Intelligent Design

Infinite Monkeys (or Close Enough) Are Now Typing

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I thought GilDodgen’s June 10 post about the odds of writing a simple computer program by chance was very interesting. It put me in mind of the old “infinite monkey theory.” You know the one: “If infinite monkeys were typing on infinite typewriters, sooner or later they would type out the complete works of the Bard. I googled it and found this site http://user.tninet.se/~ecf599g/aardasnails/java/Monkey/webpages/index.html that is testing it out. They have a random number generator simulating the monkeys. When I looked they had typed 8.91 raised to the 71st power of pages, and the most they had been able to get was 37 letters from Shakespeare.

See this site now: http://everything2.com/title/Monkey+Shakespeare+Simulator

16 Replies to “Infinite Monkeys (or Close Enough) Are Now Typing

  1. 1
    ajl says:

    they are doing better than I’d thought. If it were real monkeys, they would probably just throw extrement at the typewriters!

  2. 2
    TomG says:

    It will take decades for this monkey business to depart the mythology of science.

  3. 3
    zapatero says:

    Don’t underestimate the power of infinity. If infinite monkeys were typing on infinite typewriters, they would produce the works of Shakespeare immediately.

  4. 4
  5. 5
    saxe17 says:

    ajl,

    It appears you are correct. “Another thing they were interested in was in defecating and urinating all over the keyboard” said Mike Phillips. Bevets’ link http://www.biblicalcreation.or.....cs132.html appears to confirm your suspicions.

    Saxe

  6. 6
    Patrick says:

    Of course it must be kept in mind that it’s only a pseudorandom generator…

  7. 7
    johnnyb says:

    I’m very impressed. I wouldn’t have thought they would be able to get much beyond 10-20 letters.

  8. 8
    leebowman says:

    “If infinite monkeys were typing on infinite typewriters, they would produce the works of Shakespeare immediately”

    Of course, and both forward and backward, and in all languages. They would also type an infinite number of copies of every other text in existence (including comic books and phone directories), and these both forward and backward and in all languages. The number of typewriters would also exceed the number of atoms and sub-atomic particles in the universe.

    Speaking of infinity, if a line has a beginning but no end, is it shorter than another line with no beginning or end? Infinity is a term that exists in mathematics, but not in the real world. You could say that there are an infinite number of points on a circle, but not really. For that to be true, they would need to be infinitely small (zero width).

    The monkey thing was dreamed up to bolster evolutionary thought, but it fails to do that. Not only are the odds larger than particles in the universe, but even if logical sentences, pages, and chapters are produced, there is no real analogy to the same thing happening with DNA to produce lifeforms, due to the limitations of RM+NS, IMO.

    But it is a fun page anyhow!

  9. 9
    zapatero says:

    leebowman writes:
    “The monkey thing was dreamed up to bolster evolutionary thought, but it fails to do that. Not only are the odds larger than particles in the universe, but even if logical sentences, pages, and chapters are produced, there is no real analogy to the same thing happening with DNA to produce lifeforms, due to the limitations of RM+NS, IMO.”

    There is no evidence that the “monkey thing” was invented to support evolution. It seems to have been developed to make a point about statistical mechanics, and was later adopted by creationists as an easy strawman to dismember.

    Natural selection, being highly nonrandom, is not analogous to the monkey scenario.

  10. 10
    johnnyb says:

    “There is no evidence that the “monkey thing” was invented to support evolution. It seems to have been developed to make a point about statistical mechanics, and was later adopted by creationists as an easy strawman to dismember.”

    If anyone wants to trace this attribution, a post at the ASA indicates that in at least one instance the attribution to TH Huxley came from the book Mysterious Universe in 1930. If anyone wants to research it, the book is currently on sale at ebay. If anyone purchases the book, I’d love for you to mail me and tell me what it says.

  11. 11
    Lurker says:

    “Speaking of infinity, if a line has a beginning but no end, is it shorter than another line with no beginning or end? Infinity is a term that exists in mathematics, but not in the real world. You could say that there are an infinite number of points on a circle, but not really. For that to be true, they would need to be infinitely small (zero width).”

    I agree and think most people don’t think this stuff through. They assume real infinities in the physical world exist because it’s in all the math books. Imaginary numbers are in math books too.

  12. 12
    bFast says:

    Isn’t this entire discussion about the nature of infinity tightly associated with Dembski’s Universal Probability Bound? Though I think that some of the hypotheses that Dembski presents in the context of UPB are open to being challenged, the general concept of “this is the point of rediculous”, that if something is less likely than some majic number it is safe to say it didn’t happen by chance, is a necessary concept. Alas, even this, Dembski’s most basic premise, seems to be rejected by the biological community. It seem that the biological community recognizes that if they admit to a ‘point of rediculous’ the current theory will be ridiculed.

  13. 13
    Mung says:

    Natural selection, being highly nonrandom, is not analogous to the monkey scenario.

    You don’t think that providing typewriters to the monkeys rather than pencils and erasers makes the results highly non-random?

  14. 14
    russ says:

    “You don’t think that providing typewriters to the monkeys rather than pencils and erasers makes the results highly non-random?

    Comment by Mung — June 16, 2006 @ 12:35 pm”

    Why even provide pencils and erasers? Given an infinite number of monkeys, surely some would eventually chop down a tree to build the body of a pencil, while others would stumble onto the manufacturing process necessary to produce long, skinny shafts of graphite.

  15. 15
    DaveScot says:

    You’re all wrong. An infinite number of monkeys would weigh enough to collapse into a black hole and they’d all be dead.

  16. 16
    terrylmirll says:

    In order for Huxley’s (yes, it WAS Huxley’s) infinite monkey analogy to have even the remotest chance of plausibility, you have to have three elements:
    1. An infinite number of monkeys
    2. An infinite number of typewriters
    3. An infinite amount of time.

    Since there’s no identifiable law of nature stating why the works of Shakespeare must exist, and since the Darwinists need to exclude design as a mode of causation, else, to quote Richard Lewontin, “allow a Divine foot in the door,” the only means the Darwinists have of explaining things that “appear” designed is chance. Thus they have to adhere to looney appeals to random events to explain an otherwise ordered universe.

    The problems with the ininite monkeys analogy, however, are obvious. There is no such thing as an infinite number of monkeys. There is no such thing as an infinite number of typewriters. And, as has been clearly demonstrated by Big Bang cosmology, THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO SUCH THING AS AN INFINITE AMOUNT OF TIME. Sorry, Huxley, three strikes and you’re out.

    Excellent! -ds

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