Science

# Scientists find that coin tosses aren't 50/50. Here's how you can get an advantage

### The age-old method isn't as fair and practical as we originally thought.

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Coin tosses aren't 50/50 like we've been led to believe

Settling things by coin toss has been around for centuries. The ancient Romans called it “‘Heads or Ships.” Britains of the Middle Ages knew it as “Cross or Pile.” Throughout history, this game of chance was believed to be a fair, unbiased way to settle a dispute, choose which team goes first in a sports game and make decisions.

And the thought behind this makes sense. After all, there are only two sides to a coin, making the odds for each outcome an even 50/50. It doesn’t get more even than that.

However, a team of scientists, led by former magician and American mathematician Persi Diaconis, have discovered that this age-old method isn’t as evenly split as we believed. And there's even a way to slightly cheat the odds to your advantage.

Diaconis made a name for himself by studying (and debunking) randomness, one of his more famous feats being determining how many times a deck of cards must be shuffled in order to truly mix up the deck. Even as a teenager, he exposed how casino scammers would shave their dice to improve their chances against customers.

When it comes to coin games, Diaconis has long argued that while it’s “pretty close to fair,” it’s definitely not 50/50. Especially when a little wobble is introduced into the toss, which increases the chance that the coin will land on the same side it started.

A group of scientists set out to test Diaconis' findings and their study, currently in preprint, revealed that coins did indeed land on the same side they were tossed from around 51 percent of the time.

“According to the [Diaconis] model, precession causes the coin to spend more time in the air with the initial side facing up,” they wrote. “Consequently, the coin has a higher chance of landing on the same side as it started (i.e., ‘same-side bias’).”

The study recorded 350,757 coin flips, carried out by 48 people using 46 different currencies. In the end, there turned out to be a 50.8 percent chance of the coin showing up the same side it was tossed from.

They also found that some tossers showed a strong same-side bias while others had none at all, indicating that coin tosses may come down to the tosser, ever so slightly.

While this might not seem like a huge margin, the advantage becomes clear when you put into a betting scenario. "If you bet a dollar on the outcome of a coin toss (i.e., paying 1 dollar to enter, and winning either 0 or 2 dollars depending on the outcome) and repeat the bet 1,000 times, knowing the starting position of the coin toss would earn you 19 dollars on average,” the team explained.

"This is more than the casino advantage for 6 deck blackjack against an optimal-strategy player, where the casino would make 5 dollars on a comparable bet, but less than the casino advantage for single-zero roulette, where the casino would make 27 dollars on average."

via GIPHY

You could also use physics to your advantage, not just probability. Diaconis also proved that the head side of a coin is a tiny bit heavier than its tails counterpart, causing it to land on tails more often. Especially when it comes to Lincoln Memorial pennies.

So next time you are fighting with a loved one over whose turn it is to do the dishes, you can still settle it with a coin toss. Just conceal the starting position first. Or take a peak a use this hard earned knowledge. No judgement.

Education

## A school assignment asked for 3 benefits of slavery. This kid gave the only good answer.

### The school assignment was intended to spark debate and discussion — but isn't that part of the problem?

A school assignment asked for 3 "good" reasons for slavery.

It's not uncommon for parents to puzzle over their kids' homework.

Sometimes, it's just been too long since they've done long division for them to be of any help. Or teaching methods have just changed too dramatically since they were in school.

And other times, kids bring home something truly inexplicable.

## Trameka Brown-Berry was looking over her 4th-grade son Jerome's homework when her jaw hit the floor.

"Give 3 'good' reasons for slavery and 3 bad reasons," the prompt began.

You read that right. Good reasons ... FOR SLAVERY.

Lest anyone think there's no way a school would actually give an assignment like this, Brown-Berry posted photo proof to Facebook.

In the section reserved for "good reasons," (again, for slavery), Jerome wrote, "I feel there is no good reason for slavery thats why I did not write."

## The shockingly offensive assignment deserved to be thrown in the trash. But young Jerome dutifully filled it out anyway.

His response was pretty much perfect.

We're a country founded on freedom of speech and debating ideas, which often leads us into situations where "both sides" are represented. But it can only go so far.

There's no meaningful dialogue to be had about the perceived merits of stripping human beings of their basic living rights. No one is required to make an effort to "understand the other side," when the other side is bigoted and hateful.

In a follow-up post, Brown-Berry writes that the school has since apologized for the assignment and committed to offering better diversity and sensitivity training for its teachers.

But what's done is done, and the incident illuminates the remarkable racial inequalities that still exist in our country. After all, Brown-Berry told the Chicago Tribune, "You wouldn't ask someone to list three good reasons for rape or three good reasons for the Holocaust."

At the very end of the assignment, Jerome brought it home with a bang: "I am proud to be black because we are strong and brave ... "

Good for Jerome for shutting down the thoughtless assignment with strength and amazing eloquence.

Health

## Belgian Olympic marathoner breaks down in tears of disbelief upon hearing she finished 28th

### 38-year-old Mieke Gorissen had only been training for three years and the Olympics was just her third marathon.

Imagine deciding to take up a hobby that usually requires many years to perfect at age 35, and three years later ending up in the top 30 in the world at the highest international competition for it.

That's what happened to a 38-year-old math and physics teacher from Diepenbeek, Belgium. According to Netherlands News Live, Mieke Gorissen has jogged 10km (a little over six miles) a few times a week for exercise for many years. But in 2018, she decided to hire a running trainer to improve her technique. As it turned out, she was a bit of a natural at distance running.

Three years later, Gorissen found herself running her third marathon. But not just any old marathon (as if there were such a thing)—the marathon at the Tokyo Olympics. And not only did she compete with the world's most elite group of runners, she came in 28th out of the 88 competing in the race.

With the heat and humidity in Tokyo, even completing the race was a major accomplishment. (Fifteen women competing did not finish the marathon.) But to come in in the top 30 when you just started focusing on distance running three years ago? Unbelievable.

In fact, Gorissen could hardly believe it herself. A video of her reaction upon hearing her results has gone viral for its purity and genuine humility. "No," she said when a reporter told her she came in 28th in the race. "That's not possible."

Then she burst into tears.

Her emotional disbelief is so moving. "I was already happy to finish the race," she said through sobs. "I do think I have reached my goal and that I can be happy."

"I also think I lost a toenail," she added, laughing.

Even after the English translation ends in the video, it's clear how much this finish meant to her. A remarkable accomplishment for a 38-year-old who knits and reads for fun and who has only run two marathons prior to competing in the Olympics.

According to her Olympic profile, she's glad she got started with distance running later in life. "If I started running in my teens, it wouldn't have been good for me," she said. "I wasn't really happy then, I would have been too hard on myself and I would have lost myself in it in a way that wasn't healthy. It came at exactly the right time."

Congratulations, Mieke. You've given us all the inspiration to set new goals and dream bigger than we ever thought possible.

Pop Culture

## Merriam-Webster announced the 2023 'Word of the Year,’ and it says a lot about today’s world

### Plus, some other terms that made 2023 a historic year.

Taylor Swift at 2022 Toronto International Film Festival Red Carpet Day 2.

The wordsmiths over at Merriam-Webster have announced their official “Word of the Year for 2023,” they say it’s something we are “thinking about, writing about, aspiring to, and judging more” than ever.

The word is authentic.

According to the dictionary, the most common definitions of authentic are “not false or imitation,” “being true to one's own personality, spirit, or character,” and “worthy of acceptance or belief as conforming to or based on fact.”

Merriam-Webster says the word saw a “substantial increase” in lookups this year. That’s probably because we now live in a world where artificial intelligence, deepfake technology and questionable memes challenge our basic notions of reality.

Authenticity is also seen as a commodity at a time when influencers build their brands on social media while attempting to seamlessly pitch their "favorite" products. These days, the average person scrolls through over 43 feet of content every day on social media. After being exposed to countless images of people, it becomes easier to spot the phonies from those who are being their authentic selves.

“When we look at common threads across the thousands of influencer marketing campaigns we’ve run at The Outloud Group over the last 15 years, the similarity between all of our best-performing brand creator partnerships is pretty simple: true authenticity,” Bradley Hoos, CEO of The Outland Group, a full-service influencer marketing agency, writes in Forbes.

Merriam-Webster adds that authenticity is a trait people strove to find for themselves in 2023.

“Celebrities like singers Lainey Wilson, Sam Smith, and especially Taylor Swift all made headlines in 2023 with statements about seeking their ‘authentic voice’ and ‘authentic self,” Merriam-Webster writes. “Headlines like Three Ways To Tap Into Taylor Swift’s Authenticity And Build An Eras-Like Workplace associate this quality with pop-culture superpower.”

The dictionary also highlighted more words that trended in 2023, including:

“Rizz” — Internet slang for "romantic appeal or charm" (noun) or "to charm, seduce" (verb), popularized by YouTuber Kai Cenat, was added to the dictionary.

“Deepfake” — Altered images or recordings that convincingly misrepresent someone's actions or words, making it hard to distinguish between real and fake.

“Coronation” — The crowning of a new British monarch, King Charles III, sent people to the dictionary’s website to learn the term's meaning.

“Dystopian” — In 2023, “dystopian” was a verb applied to many frightening real-world issues and was used to describe the trend in video games, books and movies depicting a dark future.

“EGOT” — Lookups for “EGOT” spiked in February when Viola Davis won a Grammy for the audiobook version of her memoir. That made her one of the 18 people to become an EGOT, or winner of an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony awards.

“X” — When Twitter was rebranded as X on July 23, searches for the term spiked at Merriam-Webster.com, where curious people went to discover more about the mysterious letter.

“Implode” — When a submersible that went to visit the remains of the Titanic in June imploded, the term had a considerable spike as people attempted to learn more about the passengers’ fate.

“Doppelgänger” — This term got hot multiple times in 2023. It trended twice due to stories out of Germany and New York involving the attempted murder or suicide of someone’s lookalike. Further, September saw the release of Naomi Klein’s book, “Doppelgänger: A Trip Into the Mirror World.”

Pop Culture

## People are sharing the adult problems that 'nobody prepared you for' and they're so true

### Here are 21 of the most relatable.

via PixaBay

Nothing can ever fully prepare you for being an adult. Once you leave childhood behind, the responsibilities, let-downs and setbacks come at you fast. It’s tiring and expensive, and there's no easy-to-follow roadmap for happiness and success.

A Reddit user named u/Frequent-Pilot5243 asked the online forum, “What’s an adult problem nobody prepared you for?” and there were a lot of profound answers that get to the heart of the disappointing side of being an adult.

One theme that ran through many responses is the feeling of being set adrift. When you’re a kid, the world is laid out as a series of accomplishments. You learn to walk, you figure out how to use the bathroom, you start school, you finish school, maybe you go to college, and so on.

However, once we’re out of the school system and out from under our parents’ roofs, there is a vast, complicated world out there and it takes a long time to learn how it works. The tough thing is that if you don’t get a good head start, you can spend the rest of your life playing catch-up.

Then, you hit middle age and realize that life is short and time is only moving faster.

Adulthood also blindsides a lot of people because we realize that many adults are simply children who grew older. The adult world is a lot more like high school than a teenager could ever imagine.

The Reddit thread may seem a bit depressing at first, but there are a lot of great lessons that younger people can take to heart. The posts will also make older people feel a lot better because they can totally relate.

Being an adult is hard, exhausting and expensive. But we’re all in this together and by sharing the lessons we’ve learned we can help lighten each other's load just a bit.

Here are 21 of the most powerful responses to the question: “What is an adult problem nobody prepared you for?”

### 1. Lack of purpose

"Lack of purpose. All your young life you are given purpose of passing exams and learning, then all of a sudden you are thrown into the world and told to find your own meaning," — Captain_Snow.

### 2. No bed time

"You can stay up as late as you want. But you shouldn't," — geek-fit

### 3. Friendships

"Where did all my friends go?" — I_Love_Small_Breasts

Most of them are at the same place as you are ... Probably wondering the same thing," — Blackdraon003

### 4. Bodily changes

"I'm closer to fifty than forty, would have been nice to be better prepared for some of the ways your body starts to change at this point that don't normally get talked about. For instance your teeth will start to shift from general aging of your gums," — dayburner.

### 5. People don't change

"Didnt know that other adults have the emotional intelligence of teenagers and its almost impossible to deal with logically," — Super-Progress-6386

### 6. Money

"\$5K is a lot to owe, but not a lot to have," — Upper-Job5130

### 7. Our parents age, too

"Handling the decline and death of your parents," - Agave666

### 8. Free time

"Not having a lot of free-time or time by myself," — detective_kiara

### 9. No goals

"Not having a pre-defined goal once I was out of college. Growing up my goals were set for me: get through elementary school! then middle school! Then high school, and get into college and get a degree, then get a job, and then...? Vague "advance in your career, buy a house, find a spouse, have a kid or multiple, then retire." At 22 I had no idea how to break that down more granularly," — FreehandBirdlime

### 11. Exhaustion

"Being able to do so many things because I'm an adult but too tired to do any of them," — London82

### 12. Loneliness

"Being an adult feels extremely lonely," — Bluebloop0

### 13. Dinner

"Having to make dinner every. Fucking. Day," — EndlesslyUnfinished

### 14. Time changes

"The more life you’ve lived, the faster time seems to go," — FadedQuill

### 15. You're responsibile, even if you didn't mean it

"You are held to account for bad behaviour for which you are negligent even if you had no intention to cause harm. As a lawyer, I see this all the time. People don't think they're responsible for mistakes. You are," — grishamlaw

### 16. Work is like high school

"The intricacies of workplace politics," — Steve_Lobsen writes. "

"When you're in school, you think that you won't have to deal with gossiping and bullying once you leave school. Unfortunately, that is not true," — lady_laughs_too_much

### 17. Nowhere to turn

"How easy it is to feel stuck in a bad situation (job, relationship, etc) just because the cost and effort of getting out can seem daunting. And sometimes you just have to accept a figurative bowl full of shit because you can't afford to blow up your life," — movieguy95453

### 18. The happiness question

"Figuring out what makes you happy. Everyone keeps trying to get you to do things you're good at, or that makes you money, but never to pursue what you enjoy," — eternalwanderer5

### 19. Constant cleaning

"The kitchen is always dirty. You’ll clean it at least three times every day," — cewnc

### 20. Life costs money

"One adult problem nobody prepared me for is how expensive everything is. I always thought that as an adult I would be able to afford the things I wanted, but it turns out that's not always the case! I've had to learn how to budget and save up for the things I want, and it's been a difficult process," — Dull_Dog_8126

### 21. Keeping above water

"All of it together. I was relatively warned about how high rent is, car bills and repairs, how buying healthy food is expensive as hell but important for your health, how to exercise and save what you can, my parents did their best to fill in my knowledge about taxes and healthcare and insurance that my schooling missed, about driving and cleaning a household, about setting boundaries at work but working hard and getting ahead if you can, about charity and what it means to take care of a pet and others, about being a good partner if you were lucky enough to have one, about how dark and messed up the world is when you just read the news and what all that means to me and my community… I was reasonably warned about all of it.

"No one could have ever prepared me for how hard doing all of it at the same time and keeping your head above that water would actually be," — ThatNoNameWriter

Education

## A mom was frustrated that there weren't shows for kids with developmental delays. So, she made one herself.

### Ms. Rachel has taken the internet by storm with her show geared toward educating parents and toddlers.

Mom couldn't find a show for children with developmental delays.

If there's one thing a determined parent will do, it's make sure their kid is getting their needs met. Even if that means they have to reinvent the wheel to do it. Rachel Griffin Accurso, or as parents across TikTok and YouTube know her, Ms. Rachel, found herself without any real options for additional resources to help her toddler who was diagnosed with a speech delay.

Accurso was looking for a developmentally appropriate show for her son but she wasn't having any luck. That's when she decided to take her teaching degree and get to work on creating her own show. It became a family business when she teamed up with her husband, Broadway composer Aron Accurso, who has been there every step of the way. He's even in the episodes singing along.

"Songs for Littles" has infiltrated homes across America. If you have a toddler and internet access, you've likely heard of it. The show has more than a billion views on YouTube. Yes, that's billion, with a "B." Ms. Rachel also has more than 19 million likes on TikTok and has speech pathologists everywhere singing her praises.

Accurso is intentional with all of her videos, doing close-ups on her mouth when introducing new words and pausing to "hear" responses from her viewers after asking a question. In her interview with Today, Accurso admitted, "A lot of things I teach are things I wish I had known for my son." She explained that everything she does is backed by research and is recorded in her small apartment in front of a green screen.

Parents on TikTok often upload videos thanking Accurso or showing off the skill their child learned from watching her show. The journalist who interviewed "Ms. Rachel" for Today even got to record an episode of "Songs for Littles" with her.

Check out the cute video below:

Joy

## Man lives on a cruise ship 300 days a year because it costs the same as renting in Florida

### He told Insider it only costs him about \$30,000 a year.

A ship crusing beautiful blue waters

Living permanently on a cruise ship seems like a dream of the uber-wealthy. You spend your days lounging on the deck by the pool or touring an exotic location. Nights are spent dancing in the nightclub or enjoying live entertainment.

You no longer have to worry about traffic, cooking or laundry. Your life has become all-inclusive as long as you’re on board.

At Upworthy, we’ve shared the stories of a handful of people who’ve been able to spend their lives on a permanent cruise because they’ve figured out how to do so affordably. Or, at least, at about the same cost of living on land.

Insider recently featured the fantastic story of Ryan Gutridge, who spends about 300 nights a year living on Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas. He only leaves the ship for a few weeks a year during the holidays.

Gutridge works in IT as an engineer for a cloud solution provider and can do his full-time job right from the ship. “I do meetings in the morning and afternoons, but I can also go to lunch and socialize or meet people at the gym,” he tells Insider. “I've even met people that I stay in contact with and that have come back and cruised on this ship with me multiple times since.”

Gutridge says that living and working on a cruise ship has improved his mental health. “Working from home was isolating. I don't have kids or pets, so it's easy to become somewhat introverted, but cruising has really helped and made me a lot more social,” he says.

So, how does he afford life on a permanent vacation?

“I have a spreadsheet that automatically records all my expenses, which helps. I also set a budget every year,” he says. “This year, my base fare budget is about \$30,000, and last year when I started really looking at the numbers and evaluating how much base fare I paid to be on a ship for 300 nights, I found it was almost neck-and-neck with what I paid for rent and trash service for an apartment in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.”

Currently, the average price for a one-bedroom apartment in Fort Lauderdale is \$2,088 which would cost Gutridge about \$25,000 a year.

Gutridge believes that the key to living on the ship affordably is loyalty programs. He’s actually spending less in 2023 than he did in 2022, even though he’s spent more time cruising.

“Now, because I cruise so often with Royal Caribbean, I've moved up in its loyalty program. My drinks and internet are free. If people are going to do something like what I do, I recommend trying different brands because they all offer something different. But once you commit to one, you should stick to it so you reach those loyalty levels,” he says.

When he’s not on the ship, he makes doctor and dentist appointments and spends time with his friends. Then, it's back on the high seas, where he has a routine. Monday through Friday, he works, eats healthy, and goes to the gym. On the weekends he'll let loose and have a few drinks.

If the ship arrives at a location he enjoys, he’ll take a PTO day from work and go sightseeing.

Eventually, Gutridge wants to get rid of his apartment and sell his car, so his primary residence is a Royal Caribbean ship. “I have a strong relationship with the crew on this ship,” he says. “It's become a big family, and I don't want to rebuild those relationships on another ship — I joke that I have 1,300 roommates.”