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This is old news (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657094)

Or do you people not listen to Art Bell? You should. You'll learn a lot.


Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657095)

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| _______a_._______a_______aj#0s_____aWY!400.___ | Gary Niger
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Random number machines predicting the future eh? (1)

Whispers_in_the_dark (560817) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657096)

The psychic fiends union will hear of this, let me tell you!

Well, I'm not one of those new-fangled fortune tellers but I predict dozens of eggs screaming in terror and then suddenly silenced (by /.).

BTW, how in the world is this NOT a "laugh, it's funny" article?

Fiends? Missing an 'r' there friend (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657152)

Psychic fiends eh?
I think they prefer to be called Mindflayers.

Re:Random number machines predicting the future eh (4, Insightful)

mtrisk (770081) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657158)

I also thought slashdot was fooled again, or at least this was a humor article.

It's not.

Red Nova appears to be a valid news site, and the Princeton University link at the bottom is the real thing, describing just what the article talked about.

You know, we all like to laugh at so called "psychic phenomena" or pseudoscience. I know, I do it too. But this is rather stunning...it's a Princeton University project, run by a group of scientists who respect the scientific method, who are trying to do their best at sounding humble while making extraordinary claims. The only question is if they actually have the data to back it up (some graphs would be nice).

Progress in science means shattering accepted theories. If this is what it seems to be, then the possibility of a scientific revolution, at the very least a whole new field of science, seems to be at hand.

Re:Random number machines predicting the future eh (5, Informative)

badasscat (563442) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657194)

BTW, how in the world is this NOT a "laugh, it's funny" article?

Because it's pseudo-science that's trying to be serious. Which can be a dangerous thing, although probably isn't in this case.

I stopped reading when I read this:

"The laws of chance dictate that the generators should churn out equal numbers of ones and zeros - which would be represented by a nearly flat line on the graph."

No, the laws of chance do not say any such thing. In fact, the laws of chance say exactly the opposite. If you have two choices chosen at random over a series (a 1 and a 0; or heads and tails on a coin), there is a high probability that one of the choices will be chosen a significantly higher number of times than the other. Over time, the percentage disparity will decrease to near zero, but the total numerical disparity is likely to increase.

Similarly and extending from that, there is no law of anything that says that if you have a long series of 1's that it's more likely that your next number will be a 0. The "law of averages" is commonly cited here but there's really no such law.

Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] has a nice little article that explains this, though I highly recommend the book Innumeracy for a lot more detail and an entertaining read to boot (that's a straight Amazon link, not a referral - I don't care where you buy it, just read it.)

Re:Random number machines predicting the future eh (2, Informative)

badasscat (563442) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657235)

Woops, my link was removed (damn, how many years have I been posting on this site, anyway?). Here's [google.com] a link to the book that should make it through.

Looks like trouble... (4, Funny)

rednip (186217) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657098)

01010101011010111111000000000111110000000000000000 0000000000000000000

Re:Looks like trouble... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657198)

01010111 01101000 01100001 01110100 00100000 01111001 01101111 01110101 00100000 01110011 01100001 01111001 00111111

ATTN MODS (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657102)

Parent is a troll

Is it really random? (5, Insightful)

DJ Haruko (798333) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657103)

If it can sense future events, that would make it less random, right? To me, that almost sounds like pre-determined events (how far into the future this pre-determination is good for, you decide), so it really isn't "random".

Re:Is it really random? (3, Insightful)

PornMaster (749461) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657209)

Well, if it predicted events, it would tend towards being proof that nothing is really random, that everything in the universe is interconnected in some ways, and that this box is just "tuned" in such a way to pick these things up.

Personally, I think it's a bunch of hooey.

Something like activity right before a tsunami could possibly be explained by something we don't understand, but which is a viable scientifically-provable process like some kind of microtremors in the planet's crust or something of that sort.

"Knowing" that 19 guys are going to hijack planes, however, isn't really something that should make "random" number generators generate sequences any differently.

Re:Is it really random? (4, Insightful)

kenthorvath (225950) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657211)

It's funny that the correlation between the machine reading a certain state at time t and some major world event at t* where t* is greater than t is perceived as the event at t* causing the machine state at t, rather than the other way around. Correlation does not indicate causation, and in this case, it would appear more likely that the machine could somehow cause major events, though how that could occur, I have no idea, but it still seems infinitely more plausible than a case of genuine backwards causation, which is what everyone else seems to think is the case.

I predict! (3, Funny)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657106)

I predict that this post will hit +5 funny!!

No? :-(

I saw this a while ago (1)

DeTHZiT (631864) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657108)

It's kinda strange when you think about it, and I'm not religious by any means, but I wouldn't discount any weird superhuman powers that can predict massic events.


The best part is that it's just a random number generator. I wonder if you can run a regular random number generator on your PC and get the same results? Or do you need on of their rediculous "eggs"?

Re:I saw this a while ago (1)

Lisandro (799651) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657115)

I was hoping on some insight on how the magic black box generated it's random numbers aswell. No dice :(

Re:I saw this a while ago (4, Funny)

LostCluster (625375) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657138)

That's why it's a black box. If we knew how it worked then it'd be a magic white box...

Re:I saw this a while ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657182)

If they didn't build it, where do you suppose it came from, then?

Magic Eight Ball (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657110)

I have one of those too.


Farked (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657111)

I like the new Slashdot that picks up stories off of Fark.

Why is this under science? (5, Insightful)

jcr (53032) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657112)

/. needs a "trivially debunked hogwash" category. This belongs with the "battery stickers" story from a few weeks ago.


Re:Why is this under science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657116)

Where has it been debunked?

Re:Why is this under science? (4, Insightful)

Wavicle (181176) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657174)

Here let me do some debunking for you:

A series of bernoulli events with probability of success 0.5 will FREQUENTLY be on either the positive or negative side of "even". Unusual "spikes" are EXPECTED to happen.

Now comes the phenomenon of "selective inclusion". If no spike happens and a major world event occurs, nobody notices. If a spike happens a major world event occurs, suddenly this is "proof".

Now comes the phenomenon of "distortion of temporal significance". If a spike happens an hour before a major world event, it's noted as having been predicted. If a spike happens four hours before a major world event, it's noted. If a spike happens a day before an event, it's noted with the same significance.

So what's the expected frequency of "spikes" and what's the frequency of "major world events", and how long before an event is a "spike" considered significant?

Add it all up and you'll find that just by chance, this machine is EXPECTED to have major spikes before world events.

Re:Why is this under science? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657215)

Eh, seems like the typical scientist who while professing to have an open mind systematically rejects those theories and phenominon that disagrees with their world outlook. Or maybe I just know too many physicists who are so closeminded.

I think I saw this in a crappy movie once. (0, Redundant)

docdude316 (836485) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657121)

Call Ben Affleck this machine must be destroyed before it causes the destruction of humanity.

Re:I think I saw this in a crappy movie once. (1)

Zorilla (791636) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657183)

Carful - if you do that, the machine will predict that Trey Parker and Matt Stone will write a song about the aforementioned Ben Affleck movie sucking.

42 (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657122)

It just spit out the number 42. I guess there really is something to this little black box.

Re:42 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657223)

What's with this number 42 anyway? Something the American crowd is more familiar with?

Oh yeah! (1)

metlin (258108) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657125)

>'Put it this way - we haven't yet got a machine
> we could sell to the CIA.'

Oh yeah. I'm sure you'd know, Dr. Nelson.

Re:Oh yeah! (1)

Mikey-San (582838) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657228)

Of course he knows the CIA doesn't want the machine at this point.

. . . The black box hasn't told him anything yet!

You know, (1)

Azh Nazg (826118) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657127)

I don't think some scientists will be happy with having to rewrite the laws of physics yet again as a result of this...

_ right..... (2, Insightful)

RootsLINUX (854452) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657129)

This just seems ridiculous. A normal random number generator predicting the future? Maybe Jesus was reborn into the form of a microprocessor. (Holy crap, that would be friggin' awesome!!!)

Seriously though, every single day somewhere something "amazing" happens and I don't see the black box picking up that. What about the day George Bush was re-elected? Or the day Saddam Hussein was found? Or the day I finally figured out how to make good macaroni and cheese? I think these scientists are just over-excited about an odd coincidence. So the numbers shot up a few hours before the events happen. What if they shot up a few days before? A few months before? Would they still make these claims? No, I see nothing interesting in this article no matter how hard I look. Maybe someone can convince me otherwise.

Re:_ right..... (2, Funny)

friedo (112163) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657169)

The flaw in your argument is that there is, in fact, no such thing as good macaroni and cheese.

Electrons are pretty small (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657130)

And I suspect if we have any sort of "psychic" abilities, they may be able to affect them some of the time. Ever notice some people are cursed when it comes to computers, while others have a kind of "healing" effect on them? I know I've walked into rooms with a computer I'm supposed to fix and it's suddenly not having problems.

Re:Electrons are pretty small (1)

fishyfool (854019) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657237)

and when you walk out of the room it starts all over again, weird anyway, yes. it happens to me.

Put up or shut up... (The Randi prize) (5, Informative)

patniemeyer (444913) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657133)

If they can demonstrate a link between people thinking and a random number generator in a controlled environment, then they can go claim the Randi prize (randi.org)... It's a million dollars, should be worth their time.

I doubt they'll be collecting it.

Pat Niemeyer

It doesn't qualify (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657146)

Read the article and his multiple qualifications. It's not like this is some crazy guy in his basement, it's Princeton.

Re:Put up or shut up... (The Randi prize) (4, Insightful)

patniemeyer (444913) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657199)

A Princeton professor doesn't need a million dollars?

Really smart people have been fooled before by turning the scientific method on its head and looking for causes that fit selected outcomes... Unless you can make a prediction before something happens you really don't have much to talk about.


Haven't read TFA... (-1, Troll)

dameron (307970) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657134)

but the summary has no place on slashdot.

Actually it's fucking shameful. If I wanted to go to fark I'd type it into the URL (Uniform Resource Locator).


Re:Haven't read TFA... (1)

servoled (174239) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657184)

fark? This sounds more like an Onion story to me.

Random numbers predict the future! Unfortunately the people in charge of reading them are so far behind that they don't know what was predicted until after it happens.

Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood. Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood. Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood. Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.

Saw this in the Weekly World News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657135)

and also read about Hillary Clinton's artificial insemination by alien beings.

Re:Saw this in the Weekly World News (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657186)

I'm an alien being and we wouldn't touch Hillary Clinton with your dick.

Why is this even on slashdot.org (0, Troll)

SumDog (466607) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657139)

I wish I could rate the actually article up as funny. It bothers me that stuff like this appears on slashdot. It must be a slow new day or something. The article isn't even written scientifically. In the words of Strongbad, "This is total crap."

the editor Zonk has learned a lesson (1, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657140)

don't give your editor password to crazy Uncle Larry who spent all last Christmas and Thanksgiving trying to sell family members stock in an Atlantis expeditionary company and lost all of his retirement funds to the parents of a nine year old girl whom they claimed could pick winning stocks with the powers of ESP

AIDS cure (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657142)

dicks and dongs
dicks and dongs
I like them fat,
I like them long

In my mouth,
In my ass
Suck on dildoes
Made of glass

Good for Elevator control (1)

DogsBollocks (806307) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657150)

Great, Now we'll integrate this into an elevator control system and now the elevator can get to the floor your on before you actually call it. Douglas Adams.

Re:Good for Elevator control (1)

taylortbb (759869) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657193)

I think we need the Slashdot Consiousness Project, I see all 3 posts about this being used in elevators happened at the exact same time.

Maybe Slashdot will make an even better predictor?

Elevators anyone? (1)

moo083 (716213) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657155)

I think its time to use this technology bundled with some AI and create some smart elevators to predict when we will need the elevator and be there right in time (hopefully it won't get too depressed)!

Jesus Christ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657156)

This is retarted. It's not April 1st yet, you know.

Moronic (1)

Capt'n Hector (650760) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657160)

This guy is hooking up machines using the internet, and is surprised when a deviation from normal happens during times of extreme traffic? This is no different than sideshows on Coney Island. Complete BS.

Hopefully everyone else is a Dilbert reader too.. (0)

JordanAU (855885) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657167)

Yeah tomorrow it will predict that the squirrels will take over and force us to work in their nut mines...

Nothing to see here... (1)

zm (257549) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657170)

Just some folks trying to come up with an excuse for creating an RNG without much R.

Wow this is amazing! (1)

3.09 a hour (812839) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657171)

We should ask the face on mars what his tealeaves think about this! Its a machine that produced RANDOM numbers, any pattern or 'prediction' is something you WANT to see. I bet theres patterns that says that thier getting more funding too!

Lovely (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657172)

So they have these big curves on days with major events... do they have the curves on days without major events? Are there many days without major events? Come on people, I've heard more stringent scientific methods applied on the Art Bell show than this article. Doesn't even say how the stupid random number generators work, for all we know flipping the light on in the room where the subjects are screws them up. Maybe they measure traffic at cnn.com (or ham radios back in the 70's and 80's).

And this right after the article where it's okay if you try to allocate memory at address -8134957, because a little uncertainty can be good.

Is Zonk taking his name too literally? Is this now "News for like... you know, dudes... and wow, look at the pretty colors... I can see relativity man..."

Re:Lovely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657188)

If you actually read, you'd find out that there aren't any significant deviations from randomness on ordinary days. On small event days (holidays, national events) they see small bumps, and on big days (9/11, tsunami, etc) they see big bumps... and the bumps begin in the hours leading up to the event.

Superstitious Crackery (2, Insightful)

reporter (666905) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657173)

Claims like black boxes predicting the future are the perfect candidates for debunking by The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal [csicop.org] (CSICOP). CSICOP has been instrumental in fighting quacks like Benny Hinn and in standing up to creationists.

Join me in sending an e-mail to CSICOP and requesting that it investigate this supposed black box predicting the future.

Believing in superstitious quackery like this black box has serious ramifications. If enough people believed in this nonsense, then we would end up in setting national policy based on this block box. How would you like the USA to be guided by witches and warlocks?

Hey, here's an idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657175)

Elevators. Yes, elevators! Oooh, I'll bet no-one else thinks of that.

Probably BS, but still.... (1)

imemyself (757318) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657176)

I'm sure that is almost entirely BS, but still just the small chance that it does have a little bit of fact behind it makes it kind of interesting. I'd be more convinced if they published their little line graph thing that "predicts the future". Granted they could just make that up, but it kind of seems like that's what their thing is doing anyway.

Dammit. (1)

istewart (463887) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657178)

These guys just broke my bullshit meter. That's an expensive piece of equipment. I'm calling my lawyers.

Probably works by... (1)

adlaiff6 (810221) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657179)

spitting out enough numbers every day so that some symbolism must come out of it.

A million monkeys....

Well if you can predict the future with certainty. (1, Interesting)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657180)

If there's one thing that's convinced me that predicting the future with certainty is REALLY hard and absurdley lucrative it's my experience with options trading. Which is kind of like regular stock trading except the risk/rewards are multiplied many times, sometimes up to an order of magnitude or more. Not something you want to do unless you have money to gamble and can sit there full time with your finger on the mouse ready to hit the sell button at a moments notice.

That's the thing. Anybody who can predict the future with certainty can just go be an options trader and become a multi-millionaire in a matter of weeks.

Re:Well if you can predict the future with certain (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657238)

amen bro. I've tried my hand at options trading too. a tip by the way, don't sit there with your finger on the sell button. patience is key.

Pure Fucking Garbage (1)

nysus (162232) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657189)

Sorry, that's the only way to accurately describe this. Next we'll be posting stories about Noah's lost ark.

Patterns (1)

headkase (533448) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657191)

I think if you start with a pre-conceived notion of a pattern you'll start seeing it everywhere simply by the fact that you are looking for it. If you had some idea like the number 213 in your head then you would start to look for it in your environment and by looking for it would find it all over the place. This has a feedback effect as by looking for something you see it more often creating the impression that it is common when in fact, it may not be.

Wait....did anyone catch this? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657192)

Unpredictability in Future Microprocessors
Posted by Zonk on Saturday February 12, @09:27PM

Science: Random Number Generator That Sees Into the Future
Posted by Zonk on Sunday February 13, @12:43AM
from the could-be-hooey dept.
hackajar writes "Red Nova news has an interesting article about a random number generating black box that may be able to see into the future.

eh heh heh

4-1-2005 (2, Funny)

MattHaffner (101554) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657196)

Wow. I just dozed off there for a moment and the rest of February and March just zipped on by. I must be getting old or something...

Princeton Hoax! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657203)

Look at the random dot stereogram on the Princeton homepage (that thing that looks like static) -- it's 3D text saying that it's just a joke.

(I have a friend associated with this, so I knew it was a joke ahead-of-time... It's just there to f*** with UFO-freaks and other such people)

I predict... (5, Funny)

ktakki (64573) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657205)

I predict that this story will appear again on the front page of Slashdot within the next 48 hours.

Karnak the Magnificent

This is supposed to be humour, right? (1)

khasim (1285) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657210)

Cynics will quite rightly point out that there is always some global event that could be used to 'explain' the times when the Egg machines behaved erratically. After all, our world is full of wars, disasters and terrorist outrages, as well as the occasional global celebration. Are the scientists simply trying too hard to detect patterns in their raw data?

The team behind the project insist not. They claim that by using rigorous scientific techniques and powerful mathematics it is possible to exclude any such random connections.
I guess it would take an entirely new branch of science dedicated to determining the "psychic/emotional impact" of events to show that they're wrong.

So, Di is killed in a car wreck, the boxes deviate from statistical norm.

Johnny Carson dies, the boxes deviate?
The Eggs also regularly detect huge global celebrations, such as New Year's Eve.
What about when the Pope was sick?

The only proof is prediction. The Pope is old and may die soon. That is a fairly big event. So, predict what your machines will do on that day.
It was as though Dr Hartwell's case studies were somehow seeing into the future, and detecting when the next shocking image would be shown next.
More like "timing". The pictures pop up ever x seconds or so. People anticipate that and the reaction shows.

Get real. Showing pre-cognition should be the easiest thing in the world. Use a variant of the old "Russian Roulette" system. A box that makes a loud noise and sends a shock through the person.

The person hits a button. Maybe it hits back, maybe it doesn't.

If a person is pre-cognitive, that person's reactions SHOULD be different immediately before the hit the button depending upon whether it hits back or not.

Particularly if the hit back likelyhood is very low (1 in 100 hits) and the test runs for a few hours.

This Article Is Total Crap (1)

powera (644300) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657212)

Basically, what they did is the following: They looked at the output of this device for "statistical anomalies", i.e. the .5% of the time it's output was out of the range it was expected to be in 99.5% of the time. Then, they looked for "important events" that occurred around that time. They don't have any way of choosing them other than that they happened when this occurred. Finally, they started looking for events *after* it happened, and found those as well. BOOM, it predicts the future. This isn't science, it's not even Nostradamus.

Well... (1)

MattHaffner (101554) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657218)

These two groups better get together:

"Unpredictability in Future Microprocessors"
"Random Number Generator That Sees Into the Future"


One thing the article fails to mention is... (1)

andalay (710978) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657226)

How does it generate the numbers?

This is far more intruiging than whether or not it accurately predicts some catastrophic event is about to occur.

oh magic number generator (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657229)

will i win the lottery?

is this the end of patents?

since you can foresee the future, get prior art before something happens.

will i lose my virginity?

Aw, c'mon now, boy howdy (1)

hackshack (218460) | more than 9 years ago | (#11657232)

Anyone can stuff a midget into a box and spray paint it black. (The box, not the midget.)

did they predict (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11657236)

the events of april 1st?
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