Probabilities vs Spaghetti Bolognese

Along with percentage, probability is probably (see? awesome) the most used math word in a regular dialogue. Probabilities are always fun, we always mention them every now and then but do they really work as advertised?

Let’s see. What’s the probability of winning the lottery? Let’s assume the lottery has 5 numbers ranged from 1 (the lowest) to 50 (the highest).

So keeping the assumptions above, let’s do this:

The first number has 1 in 50 chance to be drawn, while the second has 1 in 49 and so on. After we calculate all the probabilities for the next balls we have to multiply all of the fractions.

We end up with this:

1/50 × 1/49 × 1/48 × 1/47 × 1/46 = 1 in 254251200

One (just one!!!) in Two hundred fifty-four million, two hundred fifty-one thousand, two hundred

That’s an utterly low probability…
(For this specific purpose let’s forget the numbers can be drawn in any order, this would significantly increase the probabilities but it’s not necessary to prove my point.)

Photo by Dylan Nolte

I love pasta and of course spaghetti, don’t you? One of the most cooked dishes in my house is Spaghetti Bolognese!

I do it in some different ways, it’s really hard to keep the same recipe all the time and for taste sake, I tend to do some small variations. One of them is to pre-cook the spaghetti and the bolognese in a pan and then to make it different I brush it with egg yolk on top, put it in the oven to be crunchier on the outside and sometimes I use some salami or chorizo as well, it’s good, you should try it.

Now back to probability business, what’s the probability of storing a cracked glass in your kitchen cabinet?
I don’t think there’s any math for this (if there are any Einsteins there please enlighten me).

I will assume 1 in 20 glasses are already cracked in half when stored which is obviously a huge exaggeration.

Photo by Markus Spiske

What’s the probability of picking up a cracked glass and break it apart as soon as you pick it up?

That’s gotta be a lower probability right? I’m sure I’ve picked plenty of cracked glasses during my whole life and never had any fall apart in my hands. I will assume it’s a 1 in 200, I’m sure it’s much higher but let’s keep it this way.

And what about the probability of having my spaghetti bolognese under the cabinet I stored the cracked glass? You’re already getting it, aren’t you?
Let me say that I rarely put the food there, actually, once again I will assume the probability of using that specific spot to place the food is like 1 in 50.

But why did I use that specific spot to do it? Didn’t I have more room to do so? Hmmm…No I did not. Why? Do I live in a small house? Yes, I do but I do have space to put the food!!
What happened was that my baby decided to have a cry session, that’s a probability of 1 in 2. He didn’t want to eat the soup, that’s a 1 in 50, he usually likes the soup and even begs for more. So during all that mess, I left his soup on the counter (that’s a 1 in 15) while I was preparing the dinner, then I rocked him to sleep and off I go. Let me finish the damn dinner because it’s almost 10 PM and I’m starving.

At that time every probability god was ready to hand me a probability test to ruin my evening.

1/20 * 1/200 * 1/50 * 1/2 * 1/50 * 1/15 = 1 in 300000000

What?? That’s ~1.17 times harder than winning the lottery!!


I pick up the cracked glass, half of it stays in my hand, the other half hits the pan and breaks in hundreds of small tiny little minuscule particles of glass that sprinkled all my yummy spaghetti.
I did a kind of a rain dance around the glass and food remains while I screamed in horror to the probability gods. Why? Why did you do this to me? Why now?

I’m writing this post to appeal to the probability gods and to tell them that in other circumstances I would very much like to hit those probability numbers but please not to a tired starving dad at 10 PM and not with food. Please do it with everything, just not with food, I love to eat!!

Do it with some numbers, some balls, you know?

Thank you!

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JAB - Short for Just Another Blogger

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