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Eudaemons

[yoo-dee-muhn]
For Eudaemons in mythology, see Daemon.

The Eudaemons were a small group headed by graduate physics students J. Doyne Farmer and Norman Packard at the University of California Santa Cruz in the late 1970s. The group's immediate objective was to find a way to beat roulette, but a loftier objective was to use the money made from roulette to fund a scientific community. The name of the group was inspired by the eudaimonism philosophy.

During a summer the two students started doing their own research on a roulette wheel which they had bought. Among the instruments which they used was a camera and an oscilloscope, to keep track of the motion of the roulette. Eventually they figured out a formula involving trigonometric functions and four variables, among them the period of rotation of the roulette and the period of rotation of the ball around the roulette.

Since the calculations were very complicated, they decided to build a computer customized for the purpose of being fed data about the roulette and the ball and to return a prediction of which of the roulette's octants the ball would fall on. The computer was concealable, designed to be invisible to an onlooker. It was small enough to fit inside a shoe. The input was by tapping the big toe on a micro-switch in the shoe. Then an electronic signal was relayed to a vibrotactile output system hidden behind the shirt, strapped to the chest, which had three solenoid actuators near the stomach which would indicate by vibrating either which of the eight octants of the roulette to place a bet on, or a ninth possibility: to not place a bet.

It took two years to develop the computerized system. By 1978 it was working and the group went to Las Vegas to make money at it. Eventually the system was split between two persons: an observer and a bettor. The observer would tap input signals with the foot, the bettor would receive output signals underneath his/her shirt. The average profit was 44% for every dollar. However, there were problems: in one case the insulation failed and the bettor received electric shocks from the solenoids. But she kept placing bets, so the observer, who in this case was Farmer, left the table, so that the bettor would be forced to leave as well. Afterwards it turned out that the solenoid had burned a hole into her skin. Some members of the group had already left because of trouble juggling the academic schedule with the Eudaemonics, but the burning incident caused the two leaders to disband the group. Collectively they had managed to make about \$10,000.

As a science experiment, the group's objective was accomplished: to prove that there was a way of statistically predicting where a ball would fall in a roulette given some input data.

The Eudaemons were the feature of the book "The Eudaemonic Pie" by Thomas A Bass; the British version of this book was titled "The Newtonian Casino"

This scam is used in the CSI episode No More Bets.

Source

The story of the Eudaemons was featured on the History Channel, in an episode of the Breaking Vegas program.