I’ll admit it. When the Powerball jackpot got upwards of $900 million, I played. And now that it’s approaching (and may exceed) $1.5 billion, I’m going to play again. I’m not particularly attached to any “lucky” numbers, so I usually just play quick picks. They’re random, right? No so much.
I purchased ten plays and very quickly noticed a lot of repetition in the numbers. If it were truly random, I should see a fairly even distribution of numbers. But one number appeared in nine plays, another appeared in seven, and yet another appeared in six. Then there’s this guy. Now I question 1) whether the random number generators in the lottery terminals are able to produce high-quality random numbers, and 2) even if they do, whether the terminals can be trusted.
In search of better randomness, I found Random.org, which generates random numbers based on atmospheric noise. They even have a lottery quick pick generator. According to the information on their site, they use atmospheric radio frequency noise to generate high-quality random numbers. I read up on their technique, and although it sounds very good, I thought that perhaps I could do better – or at least nerdier.
Having read about quantum random number generation in the past, I went looking for a quantum random number generator and found the Quantum Random Numbers Server (QRNG) at Australian National University. They produce random numbers in real-time in their lab by measuring the quantum fluctuations of the vacuum.
So with the next Powerball drawing just around the corner, I quickly created my own Quantum Powerball Quick Pick Generator based on random numbers from the QRNG RESTful API. I implemented it in Web API on my Azure site, with CORS enabled and configured to allow my blog to access it. The result is below. Play responsibly!