Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

What are the odds?

I have one PIN number that I use for everything and have used the same 4 digit number for years, for everything from banking to online signups. Several years ago I applied for a credit card and upon acceptance received a randomly generated PIN number. That PIN number was exactly the same as the PIN I've been using for years. I asked the bank about this and was assured all the pin numbers sent out were generated on a completely random basis and could have nothing to do with me personally. I'm no mathematician but you've got to be talking very serious odds on that one.

Richard Gibson

In 2000 I took part in the British Heart Foundation London to Brighton cycle ride. My allocated number was 10106. I have a photograph and entry card showing the number. A few years later, as part of my job with Hampshire County Council I was (unusually) seconded to Hampshire Police to help manage implementation of the new non-emergency number (now live across England and Wales). The non-emergency number is 101 and we went live in 06.

My Family and two repetitions

1. My father, my brother and myself, each married for a second time. My father was 17.5 years older than his wife, my brother was 17.5 years older than his wife, and my husband was 17.5 years older than me! 2. Thirty years ago I did not know a single person called either Philip/Philippa or Nicola/Nicolas. Then my uncle married a woman who had twin neices, Philippa and Nicola. My brother married a woman called Nicola, who has a twin sister Philippa. And I married a man called Philip, with a daughter called Nicola. Thank you. Helen

Mirror Image

During a 3-month trip across Canada, I bumped into a friend from my home town in Yorkshire in a youth hostel in Lake Louise. Neither of us knew the other was in the country; we were both following the same route between Toronto and Vancouver only I was going east-west and she was going west-east, and both flew in and were due to fly out on the same days....with the same airline, back to Leeds Bradford airport.....

Flight 911 headed for downtown Manhatten

In the 1980s Michael Burke made a documentary series called "Connections". At the start of the first episode he stood at the top of the World Trade Centre and talked about a power cut that, amongst other things, left Flight 911 flying towards the towers of Manhattan without any navigation or radio contact.

Wrong Number

Around 1976 I was working in Bristol. I made a STD phone call to Cardiff and mis-dialed. The wrong number that answered was the home number, which I had never had, of someone I had met at union meetings a couple of years before. She recognized my voice.

answering the phone

Some 20 odd years ago my daughter was studying at Plymouth Polytechnic as it was then. A long way from home she would ring home from a call box for a family chat I would ask her for the number she was ringing from and ring her back, as this was cheaper. So I had a short list of numbers she had rung from by my phone at home. I was filling in a form about her Council grant and needed to ask her a question, so I went to the last phone number I had from her and rang it.

9/11 picture found in book at same time of action.

While on a canal boat holiday, we reached Bath at the exact time of the Twin Towers disaster and watched it on the portable TV. Having moored the boat, I went into the town to look round. I came across a bookshop, and being interested in computers, picked out a fairly thick book on the subject. The very first page I opened (about halfway through) chilled me to the bone. The subject was computing chance, and there was a line drawing of a skyscraper, with an airliner heading straight for it from the left hand side. I was so shaken that I called another customer over to show him the picture.

Meeting across the world

I went on a voluntary service 3 week trip to Tanzania with an American charity (I'm British and lived in Hampshire at the time). In the small group were a family (parents and teenage daughter) from Michigan, US. At the end of the trip we all parted without exchanging addresses, since we had all got on OK but hadn't really gelled. The following summer, I was on holiday in a tiny village in Scotland and I bumped into this family walking down the street.

The West Indies coincidence

It is my husband's coincidence, not mine. My husband was stationed in the West Indies when in the airforce in the 1960s. He was billeted in a hotel owned by a family with several children, the youngest of whom was about 9. After leaving the airforce in the early 70s he went to teacher training college as a mature student where he met me and another student who was to become his best friend. Some years later, when arranging a visit to come to stay with us the aforesaid best friend said he was bringing his new girlfriend (later to be his wife).

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