According to the website I was perusing, found here, it stated that a mathematician named Abraham de Moivre, predicted the date of his own death (using some nonsensical method of when he had slept for 24 hours more than usual).

At the last point of his life, he noted that he slept 15 minutes extra every night then he calculated that he would die on the day that the extra 15 minutes a night accumulated to 24 hours. That day was November 27, 1754, the actual day of his death. He died in London and was buried at St. Martin-in-the-Fields.

I don't believe this at all. Is it true that he predicted his own death, or is this just a myth, invented to make maths seem more interesting to little kiddies?

  • Wikipedia recounts the story, and attributes it to History of Mathematics which repeats the claim on p229 but doesn't provide references. – Oddthinking Jan 10 '13 at 14:13
  • So we can assume it is a myth then? – Kenshin Jan 10 '13 at 14:15
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    While I am skeptical of the claim, I don't think it is entirely implausible. The psychosomatic effect has been demonstrated to be very strong; if he believed in his own prediction strongly enough, he very well could have found a way—consciously or sub-consciously—to fulfill it. – ESultanik Jan 10 '13 at 14:32
  • Yes thanks Esultanik, that is possible, and a very interesting topic in its own. – Kenshin Jan 10 '13 at 14:33
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    I can predict every death with 100% certainty; time and place of those deaths is harder. – matt_black Jan 10 '13 at 18:22

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