Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

The make up lottery ticket win

This is not mine but something I read that didn't get enough attention to it paid in the newspapers. Maybe about 10 years ago, but it could even have been 20, but less than 30 there was a family or person in the Bronx that bet the same numbers every week on the New York State lottery. And one week they won. Except they hadn't bought a ticket that week. Well, they picked themselves up where they were left and continued buying. 8 weeks later they won. yes, with the exact same numbers they always used.

Fortuitous acquaintanceship with woman I'd marry

After reading a paragraph from Russian author Ludmila Ulitskaya’s novel, The Big Green Tent, in Lenoid Bershidsky’s book review in The Atlantic, I was reminded of my own first acquaintance with the young woman who became my wife. It’s fascinating to trace the trajectories of people destined to meet. Sometimes such encounters happen without any special effort of fate, without elaborate convolutions of plot, following the natural course of events—say, people live in adjacent buildings, or go to the same school; they get to know each other at college or at work.

Assassination in Sarajevo

The multiple instances of errors & confusion that led to the assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28th, 1914, any one of which could have prevented the murder that ignited World War I, seem invented for a fictional plot too full of coincidental misadventures to be taken seriously.

Do we bring luck to football team?

Or this – Do we really bring good luck to a football team? On a Saturday last November, Nora & I were invited to watch the UW Cowboys play their final football game of the season, defeating the UNLV Rebels 35-28. This was the fifth time in the past four years we've been welcomed to watch from either the Wildcatter luxury suites or the Skybox. Twice this year we attended a game. Each time we were guests, so we had no choice in which game we could attend. Thus, the games were random selections & independent events. All five times we witnessed the Cowboys victorious.

English Literature's Fieldings & Joneses

“Of course, billions of such coincidences take place in the world every second. I dream of writing a big book: The Theory of Chance.” – Milan Kundera “In any event, whether it was a matter of one in a million or one in a billion, the meeting was absolutely improbable, and it was precisely this lack of probability that gave it value.

Estimated Taxes Are Exact

In 2012 after completing my federal-tax return, I calculated the amount I’d need to pay each quarter in estimated federal income taxes for 2013. When completing my federal-tax return for that year, the amount I owed was exactly the same as each of those estimated payments.

Forgotten letter to PLAYBOY appears unexpectedly

A more prosaic example occurred when I was a senior in Prof Quick’s Modern Grammar course at Arizona State University in the spring of 1972. For an oral presentation to the class, I decided on rude expletives. At the time, most dictionaries did not include entries for so-called “four-letter words.” Early in the semester in preparation, I wrote to Henry Bosley Woolf, then the editor-in-chief of Webster’s Dictionary, requesting the etymology of “fuck.” He personally wrote back – the letter alone impressed my professor – giving me the principal information I lacked.

Unexpected book gift contains letter to author

In 1979, shortly before I wed my wife of nearly 35 years, after reading one of John Simon’s columns in Esquire, I wrote to the eminent critic of the arts. Without mentioning me by name – “A much more sophisticated letter comes from a teacher in Yuma, Arizona, yet it, too, profoundly disturbs me” – he quoted a paragraph from my epistle in a later column before verbally ripping it to shreds.

Man seeks to find me after my brief appearance on radio about composting

Five years ago when I began thermophilic composting, depositing all of our organic waste into a compost pile in the backyard, I called Ira Flatow during his Science Friday program on NPR to report my project related to his theme of conservation of resources on college campuses. Though I only occasionally have time to listen to the noon broadcast on Fridays, my call was the first answered.

Uncanny political events

On July 4th, 1826, after reconciling through correspondence their longtime acrimonious political differences, John Adams, second president of the United States, & Thomas Jefferson, who had been Adams’s vice president prior to ascending to the presidency, died on the day they’d both contributed to making Independence Day. On Valentine’s Day, February 14th, 1884, Teddy Roosevelt’s mother & wife died on the same day. Following President John F.