Bittersweet Hypothesis

The Bittersweet Hypothesis

Bittersweet Symphony

A song by The Verve, with a fairly large sample from an orchestral song by the Rolling Stones, this song was in the end the Verve’s downfall, as they can no longer play it without the Mick Jagger’s permission.

The song is most notable for the Bittersweet Hypothesis, outlined below. The phenomenon was noted by the University of Awesome’s own Professor Adrian during his research on Jesus’ iPod

The Bittersweet Hypothesis

The hypothesis states that, for all music players, as the time of ownership of said music player increases, the probability of that player containing The Verve’s Bittersweet Symphony approaches one.

Bittersweet Hypothesis
Exhibit A: Topical graph outlining the basis of the hypothesis

Supporting Evidence

  1. If you have a music playing device, take it out.
  2. Turn it on and look for Bittersweet Symphony.
  3. If it’s there, I told you so.
  4. If it isn’t, it’ll probably be there soon. Also, you’re an outlying data point.


The consequences of the Bittersweet Hypothesis are dire. The most important one is that this song may cause severe clogging of the tubes.

There are over 7 billion people in the world. if one in 20 people have portable music devices, that makes 350 million such devices. Each one will in all probability eventually cause a download of Bittersweet Symphony, which is approximately 4 MB, or megabytes, or million bytes. This turns into 1.4 Billion megabytes, or 1400 Terabytes of the same song repeated over and over. Now, remember that for most portable devices, the song is also repeated on a personal computer, doubling the number to 2800 TB of the Bittersweet Symphony.

Just for good measure, that number is roughly 2,800,000,000,000,000 Bytes, which are 8 bits each, 11,200,000,000,000,000 bits (Eleven thousand two hundred million bajillion infinity).


Several solutions have been proposed to resolve this issue. One is to create a central data center to store a single copy of the 4 MB file, and then every music playing device would have to stream it from there, but unfortunately this does not resolve the problem of clogging the tubes, it only reduces the places it ends up stored.

According to Joshua, the supercomputer from War Games, it is “an interesting game. The only winning move is not to play.” It has been suggested that the song be banned from the tubes in order to protect them from this magnitude of clogging.

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