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[Comments] (4) Not So Fast, Kid: Kid singing the alphabet song at Trader Joe's: "Q, R, S, T, U, V, now I know my ABCs." Nobody uses those last letters anyway.


Comments:

Posted by Seth Schoen at Sun Jan 23 2005 12:57

Interestingly, "The Library of Babel" by Jorges Luis Borges refers to the number of orthographic symbols being 25, of which three are punctuation (period, comma, and space) and 22 are the letters of the alphabet. After observing this, the narrator recollects particular books and then recounts:


These examples made it possible for a librarian of genius to discover the fundamental law of the Library. This thinker observed that all the books, no matter how diverse they might be, are made up of the same elements: the space, the period, the comma, the twenty-two letters of the alphabet. He also alleged a fact which travelers have confirmed: In the vast Library there are no two identical books. From these two incontrovertible premises he deduced that the Library is total and that its shelves register all the possible combinations of the twenty-odd orthographical symbols (a number which, though extremely vast, is not infinite): Everything: the minutely detailed history of the future, the archangels' autobiographies, the faithful catalogues of the Library, thousands and thousands of false catalogues, the demonstration of the fallacy of those catalogues, the demonstration of the fallacy of the true catalogue, the Gnostic gospel of Basilides, the commentary on that gospel, the commentary on the commentary on that gospel, the true story of your death, the translation of every book in all languages, the interpolations of every book in all books.

Posted by Brendan at Mon Jan 24 2005 10:48

Hmm. But even if we discount all books containing only junk random-symbol data, the space of all possible books is still infinite, so long as there's no upper limit on page count.

Posted by Leonard at Mon Jan 24 2005 11:31

I think all the books in the Library are a specific length, like the books on the really boring planet where Arthur Dent stayed for a while in "Mostly Harmless". Books longer than that length are continued in another volume.

Posted by Brendan at Tue Jan 25 2005 12:09

Oh. Okay then.

But if we don't discount the junk data, the ratio would still... oh, forget it, I need to just read the book.


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