I took a look at the new weekly UK National Lottery Game that pays the winner a tax-free GBP 10,000 every month for 30 years.  Very nice.  The runner up gets that same payout, but only for a year.  Still nothing to sneeze at.

It’s a select 5 from 47 balls game, with prizes for 2,3,4, and 5 correct balls.  For the bigger prizes in each tier you also need to pick the right one out of ten “life” balls.  That means that you’ve got about 1 / 915 chance of getting a prize on any given ticket.

The prize breakdown is something like as follows, I’ve assumed a 2.5% annual depreciation on the GBP 10,000 per month.  That may be high or low, it just gives what I think is a reasonable a working figure for now.

Criteria Winning
1 in
Payout (GBP) Expected
Value (GBP)
5 numbers + life ball 15,339,390 2,554,155 0.1665
5 numbers 1,533,939 120,000 0.0782
4 numbers + life ball 1,783,650 250 0.0001
4 numbers 178,365 50 0.0003
3 numbers + life ball 162,150 30 0.0002
3 numbers 16,215 20 0.0012
2 numbers + life ball 10,810 10 0.0009
2 numbers 1,081 5 0.0046

That means that the Expected Value of a ticket, which, costs GBP 1.50, is around GBP 0.25. So that’s an expected loss of around 83% per play. Not great odds but there’s always that 1 / 1,394,490 chance of one of those top two prizes which would be, as I said, very nice! If you’re going to gamble, gamble aware.


Fear the Flat Earth

Jan 13, 2019

This is an unusual post for me. I don’t normally comment on societal issues (as I see them) but this is something that been yanking my chain for a few months now so I’m just getting it off my chest.

Recently I’ve been seeing a rise in the number of channels on YouTube either supporting a Flat Earth geocentric model of the cosmos or the debunking of those models (such as they are) by proponents of a Globe Earth heliocentric model. Both sides seem to have a large number of followers/subscribers which ramps up their advertising revenue, sell merchandise to support their channels, have Patreon accounts, etc. Whilst there have always been a tiny minority of people that have held to Flat Earth and other conspiratorial views I’m putting this resurgence largely down to the wave of YouTube entrepreneurialism that’s currently in full swing.

On the Flat Earth side, it’s difficult to know who actually firmly believes it, those who are just riding along for fun (and perhaps profit), and those who are just enjoying the aggressive anti-social trolling aspect of it – there appear to be a lot of ad hominem arguments (on both sides of the debate) being propounded but this could be just the “freakshow” aspect of revenue generation on social media i.e. both sides could be in collusion and just putting a show on for the audience. (I’ve not linked to any of the blogs and channels on this page as that’s just feeding the frenzy.)

The deep complexity of the modern world and science operating at both the macro- and micro scales beyond easy comprehension means that it’s no longer just a matter of “believing your own eyes” or being able to do meaningful experiments to provide insight on your own. Some people, largely due to the fault of the education systems and rise in the trend, driven by politicians and the media, to distrust experts have extended this to mean that scientists and, by extension, even established science, and indeed mathematics itself, is to be wholly distrusted. The open platform provided by the Internet and Social Media means that, whilst in the past these views wouldn’t pass robust peer review so could only be “vanity” published and so have little credibility, they can be now be broadcast without any review at all and join the background of “fake news” on those platforms.

While this remains in the background as just a bit of fun that’s fine, but this can be a problem if children are educated to not trust, or even understand, the “scientific method”. There is now even a push by some to try and get “Flat Earth”, and “alternative sciences” taught in schools on the basis that protection of “free speech” and “belief” is enshrined in law. While this appears to be similar to the typical “creationist” vs. “evolutionist” religious arguments it’s not really.

Things that can be subjected to the scientific method of observation, hypothesis, prediction, empirical investigation and ongoing refinement are simply not a matter of belief. People may choose to ignore the information and insight derived from that rigorous process but that’s more a case of wilful blindness of objective reality rather than a religious belief. I do agree that some outcome hypotheses arising from scientific investigation do need to be considered within a social and political context but the underlying investigation will have unearthed some wholly objective facts that cannot be doubted – the cause of those factual observations may not be completely understood, but that doesn’t invalidate the science itself.

I’m no scientist but, through my programming career and education, I’ve had a deep interest in science as a whole and I do find all this a very worrying development. Not so much in that people don’t understand things, that’s just a matter of time and education, but the increasingly black-and-white blinkered viewpoints that are coming to the fore these days.

I don’t believe that humans are going to slip back into the post-classical, pre-Renaissance “Dark Ages” because of this but, if this anti-science following gains sufficient traction around the world within populist political circles, it’s going to be much harder for public science to get the funding it needs. This sort of thing will become the strict remit of corporates who will them control the science and the technologies that arise from it. (This is just a belief so I don’t need to prove it to anyone.) Best case, it just becomes more likely that a lot of time and resources will be wasted in trying to just manage down this sort of anti-science movement rather than spending that effort in making progress.

Although it’s all available in books, on the Internet and in educational establishments, I might do some posts explaining some simple concepts on here – like why it’s OK that it’s winter in the northern hemisphere (on the assumption that the Earth is indeed a globe), when the Earth is closest to Sol.



Always makes me chuckle when some marketing guy talks, in early 2011, about how their software fully supports HTML5 when that set of APIs aren’t even due to meet a Candidate Recommendation stage until 2012 (some 4 YEARS late) and have a target of 2014 for completion. The Last Call for comments isn’t until May 2012 so it really seems like a very foolish brave statement to make.


At some point I’ll take a look to see exactly what subset of HTML5 APIs they’re currently supporting and at what specification snapshot level.

Amazon Kindle Color

Jan 18, 2011

Any rumors that Amazon are going to be launching an Amazon Kindle Color based on Qualcomm Mirasol display technology at around the same time as the Apple iPad2 release are completely unfounded.

Pity. I’d want one.

Playing catch up…

Jul 20, 2010

Haven’t posted for a while as I’ve started a new job and haven’t had as much time on my hands to do the write ups on this blog.

I have still been doing the occasional Project Euler problem and will catch up shortly. I’ve got another 18 solutions to write up here, with 27 lots of source code to push to GitHub…so stay tuned!

Today I got an IQTest puzzle on Facebook that I got wrong. I’ve considered it more and I still can’t see what the answer is – though I can tell you it’s not 22. I’m normally pretty good at this sort of thing but this one has me baffled. Maybe I’m over-thinking it or maybe I’m just getting plain dumber as time goes by…

Here’s the question.

Which number should replace the question mark? 14, 19, 22, 6 or 4?

13 8 3 7
4 1 5 1
8 10 9 2
46 32 26 3
14 ? 11 3

Any ideas?

My machine felt really sluggish today. Couldn’t put my finger on it. It was just slow. Task manager revealed nothing untoward. No aberrant AV processes. No rogue Diskeeper compaction processes. No excessive memory paging. Nothing. The machine looked fine.

I ran some of my Project Euler solutions as known benchmarks and found that they were taking 3.5 times as long as usual. What could be wrong?

Check the update history. Overnight my PC had run in a load of Important updates. 19 of them. Mostly Security updates for Vista, .NET SP1, Office 2007 and IE8. I’d left it on to do a weekly full AV scan last night and between 03:04 and 03:19 it had brought this little lot down, installed them and then had rebooted itself in order to apply these patches.

I feared the worst.

However, further investigation showed that although my PC was still using the High Performance power profile, the Maximum CPU was set to 0%. Yes. You’ve got it. ZERO PERCENT. Luckily this doesn’t mean don’t power up, it just drops it back to some sort of ultra conservative sleep mode. Did Restore Defaults for the Power Plan. It all came back to 100% and performance picked up again.

All was well in the world. Or, at least, on my PC.