In Chance, celebrated mathematician Amir D. Aczel turns his sights on probability theory—the branch of mathematics that measures the likelihood of a. Elissa Schappell reviews book Chance: A Guide to Gambling, Love, the Stock Market and Just About Everything Else by Amir D Aczel; drawing. Are you a betting person? Here’s how to calculate the odds.

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For thousands of years, it was the visionaries and writers who argued that we cannot be alone-that there is intellegent life in the universe. Now, with the discoveries of the Hubble Telescope, data emerging from Mars, and knowledge about life at the extremes, scientists are taking up where they left off.

Amir Aczel, author of Fermat’s Last Theorempulls together everyting science has discovered, and mixes in proabability theory, to argure the case for the existence of intelligent life beyond this planet. Probability 1 is an extraordinary tour de force in which the author draws on cosmology, math, and biology to tell the rollicking good story of scientists tackling important scientific questions that help answer this fundamental question. What is the probability of intelligent life in the universe?

Read this book, and you’ll be convinced, by the power of the argument and the excitement of the science. Read more Read less Length: Enabled See the Best Books of Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors’ picks for the best books of the year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children’s books, and much more.

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Read more Read less. Enter your mobile number or email address below and we’ll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Kindle Cloud Reader Read instantly in your browser. Sounds like a trick question, but for anyone versed in cosmology and statistics, the answer is 1; that is, there must be life on at least one other planet in the universe.

Amir Aczel

This is Amir Aczel’s theorem. But, as physicist Enrico Fermi once aczep, if that’s true, where is everyone? Aczel tackles that paradox after he goes through the statistical calculations for the probability of intelligent life, considering factors such as how many stars are in a galaxy, how many of those stars might be hospitable, how many might have planets, and how many planets might have environments suitable to support life as we know it qmir as we don’t.

Aczel also provides an overview of the relevant developments in astronomy and biology–laying the groundwork to show that the universe’s chemistry must add up to life. Whether life was spread through the universe by chunks of debris like ALHthe enigmatic meteorite from Mars that contained tantalizing hints of the possibility of life–or arose independently, Aczel is sure it is out there.


After teasing readers with scientific history, Probability 1 delivers on its promise to prove Aczel’s conjecture through a clearly explained application of known statistical theory to the chaos of the universe. A top science author chanfe. Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc. See all Editorial Reviews. Product details File Size: Mariner Books June 24, Publication Date: June 24, Sold by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Language: Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review.

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Probability 1, Amir D. Aczel Ph.D. –

Please try again later. The background factual science content is accurate, and engagingly written at the lighter end of the popular science aimr, though the topics will be mostly familiar to readers of popular science. But the inferences are absurd. For instance he notes that mammals and birds evolving over the last 70 million or so years are likely more intelligent mair earlier creatures, and that humans are even more intelligent, and concludes “given enough millions of years from the time the DNA molecule arrives or evolves on a planet, intelligence will inevitably be the ultimate outcome”.

Blandly asserting “this happened, so it must have been inevitable” is not any sort of rational argument. In highly oversimplified terms, a rational analysis of “is there life elsewhere? We know very roughly the number N of stars in the universe.

Suppose there is some probability p that life evolves around a given star. Then there is a logical dichotomy: But we have no idea what p actually is.

This is no more than wishful thinking. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. While its title may be a bit misleading in that the vast majority of the book is not about proving the existence of ETIs, but of describing some very interesting chancw of cosmological science.

If you are looking for a definitive work on the science behind Extra Afzel Intelligent, this isn’t for you. But if you would like to read a thought provoking book that touches on many different areas of terrestrial and extraterrestrial science, you may enjoy this one.

I also found the sheer obviousness of his mathematical proof kind of startling. While it isn’t a very sound theorm, it is still very interesting.

A very interesting book. Amir Aczel takes the reader through a combination of Math, Biology, Statistics, Physics, Chemistry and History to “prove” mathematically that there must be life beyond Earth. His writing style is very very approachable given the complexity of the topic, and he keeps the book moving along with just enough technical discussion to make the layperson feel like a bit of a closet scientist.


There are a few jumps to conclusions, particularly in the calculation of the final probability where I would have like to see more explanation, but in general, it is well done and a fun read.

The reason why I gave this book a 4-star rating as opposed to the previous reviews is that the book was genuinely thought-provoking. Although the author dedicates a number of pages discussing issues and ideas peripheral to the central theme, he does present some thought-provoking material.

Whether his final argument is plausible or not, I cannot judge. I tried to find information regarding the inspection paradox which underlies his basic argument, but I found that a deeper understanding of probability and higher math is probably required to comprehend it.

Thus, I can’t actually cast aside his argument as previous reviewers have. If it weren’t for the fact that this book made me actually think, it would merit a much lower rating.

The book’s deficiencies include: Although, in his calculation of the probability of life in the universe would not be affected greatly even by a significant change in this number, I’m wondering how a statistician can use a probability based on a sample size of 9. In summary, I recommend this book if you’re looking for a a quick read that will make you think, but if you’re looking for depth and accuracy, look elsewhere.

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