How To Make A Fair Coin Flip With An Unfair Coin 

Image: Jinx! / Flickr

The coin flip, the ultimate 50-50 choice, is actually a little biased. According to a Stanford study, even a fair coin is about 51 per cent likely to land on the same face it started on. And if you spin instead of flipping, even a slightly weighted coin is much more likely to land on its heavier side. (A spun penny lands tails-up 80 per cent of the time.) But there's a cool maths trick for getting a fair result from an unfair coin.

The Fermat's Library Twitter account, a grab-bag of mathematical and scientific curiosities, posted a simple solution: Instead of picking heads or tails, pick between heads-tails and tails-heads. As long as you make the same flip each time, HT and TH have equal probabilities.

Image by Fermat's Library

Using this technique, you could flip practically any object that can land on two different sides, no matter how often it lands on one side over the other. Or really any random binary process that you can't influence.

Follow Fermat's Library for more clever maths tricks, like how to fold any circle into an ellipse, or a cheat sheet for all the trigonometric functions.


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