The Library of Babel

The Library of Babel is a short story written by Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges and was published in 1941. The library comprises a gigantic collection of books, each having 410 pages, with 40 lines on each page and 80 characters on each line. Thus, there are 410 x 40 x 80 = 1,312,000 characters in each book. The library contains every possible book of this form, that is, one book with each of the possible orderings of the characters. Borges used an alphabet of 25 letters, so the total number of books is 25 raised to the power 1,312,000. This corresponds approximately to two followed by 1.8 million zeros, an unfathomable number. Thus, it would contain every book that ever has been written, and every book that ever could be, including every play, every song, every scientific paper, every legal decision, every constitution, every piece of scripture, and so on.

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