Monday, January 10, 2011

Curse You, Infinity!

In a random act of brilliance, if I do say so myself, I made up a catchy little phrase and then posted it to my Facebook as my status, as any self respecting social butterfly in the 21st century should do. :)

"In the beginning, there was no beginning. Who am I to tell time when to start?" ~ Me

Well, that's true, isn't it? Who am I, or you, or anyone else to dictate when time itself begins? We have no clue about the scales of which we speak. We pretend too, a false sense of self importance, but in all reality, all we've ever known are finite scales, not the infinite.

Human life is short. We're born, we live, we die. Everything around us follows similar patterns of birth, life and death, from trees, to animals to stars! Because of this, we seem prone to attaching that model onto everything, as if it's universally applicable.

The problem begins when finite starts losing its relevance. In math, the mathematicians cancel infinity as much as possible. They fear the lazy eight. Infinity is turned into some constant, or "normalized" as a way to make it disappear. It's with this rationale that I believe we start breaking down reality, forcing the space/time continuum into our own comfort zone. Since when did the universe have to appeal to OUR sense of comfort?

I'm actually okay with infinity, in both directions of scale. I bet once the LHC breaks open the "smallest" thing we know of, it will reveal even smaller things. And smaller, and smaller. The catch is that you need a lot of energy to get smaller and smaller. Infinite energy to reach infinite smallness. That's a hard goal to reach, and not very easy to get funding when your goal is infinite, so it's best to put a stopper on it and claim, "Voila! That's as small as she goes! Gimmie the cash to do that." At least until the next person finds something smaller.

As for infinite big, I'm good with that too. Same goes for time. I have no idea when it started, and honestly, I don't care that much. I could extrapolate a thousand generations from now and none of that time would be a fraction of a fraction of the time this planet has been around, much less the universe. Can we just be a little humble...just a little?

Also, we have no idea whether or not the universe itself is cyclical. There may be a crunch to accompany the bang and it's been going on for 10^100 years! Who knows!? So all this speculation could be for naught if the whole thing behaves like a gigantic heart.

Of course, during the process of trying to chase down infinity, you do learn many neat things, so I think it's high time we start looking at infinity as our friend, not the enemy, and see how things pan out with that new mindset.

3 comments:

Jerry M. Weikle said...

Ah! The curse of intelligence "I think, therefore I am" is the rationalization of a species that attempts to define reality and to explain everything.

Does the microbe worry about when time began or when it will end,or what it all means; especially, if there was a begining or if there happens to be an ending? No, because there isn't such a concept of time to consider or even be rationalized to find meaning and purpose to its existance. It just exists.

The great hallmark of individuality and even of the human species might be those very words of "I am" or "am I" as one begins to learn to rationalize and conceptualize the existance of things outside and beyond their own existance.

In order to be "just a little humbler...just a little"; sometimes it is best to just realize "It is what it is". The Universe didn't conceptually develop "time" to explain the existance of "time". However, the Universe did allow the evolution of atleast one species, that we know of, to have the intellect to question the aspect of "time" or anything else for that matter.

Thus, is free will within a species, as rational or irrational as that may occur within the species as a whole.

Norman Copeland said...

My posting, ''suckers'' 12th January 2011, shows the potential for the developement path of such theology...

My blog www.spacetravel21stcentury.blogspot.com/ was switched off yesterday, but, is working now and will be staying on as blogger policies says that adult posting is ok, and obviously when they agree to observe as adults...

Norman...

Ted said...

From my point of view as a non-math geek Infinity is a concept, not a number. We can conceive of infinity but not comprehend it.

Everything in life (as we know it ) is finite. We measure things in well defined quantities such as feet, miles, meters, kilometers, ounces, pints quarts, gallons, pounds and so on and so forth.

Most of us can understand the idea of a hundred thousand and even a million. With illustration we can understand a billion (a billion dollar bills would make a stack 3787 miles high if each bill is .02 inches thick)

At a filled football stadium there might be as many as a hundred thousand people. Times Square on New Years Eve might hold 1 Million folks.

In the scientific world once they get above the distance from the Earth to the Sun they call it an Astronomical Unit (1 AU). (And yes, they still measure the distance from Earth to Mars and the outer planets in millions of miles as well) Once we get beyond the Solar system, however, the switch is made to Light-years. There is a somewhat obsolete term known as a Parsec. (a unit of measure for interstellar space that is equal to 3.26 light-years and is the distance to an object having a parallax of one second as seen from points separated by one astronomical unit)

If the furthest distance we can measure through telescopic observation is around 14 billion Light-years, that is STILL a finite measurement, and a far cry from infinity.

As I said, Infinity is a concept, not a number. We can conceive of infinity, but not comprehend it.