Monkey Writing Paper

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Thomas Huxley, a 19th-century scientist with the brilliant nickname “Darwin’s Bulldog”, is responsible for the famous theory.

It says that six eternal monkeys or apes typing on six eternal typewriters with unlimited amounts of paper and ink could eventually produce a Psalm, a Shakespearean sonnet, or even a whole book, purely by chance.

The (albeit tongue-in-cheek) experiment was to test the old saw : If you gave an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters, would they eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare?

After six months, the monkeys failed to produce a single word of English, broken the computer and used the keyboard as a lavatory.

The Plymouth experiment was part of the Vivaria Project, which plans to install computers in zoos across Europe to study differences between animal and artificial life.

Phillips said the experiment showed that monkeys "are not random generators."Obviously, English isn't their first language."A group of faculty and students in the university's media program left a computer in the monkey enclosure at Paignton Zoo in southwest England, home to six Sulawesi crested macaques. At first, said Phillips, "the lead male got a stone and started bashing the hell out of it."Another thing they were interested in was in defecating and urinating all over the keyboard," added Phillips, who runs the university's Institute of Digital Arts and Technologies.Eventually, monkeys Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan produced five pages of text, composed primarily of the letter S. Phillips said the project, funded by England's Arts Council rather than by scientific bodies, was intended more as performance art than scientific experiment.The £2,000 was spent on setting up a radio link to live stream the activities in the enclosure.“Compared to the cost of reality TV, this was a tiny pinch of money,” Phillips said.“It provided very stimulating and fascinating viewing.”Ultimately the monkeys may have fallen prey to the distractions which curse many novelists.In their case, it was climbing frames, ropes and toys.The notion that monkeys typing at random will eventually produce literature is often attributed to Thomas Huxley, a 19th-century scientist who supported Charles Darwin's theories of evolution.Mathematicians have also used it to illustrate concepts of chance.Electrodes were implanted to the monkey’s heads in the area where the primary motor cortex is located - an area of the brain that controls movement - and then to the severed limb.For two of the animals, the electrodes were placed on the opposite side to the amputated arm, and for the other monkey the electrode was on the same side as the injury.They're more complex than that."They were quite interested in the screen, and they saw that when they typed a letter, something happened.Back in 2003, Plymouth University students received £2,000 from the Arts Council to give six monkeys one computer and four weeks to get creative.


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