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EXPECTATIONS

On January 15, 2005, the Huygens space probe landed on the surface of Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. This was the culmination of a seven-year-long mission. During its descent and for over an hour after touching down on the surface, Huygens sent back detailed images, scientific readings, and even sounds from a strange world. There are liquid oceans on Titan, the landing site was littered with “rocks” composed of water ice, and weather on the moon includes methane rain. The Huygens probe was named after Christiaan Huygens, a Dutch polymath who first discovered Titan in 1655. In addition to astronomy and physics, Huygens had more prosaic interests, including probability theory. Originally published in Latin in 1657, De Ratiociniis in Ludo Aleae, or The Value of All Chances in Games of Fortune, was one of the first texts to formally explore one of the most important concepts in probability theory, namely expectations.


  

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