Improbability


Improbability

:"Improbability may also refer to the opposite of probability."

Improbability is the modal probability employed by Douglas Adams in "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy". Improbability is modeled after mathematical probability, but is only related to real probability in the sense that irony is related to chance. In the fiction of Douglas Adams, improbability is portrayed by a succession of increasingly unlikely events. As a literary device it is closer to the concept of deus ex machina than probability. However, as the characters frequently comment about how improbable this or that is, it becomes a point of self-reference.

Improbability is based on a bizarre perception of quantum theory: if a certain elementary particle has a probability of being found in a certain place (such as within an atom) there is also a near infinitely improbable—but not quite impossible—chance of the particle being found anywhere else in the universe at the same time. This theory is employed to allow probability-powered engines known as improbability drives to let ships driven by such drives, such as the "Heart of Gold", to travel interstellarly in a way similar to existing anywhere in the universe at the same time.

Improbability drives usually function on the theory that the likelihood of any event happening is as possible, while in no way as probable, as any other event. Improbability ships usually use this same theory, but instead these events are the ship transporting to certain destinations. The problem with an improbability drive is that unless one has a very powerful computer such as Eddie to do it, one must work out exactly how improbable it is for this event to happen for the drive to cause it to.


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  • Improbability — Im*prob a*bil i*ty, n.; pl. {Improbabilities}. [Cf. F. improbabilit[ e].] The quality or state of being improbable; unlikelihood; also, that which is improbable; an improbable event or result. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • improbability — I noun bare possibility, doubt, doubtfulness, implausibility, impossibility, inexpectation, infrequency, little chance, long odds, non verisimilis, nonexpectation, poor chance, poor prospect, questionability, rare occurrence, rarity, small chance …   Law dictionary

  • improbability — (n.) 1590s, fact or quality of being improbably; see IMPROBABLE (Cf. improbable) + ITY (Cf. ity). Meaning an instance of something improbable is from 1610s …   Etymology dictionary

  • Improbability — (Roget s Thesaurus) < N PARAG:Improbability >N GRP: N 1 Sgm: N 1 improbability improbability unlikelihood Sgm: N 1 unfavorable chance unfavorable chance bad chance ghost of a chance little chance small chance poor chance scarcely any chance …   English dictionary for students

  • improbability — I (New American Roget s College Thesaurus) Lack of likelihood Nouns improbability, unlikelihood, unlikeliness; small or long chance, Chinaman s chance, ghost of a chance; long odds, long shot; incredibility (see doubt). See hopelessness,… …   English dictionary for students

  • improbability — noun the quality of being improbable impossibility should never be confused with improbability the improbability of such rare coincidences • Syn: ↑improbableness • Ant: ↑probability • Derivationally related forms: ↑ …   Useful english dictionary

  • improbability — improbable ► ADJECTIVE ▪ not likely to be true or to happen. DERIVATIVES improbability noun (pl. improbabilities) improbably adverb …   English terms dictionary

  • improbability — noun see improbable …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • improbability — /im prob euh bil i tee, im prob /, n., pl. improbabilities for 2. 1. the quality or condition of being improbable; unlikelihood. 2. something improbable or unlikely. [1590 1600; IMPROBABLE + ITY] * * * …   Universalium

  • improbability — noun a) The quality or state of being improbable; unlikelihood. b) That which is improbable; an improbable event or result …   Wiktionary