Swedish Youth Randomly Types First Two Acts of Hamlet

Stockholm, Sweden, August 25, 2008 -- Gustav Gustavsson and his wife Åsa were startled earlier in the week to find that their four year old son, Axel, had randomly typed the first two acts of Hamlet whilst playing at his father’s computer.

Gustav said that on Monday afternoon he walked into his office in the basement to find Axel “pounding away” on the keyboard. After Gustav sent his son from his office and sat down at his computer he made a startling discovery.

In partially broken English, Gustav recalled: “Right there on my screen was many letters and words. I looked to them and saw many English words. I questioned to myself, ‘Gustav, what has Axel been doing here?’”

After questioning his son, Gustav began looking closer and saw that these were not just words, but sentences. This is a portion of what Gustav claims to have initially seen on his monitor:


With assistance from his wife, Gustav eventually came up with this:

Elsinore. A platform before the Castle.

(Francisco at his post. Enter to him Bernardo.)

Bernardo: Who's there?

Francisco: Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold yourself.

“This sounds interesting to me so I worked through the night and called in sick the next day to finish it,” Gustav revealed. “When it was done I thought it was some good work and showed to a friend.”

Gustav’s friend, Lars Linderlund said: “Once I began reading I realized this was a copy of Hamlet.”

The friends ran to the computer, found Hamlet and began reading to each other from Axel’s script and the computer. Lars told the media in Stockholm: “It was exactly the same! A remarkable moment that was.”

Remarkable indeed! One need look no further than the Infinite monkey theorem to see how this could have occurred. According to the second Borel-Cantelli lemma, given enough time, a chimpanzee typing at random will almost certainly eventually type out a copy of one of Shakespeare's plays. This has never happened – possibly due to very few chimps having typewriters.

To truly understand the probabilities of Axel typing Hamlet, one needs to realize that ignoring punctuation, spacing, and capitalization, and assuming a uniform distribution of letters, Axel had one chance in 26 of correctly typing the first letter of Hamlet. He then has one chance in 676 (26 times 26) of typing the first two letters. Because the probability shrinks exponentially, at 20 letters it already has only one chance in 26^20 = 19,928,148,895,209,409,152,340,197,376, roughly equivalent to the probability of buying 4 lottery tickets consecutively and winning the jackpot each time. In the case of the entire text of Hamlet, the probabilities are so vanishingly small they can barely be conceived in human terms. The text of Hamlet, even stripped of all punctuation, contains well over 130,000 letters.

What’s next?

Gustav said: ”We will buy Axel his own computer and hope he writes something original next time.”

*some information on probability borrowed from Wikipedia

By Raoul Thibodeaux, Avant News Staff Writer

Copyright © 2005-2505 AvantNews.com. All rights reserved.
Avant News contains satire and other fictional material, provided for entertainment purposes only. Disclaimer. Syndicate. Privacy.