Monday, July 07, 2008

This Experiment's Margin of Error: 9%*

(From Left to Right: Me, Fr. Paul, Andy, Jessica, Jesse, Vivi, Brian, Erica, David's friend, and David. Missing from photo: Junior.)

In a crowd of 30,000 people, what are the chances of finding all your friends, if given the use of a cell phone? Tonight's study--while very time consuming--proved the answer to be approximately 91%.

Of course, I'm not certain that 30,000 people was the actual headcount; but, seeing as how there were 46,000 in the Washington Nationals Stadium when I went there in April to see the Pope, I think I could correctly say that there were just a few less.

Jessica (#1) was first to hold down Meeting Spot #1. She was there two-and-a-half hours before the rest of rest of us, most likely due to sheer excitement. Andy (#2) was next to arrive on the scene, but by then Jessica had wandered away. Erica (#3) found Andy without ever having met him before based solely on a description; and, when Fr. Paul (#4) and I (#5) arrived, Vivi (#6) and Brian (#7) were only 15 minutes behind us.

The six of us (that's seven minus one, remember) then traveled to Meeting Spot #2 and began the painstaking search for Person #8. He was elusive for quite a while, so while Vivi spearheaded the effort to find him, I went to work hoping to re-find Person #1.

After a lot of confusion and cell phone calls later, both Persons #1 and #8 had joined us, and then it was time to seek out Persons #9 and #10 at Meeting Spot #3.

By the time we successfully located David and his friend and plopped our blankets down, the sky was black and the fireworks were just beginning. Two hours of searching unfortunately made nobody willing to then find Person #11 at Meeting Spot #4, but thankfully Jesse has his own posse to sit with and was very understanding. The whole ordeal was all worth it, for there were two moments where my eyes beheld the most beautiful, bejeweled, fireworks-encrusted skyline that I had ever seen in my whole life.

Concluding this study was almost as time-consuming as doing it. It took another hour or two just to exit the park, and instead of waiting in the endless line of non-moving cars, Persons #2, #3, and #4 hung out in my car and we blared some Christian hip-hop until the lot and the roads just about completely cleared.

* Yes, I realize that I misused the real definition of a margin of error in the title of this blog, for the margin of error in an experiment is not the failure rate of the treatment but instead the failure rate of the study itself.. But oh well. School's not in session right now. ;-)