The idea for this post came about when me and Mr. Science Gentleman were playing a guessing game.  I love games!  They’re so much fun!  And when they involve maths, they’re even better.

So we were devising and solving little mathematical problems, on a date (this is the sort of thing we do on dates, when we’re not staring at our phones playing Ingress or playing Cards Against Humanity
against strangers on the Internet – yes, we really do do that.  And we’re not sick of each other yet).  And I said, “How many people do you reckon you’d meet in a lifetime?  At least one million, right?”

And Mr. Science Gentleman declared this to be nonsense, for it could not possibly be that many.

The reason I thought of this was a poem I recall reading in a children’s anthology, by Wes Magee.  It’s called “What’s In A Number?” and you can read it here.

So how likely or unlikely is it? The average life expectancy for a UK male is 79 years (82 years for females, but let’s use the lower figure in the calculation).  That’s 28,855 days if you include 20 leap years in there.  1,000,000 divided by that number is 35 people per day.

Depending on how you classify “meet”, it doesn’t sound so difficult.  I guess you’d have to factor in acquaintances and strangers, and put in a little more effort to make up for days when you just weren’t in the mood for company.  But it’s not such a ridiculous idea after all.

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