18-26-37-39-66

And the Powerball was 15.

Those were the December 14 Powerball winning numbers. It was worth a cool \$100,000,000 if you picked them all. (Although the lump-sum payout was only \$59,800,000.) Do you know what number almost won?

01-02-03-04-05 with a Powerball of 06

And yet, no one picks those numbers. Why? Because we’ve convinced ourselves that that sequence is too unlikely. One of the things about math is understanding statistics. 01-02-03-04-05 is just as likely as 18-26-37-39-66. How do I know? Well, first because of math and second because legally it has to be. The lottery commission can’t be playing around with which numbers are more or less likely.

Numbers, especially numbers in sequence, or numbers with a lot of zeros after them are viewed as significant. Don’t believe me? If you are older than 30, ask yourself how often as a kid you calculated how old you would be in the year 2003? Never did that? Of course not. Why would you? But, I’ll bet you calculated how old you would be in the year 2000. (36 for me, but since my birtday is at the end of December, I was 35 for most of the year.)

A few years ago, I called my younger brother. I got his voicemail.

This is Rodney. Yeah, I’m driving through Montana right now, but I thought you might like to know that my car is right. . . NOW . . .rolling passed 250,000 miiles. Talk to you later.

The funny thing? He was interested and happy I’d thought of him at that “historic” event.

Here’s a video I made when a car I had rolled passed 200,000 miles.

And yet, these are just numbers. One number is no more significant than the number right before or right after it. But, we still get excited when we see all of those zeros.

By the way, this is the 1000th blog entry on http://www.rodneymbliss.com Just thought you might like to know that.

(Thanks for reading over the past 3 years.)

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.