Thursday 13 November 2014

The Infinite Potato Salad Theorem

The Infinite Monkey Theorem states that an infinite number of monkeys hitting keys at random on a typewriter for an infinite amount of time will eventually type the complete works of William Shakespeare. (Or some such similarly intimidating tome.)

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions) is 1280 pages.

I've never liked this saying. It's like saying that given an infinite amount of time, an infinite number of potato salads will eventually build the Taj Mahal. Yet there exists no Wikipedia entry for the Infinite Potato Salad Theorem. Surely an oversight.

The Wiki entry on the Infinite Monkey Theorem goes on for about 10 pages of keenly knit mathematical argument which I am now about to disprove with but 3 paragraphs of sloppily conjured  observational fact...

1) The longest lived non-human primate is the Chimpanzee which lives about 50 years. Even given an infinite number of such monkeys, no matter how much progress any single individual might make, you still end up getting only 50 years of service, then you're back to square one.

2) Monkeys are neither smart enough, nor dumb enough to spend any significant fraction of their 50 years mindlessly pounding on a typewriter. I think you'd be better off to put mirrors on the key tops and get a parakeet. It only has a 21-year lifespan but is a much more focused little pecker.

3) Even with such a deadline, monkeys do not have the intestinal fortitude to go 10,000 pages and no amount of hounding from an editor can alter that. Monkeys are used to shit being thrown—it's their comfort zone.

 So there, anonymous internet commenter who said, "William's excerpt is surprisingly readable, proving the old adage that given enough time, a monkey could write War & Peace."

Friends and family, be warned: I suspect you all!

By the way, War And Peace is about 1440 pages long. My novel, The Space Between Thought, will be about 230 pages.

Given the choice, buy my novel and you'll still have time to be with your loved ones.

We've heard that a million monkeys at a million keyboards could produce the complete works of Shakespeare; now, thanks to the Internet, we know that is not true.
~Robert Wilensky 

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