have better chances of winning than lucky charms! ! Sport science! Aha! 

That is how science tweaks the scientists' mind! So they don't trust 'lucky charms' but trust their knowledge and  the confidence science brings them.

Who are 'lucky people'?Luck doesn’t just “happen,” even for people who consider themselves lucky.  Richard Wiseman,  a professor of psychology at the University of Hertfordshire in England, has done a number of studies to figure out what distinguishes a 'lucky' person from an 'unlucky' one. In one study, he asked people who identified  as lucky and as unlucky to read a newspaper. On one half page of a newspaper, he wrote in large letters: “Tell the experimenter you have seen this and win £250.” The people who said they were lucky were more likely to see the ad, Wiseman wrote, and the “unlucky” people seemed to demonstrate more anxiety, which detracted from their powers of observation. The success of any person has to do with being open to new experiences and observing opportunities as they present themselves. Successful people maximise chance opportunities, do their educated guesswork, persist in the face of failure, employ various psychological techniques to cope with, and often even thrive upon the failures that come their way. They have lots of grit and determination.

Each of us tries to understand and explain the reasons for our accomplishments in terms of our talents, capacities, knowledge, skill, resourcefulness, contacts and hard work.

When our efforts are not up to the mark, where our skills are not fully presented and therefore  fail to achieve the desired result, we often attribute it to 'bad luck'. When something happens according to our expectations, we sometimes attribute it to 'good luck'. But realistically there is no such thing as luck. It just is your perception of the situation you are in!

If you really want to have success you should think confidently, aspire intensely, feel enthusiastically and harmoniously about yourselves, your lives, the people you interact with and everything that happens to you. You have to have full knowledge about what you are dealing with. It also tells us that if our lives seem to be plagued by failure, it is because our own mental preoccupations, fears, doubts, anxieties, self-pity, resentments and frustrations are attracting the very opposite of what we consciously aspire for. What some people call 'Luck' and 'misfortune' are actually mirrors which life holds up reflecting what we are inside or what is happening inside.
 Everything depends on us, on what we think and feel inside. Everything can come under our control, if only we become conscious. The Secret is based on a profound knowledge: The inner determines the outer.

"I don't believe in luck, but I do believe in assigning a value to things." - Noble prize winning John Nash, math professor at Princeton from the movie A Beautiful Mind

When the human mind accepts a condition or circumstance as fixed and unchanging, that condition acquires a fixed and unchanging character in the life of the individual. When the human mind ardently embraces the idea of change, it acquires the capacity to bring about the change it aspires for.

Your success actually depends on your right efforts, not good luck!
Your failure is caused by your 'not so sincere' work, not bad luck!

"Luck? What is it?" It just is your perception about the situation you are in!

We,  the people of the scientific world, know only the formula of success. Not some imaginative  story that makes you escape into a pseudo-world!


How many lottery tickets do you need to buy to guarantee a win ( to become 'lucky')? Mathematicians find the answer!

Mathematicians  have answered the question: How many lottery tickets do you need to buy to guarantee wining something on the U.K. National Lottery?

Focusing on the National Lottery's flagship game "Lotto," which draws six random numbers from 1 to 59, Dr. David Stewart and Dr. David Cushing found that 27 is the lowest possible number of tickets needed to guarantee a win—although, importantly, with no guarantee of a profit.

They describe the solution using a mathematical system called finite geometry, which centers around a triangle-like structure called a Fano plane. Each point of the structure is plotted with pairs of numbers and connected with lines—each line generates a set of six numbers, which equates to one ticket.

It takes three Fano planes and two triangles to cover all 59 numbers and generate 27 sets of tickets.

Choosing tickets in this way guarantees that no matter which of the 45,057,474 possible draws occurs, at least one of the tickets will have at least two numbers in common. From any draw of six, two numbers must appear on one of the five geometric structures, which ensures they appear on at least one ticket.

But Dr. Stewart and Dr. Cushing say that the hard work is actually showing that achieving the same outcome with 26 tickets is not possible.

The 27 sets of lottery ticket numbers.
Fundamentally there is a tension which comes from the fact that there are only 156 entries on 26 tickets. This means a lot of numbers can't appear a lot of times. Eventually you see that you'll be able to find six numbers that don't appear on any ticket together. In graph theory terms, we end up proving the existence of an independent set of size six.

Although guaranteed a win, the researchers say that the chances of making a profit are very unlikely and shouldn't be used as a reason to gamble.

The 27 lottery tickets would set you back £54. And Peter Rowlett, a mathematician from The A periodical website, has shown that in almost 99% of cases, you wouldn't make that money back.

When putting the theory to the test in the lottery draw on 1 July 2023; the researchers matched just two balls on three of the tickets, the reward being three lucky dip tries on a subsequent lottery, each of which came to nothing.

The researchers say that the finding is interesting from a computational point of view. They use a fifty-year-old programming language called Prolog, which they say makes it one of the oldest examples of real artificial intelligence.

Source: University of Manchester

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Replies to This Discussion


What is 'luck' according to science

Never! I fail only when my efforts are not up to the mark.

True scientists don't believe in luck! They are go-getters and think only well planned hard work will yield good results. While lazy people believe in it and escapists blame 'bad' luck when they lost control over their lives and the situation they are in.

What is 'luck' according to science

A: A study done at Johns Hopkins showed that about two thirds of all mutation changes that result in cancer development occur by random chance.

But there are often some contributing factors. Tobacco, alcohol, obesity and inactivity all contribute to higher cancer risk. About half of all cancers are related to obesity which result in impairment of immune surveillance and high insulin levels that stimulate cell proliferation and mutation.

This study should give some emotional comfort to those who feel guilty that they developed cancer. Careful drivers also get into car accidents, just less frequently.

It was the study that launched hundreds of scientific rebuttals, insinuations that the authors had been paid off by the chemical industry, and charges that it was a “massive” stunt “hidden behind fancy numbers of doubtful quality.”

The claim that sparked this controversy? That “bad luck,” more than environmental factors or inherited genes, affects whether someone develops cancer, implying that preventive efforts from smoking cessation to environmental cleanups were largely pointless.

Now the authors of that 2015 paper are back. In a study published on Thursday in Science, they double down on their original finding but also labor mightily to correct widespread misinterpretations of it. This time, using health records from 69 countries, they conclude that 66 percent of cancer-causing genetic mutations arise from the “bad luck” of a healthy, dividing cell making a random mistake when it copies its DNA.

The scientists go to great pains to explain that this doesn’t mean that two-thirds of cancers are beyond the reach of prevention. But understanding the role of these unforced errors “could provide comfort to the millions of patients who developed cancer but led near-perfect [healthy] lifestyles,” said cancer biologist Dr. Bert Vogelstein of Johns Hopkins University, senior author of both the original study and the new one. “This is particularly true for parents of children who have cancer” and might blame the tragedy on the genes they passed on to their child or the environment they provided, he said.

“They did it right this time,” Dr. Otis Brawley, chief medical officer of the American Cancer Society, said of the authors. “In the first paper they upset a lot of people who are advocates for cancer prevention, and confused a lot of people,” by leaving the impression that most cancers are beyond the reach of prevention. “But a reasonable person can read this one and think, prevention is not useless.”

Separate research has shown that roughly 42 percent of cancers are preventable by, for instance, not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, and not being exposed to cancer-causing pollutants.


After a roundabout calculation, the researchers concluded that DNA-copying mistakes are responsible for 66 percent of the mutations, while 29 percent are due to environmental factors and 5 percent to heredity. Different cancers differ significantly: At least 60 percent of mutations triggering skin and lung cancer are due to the environment, they calculate, compared with 15 percent or less in prostate, bone, brain, and breast cancers.

Most Cancer Cases Arise from "Bad Luck"
Environment and heredity are smaller players than researchers previously believed

My reply to the above interpretation:

Bad luck? A probability that became a reality.

Good luck: Same!

"Luck? What is it?" It just is your perception about the situation you are in!

Reflective thinkers are more likely to see the event as a statistical fluke, while intuitive thinkers feel it is good or bad luck. I think scientific community should be careful about using these words. They themselves are responsible for misinterpretations.


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