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 Post subject: monkeys and Hamlet
PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2006 6:13 pm 
TFBW,

I've read your two monkey business papers at nutters.org and they left my head swimming. I was wondering if there is a way to simplify this process? A liberal estimate of the age of the universe is about fifteen billion years and by another liberal estimate there are about 10^87 particles (quarks, electrons, etc.) in the universe. Hydrogen (H2) is the most common molecule in the universe. A hydrogen atom consists of one proton and one electron. A proton consists of three quarks. A Hydrogen atom, then, consist of four particles. A hydrogen molecule, then, is made up of eight particles. What are the chances of one single hydrogen atom organizing itself given 10^87 available particles and fifteen billion years worth of Plank moments?


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 20, 2006 10:11 pm 
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Your question does not specify enough conditions to compute an answer. I need to know how many possible outcomes there are, their relative frequency, and how frequently outcomes are reached. I'm not familiar with how quarks can interact with each other, so I don't know what probabilities are involved.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2006 1:48 pm 
Umm...math is not my strong suit, so I have no idea how to provide you with the conditions you need. My main interest was to break up the problem into smaller more graspable chunks.

Perhaps we could try a different tack: why does matter exist at all?

If I recall correctly, in the initial Big Bang conditions, an equal amount of matter and antimatter particles form. For every electron that forms an equal number of positrons form as well. So, for example if ten electrons form then ten positrons will form. Matter and anitmatter cannot coexist--they cancel each other out (annihilate each other back into energy). How did it come to pass that more particles of matter formed than their corresponding particles of antimatter?


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2006 2:31 pm 
For more information about this question, see the wiki article on CP-violation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CP_violation

Pay paticular attention to the section titled, "CP violation and the matter-antimatter imbalance."


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2006 4:44 pm 
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I'm no expert on the Big Bang theory, and the question you've asked is described as an unsolved problem in physics, so I can't look up an answer for you. :wink:

I'm really not sure where you're going with this line of inquiry, and there no longer seems to be a probability angle to it, so I'm afraid I'll just have to shrug ignorantly.


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PostPosted: Sun Nov 26, 2006 4:55 pm 
Setting aside agnostics and "can't be botheredists," when it comes to the question of how the cosmos came to be, a person is forced to choose between Fortune (chance) and Providence. I though your Boltzmann typing monkeys papers were quite good arguments against Fortune.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 27, 2006 11:46 am 
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Quote:
...a person is forced to choose between Fortune (chance) and Providence.

I'm not sure that all possibilities are covered in those two choices. One could also fall back on a "natural inevitability" story, based on some sort of anthropic principle. Such a view either considers life highly probable (which, if it's true, means there are life-generative laws that we have yet to discover), or highly improbable but inevitable across a certain subsection of an infinite number of universes.

You even get weird ideas like our current observation of the universe retroactively causing it. A sort of quantum-mysticism.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2007 12:29 am 
The main problem with the monkey paper is that it assumes monkeys are pure random number generators.

Nature isn't remotely a random number generator; it likes to organise itself to observable rules.

The article also happily excludes learning factors. Shakespeare would not have been possible without learning factors - after all, did English even exist at the start of human-recorded history? Are babies born with an innate ability to speak English? Why is Shakespeare allowed to learn but the monkeys aren't? Once again, the natural world is not an RNG.

In short, the monkey-typewriter concept in the first place has nothing to do with origin of the universe, and is instead a description of the concept of infinity. The article lists a very large but finite number, which of course is not infinity, and goes on to suggest that because infinity was not used to solve the problem, that there must be a divine creator. It is an errant use of the paradigm.


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 17, 2007 1:37 pm 
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EPT wrote:
The main problem with the monkey paper is that it assumes monkeys are pure random number generators.

I don't assume it; I declare it. I'm not talking about real monkeys, but rather using monkeys as an aid to understanding. Real monkeys are even less useful than my imaginary ones, since they are just as likely to crap on the typewriter as type on it, and have a tendency to press one key repeatedly [ref: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/3013959.stm ].
EPT wrote:
Nature isn't remotely a random number generator; it likes to organise itself to observable rules.

Nature is a complex and mysterious thing. We have some useful models for some of it, and are baffled by other bits. Many of our models of nature are based on probability (e.g. radioactive decay), and many of the best random number generators are based on natural events. The universe is not clockwork.
EPT wrote:
The article also happily excludes learning factors. Shakespeare would not have been possible without learning factors - after all, did English even exist at the start of human-recorded history? Are babies born with an innate ability to speak English? Why is Shakespeare allowed to learn but the monkeys aren't?.

Because the monkeys aren't real monkeys. They're imaginary monkeys in a thought experiment about probability. Think of the monkeys as mechanical monkeys, if that helps. They'd have to be mechanical in order to type as fast as they do in my thought experiment.

The experiment demonstrates that randomness is insufficient to the task on its own. Yes, you can call on deterministic laws to take up some of the slack, as Dawkins does in "Climbing Mount Improbable" with his "methinks it is like a weasel" experiment. There's a whole different set of reasons why that approach won't work.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 3:43 am 
LOSTBOY wrote:
Setting aside agnostics and "can't be botheredists," when it comes to the question of how the cosmos came to be, a person is forced to choose between Fortune (chance) and Providence. I though your Boltzmann typing monkeys papers were quite good arguments against Fortune.


yeah, but if the number of monkeys is infinite, the amount of time necessary to produce the necessary result wouldnt be =0 ?

i mean, more monkeys, more likely, infinite monkeys = result.


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PostPosted: Sat Oct 27, 2007 10:05 am 
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Even an infinite number of monkeys work at a finite rate, so the time most certainly does not equal zero under those conditions -- it is merely minimised. What is certain under the circumstances is that the desired oucome will be achieved in the minimum possible time.

With regards to "minimum possible time", if a monkey successfully types Hamlet, it still takes a while to do all that typing, even if it gets it right on the first attempt.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 28, 2007 6:36 pm 
Ok, you're right, not zero. But the idea is that it wouldn't be impossible, just very unlikely.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon Oct 29, 2007 5:52 am 
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Actually, if you're going to throw an infinite number of monkeys at the problem, then a successful outcome is absolutely certain. In fact, you'll get an infinite number of every possible outcome. Anything that can happen, will happen, an infinite number of times.

There are two major problems with this outcome. One is kind of theoretical: it's doubtful that this universe has an infinite supply of anything, so what possible relevance does this idea have? The other problem is that you're getting infinite quantities of everything -- not just the interesting stuff. Furthermore, although the complete text to "Hamlet" is somewhere in that infinite quantity of monkey-typing, you have a big theoretical problem finding it.

There appears to be one nearly-useful application for this idea: claim that there are an infinite number of universes, all random. Given these conditions, it's entirely reasonable to believe that this universe is a lucky fluke, since everything that is not strictly impossible will happen with certainty under those circumstances. We can just use the anthropic principle to explain why we see a universe with us in it, even though the portion of all universes with an "us" worth mentioning is vanishingly small.

Of course, there's not a shred of evidence to back this idea up, although some will grasp at some obscure aspects of quantum theory and say "see -- it's possible under this theory" as though that were evidence.


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