(PhysOrg.com) -- Sometimes you just have to shake your head at some experiments done in the name of science, and go with the flow, or as Jesse Anderson puts it on his blog, “Keep Calm and Carry On.” He’s conducting an experiment, for fun, to see if he can reproduce some part of the old philosophy question of whether putting infinite numbers of monkeys before infinite numbers of typewriters, working indefinitely, would at some point result in the reproduction of the entire works of Shakespeare. Anderson’s efforts have created quite a stir on Internet, though for different reasons. Some see the humor in his approach, others point out how his efforts aren’t really proving anything at all.

Anderson isn’t testing the theory with real monkeys, that whole idea was pretty much laid to rest when researchers a while back gave a group of monkeys a keyboard and after month of effort found they had little more than an affinity for the letter “S” and disdain for modern contrivances (they urinated on it). Instead he’s using virtual monkeys on computers and a mathematical algorithm to pick out letter sequences typed at random.

He started last month, using Amazon's SC2 cloud computing system and has already put together one of the Bard’s poems, though it is difficult to ascertain from the experiment just what exactly is being proved. That typing nine random characters as a group will eventually reproduce a nine letter sequence that duplicates nine letters of something Shakespeare once wrote? That piecing such sequences together will eventually result in the whole work being reproduced? Interesting, but hardly science. But then, Anderson, a homespun programmer, clearly isn’t trying to shake up the world. He’s just trying to have some fun.

What’s perhaps more interesting are the reactions to his efforts from bloggers and reporters for various media and science outlets, especially those that seem to want to point out how proving the theory right or wrong would take more time than we humans will ever have; which seems premature, when you consider that the theory does say something about using an*infinite*number of monkeys after all. Surely using some bit of calculus would show that as the number of monkeys approaches infinity, the number of completed works would be go up pretty quickly as well. Seems to me if you went that route, you could have the whole job done before breakfast. At any rate, the whole point is rather moot, isn’t it? After all, does it really matter if monkeys typing randomly could randomly reproduce anything all? A more important question would seem to be, if you could get monkeys to type, wouldn’t they eventually, given enough time, tell us all what they really think of us and our crazy use of them for our own experimental purposes?

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## fmfbrestel

Infinity rant aside, I thought it was hilarious that someone tried to get actual monkeys to do this and only got a couple pages of the letter S and some destroyed type writers. -- not in this article, but it was fluff on a similar article I read off google news yesterday.

## JimB135

FMfbrestel... I too was laughing at a cage full of monkeys peeing on a some typewriters. That's pretty random.

## pibaw

http://youtu.be/JcSUWP0QNeY

## Rdavid

## Ricochet

10 million years, perhaps?

## fmfbrestel

Idiot. You CANNOT approach infinity. Calculus will not help.

## George_Rodart

## fmfbrestel

George -- yeah, thats the point. It is pointless. He's just got some extra time and money and thought it would be fun to recreate Shakespeare's work using random number generators.

## OverweightAmerican

## Wha_wha_what

Calling someone an idiot got you some downvotes? I'm shocked!

## Ricochet

## cmn

Maybe you've heard the saying: you can't teach a dog physics. By the same notion, maybe we're just not wired to go beyond a certain capacity.

So, making a computer crunch out certain works by chance alone is pointless to the nature of the "theory."

## YummyFur

## Mercury_02

## fmfbrestel

That said, you could put every monkey that has ever existed in front of a typewriter for the entire duration of his life, and you would probably not even get a paragraph of Shakespeare. And if this guy wasn't generating 9 digits and checking to see if they fit ANYWHERE in the text, he wouldnt be anywhere close either.

## aroc91

No. This is an artificial selection model. If words are generated that are in the story, they stay. Eventually, it collects all the words in the story. There are a finite number of words.

## Shakescene21

## Isaacsname

## Mayday

I'm tellin' ya, play it straight like everyone else does. There's a sucker born every infinity.

## Ricochet

## kuntur2k

## xznofile

## CHollman82

No, you cannot LITERALLY approach infinity, but the person who said it originally did not mean it to be taken literally, more as a figure of speech.

You cannot approach infinity because if you start counting 1, 2, 3... you might say you are approaching infinity but you are not, because regardless of what number you count to you are always the same distance away from infinity... you are always infinite distance away from infinity.

## CHollman82

It's much simpler than that.

Anything that can possibly be stored on a computer and therefore encoded in binary, can be arrived at simply by counting.

Say for example you want to make every possible combination of a 2x2 black and white image, you can calculate the number of possibilities by determining the bit length necessary to represent ONE such image and then raising 2 to that power. So if you know a 2x2x2 (2x2 B&W) image requires 1 bit per pixel * 4 pixels you know ONE such image can be represented in 4 bits (ignoring file format headers and stuff). So if you take 2^4 you have the total number of POSSIBLE images of that format, which is 16...

## CHollman82

But who cares about a tiny black and white image? Say you want to find the total number of images that can be represented in 1920x1080 HD resolution with a 24bit color depth? You do the same thing, determine how many bits it takes to represent that image and raise 2 to that power. 1920x1080 pixels is 2,073,600 pixels times 24 bits per pixel = 49,766,400... so 2^49,766,400 is the TOTAL number of images that can be represented at HD resolution. That's a HUGE number, but the important thing to note is that it is finite and the entire set can be generated by nothing more than COUNTING.... Think about what it means to be able to generate all possible images at HD resolution... you would have pictures of everyone who will ever exist in all possible...

## CHollman82

poses, all possible outfits, all possible hair styles etc... but not only that you will have images of everyTHING that will ever exist, of every vehicle that will ever be invented, of every building that will ever be built, of every animal that will ever evolve into existence. Furthermore, you will have images of all those things that will NEVER exists as well. You will have every possible image of every possible thing that could ever possibly exist... and the number is NOT infinite, it is finite, due to the resolution restriction.

This is just images, but e-books, music, movies, etc are all stored in binary and could all be generated in exactly the same way. A music file of a certain bitrate and a certain length is a certain number of bytes and every possible one that could ever exist could be generated by an algorithm as simple as:

for(x = 0; x < BITLENGTH; x*)

{

Save_X();

}

*physorg won't accept the plus plus here for some reason...