Cambridge Coincidences Collection

Well I Never!

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

College associate

While on duty as an Army enlistee specialist in Bangkok in April, 1968, I was greeted at an Army office by an Army Major I last spoke to in the ROTC office at the Pennsylvania college from which I graduated in May, 1967.

Not so eerie but left us with a strange feeling

On a road trip in Colombia, South America, with a cousin, I got the driver's seat for a short while because my cousin had been driving for a long time and needed to rest. It was dark, the terrible road had many potholes that you had to sort out by driving fast avoiding the largest and hitting the rest. Not long after I was driving I turned right on a fork and about half mile later I hit a pothole so badly that it busted the right hand side front tire and damaged the back one as well.

9/11 Magazine Ad

About a month after the World Trade Center terrorist attack I was leafing through PC magazine at work and came across an advertisement for Yahoo Finance. The ad showed an old photo of the financial district of Manhatten with most of the recognizable skyline but conspicuously did not have the Trade Towers in the image. The ad said, "Feel Left In" and I supposed the the gimmick was to show an image where something was clearly left out -- the trade towers. The date of the magazine was August 2001.

My Improbable French Bestie

I started to really work on improving my very rudimentary French skills a few months ago and I started using a phone app called Hellotalk which pairs you up with French speaking people who are trying to learn English. I started making friends with people all over the world, having basic multi-lingual chitchat with people in places such as the Ivory Coast, Algeria, Morrocco and of course France. One morning as I arrived at work, I received a message from someone new who wrote that they were from France and they were working as an Au Pair in Australia.

Ran into an old friend I hadn't seen in 20 years

I was standing by a cafe near UC Berkeley thinking of a friend I had in the 80s, who I hadn't seen since then. She lives in San Francisco. I turned and she was walking down the street toward me.

Online dating historic connection

A guy "superliked" my sister on Tinder - by accident, it turns out - and when she found out his history, we realized he had had dinner at our house 25 years earlier, in a city 400 miles away. Maybe he subconsiciously recognized her, but I doubt it.

unlikely meeting

In Nov. 2013 my wife and I were in the middle of a 6 week road trip (from Boise, Idaho) taking a day hike in Jedediah Smith Redwood Park in northern California. The trail was a loop and we saw very few people. But in the middle of the hike we did run into a couple we knew from Boise. We weren't good friends but the husband and I had spent the previous year working quite intensely together on a non-profit reorganization so it felt more remarkable (even if it wasn't). So 600 miles from home in the redwood forest we meet friends from home.


While driving from Raleigh to Southport, I thought I was making pretty good time as the traffic was light and it's interstate most of the way. But by the time I was on the last stretch, NC 133,the River Road along the Cape Fear, thinking I should be only ten minutes away, I realized it was actually 20 min. or more to my destination. I then mused about the recent discovery of wave in the space/time continuum and how I had "slipped" through some anomaly in time. Just after this thought there appeared a billboard off to the right on the next stretch of highway.

William Faulkner cribs the family tree

When I was in high school in New York, my favorite book was The Sound and the Fury, William Faulkner's Nobel Prize winning novel about a disintegrating Southern family. Twenty years later, I married a Southern man and moved to Alabama. My husband often told me about his father's side of the family who had lived in Tennessee. The story was colorful and sad. His great grandmother, Mamaw, was left widowed with six young children after her husband was shot by a neighbor in a border dispute over one of his five farms.

On a Bench in Florence

In the summer of 1988 I was living in New York City and had decided (several years prior, during a brief visit to Italy) that I wanted to live in Florence for an extended period after college. The time had come to make good on this promise to myself. I was working in my field and studying Italian in NYC, participating in language exchanges with native Italian speakers, who were attending a program at Columbia University. I met one, Yvonne, who was a blond model of Swiss origin, from the Italian speaking quarter of Ticino.