Unexpectedly Intriguing!
January 22, 2021

You know what quantum tunneling is, right? That physical phenomenon that makes it possible for electronic components like semiconductors, transistors and diodes to work and also for the sun to shine?

You don't? What if you could get up to speed with what it is in just three minutes? Would you want to know more?

If so, we'll point you to the work of Maryam Tsegaye, a high school senior in Fort McMurray, Alberta, who has become the first Canadian to win the International Breakthrough Junior Challenge with her short video explaining what quantum tunneling is. Here's the video, where the math of probability plays a prominent role:

Here's some of the backstory for how she came up with her presentation:

Tsegaye said her original plan was to make a video about entropy, but she stumbled upon quantum tunnelling and thought she could tell a "much better story" about it.

The tricky part was finding a story that would make the theory digestible.

"I knew that I couldn't just throw some mathematical equation at you or a bunch of scientific jargon you wouldn't understand," Tsegaye said.

"That's how the dice came along, because quantum mechanics has to do a lot with probability."

Now, if you want a simple introduction to probability, that will take an 11-and-a-half-minute video to get you going (the dice show up after the 2:45 mark):

There are a lot of useful things you can do with probability math. Here's a sampling of where we've used it here on Political Calculations:

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Welcome to the blogosphere's toolchest! Here, unlike other blogs dedicated to analyzing current events, we create easy-to-use, simple tools to do the math related to them so you can get in on the action too! If you would like to learn more about these tools, or if you would like to contribute ideas to develop for this blog, please e-mail us at:

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