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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Jesse Anderson and the Infinite Money Theorum

"It was the best of times, it was the BLURST of times?
Stupid Monkey!"
The Infinite Money Theorem states that a million monkeys with a million typewriters, given a million years, will type out all the works of Shakespeare.

About a year ago, a Nevada software developer named Jesse Anderson claimed that a computerized simulation of a typing simian had completed  "A Lover's Complaint," a narrative poem by Shakespeare.

CNN reports that Anderson's virtual monkeys began typing on August 21, 2011. Using open-source software called Hadoop, he created a huge group of "monkeys" that input random strings of gibberish. When a chunk of text matches a word used in Shakespeare's catalogue, it gets crossed off of a database of the plays and poems.

The problem is that this completely misses the point of the theorem. The theorem, at least as applied to the origin of life implies that the words must be in order. The analogy between randomly creating Shakespeare and DNA randomly forming in primordial seas necessitates it, because the argument requires the formation of a complete strand of DNA, not a single segment.

Therefore, the work of Shakespeare produced by the monkeys must also be a complete strand, not individual letters.

Anderson reported that trillions of character combinations have so far been used, but Shakespeare has presumably not yet been reproduced.

However, even if it were, there would be other things to take into account, such as the fact that amino acids are soluble in water. Even if it could have formed in ancient seas, it immediately would have broken up again.

While evolution by natural selection is an adequate explanation of the development of complex life, and it is an explanation that I do accept as truth, we cannot yet explain how that life originated in the first place. Even Richard Dawkins admits this.

But whatever the case, Anderson's virtual monkeys do not prove that such complexity could come about so quickly.


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