In the book, The Blind Watchmaker,
Richard Dawkins makes a statement that led one reader to feel the need
to check up on him:
I’ve been reading through Richard Dawkins’
books and am currently half way through The Blind Watchmaker (2006
paperback edition) and on page 119 he writes:
computer’s ROM, location numbers 64489, 64490 and 64491, taken
together, contain a particular pattern of contents—1s and 0s
which—when interpreted as instructions, result in the computer’s
little loudspeaker uttering a blip sound. This bit pattern is 10101101
Of course, this piqued my curiosity. Did Dawkins just make that up, or
is this really the contents of a specific bit of memory on a specific
The original post is href="http://www.jgc.org/blog/2007/12/double-checking-dawkins.html">here.
The book was published in 1986, back in the days when regular
folks still knew how to skin pigs, change their spark plugs, and check
the contents of specific ROM addresses. And each town still
had a watchmaker.
It’s a neat little story.
Of course, one might very well ask, what is the probability of that
particular string occurring at that particular address? Gosh,
it’s pretty unlikely…