Playing Cards and the Chance of Life

Playing Cards and the Chance of Life

Reading Time: 2 minutes

What are the chances that anyone has ever shuffled a pack of cards in the same way twice? The chances that anyone has ever shuffled a pack of cards in the same way twice in the history of the world are infinitesimally small, statistically speaking. The number of possible permutations of 52 cards is ‘52 factorial’ otherwise known as “52! “or “52 shriek.” This is 52 times 51 times 50 . . . all the way down to one. Here’s what that looks like in its 68-digit length: 


We can make that easier to understand by representing it as:


Or it can be read:

80 unvigintillion, 658 vigintillion, 175 novemdecillion, 170 octodecillion, 943 septendicillion, 878 sexdicillion, 571 quindicillion, 660 quattuordecillion, 636 tredicillion, 856 duodecillion, 403 undecillion, 766 decillion, 975 nonillion, 289 octillion, 505 septillion, 440 sextillion, 883 quintillion, 277 quadrillion, 824 trillion.

But let’s give you an idea of how long it would take to go through every permutation of cards:

If every star in our galaxy had a trillion planets, each with a trillion people living on them, and each of these people has a trillion packs of cards, and somehow they manage to make unique shuffles 1,000 times per second, and they’d been doing that since the Big Bang (assumed age of 13.7 billion years), they’d only just now be starting to repeat shuffles.

The doctor and applied geneticist/genetic engineer who created of the biolistic process (that is the gene gun, usedto create GMOs) estimates that the chance of randomly assembling a protein only 100 amino acids long is around 1 in 10^130. Since they’d all need to be L-form and linked by peptide bonds, the chance is around 1 in 10^190. That’s 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.* 

Leaving the issue of abiogenesis aside, the chance of life forming somewhere in the universe is estimated by astrophysicist Dr. Hugh Ross of being somewhere in the neighborhood of 1 in 10^282. Though this number varies based on the doctor making the prediction, it seems that most come up with a number that is effectively equivalent to “null chance.”  Consider a number with 282 zeroes. Now think about the cards again, with their 67 zeroes. 

Cool, huh? 

With love, always,

My friendly signature.


*Dr. JC, Sanford, “Genetic Entropy.” Dr. Sauer, “Functionally Acceptable Solutions in Two Alpha-Helical Regions of Lambda Repressor. Dr. D. Axe, “Biological Function Places Unexpectedly Tight Constraints on Protein Sequences.”

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