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Once I heard about a prophet that used math to foresaw with great accuracy many events of the humanity. Today I oddly realized the time between falling drops after washing cups fit the inverse square law.

What are some unexpected things accurately predicted by math?

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closed as too broad by Alexander Gruber Jun 16 '14 at 5:16

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ I would have thought that if the drops come after closing a tap, then there is a finite amount of liquid and so a finite number of drops. $\endgroup$ – Henry Apr 2 '12 at 7:59
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    $\begingroup$ I'd say that's have to do more with natural sciences, rather than math. So you may also try asking the question at physics.stackexchange.com Though the connection of physics and math is a distinct and a rich theme for a discussion. $\endgroup$ – Yrogirg Apr 2 '12 at 8:34
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    $\begingroup$ Was the prophet "Hari Sheldon" born 10th month of the 11,988th year of the Galactic Era? $\endgroup$ – Chris K. Caldwell Apr 2 '12 at 13:41
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    $\begingroup$ Fun reading: dartmouth.edu/~matc/MathDrama/reading/Wigner.html, "The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences" by Eugene Wigner. $\endgroup$ – Neal Jun 27 '12 at 13:52
  • $\begingroup$ Be sure to balance the unreasonable effectiveness with the unreasonable ineffectiveness of math in complex systems, eg in economics: cje.oxfordjournals.org/content/29/6/849.abstract, in biomedicine: deirdremccloskey.com/docs/fisherian.pdf $\endgroup$ – alancalvitti Dec 11 '12 at 3:26
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The angle of the wake of a body moving steadily in deep water (e.g. a ship or a duck) is always $2\arcsin(1/3) \approx 38.9^\circ$.

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Existence of Black Holes, Pulsars, parallel universes, worm holes.

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    $\begingroup$ It's not known that parallel universes or worm holes exist, so I don't think we should classify those as "accurately predicted by math" ... $\endgroup$ – Neal Jun 27 '12 at 13:49
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Here is an interesting article about Mathematical Fortune-Telling

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Look at Good–Turing rule, the two posts in Azimuth blog:

The puzzle itself:

Suppose you go into the jungles of Ecuador and start collecting butterflies. You count the number of butterflies of each different species that you find. You get a list of numbers, something like this:

14, 10, 8, 6, 2, 1, 1, 1

Puzzle: What is the chance that the next butterfly you find will belong to a new species?

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A curious application from Fred Hoyle : Use the the prevalence of life forms on earth to deduce a new resonance in the carbon-12 nucleus.

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