Science & Technology
Could a monkey really write the complete works of Shakespeare?
By T.K. Randall
February 14, 2022 · 15 comments
Probably not. Image Credit: Pixabay / Gellinger
It is said that, given enough time, a monkey with a typewriter could reproduce everything ever written.
Known as the infinite monkey theorem, this age-old mathematical quandary has been debated for years - could a monkey with a typewriter, if given an infinite amount of time, really come up with the complete works of Shakespeare ?
The idea behind this is fairly simple - the monkey is little more than a metaphor for any mechanism capable of producing random strings of letters - it doesn't have to be a literal monkey.
Of course the likelihood of a monkey (or a random-string generator) actually achieving such a feat is unimaginably small, however it is not entirely zero, despite being incredibly unlikely to happen.
Over the years, researchers have attempted to simulate the concept using computers, however in the best case scenario, it took the system 42,162,500,000 billion billion (simulated) years to produce even a couple of words from one of Shakespeare's plays.
In 2001 researchers at the University of Plymouth took things one step further by conducting the experiment using actual monkeys from England's Paignton Zoo.
A keyboard was placed inside the enclosure and left there for one month.
The results at the end of the experiment were dismal to say the least, with the monkeys having successfully produced a grand total of one vowel and long strings of the letter 's'.
Several of the monkeys even opted to throw their own excrement at it.
Suffice to say, no Shakespeare was forthcoming.
Source: IFL Science
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