On Monkeys and Shakespeare, Preliminary Results

In a previous post I described how 101 monkeys might be able to create a line of Shakespeare without being able to read or write the English language.   After describing the process, I asked the reader if they could guess how many times the monkeys would have to run the process in order to get the line of Shakespeare.

In this post I would like to reveal the monkeys’ results. Continue reading


On Monkeys and Shakespeare

How many monkeys with typewriters do you think it would take to produce the works of Shakespeare?  Oh yes, lets’ suppose they have an infinite amount of time.  Does that change your answer any?

There is a serious point to this question that has been asked and answered in various forms since Aristotle’s day (but without the typewriters and with a different literary goal).   The argument surfaced over the last 100 years or so when the idea that the diversity of life we see on earth has come about through evolutionary processes that include randomness.    In a nutshell, the question boils down to whether a few billion years is long enough for a natural process that includes randomness to produce anything organized at all, let alone life on earth with all its diversity.

In this article, I would like to suggest how 101 or so monkeys could produce at least one line of Shakespeare. Continue reading

How Do We Know Things Through Science? (Part 2)

In the Part 1 of this series, I wrote that the two most important philosophical innovations that led to the incredible success of science is that science will seek to create only naturalistic explanations about natural phenomena.   And science will determine the truth of a scientific explanation by appealing directly and only to nature itself.     In other words we will ask nature to explain nature and we will use nature as the final authority about the truth of that explanation.    So how do we go about asking nature about nature?   And how do we go about asking nature about truth?
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Possibly Found: One Higg’s Boson. Needs Good Home.

Big announcement tomorrow from the Large Hadron Collider project.    It appears that two different detectors in the LHC have found the last of the predicted particles in the so called Standard Model for quantum physics.    As particle accelerators got bigger, each of the particles that the model predicted were found except the largest one called The Higgs Boson.

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Adam and Eve Science

You may have heard a scientific rumor that Eve was discovered through genetics by biologists.   Be careful to not get caught up in the metaphors that are sometimes used by scientists to illuminate a concept.

The theory of evolution predicts that any two organisms living or dead has a common ancestor.    For example, you and your siblings have  your mother and father as your common ancestors.   And you and your cousins share a grandfather and a grandmother as a common ancestor and so forth.    Since all life comes from life (after the first life form, that is) we can extend this as far back as we want.   But can we really find Adam and Eve through this process?
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Twilight on the VLA

Image courtesy of NRAO/AUI

This is the Very Large Array. A radiotelescope on the Plains of San Agustin fifty miles west of Socorro, New Mexico.   The VLA is used to look into deep space to study far off objects in space.  But rather than looking at them optically, it scans their radio spectrum instead.

The dishes can be pointed in any direction and they can move around on tracks.    A design that uses many dishes like this is called a Synthesis Array, because the individual dishes approximate the focusing ability of a dish the size of the whole array.


Irreducible Complexity, Reduced (or why a unicorn owes me $20) – Part 2

In part 1 of this series of three articles I demonstrated the problem of trying to prove something logically using either of two logical fallacies called False Dichotomy, and Appeal To Ignorance.     I highly recommend reading part 1 if you are unfamiliar with these logical fallacies.   In this part 2, I would like to demonstrate why the relationship between the hypothesis of Irreducible Complexity, put forth by Intelligent Design proponent Michael Behe is based on the logical fallacy of False Dichotomy.

If you read on, you might find out why the unicorn still owes me $20. Continue reading