# The Problem Newton Got Wrong

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Isaac Newton was right about everything from gravity to the calculus, but he didnt quite get it right on dice and probability.

The Newton-Pepys Problem represents Isaac Newtons only documented foray into probability. Samuel Pepys sent him a letter asking whether it would be more likely to roll one six in 6 dice, two sixes in 12 dice, or three sixes in 18 dice. In terms of computing the answer, weve got it pretty easy in the 21st century, whether we do it the long way, whether we apply binomial distribution, or just run a Monte Carlo simulation. To us, its a relatively basic problem in probability.

But Newton had to work it all out himself, and as he did that, he missed a few things. He just didnt get it totally right even though his numbers were accurate. The *real* Newton-Pepys Problem is deciding how much that even matters, and the answer gives us insight into the complex relationship between math, numbers, and the realities of human thought.

*** SOURCES ***

Diary and Correspondence of Samuel Pepys, pg. 367: https://www.google.com/books/edition/Diary_and_Correspondence_of_Samuel_Pepys/72RCAQAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

Isaac Newton as a Probabilist, Stephen Stigler, Statistical Science 2006, Vol. 21, No. 3, 400403: https://projecteuclid.org/euclid.ss/1166642443

John Smiths Problem, T. W. Chaundy and J. E. Bullard, The Mathematical Gazette Vol. 44, No. 350 (Dec., 1960), pp. 253-260: https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/3614890.pdf

Newton and Pepys, Nick Berry / DataGenetics: http://datagenetics.com/blog/february12014/index.html

The Gentle Art of Mathematics, by Dan Pedoe, pg. 43: https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Gentle_Art_of_Mathematics/JAyRUwlMTZAC?hl=en&gbpv=0

Probability and Random Processes, by Venkatarama Krishnan and Kavitha Chandrapg, pg. 33: https://www.google.com/books/edition/Probability_and_Random_Processes/TsgvCgAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

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Isaac Newton was right about everything from gravity to the calculus, but he didnt quite get it right on dice and probability.

The Newton-Pepys Problem represents Isaac Newtons only documented foray into probability. Samuel Pepys sent him a letter asking whether it would be more likely to roll one six in 6 dice, two sixes in 12 dice, or three sixes in 18 dice. In terms of computing the answer, weve got it pretty easy in the 21st century, whether we do it the long way, whether we apply binomial distribution, or just run a Monte Carlo simulation. To us, its a relatively basic problem in probability.

But Newton had to work it all out himself, and as he did that, he missed a few things. He just didnt get it totally right even though his numbers were accurate. The *real* Newton-Pepys Problem is deciding how much that even matters, and the answer gives us insight into the complex relationship between math, numbers, and the realities of human thought.

*** SOURCES ***

Diary and Correspondence of Samuel Pepys, pg. 367: https://www.google.com/books/edition/Diary_and_Correspondence_of_Samuel_Pepys/72RCAQAAIAAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

Isaac Newton as a Probabilist, Stephen Stigler, Statistical Science 2006, Vol. 21, No. 3, 400403: https://projecteuclid.org/euclid.ss/1166642443

John Smiths Problem, T. W. Chaundy and J. E. Bullard, The Mathematical Gazette Vol. 44, No. 350 (Dec., 1960), pp. 253-260: https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/3614890.pdf

Newton and Pepys, Nick Berry / DataGenetics: http://datagenetics.com/blog/february12014/index.html

The Gentle Art of Mathematics, by Dan Pedoe, pg. 43: https://www.google.com/books/edition/The_Gentle_Art_of_Mathematics/JAyRUwlMTZAC?hl=en&gbpv=0

Probability and Random Processes, by Venkatarama Krishnan and Kavitha Chandrapg, pg. 33: https://www.google.com/books/edition/Probability_and_Random_Processes/TsgvCgAAQBAJ?hl=en&gbpv=0

*** LINKS ***

Vsauce2:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/VsauceTwo

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VsauceTwo

Talk Vsauce2 in The Create Unknown Discord: https://discord.gg/tyh7AVm

Hosted and Produced by Kevin Lieber

Instagram: http://instagram.com/kevlieber

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kevinlieber

Podcast: https://www.youtube.com/thecreateunknown

Research and Writing by Matthew Tabor

https://twitter.com/TaborTCU

Editing by John Swan

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJuSltoYKrAUKnbYO5EMZ2A

Huge Thanks To Paula Lieber

https://www.etsy.com/shop/Craftality

Select Music by Basswaite: https://linktr.ee/Basswaite

Select Music By Jake Chudnow: http://www.youtube.com/user/JakeChudnow

Get Vsauce's favorite science and math toys delivered to your door!

https://www.curiositybox.com/

Get Vsauce2s Woven Math t-shirts/hoodies: https://represent.com/store/vsauce2

#education #vsauce2 #science

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