Toss a coin in front of your friends and ask them what are the chances you get a head rather than a tail? Fifty fifty would most likely be the answer.

But is it? Toss the same coin a hundred times, would you get 50 heads and 50 tails? You’d have to be very lucky to get that. Toss the same coin again for another 50 times, would you get heads and tails in exactly the same order as your last 50 tosses? If you were to toss the same coin again for one more time, would you be able to predict with absolute certainty which side of the coin you’ll get?

Obviously your next 50 tosses won’t yield heads and tails in exactly the same order as your last 50 tosses, nor can you say with absolute certainty which side of the coin you’ll get on your next toss. This is all trivial. We say that the toss of a coin acts randomly.

But is it really random? Now suppose that we are now living in the year 3010. Imagine that a thousand years from now, all the scientists and engineers and mathematicians in the world have endeavoured on a millennium-long project to model every single aspect of a coin toss.

The surface of a single coin is modelled with exquisite detail, right down to how many molecules it has. Even the magnitude and direction of the vibration of these molecules is modelled in real time. A bionic hand whose force can be controlled right down to the accuracy of piconewtons is used to toss the coin, and the position and angle at which the bionic hand’s fingers touch the coin can be measured with superb precision. Imagine as well that every single air molecules within a 10 meter radius of the coin’s trajectory is modelled accurately so that their mass, velocity, size, even the position of electrons within the atom at any instant of time can be determined accurately.

Imagine that in this hypothetical Earth a thousand years from now, some dude with such luck commands the bionic hand to toss the coin, and at the same instant all of the supercomputers started measuring and analysing all of the variables and plug in the numbers into their respective models which have been proven to work every single time.

Now in this one historic moment we would never have the chance to witness, can we determine with absolute certainty which side the coin will land on?

Theoretically, all of this is possible. If all the scientists and engineers and mathematicians somehow all lost their mind (due to overdose of caffein, perhaps?) and decided to take on this endeavour, they can definitely achieve this.

Now the question is this: if we can predict with absolute certainty how things will turn out, given that we know exactly the parameters and behaviours of every single thing affecting the system we are concerned about (like tossing a coin), is there any such thing as randomness? Is it not then just the sum of all the things happening in the universe leading up to that particular outcome? So the next time you hear people say believe and the universe will work for you, they may actually have some scientific justification.