Coin Toss Research is Flipping Hilarious: 49ers

Coin-toss alternative: Rock, Paper, Scissor

By Joe Kukura
|  Wednesday, Oct 21, 2009  |  Updated 9:00 AM EDT
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New research indicates coin tosses may not be a 50-50 proposition.

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Leave it to Stanford and UC Santa Cruz to perform statistical research on something like whether a certain side lands up more often in a coin toss. And leave it to Stanford and UC Santa Cruz to find that one side actually does.

In a study entitled "Dynamical Bias In The Coin Flip," Stanford and UC Santa Cruz researchers argue that coin flips do favor whichever side of the coin was facing up when the flip is initiated. Their findings state that coin flips will land with the same side facing up as at the start of the coin flip on at least  51 percent of the time, and perhaps as many as 55 to 60 percent of the flips.

"The way we flip coins creates a bias, and that makes it stay more time in the position it starts in," contributing author of the research Susan Holmes told the San Jose Mercury News. Ms. Holmes and her colleagues also note that certain individuals will tend to flip with same-side results more frequently than others.

Take note, gambling addicts.

The Mercury News approached the 49ers' team captains with these findings, to see if it would change how they approach calling heads or tails. Center Eric Heitman, himself a Stanford grad, told the Merc, "I've never heard anything like that before, but I guarantee that I will be thinking about it each time I'm out there for the coin toss."

Fellow captain Joe Nedney was less impressed. "There's so much variance in how a coin is flipped," Nedney told the Mercury News. "How could you possibly know how many rotations the coin makes?"

Nedney also proposed more sweeping changes for deciding which team will kick or receive. "We should start having it decided with Rock, Paper, Scissors," Nedney said. "Or the referee should stand between the captains and say, 'I'm thinking of a number between one and 10.'"

Nedney is allowed to make all the flipped-out suggestions he wants as long as he's still a solid kicker on my fantasy team

Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who got killed in fanstasy this week because he doesn''t have a backup kicker.

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