We Must Become Comfortable with Large Numbers

Borel makes the amusing supposition of a million monkeys allowed to play upon the keys of a million typewriters. What is the chance that this wanton activity should reproduce exactly all of the volumes which are contained in the library of the British Museum? It certainly is not a large chance, but it may be roughly calculated, and proves in fact to be considerably larger than the chance that a mixture of oxygen and nitrogen will separate into the two pure constituents. After we have learned to estimate such minute chances, and after we have overcome our fear of numbers which are very much larger or very much smaller than those ordinarily employed, we might proceed to calculate the chance of still more extraordinary occurrences, and even have the boldness to regard the living cell as a result of random arrangement and rearrangement of its atoms. However, we cannot but feel that this would be carrying extrapolation too far. This feeling is due not merely to a recognition of the enormous complexity of living tissue but to the conviction that the whole trend of life, the whole process of building up more and more diverse and complex structures, which we call evolution, is the very opposite of that which we might expect from the laws of chance.


In order to understand why a million monkey on a million typewriters might produce a great work of art.

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Complexity (0.907557): dbpedia | freebase | opencyc
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 The Anatomy of Science
Books, Brochures, and Chapters>Book:  Lewis , Gilbert Newton (2011-08), The Anatomy of Science, Nabu Press, Retrieved on 2012-06-11
  • Source Material [books.google.com]


    26 MAR 2013

     Millions of Monkeys on Millions of Typewriters

    We Must Become Comfortable with Large Numbers > Example/Illustration > π in Base-26 Will Produce All the Works of Shakespeare
    What are the chances they will produce great works of art? Not impossible; although, very remote, there is still a chance.