A Million Monkeys Typing Shakespeare
A programmer from Nevada is testing the old probability axiom that a million monkeys on a million typewriters would eventually compose the complete works of William Shakespeare.
What's the Latest Development?
Computer programmer from Nevada Jesse Anderson has written a simulation of one million monkeys typing away on one million typewriters to see if they will scribe a Shakespeare play. "Recapitulating Shakespeare at random can be done in a number of ways. The simplest, and most difficult manner, involves adding a single random character at a time, just as a monkey on a typewriter would. If the monkey ever hits the wrong key, the whole work gets thrown out, even if the previous thousand were correct." Anderson, however, has simplified the monkey's work.
What's the Big Idea?
Beyond an experiment in probability, Anderson's program approximates the evolutionary process, according to the outspoken English biologist Richard Dawkins. "The random typing of characters is considered to be analogous to the results of random mutation. But Dawkins adds a new step, analogous to natural selection: if any of the letters are right, they're retained as 'fit.'" Given that Shakespeare's string of letters "Methinks it is like a weasel" is one combination of a possible 1.2 x 1040 combinations, we do not yet have the computing power to reproduce the Bard's works.
Malcolm Gladwell teaches "Get over yourself and get to work" for Big Think Edge.
- Learn to recognize failure and know the big difference between panicking and choking.
- At Big Think Edge, Malcolm Gladwell teaches how to check your inner critic and get clear on what failure is.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
Can sensitive coral reefs survive another human generation?
- Coral reefs may not be able to survive another human decade because of the environmental stress we have placed on them, says author David Wallace-Wells. He posits that without meaningful changes to policies, the trend of them dying out, even in light of recent advances, will continue.
- The World Wildlife Fund says that 60 percent of all vertebrate mammals have died since just 1970. On top of this, recent studies suggest that insect populations may have fallen by as much as 75 percent over the last few decades.
- If it were not for our oceans, the planet would probably be already several degrees warmer than it is today due to the emissions we've expelled into the atmosphere.
They didn't know it, but the rituals of Iron Age Scandinavians turned their iron into steel.
- Iron Age Scandinavians only had access to poor quality iron, which put them at a tactical disadvantage against their neighbors.
- To strengthen their swords, smiths used the bones of their dead ancestors and animals, hoping to transfer the spirit into their blades.
- They couldn't have known that in so doing, they actually were forging a rudimentary form of steel.
Michael Dowling, Northwell Health's CEO, believes we're entering the age of smart medicine.
- The United States health care system has much room for improvement, and big tech may be laying the foundation for those improvements.
- Technological progress in medicine is coming from two fronts: medical technology and information technology.
- As information technology develops, patients will become active participants in their health care, and value-based care may become a reality.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.