shades of infinity
Warning: This is not intended to be an academic or even accurate discussion of infinity; the process is the ‘thing’!
Setting aside the question of whether infinity exists or not; And admitting right away that this piece is not really about ‘infinity’ as such. But more the idle sequence of thoughts that a bright 9 year’ old might drift into, while watching the movement of sunlight through the branches of a tree, on a sunny afternoon which has no schedule, and thus no end, as is the genius and mystical truth of childhood.
It is easy to think, without thinking, that infinity is a very big number that arrives at the end of an endless list of all other numbers; but not very enlightening.
The interesting part of infinity is that it forces thought in a different direction than the other numbers, because perhaps, it is not a number, but more the space in which numbers exist. And then, if so, there is no reason to think that we need to talk about numbers at all.
Maybe… it could be that ‘scale’ is the way to think this out.
In an infinite universe there will be infinite scale. So that for instance, there is no reason not to think of a universe fitting into the hip pocket of another universe. Like the analogy of the ‘infinite hotel’ that will always have room for another ‘room’. ‘Infinite scale’ means that you could fit another universe in between rooms any time it was needed. (Putting it simply, in an world of infinite scale, things could get endlessly bigger or endlessly small)
In a universe of infinite scale, it would make sense that there will be infinite scale of time. I think everyone kind of knows that clocks are a very bad way to measure time. Put your self for a moment in the place of that 9 year old lying on her back in the sunlight.
Interesting footnote…. The first occasion that engineers needed to factor in the math of Einsteinian relativity was for the GPS system. The extremely accurate clocks in satellites circulating high above the atmosphere where moving much faster than the clocks on the ground; they are static in relation to the ground, but because of the much bigger circumference of their orbit, are moving faster in space; which meant that for them time was passing a little bit slower. Without accounting for this relative distortion of time GPS would not work.
A much more interesting way to measure time is by moments of perception. We, as humans, have a minimum or maximum moment of perception. Like in an old movie house, when the film brakes and suddenly instead of moving figures on screen we see first jerky movements and then staggered frames or “stills”. (There is some variation depending on what and how perception is occurring, but in general the principle holds true).
If we could increase our speed of perception, would we then ‘see’ the famous ‘table’ of particle physics* as the whirling chaos of atoms and electrons that we are told that it, in truth is? *(whenever people want an example of a simple ‘solid object’ they always seem to give a ‘table’ as the example).
Or on the other side, if we saw the solar system from the vantage point of eons, would it appear to us as a solid sphere bouncing along its path, along with others in our galaxy? The planets no longer devisable from the whole, but merged by force of their blur of motion.
Back to numbers….
1/0 = 0 or ∞ or 1 ?
…that is, if we divide something by nothing, do we get nothing or infinity, or what we started with?
There maybe other ways of doing this but I think normally, we say that nothing will fit into anything (that is a real number) an infinite number of times.
1/0 = ∞,
which will transform into..
1/∞ = 0
being …. if a thing of normal size is placed in an infinite space, it is as good as being nothing by comparison. (Fractions or division, being more or less the same as a ratio.).
So then, could we say…
Strolling down into the Grand Canyon = 1/∞ = 0 ?
Or, on entering a vast space I feel myself as nothing, or zero; which if it is different from nothing, might be a point, with out dimension.
So maybe infinity works out better than zero in the end. Maybe we need more than one kind of zero. Or maybe there is no real zero.