Isaac Newton vs. Las Vegas: How Physicists Used Science To Beat The Odds At Roulette

“By 1961, Thorp and Shannon had built and tested the world’s first wearable computer: it was merely the size of a cigarette pack and able to fit into the bottom of a specially-designed shoe. Toe switches would activate the computer once the wheel and ball were set into motion, collecting timing data for both. Once the computer calculated the most likely result, it would transmit that value as musical tones to a tiny speaker lodged in an earpiece. The wires were camouflaged as much as possible.”

Did you know the world’s first wearable computer was built all the way back in the 1960s, was worn on your feet… and was used to help gamblers cheat at roulette? Physicists and mathematicians work with probability and predicting the behavior of a given system a lot, and when you combine that with the science of simple motion (as on a roulette wheel), the possibility of ‘beating the odds’ suddenly becomes real. Security measures that seem commonplace today in casinos, such as roulette wheels with no observable defects, a ban on computers and ‘table talk,’ and the inability to place late bets, all came about because of how scientist/gamblers have successfully beaten the house in the past.

From the 1940s up to the modern day, come hear the story of how simple physics helped defeat the casinos, and how the saga, for a few people, is still ongoing today!