Beware the Bad Luck

13 06 2008

Well it’s Friday the 13th today, and you know what that is supposed to mean: bad luck. Sufferers of paraskavedekatriaphobia (fear of Friday the 13th) are known not to take flights on this day, or really bad sufferers are known to just stay in bed all day, as if that is going to save them from any bad luck that is going to happen to them on that day.

Think of it logically: if something bad is going to happen to you on Friday the 13th, surely it does not matter where you are on the day? If you stay in bed and believe in bad luck, surely it is likely that your roof is going to fall on you while you are in bed? At least, it is as likely as your plane crashing or getting hit by a bus on the way to work. But then again, I suppose it is a totally illogical thing that can’t be explained by the rational mind. Everybody has their quirks, and if you believe that staying in bed will prevent bad luck, go for it.

However, it has been estimated that between $800 and $900 million is lost every Friday the 13th because of superstitious people not coming into work. The same institute which gave those figures guessed that almost 20 million people in the united states alone are afflicted by the fear of Friday the 13th.

This superstition has no specific origin, but it is thought that the number 13 is unlucky because it goes against the natural order of things: 12 signs of the zodiac (although there is actually 13 if you count  Ophiuchus, which is not recognised in traditional astrology), 12 months of the year, 12 tribes of Israel etc. It is also thought that the superstition of 13 comes from the Last Supper, when there were 13 people seated at the table and Jesus died as a result.

The Friday element is more difficult to pin down as unlucky, however. Most scholars agree that it goes back to Jesus being crucified on Friday, but there is no hard evidence to support this.

Here’s an interesting fact. If a month starts on a Sunday, then that month is going to have a Friday the 13th. It has also been shown in a study of 4800 months, the 13th occurred on a Friday the most often of all days, 688 times out of 146 097 days, or approximately every 212.35 days.

Apparently there is an asteroid out there called 99942 Apophis, which briefly had about a 2.7% (which is apparently quite high!) chance of colliding with the earth on Friday 13th 2029, before it was downgraded to a negligible amount again.

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3 responses

13 06 2008
kellyansara

I don’t believe in friday the 13th, because if you look carefully friday the 13th occurs in each month that starts on a sunday… So its just an order of days etc… I mean come on!!!! LOL However nice research really interesting!!!!

7 07 2008
Caroline

How can you say that the probability of one’s roof falling in is equal to a car crash or a plane “falling out the sky”? Seriously, I don’t know anyone who’s roof has suddenly collapsed, but I am familiar with many accidents occuring each day (living next door to a hospital and all). Tut, sigh, I’m not arguing that it an abnormal fear, but if one was to seriously believe (and not just want to skive off live for a day) then I’d say the bed option was the safest.

11 08 2008
Chris

I read about that asteroid. NASA is apparently planning to attach a probe to it next time it comes close enough, so as to track it better, so as to totally elliminate the chances of collision. What has got Astonomers in a tiz is the fact that they can’t predict for sure what the result of the close encounter with earth’s gravity is going to have on Apophis’ orbit around the sun, they say that there is also the possibility that it will come very close to earth again in 2035 as a result.

A 13 year old kid brought to the attention of some astonomers that even though it has been calulated that the asteroid won’t collide with earth, he believes that the asteroid could intersect with the orbit of our satellites. This possibility was later announced as improbable, as there would be no satellites in the area of the asteroid’s path.

After all the commotion that this asteroid brought about, you’d imagine that the effect of it hitting earth would be catastrophic right (well at least I got that impression). Not quite. NASA says that it wouldnt affect our orbit (i.e. send us closer or further from the sun) that would cause climate change. They do say that due to the area of impact (anywhere between east Asia and the west coast of America), the loss of lives might be great. (Although I’m sure people would be informed well in advance to move from those areas).

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