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  1. #1
    Perry Way's Avatar
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    The Infinite Monkey Principle

    The Infinite Monkey Principle is supposed to define infinity in a way someone can comprehend. It must be that angle. Because it don't work! There is no possible way an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters could write the <fill in the name of your favorite book>.

    You may ask what the heck this has to do with photography. Let me take a step back (that's digress for you hoity toity upper cruster brainiacs). I was just printing a few minutes ago, treading that thin line with chemicals I prepared about 1 am last night for "one final print" that turned into like 3 I think. Anyway.. I knew they were just on the edge when I began printing a few hours ago. So while I am sitting down contemplating whether mixing chemicals again at this point is what I want to do, let me tell you what idea came to me.

    So I'm printing then all the sudden between one print and the other, that's when the stop starts looking tired, indicator showing it's weak. I have never had that before because I'm usually making some mighty yellow stop bath. So that kind of freaked me out at first. So then the developer starts turning next. I knew it would happen but man it was like night and day. One print good next print bad.

    So I had a beaker in hand and it has some left in the bottom, I'm pouring the contents of my Jobo tubes out and thats when the old bad gets mixed in with still good and I'm kicking myself because here I am a smart human being and it only took one half of a second to make the mistake of ruining other chemicals because I wasn't on my tippy toes.

    Now, think about if a real monkey was in the darkroom. Think what kind of disaster could occur! Even if you had an infinite amount of those monkeys and an infinite amount of chemicals and supplies, the first ooops and it's all over.

    There's no way the infinite monkey principle applies to photography! But something I'm sure of is no matter what viewpoint I take, there's bound to be opposition. So, lay it on me. Can anyone convince me the infinite monkey principle could ever apply to photography?

    I love the wilderness and I love my trail cameras, all Fuji's! :) GA645, GW690 III, and the X100 which I think is the best trail camera ever invented (to date).

  2. #2
    nick mulder's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perry Way View Post
    Even if you had an infinite amount of those monkeys and an infinite amount of chemicals and supplies, the first ooops and it's all over.
    Hang on - 'the first ooops' and what exactly is over ?
    Cleared the bowel problem, working on the consonants...

  3. #3
    Dan Henderson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Perry Way View Post
    You may ask what the heck this has to do with photography. Let me take a step back (that's digress for you hoity toity upper cruster brainiacs).

    Actually, I think you regressed, not digressed.


    web site: Dan Henderson, Photographer.com

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    I am not anti-digital. I am pro-film.

  4. #4

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    The chances of an infinate number of monkeys typing and finally one of them by chance types out "Hamlet" to me seem more remote then an infinate number of monkeys printing out a picture. However both situations are minuscule by chance. I believe there is no chance at all but that is not the theory. But then I buy a lottery ticket every week. There is about the same chance of winning it as an infinate number of monkeys making a print or typing a play. But then I buy one anyway so go figure. I guess I do not understand the context actually. Has somebody said that photography is so easy a Monkey can do it. Or how about it's so easy a Cave Man can do it.

  5. #5
    Michel Hardy-Vallée's Avatar
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    The problem with the Infinite Monkey theory is that it does not take into consideration the nature of the function being evaluated.

    Take it like this: P = f(x)

    Where P is the probability of (Hamlet, Ulysses, The Gioconda, etc) being created by monkeys, and f(x) the function linking the number of monkeys (x) with the probability P.

    Now if f(x) were linear, as in f(x) = 2x, then an increasing number of monkey would mean an increasing probability. An infinite number of monkey would therefore be an infinite probability, which doesn't work since probabilities are calculated as fractions of 1.0

    So let's put it this way then:

    f(x) = (-1 / (x+1)) + 1

    The limit of f(x) as x approaches infinity is now 1. Congratulations! for an infinite number of monkeys, we have a function that asymptotically approaches 1, the certain probability.

    But wait a minute: we are looking at the problem backwards, trying to fit the data into the answer we want to have. If you're a bureaucrat, this may not strike you as odd, but by golly! this is not how science works!

    How do we really know that this is the right function? What if the function linking the number of monkeys to probability was this instead:

    f(x) = 1/x

    As x approaches infinity, the probability becomes asymptotically zero!!

    So, the next time someone comes up to you with the Infinite Monkey Principle, waxes philosophical on the utmost wisdom therein, ask the bugger "what is the probability function?" and watch the puzzlement on their face as they realize that their mind experiment was nothing more than wankery and hogwash.
    Using film since before it was hip.


    "One of the most singular characters of the hyposulphites, is the property their solutions possess of dissolving muriate of silver and retaining it in considerable quantity in permanent solution" — Sir John Frederick William Herschel, "On the Hyposulphurous Acid and its Compounds." The Edinburgh Philosophical Journal, Vol. 1 (8 Jan. 1819): 8-29. p. 11

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    the heck with printing a photograph
    can the million monkeys fix an oil leak ??

  7. #7
    Christopher Walrath's Avatar
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    Posted wirelessly..

    Wow.
    Thank you.
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  8. #8

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    I don't understand why it's all over after the first oops, either. Won't one of the monkeys eventually mix some more chemicals and use them in the right order?

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by jnanian View Post
    the heck with printing a photograph
    can the million monkeys fix an oil leak ??
    They're trying.

  10. #10
    Nicholas Lindan's Avatar
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    Googling for 'infinite number of monkeys' brings forth an infinite number of references to same:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infinite_monkey_theorem

    Interestingly, the number string representing the number pi passes all tests for being truly random. Therefore there is a finite probability that it contains at least a few of the opening words of Hamlet. But pi can be calculated from a simple formula and the digits of pi are fixed - does this mean that Hamlet is deterministic? Is the genius of Hamlet the ability to spot the right 120,000 characters from an infinite stream?

    Hamlet = 4/1 - 4/3 + 4/5 - 4/7 + 4/9 - 4/11 ....
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