Powerball quick picks: are they truly random? Mine and others' observations say no. But thanks to the science of Quantum mechanics, it's now possible to generate truly random picks.
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!