Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

Professor David Spiegelhalter of Cambridge University wants to know about your coincidences!

Even when you know the odds

A couple of years ago I decided to introduce my 8 year old son to probability theory (he loves maths), and sat down with a coin and pencil and paper. I explained that if we made 10 guesses for the toss of the coin, that about 5 of those guesses would be correct – whatever he chose. To prove the point, I chose HHHHHHHHHH, and he carefully guessed 10 well mixed sequences of H and T. We then tossed the coin 10 times, I scored 6 matches, he scored 4. Nice result. He was intrigued, so we played again.

Tuned in radio

My name is Paul, and on my return from a particularly difficult day at work, I opened the door to my two up, two down house and picked up the remote control for my radio. As it took a few seconds to come on, I proceeded to the kitchen to get a beer from the fridge. As I put my hands on the door of fridge, I heard a female voice from the radio suddenly announce "Paul, please don't have a drink, you know you only drink when you're unhappy". The radio play moved on whilst I froze. It's almost enough to put you off your beer...

Regular Jury Service

Shortly after my 18th Birthday i was selected for Jury Service at a crown court. Six months later i was summonsed again (and elected to serve despite the option not to) on the second jury another juror had also served with me on the first jury AND the judge and advocates were the same. I was then called again aged 20 so what are the chances of being called three times before age 21 and on two of those times meeting another juror called for the second time and having the same judge and same advocates for the prosecution and defense?

The red passport

In 2005 I married an English man who I believed to be my soulmate. The night we married he 'changed' and became quite diabolical. I realised I had made a terrible mistake immediately. But I had resigned from my job, which was professional - and to this day the best job I had ever had, in order to be close to his child and ex partner with whom he shared custody with. My seven year old son, my new husband and I moved 800km then, with my life possessions on a removal truck to this isolated coastal place where my new husband also worked, two months after the marriage - as planned.

Old friend AND birthday coincidence

In the early 1970s, I did a 3-year spell in the RAMC. The first 18 months, I was posted with 24th Field Ambulance in Catterick, where I struck up a friendship with Geoff. I was then posted to Tidworth Military Hospital and we didn't keep in touch. Geoff had joined earlier than I so he had left the army a year or so before my term was up. I came out in early '74 when My wife fell pregnant. We did not yet have our own place and were living with my wife's mother. My son was born later that year.<br /> It was a slightly difficult birth so my wife was kept in.

Coincidences of the Third Kind

Here is a series of related coincidences connecting ten people over four decades and half of England. I am John from Lytham St. Anne’s who went to school with Frank and Steve 1968-75, then shared Liverpool University digs from 1975-77 with Ged from Newcastle. In 1976, travelling to the NUS Motorcycle Rally in Cambridge, I over-nighted in Leicester University Halls. I spoke briefly to a random student while we waited for a kettle to boil in a communal kitchen of the grim sort often created by 18-23 year-old male undergrad’s.

Hello Vancouver, Twice!

Whilst travelling in Australia in 2007 I had the pleasure of helping a Canadian guy, whom I'd met for the first time that evening, back to his room after he'd had a few to many to drink. Fast forward four years later to be again away on travels. On this occasion I found myself hungover underground in a cave system under Budapest with a group of other tourists.

Meeting with a folk singer

In the 1980's I went to a gig performed by a well known English folk singer. After the gig I chatted to him, and asked where he had played last on a recent world tour. He said he had just come back from Auckland, New Zealand. I told him I had a mate there called Bev, who would have enjoyed his performance. He said "well you must be Dave". He was right. Bev had attended his gig in Auckland, and Bev had asked him where he was playing next. The musician told him his next gig was in the Isle of Man, where I lived at the time, and my friend said that I was bound to go and see him.

Meant to be

My black West Indian father died in a road traffic accident in Yorkshire when he was 25 years old, he was driving a van (I later found out he was the leader of a steel drum band and permanently kept the band's equipment in the back of the vehicle). I was only 5 weeks old at the time of his death. My white English mother and I went to live with her father after his death. Due to various family issues my mum moved away when I was still a toddler, remarrying and starting a new family.

Meta Coincidence?

Reading the BBC News website tonight (29/05/2015) there was an article called "Spiegelhalter's: The ultimate symbol of holding out." </p> <p>Then I watched Ian Stewart's 10 things about tsunamis on BBC iPlayer, which I've seen before. When that ended I was presented with the option of watching "Tails You Win....".