Randomness and Choice

I was thinking today about randomness and choice.  Would it be possible for me to choose something that no one has ever chosen before? There are web sites like HotBits, which will give you a truly random number based on radioactive decay.  If you ask for a large enough number, it’s likely that the result will be something never before seen.

For example, here’s a number I just now made using those random numbers:

774716786663477661781931222589114153

It’s probable that no one in human history has ever thought of that number before, and no computer has ever represented that integer.  What about the future?  If I hadn’t posted this number in my blog just now, and had instead just erased it, then it’s likely that no one would ever think of that number again during the history of the earth.

However, I believe we have eternal souls that will last forever. And I presume we will somehow mark the passing of time, probably in days. So eventually we will reach the day with that number.

So… it’s possible to see new random numbers for the first time. But what about choice?  Could I choose something that no one has ever chosen before?  Well, tonight, I decided to choose my favorite galaxy.  It couldn’t be M31 (The Andromeda Galaxy), because that’s everybody’s favorite.  It had to be something obscure, nondescript, that probably no one else had ever chosen as their favorite. So I browsed around the web, found lists of galaxies, and decided to choose NGC 938 as my favorite. Here’s a picture:

NGC 938 Detail

I also wrote a web page about it. It’s 190,000,000 light years away and was discovered in 1863.

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