Monday, April 16, 2007

Give a Hundred Monkeys a Hundred Typewriters and What Will Happen?

You know the old saying, give a hundred monkeys a hundred typewriters, and eventually they will type all the works of Shakespeare. OK, for those of you wondering what would really happen, they actually did a scientific study on this in England, using six macaques. What happened was this:

The alpha male bashed hell out of the computer with a stone and the other monkeys did little else but urinate and defecate on the keyboard. Nevertheless, the monkeys did produce the equivalent of five pages of type with a predilection for the letter S. One researcher said that proved the monkeys were not hitting the keyboard at random, so were part of the way towards literacy. Defending the expenditure, a lecturer said the filmed experiment made very stimulating and fascinating viewing and was cheaper to produce than reality TV, but there was no sign of Shakespeare.

Maybe I find this so funny because I live surrounded by monkeys, and no, you silly person, I don't mean my students. I mean real monkeys, long tailed macaques and dusky leaf monkeys. After having watched them in action, I am surprised they didn't start ripping the computer apart, and trying to eat the components!

For those optimistic types, you have a better chance of winning the lottery a hundred times in a row, than the monkeys typing even one line of Shakespeare. So start buying your tickets now!