# probability

 One thing that makes TV game shows fun to watch is that there's usually an element of luck involved. But how (un)lucky is (un)lucky? We look at the probabilities of two popular examples. David Sloan calculates how likely it is that our Universe exists. He explains to us how, and why the answer can help shape our theories of physics. A 1 in 14 million chance to win the lottery, a 5% risk of cancer, a 50:50 chance of heads on a coin — we deal with probabilities all the time, but do they actually mean anything? We explore the philosophy of probability and ask whether the probabilities that come up in physics differ from those in every day life. Are there objective chances in the world? Is poker a game of psychology and cunning rather than strategy? We investigate the maths of bluffing. In the previous article we looked at a psychological study which claims to provide evidence that certain types of extra-sensory perception exist, using a statistical method called significance testing. But do the results of the study really justify this conclusion? In March 2011 a highly respected psychology journal published a paper claiming to provide evidence for extra-sensory perception (ESP). The claim was based largely on the results of a very common statistical procedure called significance testing. The experiments provide an excellent way into looking at how significance testing works and at what's problematic about it. Probabilities and statistics: they are everywhere, but they are hard to understand and can be counter-intuitive. So what's the best way of communicating them to an audience that doesn't have the time, desire, or background to get stuck into the numbers? This article explores modern visualisation techniques and finds that the right picture really can be worth a thousand words. As the Wimbledon 2011 Championships hove into view, memories will be reawakened of the match of epic proportions that took place last year between the American John Isner and the Frenchman Nicolas Mahut. So just how freaky was their titanic fifth set and what odds might a bookmaker offer for a repeat? Insurance companies offer protection against rare but catastrophic events like hurricanes or earthquakes. But how do they work out the financial risks associated to these disasters? Shane Latchman investigates.