Remember that old story about how an infinite number of monkeys pecking away at an infinite number of typewriters eventually will produce Shakespeare? On the written page, I mean. Unless there's more to that evolution thing than I suspect, not even an infinite number of monkeys could produce Shakespeare the person.
Anyway, mathematicians who ran out of things to add, subtract, divide and multiply proved the possibility of such a simian literary feat.
For example, the formula for the probability of a single monkey typing the word ''banana'' on a typewriter with 50 keys is: Xn = (1 - 1/50 to the 6th power) n.
Can't call that much ado about nothing, now, can you?
It's good that mathematicians took on the project. Scientific researchers would have crammed a chattering of monkeys into a closet full of clunking typewriters and reams of crinkly paper and called it a laboratory experiment.
The results a twelfth night later might be Shakespeare. More likely, you'd get a natural disaster zone almost as chaotic as that of the average teenager's room.
Fortunately, zoologists took over.
According to news stories last week, several zoos offered up iPads to orangutans. The enthusiastic younger orangutans draw, play games and expand their vocabularies on the tablets. The grumbly older apes ignore them.
Shades of King Louie! Orangutans are more high-tech than I am. The young ones, anyway. Since I don't own any sort of electronic tablet, I'm basically an old ape, only with gray hair instead of orange.
Anyway, in one of the communication exercises, the trainer displays pictures of various objects on the screen, names one, and the ape taps the corresponding button. Linda Jacobs at Miami's Jungle Island told The Associated Press that they began such games with their orangutans last summer at the suggestion of someone who used the tablets with their dolphins.
Dolphins, too? What a piece of work is an animal with a computer. What next? Cows tapping ''more hay'' with their horns? Frogs hopping on keyboards to order flies?
Think I'm kidding? Richard Zimmerman, executive director of Orangutan Outreach, told the AP he's building Apps For Apes so orangutans can connect with simian friends and family at other parks across the country.
"We're putting together what we're calling primate playdates or red ape rendezvous,'' Zimmerman said.
All the world's a stage. Now you know how they'll squeeze the infinite number of monkeys into one room. There's an app for that.
You know, maybe, just maybe I'm not writing this column at all. Perchance the real author is a chimpanzee named Bongo - a primate ghost writer.
No, no, surely I jest. A chimp wouldn't be able to resist inserting little messages between the lines.
Remember, 'tis a far, far better thing you can do to send me bananas. Send bananas now. Banana cream pies will be even better. Quick, get thee to a grocery.
----- The old ape might dye his hair orange if it will get him an iPad. Find out at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.