Calculating odds
An 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck off the northeast coast of Japan on Friday, shaking office buildings in Tokyo and setting off a devastating tsunami that swept away cars and boats in northeastern Japan. The quake struck at 2.46 p.m. local time. The ensuing tsunami is affecting the United States, with waves reaching the coasts of California and Oregon. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is prepared to respond to the tsunami effects, should they reach disaster levels.
The odds that a federally declared disaster is an earthquake are 1 in 115 in the United States.

There are Web sites dedicated to everyday odds, scientists have published books on the subject, and a Web series crunches the numbers for those with a pressing need to know exactly where they stand.

Lightning strikes

Being struck by lightning can affect a person mentally, physically, emotionally or worse.

Meteorite hits

A meteorite is an object from space, usually made of these materials, that survives impact with the earth's surface.

Plane crash

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Shark attack

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Royal flush

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Winning the lottery

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Car accidents

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Four-leaf clover

For superstitious types, the four-leaf clover can help ward off bad omens, or help find these good ones.

Pearl in an oyster

Diamonds may be a girl's best friend, but for a unique gift, a pearl-filled Pinctada is hard to beat.

Giving birth to twins

Having twins can mean double the trouble, double the noise and double the parental pride when they're successful.


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Identity theft

The Federal Trade Commission estimates this many Americans have their personal info stolen each year. Thieves can strike in public or online.

Killer tornadoes

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