Cambridge Coincidences Collection

As of the 23rd May 2022 this website is archived and will receive no further updates.

was produced by the Winton programme for the public understanding of risk based in the Statistical Laboratory in the University of Cambridge. The aim was to help improve the way that uncertainty and risk are discussed in society, and show how probability and statistics can be both useful and entertaining.

Many of the animations were produced using Flash and will no longer work.

Well I Never!

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

Stranger with an old connection

I was sitting on the train on my commute home one afternoon and noticed a man sitting opposite me on the train. Later that afternoon I was listening to the radio - national broadcaster - on my drive from the train station to my house where a person was being interviewed on a certain matter. At the end of the interview, the radio announcer said that was Soandso from Organisation name. ‘Hmm’ I though, ‘I used to go to school with a person with that name (25 years ago), I wonder if it’s the same person?’ When I got home I googled the organisation and clicked on the ‘About us’ link to discover that the person being interviewed was the same person I went to school with. On the webpage was a group staff photo. Looking at the staff photo I noticed that it included the very same man sitting across from me on the train ride home.

Twin right down the street

Growing up, there was a girl who lived a block down the road from me. When we joined the same book club, we discovered that we shared the same first and middle name AND the same birthday. We were born within an hour of each other at the same hospital, with the same name. We joked about the possibility that we could have been switched at birth. Then, we discovered that our parents shared the same anniversary, AND our little sisters were also born just a few hours apart. What are the odds?

Obsessed with a game you could never play and find it anyway.

One night when I was a teenager, I read a little bit about the game "Heavy Rain". I never owned a PS3, but my best friend did. I remember being enamoured by the story and the gameplay behind it, so I spent hours going down the clicking link rabbit hole until it was early in the morning and I just had the weirdest desire to go for a run. I usually ran with my best friend and running alone was pretty uncommon for me. The weather was even overcast with a bit of drizzle and I still felt the urge to go out for a run. I sort of half heartedly began a jog down my street and turned at the elevated train where a face down disk caught my eye. I went over and picked it up only to find it was Heavy Rain for the PS3 in pretty good condition. It was only slightly scratched but the coincidence for me to find it out on a run after I stayed up reading up on the story the night before was mind boggling. I recanted the story to my friend and we played it together. It was a fun time. We reset once or twice because of disc issues, but we played it to the end.

Your cousin lives across the hall

When I attended a very large state college for my freshman year, I spent a lot of time in my friends dorm room. I also got to know the people living across the hall from his room and we became friends as well. At the same time my grandfather reached out to a distant relative who he had not spoken to for many years. They discussed their lives and discovered that although they lived several states away they both had grandchildren attending the same large state university. When he told me the name of my 4th cousin (who I never knew existed) it turned out that he was one of the 10 out of 60,000+ people I had met in my first few weeks. Furthermore it turned out that we were in the same major and in the following years had a few classes together, encountering one another often.

Kindergarten Teacher

Hello! A few months ago I had pulled into the parking lot of my local mall, and I randomly thought of my Kindergarten teacher (I’m a 35 year old man, and was in Kindergarten from 1991-1992). Have not spoken to her nor seen her since then. Just shrugged it off and didn’t think anything of it. I walk into the mall, and the first person I see is my Kindergarten teacher (with her adult daughter)! We locked eyes and both paused. I approached her and I said “Mrs. (soandso)?!” And she stared at me and remembered me! I couldn’t believe the coincidence. It made me feel a little emotional actually. Just thought I’d share!

Birthday coincidence

When I went to college at Rochester Institute of Technology in August 2009 my freshman dorm, Building 28, I met a group of people I clicked with and ended up forming life long friendships with. One of the people I met and became friends with shares a birthday with me. We ended up living with each other for two years as roommates in student apartments Junior and Senior year and are still good friends to this day.

Ancestor’s book

Thinking of studying electrical engineering at the time, I purchased, at a whim, an antique electrical engineering handbook from an antique show. When I got home and opened the book for the first time I saw a signature inside the cover. The book was purchased in 1901 by my great grand uncle, who shared my same last name.

Wife’s father purchased an antique from my own father, years before we ever met

My father used to sell antiques at an outdoor flea market every Sunday. We had an old wooden horse statue in our kitchen, and one day it’s leg broke off and we glued it back together. You could see the mark where it had broken, but the glue was strong and the horse statue still looked beautiful. Later, my father sold the statue and we never thought of it again. Until, about 10 years later, we noticed the same horse statue at my my new wife’s parent’s home. We took a closer look, and noticed that the leg that had been broken and glued off was there - the very same glued together leg. We knew it was the horse statue that we had in our kitchen when I was a young teen. Turns out my father sold it to my wife’s father, years and years before we ever met.

Meeting someone I injured playing Football Years Later

When I was a senior in high school (United States) I played football for my school. One game we were playing our rival school, and I accidentally broke the foot of one of the other players. I felt bad about it at the time then forgot about it as time went on. This event occurred in 2008. I then went to college and graduated in 2015 (separate story about being in college for six years) and proceeded to move across the country with five other guys I graduated with. We had a very large friend group between the five of us, and one night we were having a party. This group of guys showed up who were friends of a friend I graduated college with (mind you, none of the people I went to college with were even from the same state as me). We are all sitting around drinking beers in the backyard reminiscing about high school sports (again, none of us had ever played together in high school… or so I thought). Then one of the guys starts talking about how he had broken his foot in a rival football game his senior year. This perks my ears up a bit, and I start to ask the obvious questions.

Girlfriend’s Sister’s New Girlfriend

My girlfriend’s sister started dating a girl and she happened to be my cousin’s best friend(whom i had never met)