Scientists Claim Key To Lady Luck's Door

Lost at cards lately? Slammed a car door on your finger? Gotten into a blimp accident? Chance had nothing to do with it, say a group of Moscow scientists who believe they have discovered a scientific method for predicting good and bad luck.

"Good luck and bad luck are determined by external forces of nature," said physicist and journalist Igor Tsarev, one of several authors of a book called "Wheel of Fortune," which is due to be released in Russia this fall. "They are not completely random phenomena."

Tsarev, who writes a science column for "Trud," is part of a large group of Moscow journalists and scientists who call themselves the "Phenomenon Commission." The group, formed in 1986, was initially dedicated to propagandizing ecological issues in the perestroika era, but has grown over the years into a network which investigates everything from perpetual motion machines to zombification to its current subject, luck.

Led by Moscow physicist Mikhail Sarichev, the group began its "Fortuna" project two years ago with the aim of finding a link between luck and measurable physical properties of the universe.

According to Tsarev, the group found that there are certain indicators, among them the speed at which different elements and salts dissolve in water, which fluctuate slightly independent of any known physical explanation.

They further found, Tsarev claims, that those fluctuations often coincide with increased or decreased luck. For instance, if salts are dissolving faster in Moscow than they are in, say, Paris, then Moscow is more likely to find a winner in a big lottery jackpot and less likely to suffer a natural disaster.

By way of explanation, he said that the group's research showed that good luck was an anti-entropic, that is anti-chaotic, phenomenon. He said the group believes that there are unknown "poles" of nature which periodically accelerate and retard the tendency of all matter to degrade into a chaotic state -- affecting processes like the dissolving of salts and making, along the way, good and bad runs of luck.

Tsarev, who was loath to go into detail about his methods, readily admits that the group's theory sounds absurd.

"I'm sure that no one will believe us, but we're really not concerned about that," he said. "I think in any case they will start paying attention when we show them instruments that will predict good or bad luck."

He claims that the group will unveil instruments in the fall which detect the chemical composition of the atmosphere and of people to predict luck.

"Come fall, we will unveil an instrument which we can aim at people and in this way determine what their chances are at roulette that evening," he said.

Anticipating uneven performance by his machines, however, Tsarev has already issued a disclaimer.

"If a person has a one in a million chance of not dying when he jumps out of a window, and we tell him that at a certain time he has a 100 in a million chance, he still shouldn't jump," he said, smiling.

He also apologized in advance for some of the less socially beneficial results of his group's study.

"We found that drunk people are luckier than sober people," he said. "We don't know why exactly yet, but it's in our lab results. But I still don't recommend drinking."