What is Random?


Hey, Vsauce. Michael here and Derek. Generate(!) 78? That’s so random. Or is it? What does it mean to be random? Can anything really be random?
What’s the most random thing ever? Today let’s stop being random and become ‘ransmart’. If something is unpredictable, and contains no recognisable patterns, we
call it random. So let’s begin our hunt for the most random thing with a coin toss. The Australian 50 cent coin is one of the largest coins currently in circulation. Coin flips and rolling dice are not
intrinsically random, they are only random because of our ignorance. If we could know every initial condition the exact forces and properties that play
for a particular flip or roll, we could theoretically calculate the result before it even happened. And, sure enough, researchers
have built coin flipping robots that can precisely control a flip to get
the result they want 100 percent of the time. So here is our question. Is there anything you couldn’t predict even if you knew everything? A process determined by nothing? And how can you be sure they’re aren’t any patterns in what you’re
looking at? Maybe you just haven’t looked for the right pattern yet. Or maybe you have already seen true
randomness but didn’t know it because you didn’t
look for long enough. As if protected by a sort of camouflage, a random process can, and will,
occasionally produce patterns. YouTube URLs are pretty much random. A unique one is made for every
uploaded video, but sometimes, like the proverbial monkeys typing away
on typewriters, YouTube generates a URL that contains, by chance, a word. The official music video for 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’ contains a synonym for bottom. This video was assigned ‘hello’, there are some ‘sexies’ and a sauce. If you
want to find out if a particular word has been randomly assigned to a video
yet, you can search for it by using this string in Google. The point is, randomness is difficult to identify.
It is easier to be certain that something is not random than that it is. But despite this elusiveness something interesting is going on right now. Increasingly, we, especially young people, are calling
clearly predictable things random. Like randomly running into your best friend at a popular restaurant. Or hilariously bizarre combinations of things that we call totally random because they are
seemingly unrelated, even though, of course, they were chosen
not in random but in a very determined way because they are all unrelated. Those guys that showed up at the party last night you didn’t know, they weren’t randos in a mathematical sense. They knew about the party, we’re in
the mood to go to a party and we’re in the area. Pretty predictable, actually. This non-statistical use of the word random annoys some people but it’s not that far off
from the original meaning of the word. In the 1300s, random meant running or at great speed. Later, it would be used to describe
things that have no definite purpose. It wasn’t until the 1800s that random
took on a particular mathematical definition. Then in the 1970s, MIT’s student paper popularised the use of the word random
to simply mean strange. Of course, just because
something is strange doesn’t mean it has no discoverable cause. Why have we started
calling so many predictable things random? Well, many theories revolve around the amount up information and new people
we are confronted with at an increasing rate; now more than ever
before. Perhaps it’s just easier, almost a bit of a relief to call things random, so that we can move on to synthesise other information. Take a look at this die. Now, as you can see, it rolls a five most of the time but not all the time. Over time a sequence of its results will contain
less randomness. But it is still random. Any face is
possible and I have no guarantee beforehand of knowing which face will show up. The
outcomes I’m selecting from make the resulting sequence less full of randomness but the process is still random. Even though a die and a coin are
extremely sensitive to their initial conditions, and, over the course of normal use, are
quite unpredictable, they do over time exhibit certain biases. Biases that make them a bit more predictable and a little less random than you might think. First of all, dice. Even
precision dice are only quality controlled within a few micrometers. You can check this out yourself. Make two stacks of ten or more similar dice. Now, if you orient each die every which way,
you should pretty much get two equally sized stacks But, if you arrange each stack along a shared axis, so that every die
faces the same way, any regular imperfections caused by the
manufacturing process may become visible. But what about coins? Well, some fantastic research has been
done on what happens when they spin and flip. For instance, it has been found that US
nickel is just the right diameter and thickness to wind up landing not heads up or tails up when flipped,
but on its side, about once every six thousand
times it’s flipped. But what about the fairness of flipping
a coin? Well, if you flip a coin like this, for statistical and physical reasons
the side facing up before the flip begins, doesn’t actually have
a fifty percent chance of being the result. Instead, as researchers at Stanford have
found, it actually has a fifty one percent chance. In this case it was the other side though. Still pretty random. If you want a coin flip to be as fair as possible, you should just catch it in your hand. Don’t
allow it to hit the ground, bounce, tumble and spin. That’s because researchers have
found that when a coin spins larger biases come into play. The shape of its edge, its centre of gravity. The heavier side tends to go down quite often. In the case of some coins as often as eighty percent of the time. It’s been
found that a one euro coin will spin, and land heads up, more often than not, and a US penny will land tails up more often than not when spun. But like I said earlier, theoretically if we knew
everything about the initial conditions of a coin flip or a die roll, we could calculate beforehand their outcome. Why don’t we do that more often? Well, it’s extremely difficult. Insane amounts of precision would be required because the smallest difference between two initial
conditions can be magnified over time leading to chaotic, extremely difficult
to predict, results. Random.org, the service Derek and I used at the beginning of this video to generate a
random number, uses atmospheric noise. It’s extremely hard to predict, but technically still a deterministic system. All that noise came from somewhere and
if we could just find out those initial conditions we could, theoretically, predict their outcomes. If we want a system more random than that we will need to find one that
is determined by nothing and for that let’s look closer. Quantumly close. Quantum mechanics may have our answer. It describes the properties of quantumly
sized things as probabilities; just chances. Not because we don’t know enough
yet to be certain, or predict, but because, well, the idea is there’s nothing there to predict. There is no beforehand we could know. Whether or not a particular individual
radioactive atom will decay or not, or whatever the spin of an electron is, is only knowable once we look. They’re
determined by a deep-seated randomness woven into the universe itself. Einstein couldn’t believe this.
He refused to accept, as he said, that “God played dice with the universe.” But… experiments with entangled particles have shown violations of Bell inequalities. Entangled particles are particles that
exhibit similar properties even when separated by large distances. Now, if they agreed on those shared
properties to have, or are somehow determined beforehand to have them, their behaviors should satisfy Bell’s famous inequalities.
But experiments have found that instead the likelihood of what a
machine will see when measuring one particle determines how the other machine will
measure the other particle. It is here, when we look that the chance is
determined. Explanations for this are even weirder but what the results
suggest is that the chance of seeing particular quantum qualities don’t pre-exist. They happen when you look. So, if you are ever feeling boring or predictable, just remember that you are
made out of octillions of quantum probabilities. Dice that don’t
tumble in any analysable way we could ever predict. They are the most random thing. God may play dice with the universe, but they are the best dice in the universe. And as always, thanks for watching. But what does it all mean? Well, true randomness doesn’t mean anything.
I mean, for us to have meaning we need structure, predictability and that is what I’m
exploring over on my channel, Veritasium. Wow, okay. So let’s go over there and take a look at what is not random. Veritasium, let’s go. I’ll see you guys over there.
It’s going to be awesome, come with us. And as always, thanks for watching.

100 thoughts on “What is Random?

  1. Random is 114514   ₁₁₄₅₁₄ 114514
        ₁₁₄₅₁₄  ₁₁₄₅₁₄
     ₁₁₄₅₁₄ 114514  ₁₁₄₅₁₄ 114514

  2. There’s a kid in my high school named random, he changed schools because he’s got bullied lmao

  3. An “answer” is kind of random before you know the question. Yet many questions can have multiple answers and vice versa.

  4. isn't it random that we randomly use random to describe random situations that are not mathematically random…

  5. The over use and abuse of the word "random" bothers me a lot. Sounds so dumb. I want to scream: NO! That is not random!

  6. It makes me sad that I cant watch new Vsauce videos because they are for Youtube Premium. 🙁

  7. Is a chain of different-to-predict-situations still not random? You may find patterns, the question is until when? When you repeatedly perform a situation, you'll add another pattern to compare with your future results…

  8. so all these so i thought to be “random” mental breakdowns were just predictable ones 😍

  9. Why does he sit on a bench that says "I like worms". Michael you are so random.

  10. What is not yes there up still tommorow shut on coy before vast to never be C f*ck.

    You can't order this to make sense. This is random.

  11. Title should be "true random", but I already knew what I was going to get from it because I'm never disappointed with this channel.

  12. Isnt Radioactive decay also random ? I feel like I have read somewhere, that someone used time between decay states as a generator for truly random passwords ?

  13. Bokavoo I'm random or am that's bokavoo. Qantive randomness

  14. I was literally think the same thing when my teacher talked about theriretical value

  15. Ya gotta know how to Harvey Dent right everybody does for no reason of course…

  16. 1:48–1:50 = random my ass! Watch at slow motion and pause frequently, and you will see that they repeat every few times!

  17. On regards to coin flipping, it’s a lot like knife throwing. You have to gauge a feel for how much you’re going to cause it to rotate and over what distance so the probability of the knife sticking into something is much higher.

  18. I clicked in this video today, 2019, july, 16 literally five years after the uploading, is this random?

  19. How random is the length of this video that it's 11 minutes and 11 seconds long… Lol, nice move. Checkmate! ♟️

  20. I read a story about a programmer who created a truly random number generator. He received complaints from users who thought they are seeing patterns. When something is truly random, coincidences are bound to crop up from time to time. Ultimately, he had to create a pseudo random number generator which wasn't really random at all. It simply contained a long enough sequence that seemed random because all notable coincidences had been edited out from the sequence.

  21. There's nuthin' more random than Zeze,BEBE,MGK,PewDiePie,etc.

  22. Philosophers then: ……….philosophy stuff…………….
    Philosophers now: HeY vSaUsE mIcHeAl HeRe

  23. Except of course random variables do exhibit patterns at the population level. If they didn't we would not have statistics. It is hard to predict when an individual will die, but plot the distribution of the age people die and it has found to follow a Gaussian distribution. A fair dice would have a flat distribution. Other random variables may follow a Poissonian distribution. Or a Weibull distribution.

    Brownian motion is "random". But I guess that shows there is a difference between something that is fundamentally non-deterministic and vs something that is practically indeterminate. Random describes the summation of very large number of tiny sources of variation which we cannot hope to model, so we model the population via statistics.

  24. You're telling me, Mr. Vsauce, that the topics of your videos are indeed NOT random, and that in fact you are using an algorithm to decide each video's topic? Is that correct?

  25. Everyone Who clicked on this vid: What is Random?
    Micheal: Do I really exist

  26. so the allinurl trick doesnt work anymore. does anyone know how to make it work?

  27. Good Video. But about Bell experiment, AMHA , there is a traditional mistake. Physicists do NOT measure the dice outcome or photons polarization or spin electrons but they measure the CORRELATION between these outcomes. That makes a Huge difference. Measuring the signal before doing its Correlation is like destroying interference pattern in the 2 slit experiment when you try to know by which slit the particle went through. Good Chance!

  28. Random is pre-teen girls who thinks calling themselves 'potato trash xD' is funny.

  29. What is random? This video popping up on my Recommendation in 2019 despite seeing it.

  30. EU: I choose heads
    US: I choos tails!
    EU: But we will both flip
    EU and US flip their coins
    EU and US: I won!
    ??????

  31. So you are saying there are patterns in everything and only truly random things are patternless and cannot be understood by even the individuals with the highest IQs out there. IF we are able to find a perfectly random situation and confirm it is so, could we also test ignorance quotient by tallying how many times you perceive a pattern to the patternless information?

    And more interestingly, how would Intelligence and ignorance correlate?

  32. I still love the fact that when the non-transitive die finally didn't roll a 5…the other die rolls a 5
    There is no escape.

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