I love being reminded of how small I am in the grander scheme of the universe; I find it oddly reassuring.* So when I learned today’s lesson, my brain kind of exploded in a totally awesome way.
It is highly improbable, to the point of near impossibility, that any** standard decks of cards have ever been or will ever be randomly shuffled to come out in the same configuration. Ever. In the history of the entire universe.
When you look at it mathematically, it seems kind of impossible that this is the case. I remember algebra; it’s just 52 factorial. I busted out the calculator; it turns out, though, that 52! comes out to 8 x 1067. I don’t actually know what that means on the larger scale, so I went to the interwebs and asked it to tell me what that looks like in a number. It looks like this: 80,658,175,170,943,878,571,660,636,856,403,766,975,289,505,440,883,277,824, 000,000,000,000
Just for a little bit of perspective, assuming science is correct in its assertion that the universe is 13.77 billion years old, there have been roughly 434,538,871,020,000,000 (give or take a few trillion) seconds in the history of the universe. Even if you convert that to nanoseconds, you still don’t even come close (434,538,871,020,000,000,000,000,000) to the number of possibilities that exist in shuffling every deck of cards that has ever and will ever be made.
To recap: there are 80,658,175,170,943,878,571,660,636,856,403,766,975,289,070,902,012,257,824, 000,000,000,000 more ways to shuffle a single deck of cards than there have been nanoseconds in the entire 13.77 billion year history of the ENTIRE EFFING UNIVERSE.
*I find I’m not in the majority on this. One of my closest friends refuses to talk about it because it makes her feel like she doesn’t matter. Nihilistic as it is, I think that’s kind of the point.
**Serio, any standard deck of cards ever.