Counter intuitive facts

Thanks to Alexander Kruel for this list:

  1. It is possible to compute over encrypted data without access to the secret key (source).

  2. It is possible to prove that you know a value x, without conveying any information apart from the fact that you know the value x (source).

  3. It is possible to play poker by telephone in a trusted way which prevents cheating (source).

  4. If customers take on average 10 minutes to serve and they arrive randomly at a rate of 5.8 per hour then the waiting time for one teller is five hours while the waiting time for two tellers is 3 minutes (source).

  5. There exists a set of three dice, A, B, and C, with the property that A rolls higher than B more than half the time, and B rolls higher than C more than half the time, but it is not true that A rolls higher than C more than half the time (source).

  6. Causation does not imply correlation (source).

  7. The Earth makes 366.25 rotations around its axis per year. (Related. 0% selected the right answer on this SAT question: Circle A has 1/3 the radius of circle B, and circle A rolls one trip around circle B. How many times will circle A revolve in total? (source))

  8. There is a surface that has only one side (source).

  9. It is possible to travel downwind faster than the wind. (source) (for a mechanical demonstration see: Under the ruler faster than the ruler (source)).

  10. It is possible to read out the results of events that 'didn't happen' and whose 'probability of happening' can be driven arbitrarily low. (source).

  11. Knowing just slightly more about the value of your car than a potential buyer can make it impossible to sell it.

  12. Closing roads can improve everyone’s commute time.

  13. If you pay the value you think something is worth, you are going to end up with a negative net profit.

  14. Adding 3 feet to a tightly tied rope around the earth would allow you to raise it uniformly by almost 6 inches.

  15. Two 12 Inch Pizzas have less Pizza than one 18 inch pizza.

  16. If you let a 100g strawberry that is 99% water by mass dehydrate such that the water now accounts for 98% of the total mass then its new mass is 50g.

  17. At any given moment on the earth's surface, there exist 2 antipodal points (on exactly opposite sides of the earth) with the same temperature and barometric pressure:

  18. A one-in-billion event will happen 8 times a month.

  19. Given a solid ball in 3‑dimensional space, there exists a decomposition of the ball into a finite number of disjoint subsets, which can then be put back together in a different way to yield two identical copies of the original ball:

  20. A system cannot change while you are watching it:

  21. In two dimensions, there are infinitely many regular polygons. In three dimensions, there are five Platonic solids. In four dimensions, there are six platonic polychora. In all higher dimensions than four, there are only ever three regular polytopes. (Maths 1001, Richard Elwes)

  22. There are as many whole positive numbers as all fractions (including the whole negative and whole positive numbers).

  23. There is a shape with a finite volume but an infinite surface area (Gabriel’s Horn).

  24. There are infinite sets that can be exhaustively searched over in finite time:

  25. There are constant width curves other than a circle.

  26. Any positive rational number x can be written as a finite sum of distinct numbers of the form 1/n. (Calculus, 4th edition by Michael Spivak)

  27. Let alpha = 0.110001000000000000000001000..., where the 1's occur in the n! place, for each n. Then alpha is transcendental. (Calculus, 4th edition by Michael Spivak)

  28. There are sequences of numbers which grow unimaginably enormous and continue for an unimaginably long number of terms...but which always eventually get back down to zero.

  29. The vast majority of real numbers can't be described. But it is impossible to give a single example.

  30. There exists a curve which fills an entire square:

  31. There is a continuous and nowhere differentiable function:

  32. At any given time there live at least two people in California with the same number of hairs on their heads.

  33. "...if you flip fair coins to generate n-dimensional vectors (heads => 1, tails => -1) then the probability they're linearly independent is at least 1-(1/2 + o(n))^n. I.e., they're very very likely independent!"

  34. An initial datapoint can be valuable, and the second worthless, but the third valuable again (due to discreteness of choice)

  35. If every truth is knowable, then every truth is known.

Other classical and miscellaneous items:

  1. Simple, yet counterintuitive mathematics | Why numbers don't always mean what you think

  2. Truly brilliant examples from mathematics about why repeated confirmations don’t constitute proofs: The Most Misleading Patterns in Mathematics

  3. The Spring Paradox (watch the whole awesome video)

  4. Rope, escape, topology, knots, creativity, geometry, mathematics, impossibility, access to higher dimensions of space-time.

  5. The Lifespan Dilemma

  6. Bottema's theorem: Draw squares on AB and BC on two sides of the triangle ABC. Let R and S be the points on the squares opposite vertex B. Then the midpoint M of RS is independent of B.

  7. Monty Hall problem source

  8. Unexpected hanging paradox source

  9. Zeno's paradoxes source

  10. Boy or Girl paradox source

  11. Cheryl's Birthday source

  12. The Birthday Paradox source

  13. Ross–Littlewood paradox source

  14. German tank problem source

  15. Two envelopes problem source

  16. Sleeping Beauty problem

  17. Stein's paradox

  18. The ant on a rubber rope problem

  19. Infinite offset paradox

  20. 100 Prisoners Problem

  21. Gödel's incompleteness theorems

  22. Hairy ball theorem

  23. Wheeler's delayed-choice experiment

  24. A Peculiar Connection Between the Axiom of Choice and Predicting the Future

  25. Quantum Eraser Lottery Challenge

  26. Counterfactual mugging

  27. Vexing Expectations

  28. The Absent-Minded Driver

  29. The Hardest Logic Puzzle Ever

  30. Seven Puzzles You Think You Must Not Have Heard Correctly

  31. Simpson's Paradox

  32. Berkson's paradox

  33. Counterintuitive examples in probability

  34. What are some counter-intuitive results in mathematics that involve only finite objects?