The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Is random number generator's randomness modifiable?  (Read 2159 times)

Offline EvilHomer15

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
Hallo.
I have found myself being quite interested in the philosophical applications of research of quantum physics, and I would like to ask you about RNG.

I have read from several sources of experiments which claim that thoughts can affect results of a RNG simulation.
If you put a person in front of a computer, which is programmed to randomly pick one of the numbers 0 and 1, the human can 'bend' the statistical results into showing more 0's or 1's simply by thinking, wishing, picturing or in other way wanting a certain number to show, he can do it.
Before the time of computers, the same experiment was performed by flipping coins.

So, is RNG modifiable by thoughts or am I crazy for actually considering this?


 

Offline Joe L. Ogan

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 476
    • View Profile
Is random number generator's randomness modifiable?
« Reply #1 on: 26/02/2011 19:06:43 »
Maybe this is just wishful thinking?  Thanks for comments.  Joe L. Ogan
 

Offline graham.d

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2208
    • View Profile
Is random number generator's randomness modifiable?
« Reply #2 on: 26/02/2011 19:27:09 »
This would be something akin to telekiesis. There is no scientific basis for this and there has never been presented any demonstration of it that has held up under scrutiny. I expect that it is the sort of thing that James Randi regularly debunks.
 

Offline techmind

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 934
  • Un-obfuscated
    • View Profile
    • techmind.org
Is random number generator's randomness modifiable?
« Reply #3 on: 21/03/2011 00:26:10 »
The "random" numbers generated by computers are almost always "pseudo random" numbers. That is, they "look" random, but are actually entirely deterministic.

Starting with a "seed", and some remarkably simple logic, you can generate a very long list of "seemlingly random" numbers (and these numbers can be consistent with quite advanced mathematical definitions of random - as long as you don't use too big a fraction of the sequence before it eventually repeats itself). But if you repeat the process on another day with the same starting "seed", you'll get exactly the same sequence!

Since the algorithmic generation of the numbers is done by very much the same process as anything else on a computer, there's no reason to suppose you could change the numbers by thinking about them any more than you could type characters or the screen or modify your bank-balence just by thinking about it.  ;D


Usually if you want more-random numbers on a computer system you "randomise" the seed by setting it to some function of the number of microseconds the computer has been switched on for before running your program. But if you had two computers and you ran your program on both at exactly the same time (after switch on) you'd still get the exact same sequence from both.


This kind of "predictable" random numbers is no good at all for lotteries and the like, and consequently the authorities have very strict rules on random-number generation for that kind of purpose!

There are other ways of generating random numbers which aren't deterministic (like measuring the analog 'noise' in some electrical component) but these tend to have other problems with the distribution of numbers, the rate at which you can pull out numbers which are not correlated, susceptibility to electrical interference etc etc.
If you wanted to believe in telekinesis (most scientists don't, I'm sure properly carried out tests have never shown anything) then you might argue that such non-deterministic methods might, possibly be susceptible to such influences. ;)
Regular everyday computer-based "random"-number generators? No chance! :D

See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linear_feedback_shift_register


Owww... it looks like I overlooked the "quantum" part of your question.
A quantum random number generator would be a "true" and "non-derministic" RNG ... but I'm pretty sure you'll still find that you can't change the answers by telekinesis.

See also:
http://www.idquantique.com/true-random-number-generator/products-overview.html
(I have no affiliation to this company, and hadn't heard of them until 30 seconds ago. I thought it was an interesting Google result, and others might too.)
« Last Edit: 21/03/2011 00:42:03 by techmind »
 

Offline EvilHomer15

  • Jr. Member
  • **
  • Posts: 10
    • View Profile
Is random number generator's randomness modifiable?
« Reply #4 on: 23/03/2011 21:48:16 »
Thanks for the responses.
This might be, as said in an other reply, just be wishful thinking.
And I also thought it might be too good to be true.

But man, it would be interesting if such phenomenon is realized to be true.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Is random number generator's randomness modifiable?
« Reply #4 on: 23/03/2011 21:48:16 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums
 
Login
Login with username, password and session length