Mega Millions Lottery
Lottery tickets and long shots
Lottery tickets and long shots

We humans have a curious relationship with chance. We're prepared to place bets that events with incredibly small probabilities will occur — such as the 1 in 259 million chance that a ticket will win the Mega Millions lottery. Yet, we go about our everyday lives happily ignoring far larger probabilities — that we might get killed by a lightning strike, for example, which has a chance of about 1 in 3 million in the United States each year. The great mathematician Emile Borel said that sufficiently improbable events never occur. If he were right, then while we shouldn't worry about being killed by lightning, we should certainly never play the Mega Millions lottery. Of course, Borel didn'...