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If you sit sufficient monkeys in front of sufficient typewriters and give them sufficient time, eventually their random banging will reproduce the works of Shakespeare.

Thus asserts the Infinite Monkey Theorem, a thought experiment that considers the possibility that a cumulation of random events will eventually produce something of great meaning. Nobody really expects a bunch of small furry primates to come out with poetry that will sing to the soul… and that, according to new research, is probably just as well.

Mathematicians Stephen Woodcock and Jay Falletta of the University of Technology Sydney in Australia have crunched the numbers, and determined that there won't be enough time in the entire estimated lifespan of the Universe for monkeys to accidentally hammer out a sequence of key-presses that matches Hamlet.

"The Infinite Monkey Theorem only considers the infinite limit, with either an infinite number of monkeys or an infinite time period of monkey labor," Woodcock explains. "We decided to look at the probability of a given string of letters being typed by a finite number of monkeys within a finite time period consistent with estimates for the lifespan of our Universe."

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