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Apophenia - what's the one thing the SAS have in common with actors?

Apophenia - what's the one thing the SAS have in common with actors?
By Mark Mason on 13-07-12 10:44. Comments (0)
You wouldn't think actors had much in common with the SAS, would you? Apart from a sense of the dramatic, though in the SAS's case they back it up with a bit more than a vodka and tonic and a moan about how their agent just isn't getting them the right auditions. But there is one other thing shared by the two groups of people, and it's an example of a weird thing our brains engage in called ‘apophenia'.

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Rubik's Cube

A Rubik’s cube has more combinations than light travels inches in a century. This is my favourite illustration of how a very small number of factors can produce an absurdly complicated situation. A silly little toy, with only three squares in each of its three dimensions. How can that get complicated? Well, as anyone who's ever tried to solve one just by guessing will tell you, it gets very complicated. The number of possible combinations is 43,252,003,274,489,856,000. Forget billions - that's 43 quintillion and change. (In fact the cube's manufacturers just said ‘billions' in their advertising, figuring that no one would know what a quintillion was. It's a billion billion.) The number of inches light travels in a century, meanwhile, is a mere 37,165,049,856,000,000,000. Or thereabouts.