Will we ever run out of original tweets? Math says ‘no’

Twitter is a never-ending source of bite-sized content – so how long until we run out of original things to say using it? Turns out there is an answer.  There are 140 characters in a tweet, 26 letters in the English alphabet, 27 if you count spaces.  Now, thinking about all those Twitter accounts (ignore the inactive ones and those annoying fake ones that occasionally send you spam replies) that give out information 140 characters at a time, how many unique tweets do you think it will take before we completely run out?

This highly interesting question was the subject of today’s XKCD’s What If? entry.  To blow your mind even further, here’s what Randall Munroe had to say to try and break down the semantics behind the question: Using the English alphabet including spaces, “there are 27^(140)≈10^(200) possible strings. But Twitter doesn’t limit you to those characters, though. You have all of Unicode to play with, which has room for over a million different characters. The way Twitter counts Unicode characters is complicated, but the number of possible strings could be as high as 10^(800).”

That equation (which you probably had to read multiple times) refers to tweets that may or may not contain non-English words (or non-words, for that matter).  It also may or may not contain proper nouns comprised of odd letters.  So to simplify it a little bit more, Munroe considers a language limited to only two valid sentences to make it easier for tweet readers to determine a pattern and count bits of information.  He also references mathematician Claude Shannon, whose Wikipedia entry credits him for “lowering uncertainty in written language” and “providing a clear quantifiable link between cultural practice and probabilistic cognition” by simply considering white space as the 27th letter of the English alphabet.

Still confused?  After Munroe mathematically illustrates Shannon’s process in his post, he came to this conclusion: Approximately, there are around 2^(140×1.1)≈2×10^(46) unique tweets that make sense to English speakers.

As if trying to compute that wasn’t enough for your brain to handle, Munroe goes on and tries to answer the second part of today’s What If? question: How long would it take for the population of the world to read them all out loud?  Skipping to the end part of his wonderfully entertaining visualization of the question’s complexity, here is the answer in its simplest form: It would take more than one eternal lifetime to read all the unique tweets possible.

While pondering on that, go ahead and tweet something right now, knowing that despite being limited to 140-character sentiments, you, like the rest of the world, will never run out of things to say.  Just think about all the tweets being sent out per day.

Gaming

‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ outdraws its predecessor, ships 17M copies

Hot on the heels of posting the most successful opening weekend in entertainment history, Red Dead Redemption 2 has hit another milestone. In a mere eight days, RDR2 surpassed lifetime sales of the original.
DT Daily

DT Daily: Hip-hop artist Rakeem Miles talks musical upbringing, ‘Dante’s Toys’

Rakeem Miles may be best known for his musical endeavors, but he's looking to change that with his forthcoming animated show. On Monday's DT Daily, we discuss Miles' origins, what drives his passions, his favorite superhero, and more.
Computing

Is your PC slow? Here's how to restore Windows 10 to factory settings

Computers rarely work as well after they've accumulated files and misconfigured settings. Thankfully, with this guide, you'll be able to restore your PC to its original state by learning how to factory reset Windows.
Movies & TV

The best Amazon Original series, from 'Bosch' to 'Transparent'

Amazon Studios may not have as big a collection of in-house productions as Netflix, but there are still lots of shows worthy of your eyeballs. Here are our picks for the best Amazon original series.
Social Media

Twitter tests home screen button that offers more control of your timeline

Twitter recently relaunched its reverse-chronological timeline, but accessing it means diving into settings. Now the company is testing a button on the main screen that lets you switch between the two different styles of timeline.
Social Media

Snapchat’s PR firm is suing an influencer for failing to influence

Snapchat's PR firm is suing a social media influencer for his alleged failure to promote Spectacles on Instagram. Actor Luka Sabbat was paid $45,000 upfront, but the suit claims he fell well short of the terms of the deal.
Mobile

WhatsApp finally gives in to the lure of cash-generating ads

WhatsApp's co-founders always said their messaging app would never show ads, but once the pair quit the company, it seemed inevitable that its owner, Facebook, would find a way to incorporate them.
Computing

Urban legends for the digital age: The best scary stories from the internet

In need of some simple scares this Halloween? We've combed the internet for the best creepypastas, urban legends, and scary stories. From found footage YouTube videos to a deceptively scary wiki, these stories are sure to spook.
Mobile

Shazam hooks up with Instagram Stories for another way to share songs

The latest update for Apple-owned Shazam lets iPhone users share music tracks to Instagram Stories in a few quick taps. To enable the feature, just make sure you have the latest version of Shazam loaded on your handset.
Social Media

Dine and dash(board): Make a Yelp reservation from your car’s control panel

Already in the car, but can't decide where to eat? Yelp Reservations can now be added to some dashboard touchscreens. Yelp Reservations searches for restaurants within 25 miles of the vehicle's location.
Computing

Hackers sold 120 million private Facebook messages, report says

Up to 120 million private Facebook messages were being sold online by hackers this fall. The breach was first discovered in September and the messages were obtained through unnamed rogue browser extensions. 
Web

Switch up your Reddit routine with these interesting, inspiring, and zany subs

So you've just joined the wonderful world of Reddit and want to explore it. With so many subreddits, however, navigating the "front page of the internet" can be daunting. You're in luck -- we've gathered 23 of the best subreddits to help…
Social Media

Facebook opens pop-up stores at Macy’s, but they’re not selling the Portal

Facebook has opened pop-up stores at multiple Macy's, though they're not selling Facebook's new Portal device. Instead, they're showcasing small businesses and brands that are already popular on Facebook and Instagram.
Social Media

Facebook Messenger will soon let you delete sent messages

A feature coming to Facebook Messenger will let you delete a message for up to 10 minutes after you send it. The company promised the feature months ago and this week said it really is on its way ... "soon."