Tuesday, December 04, 2012


Kerry Packer decide to give himself a winning edge by hiring three experts to come up with a guaranteed strategy for gambling on horse racing.

The first expert is a Nobel Prize winner in physiology. After three months he reports in: "I'm sorry Mr Packer, I've studied everything relevant in the fields of genetics, biochemistry and horse physiology, and I'm afraid there's just no way to be certain which horse will win a given race." Disappointed, Kerry Packer has one of his editors throw the physiologist into the street.

After six months the next expert, a Fields Medal-winning mathematician, contacts Kerry Packer. "I'm sorry, Mr Packer, I worked our supercomputer around the clock performing statistical analyses, I employed fractal metapermutational series in n-dimensional hypermatrices, I applied every possible arcane technique... there's just no mathematical way to pick the winning horse." Enraged, Kerry Packer has another one of his editors rough up the mathematician and throw him into the street.

The great man has all but given up on his dream, but after twelve he is told that the third expert, an esteemed physicist, has found the solution and is ready to report the secret.

"So after a year, you've found the winning formula," says Mr Packer.

"I have," replies the physicist. "Actually, I had the answer after a few weeks. I've just been working through some interesting ramifications of the theory."

"But it's absolutely certain," says Mr Packer, "100% guaranteed? You can pick the winning horse every time?"

"Oh yes," says the physicist. "The theory is absolutely solid."

"You bloody beauty!" says Packer. "What's the formula?"

"Well, first we assume that the horses are perfectly spherical and moving in a vacuum at the speed of light..."

(For this joke it helps to know that Kerry Packer was a billionaire media
mogul who loved to gamble but hated to lose.)

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