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05.12.03.4:47 pm

Monkeys are not random

Always and never are two words you should always remember never to use.

-- Wendell Johnson

Give an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters, the theory goes, and they will eventually produce the works of Shakespeare. Give six monkeys one computer for a month, and they will make a mess.

Researchers at Plymouth University in England reported this week that primates left alone with a computer attacked the machine and failed to produce a single word.

In a project intended more as performance art than scientific experiment, 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.

Then, they waited.

At first 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.

Eventually, monkeys Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan produced five pages of text, composed primarily of the letter S. Later, the letters A, J, L and M crept in.



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