Imagine leaving a monkey alone in a room with nothing but a typewriter. In most instances, you might observe it inspect the contraption, then toss it carelessly against the wall (many humans might do the same under similar circumstances). Maybe in 10 recreations of this event, the typewriter is destroyed every single time. But with every recreation of this scenario and the unpredictable nature of monkeys, whether it’s the 10th time or 110th recreation, a monkey will eventually hit the keys of the typewriter as the device is intended to be used.


Hypothetical Monkey, 2019.

The desired outcome may not be immediate, you may not witness it in your lifetime, but the belief that it will never occur, is mathematically impossible. The means to achieve the outcome are possible, its only a matter of time, a matter of rolling the dice, over and over and over and over again, possibly times ∞.

That is not the Infinite Monkey Theorem, put forward by Émile Borel in 1913. The Infinite Monkey Theorem suggests a hypothetical situation where you have found a monkey (or even an ∞ amount of monkeys also, to speed up the variations), that is not only eternally interested in randomly striking the keys of a typewriter, but also an immortal. The monkey alike the experiment are completely unscathed by time and space. Our universe may/will not be as old as this experiment may/will go on.

This monkey does not sleep and does not eat. Eternally striking the keys of a typewriter for an infinite amount of time. Minute by minute, hour by hour, as the days turn into years and the years into centuries. Thousands of years fly by only to be followed by millions, then billions of years. But the monkey keeps typing, as it always had and may always do so.

So what is the monkey capable of randomly coming up with?

According to Émile Borel’s theory, as the variable outcomes stack up exponentially with the possibilities that infinity provides, eventually a monkey would write an entire page of comprehensible English. By the same logic, eventually a monkey would also type out the complete works of William Shakespeare, possibly the greatest human writer to ever exist.

In one computer simulation of this experiment carried out in 2004 by Dan Oliver of Scottsdale, Arizona, he discovered that after 42, 162, 500, 000 billion, billion years, one of the hypothetical monkeys typed:

“VALENTINE. Cease toIdor:eFLP0FRjWK78aXzVOwm)-‘;8.t”

Nineteen consecutive keystrokes that appear in Shakespeare’s ‘The Two Gentlemen of Verona’.

Another simulation was conducted by the website ‘The Monkey Shakespeare Simulator’, in 2003. Where after 2, 737, 850 million, billion, billion, billion years a simulated monkey typed:

“RUMOUR. Open your ears; 9r”5j5&?OWTY Z0d”

Identically matching twenty-four characters from ‘Henry IV, Part 2’.

It’s difficult for most of us to even contemplate the existence of a number like 2, 737, 850 million, billion, billion, billion. But as mind-numbing as it is to try (for me at least) that number doesn’t even scratch the tip of the iceberg with ∞. Even that reference is flawed, because the iceberg has a limitation to its size. Infinity has no limitations, it’s always beyond reach. By its very nature, it can have no end. It goes on eternally.

There are some, who believe that the Infinite Monkey Theorem is not purely limited to a hypothetical textual outcome. Throughout recent history in science-fiction literature the concept of infinite realities has been explored. The very instant the term ‘infinite’ is applied, then too, endless possibilities must also apply. Just as the endless variables have been addressed in reference to the Infinite Monkey Theorem. Which suggests there are infinite, slight variations of all things even remotely conceivable (or inconceivable! to quote Vizzini from the Princess Bride) throughout various realities or dimensions.

What this could mean, is that there is a reality exactly like this one, only 1 second behind our version of “time”. Then there is another reality, which is 1 second behind that second reality. This could go on infinitely, creating a relative constant of every moment of your (and my) existence, which actually lasts for an infinite amount of time collectively. Meaning, among other things, every second of every one of our existences is perpetually being lived in an incessant and infinite loop throughout the dimensions. That is one version of an infinite possible variations of realities.

Is there any link between the outcomes, the variations of events? Who knows. By the theory alone, no, there is not. Merely independent outcomes from purely random lines that have some significance to us, as humans. But mathematically, there is no sentimentality to any of this. There is no significant meaning or reason, it is merely the summation of all outcomes. Some of which just happen to mean something to us. But there are also an infinite amount of outcomes that mean absolutely nothing to us.

Whose to say definitely what (or who) controls the vicissitudes of fate? Or more puzzling still, why anything exists in the first place?

Que será, será,
Whatever will be, will be.

5 thoughts on “ᴛʜᴇ INFINITE MONKEY THEOREM

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