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Usenet Newsgroups : rec.puzzles Hall of Fame

The rec.puzzles Hall of Fame is a compilation of over 500 of the most popular puzzles that have been posted and discussed in the rec.puzzles newsgroup. In most cases a detailed solution has been provided.

Many of these puzzles also appear in Braingle's own collection.

Hall of Fame
Categories : probability : reactor.p

There is a reactor in which a reaction is to take place. This reaction
stops if an electron is present in the reactor. The reaction is started
with 18 positrons; the idea being that one of these positrons would
combine with any incoming electron (thus destroying both). Every
second, exactly one particle enters the reactor and does not leave it.
The probablity that this particle is an electron is 0.49 and that it is
a positron is 0.51.

What is the probability that the reaction would go on for ever?

Note: Once the reaction stops, it cannot restart.

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