All throughout the Sioux Empire this week, stacks and stacks of research material are being analyzed and websites are being scoured all in the hopes of mapping out the perfect game plan for the Super Bowl of retail - Black Friday.

But one of the most essential parts of making sure you scoop up all of the deals you're trying to score is timing. Arriving just a few minutes late could make the difference between a dream Christmas and a holiday nightmare.

So what's the one place you haven't spend much time thinking about but might hold the biggest key to your Black Friday success of failure?

The parking lot.

Believe it or not, the website Mental Floss says a group of physicists has spent the last three years trying to make sure you know the best way to tackle that tangled web of cars the next time you head to the mall.

To devise the best strategy, Sidney Redner of the Santa Fe Institute and Paul Krapivsky of Boston University employed statistical physics to make sense of large systems, simplified the messy dynamics of a parking lot by modeling it with a one-dimensional grid of cells, each representing a parking space. They tested three simple, yet realistic, parking strategies using basic probability theory:

1. The Meek Strategy: These are the drivers that don't waste any time searching for the best spot. They grab the first thing available, regardless of how far they have to walk.

2. The Prudent Strategy: This group goes a bit further that the meek crowd, but stops as soon as they see a parked car and then park in the best open spot between that first open spot and that first parked car.

3. The Optimistic Strategy: It's all about risk and reward for these drivers. The optimists drive as close to the mall as possible and look for a parking space close to the entrance. If they see one, they grab it. If there are none, they backtrack and choose the first open space they see.

So which is the winning strategy? The physicists have even created a video to explain their findings:

So it's Prudent taking it by a neck over-optimistic.

And while the Bible may have the meek inheriting the Earth, on Black Friday, they'll be schlepping a long, long way across a mall parking lot.

Happy shopping!


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