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Author Topic: New column: well, not really
Chris Bridges
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See, I've been working really strange hours the last few weeks - we had a night editor and a daytime design person quit the same week, a third of our online work force, so I've been working days and nights to help train both new people - and then I had Monday off for the holiday, and what with all the catch-up stuff I had waiting for me Tuesday morning I managed to completely forget that I was supposed to write a column until I came into work today and noticed it wasn't there. Argh!

But I don't want to leave you hanging. So here's most of a column I started to write and then set aside. I was having fun writing it but current events kept coming up and now the subject's over a year old, so instead I'll see what you guys come up with. It's unfinished, rough draft, and I planned on adding more examples.

A finite number of monkey research grants
By C. A. Bridges

"Ford!" he said, "there's an infinite number of monkeys outside who want to talk to us about this script for Hamlet they've worked out."
--Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy

It has long been said that an infinite number of monkeys, banging away on an infinite number of typewriters, could eventually produce the complete works of Shakespeare. This has yet to be proven.

But researchers at Plymouth University in England took six monkeys, gave them a computer, and, after only a single month, proved that there isn't anything too silly to be considered a scientific experiment.

Last year, allegedly sober students and faculty from the university's media program stuck a computer in the monkey house at Paignton Zoo to let six Sulawesi crested macaques interact with it in meaningful and, it was hoped, literary ways. The primates' first reaction -- one that will strike a chord with every new computer owner everywhere -- was to bash it with a rock and then relieve themselves on the keyboard.

Ultimately Elmo, Gum, Heather, Holly, Mistletoe and Rowan produced five pages of text, most of it spelled in exciting new ways using only the letter S. This opus is available for hushed viewing here: www.vivaria.net/experiments/notes/publication . While their attacks on the keyboard weren't precisely random, they also weren't the type of directed experimentation that the researchers might have wanted to see. (The monkeys did, however, succeed in signing up with AOL.)

Since then other monkey-related experiments have been performed and the results were so surprising I'd be astounded if I hadn't just thought of them. If an infinite number of monkeys is not readily available, what might a finite amount of monkeys accomplish?

Researchers in Boston, Massachusetts, found that twelve monkeys, provided with a hundred pencils and a hundred reams of paper, could successfully eat all of the pencils.

A scientist in Taipei, China, set a single chimpanzee in a room filled with plenty of food, water, and a computer, and left him there for a week. At the end of that time the plucky little primate had succeeded in downloading over twelve gigabytes of pirated music and had received three cease-and-desist letters from the Recording Industry Association of America.

It has been rumored that the Recording Industry Association of America has a team of Harvard-trained rhesus monkeys working day and night on new anti-piracy encryption software, but this has not been substantiated.

It took only two monkeys to come up with a new concept for a reality TV show, but it had to be dumbed down after the first test screening.

In Washington, D.C., six silver-back gorillas took no time at all in forming an ad-hoc committee, passing three referendums on the desirability of proper dental care for registered voters, referring the research and typing duties to a single intern monkey, and adjourning to go sleep in the corner under the big tire.

Four orangutans were trained in Orlando to operate as a surprisingly successful boy band in only three months, less than half the time it took for The Backstreet Boys. The project had to be dropped after the apes flatly refused to tour with Britney, citing irreconcilable differences.

[ July 07, 2004, 06:12 PM: Message edited by: Chris Bridges ]

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That's awesome, Chris.
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advice for robots
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[Big Grin]

Hopefully this one isn't unfinished for long.

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refused to tour with Britney, citing irreconcilable differences

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Erik Slaine
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What about that reality show? When is it showing?
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Papa Moose
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What makes you think it isn't already?
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:mentally inserts "baby boomer" instead of monkey in article: Heh heh.
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