The study: A single computer was placed in a monkey enclosure at Paignton Zoo to monitor the literary output of six primates.
Who and when: Students at University of Plymouth, 2003, paid for from a £2,000 Arts Council grant
The aim: To test the “infinite monkey theory”, which states that if a monkey hits keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time, it will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare.
What was learnt: The theory is flawed. After one month – admittedly not an “infinite” amount of time – the monkeys had partially destroyed the machine, used it as a lavatory, and mostly typed the letter “s”.
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