What room the odds of successfully flying through an asteroid field like the one in *The empire Strikes Back*? space they yes, really 3,720 to one as argued by C-3PO? Or space they lot worse…or maybe better? save on analysis to discover out

*Scientific American presents mathematics Dude by rapid & Dirty Tips. Clinical American and Quick & Dirty Tips room both Macmillan companies.*

You are watching: The odds of surviving an asteroid field

You are watching: The odds of surviving an asteroid field

Did the brainy droid C-3PO get the calculation right? space the odds yes, really 3,720 come 1? Those are exactly the inquiries we"ll be answering today.

**Star battles Math**In case you haven"t seen*The realm Strikes Back*(the second film in the original*Star Wars*trilogy)in a while, (or if, sky forbid, you"ve never ever seen it!), allow me repeat you of the part in question. It"s once Han Soloand the corridor decide to take your chances and evade the foe in one asteroid field.

Upon making this bold and perhaps reckless decision, the ever-attempting-to-be-helpful droid C-3PO tells Han:*"*

*Sir, the opportunity of effectively navigating one asteroid ar is around 3,720 come 1."*

Han gift Han, the course, replies:*"Never phone call me the odds."*

Does C-3PO recognize what he"s talk about? Or is he simply a "bucket of bolts," so come speak? To figure that out, we an initial need to know what odds are. So, without further ado…

**What space Odds?**When we an initial talked aboutodds and probabilities, we learned that probability is a number between 0 and also 1 that tells girlfriend the likelihood the something will certainly happen. In particular, a probability the 0 method there’s literally no possibility of that thing happening, a probability that 1 way that it’s specific to happen, and a probability in in between these extremes such together 0.5 method there"s a 50% possibility of that happening.

Odds, on the other hand, are kind of (pardon the pun) odd because they tell you basically the very same thing as probabilities however in a quite funny and also somewhat convoluted way.

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The many common means to write odds is what’s dubbed “bookmakers odds.” because that example, 3-1 (pronounced “three to one”) odds the a equine winning a race means that because that every four races (the full of the two numbers in 3-1), the steed will shed three times and win once. In various other words, the an initial number is the variety of ways or times the something (in this situation the horse winning) won"t happen and the 2nd is the variety of times that will—at the very least according to the odds.