Miracle Calculator

Created by Joanna Śmietańska, PhD and Anna Szczepanek, PhD
Reviewed by Rijk de Wet
Last updated: Jan 18, 2024


Omni's miracle calculator was created to tell you how many extraordinary occurrences you can expect in a chosen period of time. Did you know that you're likely to experience one miracle every 35 days? Sounds like nonsense? Far from it!

This science paradox of frequently-occurring miracles is based on the calculations of mathematics professor John Littlewood, who formulated the intriguing law of miracles. Have you ever had a dream come true, or thought about something happening and it occurred soon after? Littlewood's law of miracles will tell you when you can expect such a miracle to happen. Keep reading and we'll explore whether science can explain miracles on the basis of statistics.

Law of miracles

In 1986, Cambridge professor John Littlewood stated that a person could expect to experience supernatural events (miracles) at the rate of about one per month (one per 35 days, specifically). Although it sounds surprising, there are specific mathematical calculations behind it. To formulate his law of miracles, Professor Littlewood made several assumptions:

  • The typical person is active, awake, and doing some activities for eight hours a day. Thus, we do not count the time spent sleeping, resting, and binge-watching their favorite TV series.
  • During this time, approximately every second this person sees and hears an event.

This means that we register an average of 28,800 events every day. Within only a month, we've experienced 28,800 × 30 days = 864,000 events!

What is a miracle according to Prof. Littlewood?

Wondering if miracles are real, let's move on to determine what a miracle is in mathematics. The definition of a miracle, according to Littlewood's law, is an exceptional event whose probability of occurrence is one in a million. You can read more on how to find probability of a certain event.

Look at the example above — during 30 days we experience 864,000 events, so in 35 days we exceed the number of 1,000,000 events. Since the probability of a miracle is one in a million, we can expect it on average once every 35 days. 🙌

It's easy to miss miracles occurring if you're not actively looking out for them. But, if you were thinking about a specific unlikely event and then ta-da!, it happened — you'd remember the situation as a real miracle.

Can science explain miracles?

The law of miracles is related to the more general law of truly large numbers, which states that if we have a large enough sample size, any outrageous thing (in terms of the probability of its occurrence) can happen. For an example of how a seemingly improbable event is actually quite probable, check our lottery calculator.

However, don't take the law of miracles too seriously. 😉 When John Littlewood created the equations for his law of miracles, he did not do so to prove that miracles are real. In fact, Littlewood's law is used to undermine and disprove some pseudoscientific hypotheses. If a one-in-a-million chance of something counts as a miracle, look at the paradox that miracles are not improbable at all and how often they happen.

💡 The law of miracles is just one example of non-obvious theories and bizarre scientific calculations. If you're interested in other science paradoxes, check out our birthday paradox calculator.

How to use our miracle calculator

Here we will try to put knowledge into practice and use this miracle calculator to calculate how many miracles you will experience in the near future:

  1. Impatient to experience a miracle? Choose a time period, and the miracle calculator will tell you how many miracles are likely to happen in that period. Let's say you want to see what happens in the next 6 months. During this time, you could experience 5 miracles, so keep your eyes peeled!

  2. Inversely, you can check how long you have to wait for two miracles to happen. Enter 2 miracles into the calculator, and you'll see that it should take at least 69 days for both miracles to happen.

  3. Our miracle calculator also allow you to select a custom number of events per unit of time, e.g., 10 events per hour. You can also change the definition of a miracle, such as assuming that its probability is one in 200,000 instead.

  4. Click on "Advanced Mode" to check how many events will happen in any period of time for the specified number of hours awake per day.

FAQ

What is Littlewood's law of miracles?

Littlewood's law of miracles is a statistical law stating that a person can expect to experience an event with a probability of 1:1,000,000 (Littlewood's definition of a miracle) every 35 days. This is attributed to the law of truly large numbers.

How many miracles can I expect in the next 5 weeks?

According to the law of miracles, you can expect 1 miracle to happen within this time. Five weeks have 5 × 7 = 35 days. We know from Littlewood's law that a miracle happens on average once every 35 days, so over the course of 5 weeks, we ought to experience 1 miracle.

How many miracles can I experience over the next year?

Assuming you are awake 8 hours a day for 365 days and experience 1 event every second, you can expect 11 miracles. To find this:

  1. Convert 8 hours to seconds: 8 × 3600 = 28,800 seconds.
  2. Calculate the number of events during 1 year: 28,800 seconds × 365 days = 10,512,000.
  3. Divide by a million because the probability of a miracle is 1 in a million and round the result: 10,512,000/1,000,000 ≈ 11.

Is Littlewood's law mathematically true?

Yes, the calculations in Littlewood's law are correct, but the whole content of the theorem depends on what exactly we consider an "event" or the definition of a miracle. Littlewood's law thus applies more strongly to psychology or perception than to strict mathematics.

Joanna Śmietańska, PhD and Anna Szczepanek, PhD
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