A maths challenge

3 March 2011

All the readers of this blog that I am fortunate enough to know in person are very brainy  and clever people. Some of them even display certain characteristics that you could call nerdy. (Just for the record, I am using the word ‘nerd’ in a strictly positive sense. I think nerds are great. I am married to one and I brought one into this world, both are fantastic human beings!! And they can fix your computer anytime without so much as a moan. On the contrary they ENJOY finding the fault and fixing the machine. This is perfect for less nerdy individuals such as myself).

So with all these clever people reading the blog every now and then, maybe there is someone out there who can solve this problem for me.

The situation is as follows:

I ran 6 km this morning at an average speed of about 9 km/ hour. During my run, I successfully avoided stepping into about 20 dog poos that had been placed in strategically good positions on the pavement. About 3.5 km into my run, I was nevertheless hit by poo. Not by a canine, but a by a bird. Luckily it wasn’t an eagle, it was just some sort of smaller bird, maybe a pigeon with constipation, because the dropping hit me and then bounced off. My first thought was: “This is rare, this must be a lucky day, I should play the lottery”. My second thought was: ” How remote must the chance of a bird dropping something onto a moving person be?” I don’t even know whether (scenario A) this bird was sitting somewhere, just waiting to attack some silly jogger. (This is my hero’s theory — he thinks it was a malicious attack by some nasty flying creature). Or was this in fact  true coincidence,  (scenario B) a bird doing its thing while flying above me/ near me…? This triggered the next question: “What’s the trajectory of bird droppings??”  And then another question: ” Am I starting to sound like a nerd myself?”… A cascade of questions!

I am still  just so intrigued and have been all day. Can someone out there please put me out of my misery and figure out the probabilities for scenario A and B?

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