People first started talking about the Normal Distribution nearly 300 years ago. The scientific community used their understanding of the Normal Curve to model and give meaning to the results of their experiments.
Today, we owe much of our modern technology and modern world to the discoveries made possible by the Normal Curve. Could you imagine your life without a cellphone, or without the Internet? Could you imagine a world without safe cars? Could you imagine a world without vaccines, or a world where the medicine is as dangerous as the disease?
This story competition asks you to tell a story that happens in this alternative reality, where the Normal Curve had not been discovered. What if the Normal Curve was a secret? Would those who held it use it for good or evil? Let your imagination run wild in a world where chance was yet to be tamed! (see The Taming of Chance, by Ian Hacking for more information, and to get a glimpse into the inspiration for this competition).
What is clear, beyond all scholasticism is this:
The taming of chance and the erosion of determinism constitute one of the most revolutionary changes in the history of the human mind. I use the word ‘revolutionary’ not as a scholar but as a speaker of common English. If that change is not revolutionary, nothing is. That is the real justification for talk of a Probabilistic Revolution 1800-1930.
The $2000 cash prize be awarded to the author of the best written submission (as determined by the competition judges) which answers the question, "What would our world be like if the Normal Curve had never been discovered".
Submission Deadline: June 15, 2015
A series of three $500 cash prizes be awarded to the authors of the best written submissions (as determined by the competition judges) which answer the question, "What would our world be like if the Normal Curve had never been discovered".
Final Submission Deadline: June 15, 2015
Restrictions: Must be under the age of 26 years old to apply
In roughly 1000 words, create a world where the normal curve had never been discovered and imagine how life would be like. The absence of the normal curve might not be discussed in the story, so to clarify how it had an impact, it may be useful to include a short explanation for how the work connects. For an example of what our judges consider to be a quality piece, please see The Law, by Robert M Coates (The New Yorker).
All entries are eligible for the $1500 youth prize pool and the $2000 grand prize, subject to terms and conditions.
The Taming of Chance Story Competition is administered by the the Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences' MathEd Forum in partnership with Vretta, a Toronto-based educational media studio.
The Grand Prize consists of a single $2000 CAD prize, awarded to the best story at the end of the competition, regardless of age.
The Youth Prize consists of 3 awards of $500 CAD ($1500 total). Winners will be selected according to posted competition deadlines. The youth prize is for all entrants below the age of 26. Winners of the Youth Prize are also eligible for the Grand Prize.
The primary contact (whose email is provided in the submission form) of the winning group will be contacted and receive the full prize mount. The organizing committee, judges, and sponsors take no responsibility for the distribution of prize winnings among the group, nor for the resolution of any related dispute which may arise.
Winners will be highlighted on the contest websites and communications and via interviews. Honorable mentions/runners-up will be highlighted on the Fields Institute website and other publications.
All entries will be reviewed by the selection committee and a final judging panel will use the initial scores to identify the winners and honorable mentions.
The selection process will emphasize the story's (1) insightfulness, (2) cultural impact, as well as (3) the story's ability to draw attention to the competition question ("What would the world be like if the normal curve had not been discovered"). Participants are encouraged to post their work on public platforms such as Youtube, Wattpad, Tumblr, and Twitter that allow for viewing, sharing, liking, and remixing of their story. This will help to promote the cultural impact of the work, which is a key criteria in the selection of the prize-winners. The selection committee will be looking at factors such as Likes, Views, Tweets, Comments and Favorites in their determination of cultural impact of the work.
Group submissions are permitted. There is no limit on team size. The first name listed in the group will be deemed to be the group leader and in the case of a prize winning, would be the recipient of the cash prize.
Submissions by minors should include an adult (such as a teacher). If this adult did not significantly contribute to the work, they can be deemed a non-participating member of the group so that the submission qualifies for the Youth Prize.
Participants and groups are encouraged to submit only quality entries. If an entrant submits multiple entries, the selection committee may decide to review only a portion of a participant or group that has submitted several entries.
Non-English submissions must be accompanied by a translated transcript for consideration.
All participants who are legally permitted to participate in this competition are welcome to participate. Minors must provide contact information for an adult (such as a parent or teacher) to which the prize will be sent.
To qualify for the Youth Prize, all participants in the group (excluding non-participating adults) must be under the age of 26 years. Entrants who fall outside of this age bracket still qualify for the Grand Prize.
Employees, officers and representatives (and members of their immediate families and those living in the same household of each) of Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences, or Vretta, their parents, subsidiaries and affiliated companies, advertising and promotion agencies and any company involved in the design, execution, production or judging of this promotion (“contest entities”) are ineligible. Void where prohibited.
By submitting an entry, you agree to irrevocably license your Work under Creative Commons Attribution (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/). This allows any individual, company, or organization to copy, distribute and transmit your work, create derivative works, or make commercial use of your work. You will retain the right to receive clear attribution in all such uses. You will also retain the right to create derivative works using the plot or characters in your story, and licensing such works under more restrictive terms.
By submitting an entry, you are stating the work is an original creation and that all contributors to the work have been willing participants. You agree that you have, within the best of your ability, ensured that your work does not contain any material that infringes other copyrights (for example, by using music or images from copyright protected works).
The Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences is under no obligation to publish or display your work.
The MathEd Forum at The Fields Insitute for Research in Mathematical Sciences is the principal organizer of this competition. The grand prize is sponsored by private donations celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Fields Institute.
The American Statistical Association is sponsoring the $1500 Youth Cash Prize.
Vretta is a key organizer for this competition.
Thanks to Ian Hacking for his inspirational writing in "The Taming of Chance".
Special thanks to our individual contributors.