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QI Card Shuffling - 52 Factorial

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Published on Nov 5, 2012

The chances that anyone has ever shuffled a pack of cards in the same way twice in the history of the world are infinitesimally small, statistically speaking. The number of possible permutations of 52 cards is '52 factorial' otherwise known as 52! or 52 shriek. This is 52 times 51 times 50 . . . all the way down to one. Here's what that looks like:
80,658,175,170,943,878,571,660,636,856,4­03,766,
975,289,505,440,883,277,824,000,000,000,­000.

To give you an idea of how many that is, here is how long it would take to go through every possible permutation of cards. If every star in our galaxy had a trillion planets, each with a trillion people living on them, and each of these people has a trillion packs of cards and somehow they manage to make unique shuffles 1,000 times per second, and they'd been doing that since the Big Bang, they'd only just now be starting to repeat shuffles.

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