This conversation is closed.

Infinity exists regardless of mankind's ability to conceptualize it.

Thought experiment:

Let's say we figuratively put everything in existence into a box. In order for that box to take shape as a 6 sided construct, we have essentially created boundaries to what is inside the box and what is outside the box.

What is outside the box is the continuation of infinity whether it be infinite solid, space or matter interspersed with space.

Infinity therefore cannot be bounded and cannot be measured. No limit exists as well as no point of origin. Infinity has always been infinite.

Now due to the universal truth that is infinity and I say that to mean that we can always trust infinity to be the quality of infinite, we can then know that infinity is a quality that can be applicable to an infinite number of qualities.

Infinitely large
Infinitely small
Infinite time
Infinite space
Infinite matter
Infinite levels of intelligence or life forms
Infinite forms of energy
On and on because infinity has room for everything.

Infinity has its concept and function in mathematics, but I think infinity proves itself to exist in the physical realm as well.

If infinity is limited, then educate me on the word that is that which is beyond infinity. If this is so, then our definition of infinity is incorrect.

Thank you

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    May 13 2013: if infinity did not exist, the chance of this conversation would be infinitely smaller.
    Cheers
    • May 13 2013: Who made my point, there is always infinity even if we imagine it doesnt.:)
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    May 12 2013: Let's look at idea a different way.

    If, in the beginning, there was nothing, wouldn't there be nothing still?

    To me this implies that something has to exist in order to change the situation because nothing has 'nothing' to offer.

    In my own twisted way this implies that "something" in order to exist at all must be, itself, infinite or that we and all we are have always been.

    If we can neither create nor destroy energy, doesn't that imply that energy will exist forever in one form or another?

    Has it always been this way?
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      May 12 2013: Why science likes to say we are created from nothing is is that nothing or no thing can exist outside of mind. Our closest image is just 15 seconds after the big bang, which in the science community they call that image the face of god. Seems self fulfilling to me. Now before that 15 seconds there was no pattern, we are pattern thinkers, doers, that's actually all we have ever done. If you could big picture it it's a circle, any ray of light (a straight line) will eventually return to its origin and you will realize there are no straight line. This also how a single star can will and has always created its own negative. Since the light that would be coming back would literally be its equal but opposite reaction to self.
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        May 12 2013: If that happened infinity would not exist. It would just be a sphere within a sphere within a sphere.

        Two things science has yet to record are reflections off the edge of the universe or a beam of light sent off and detected coming back from the opposite direction.

        I'd look in a mirror or use a video cam Casey :)
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          May 12 2013: Isn't that what this is? If you have never seen the back of your head, how would you know it was your head?
  • May 5 2013: "The only Limit to the Distance we can Travel is our imagination." Kamel Edmond Barakat.
  • May 4 2013: An interesting subject, infinity. In English, it is a composite word: 'finite', meaning measurable, and 'in', meaning not. Therefore any infinity is not measurable - by definition. Whether there is a thing-in-itself out in the physical universe that is infinite - we can not know, and can not measure - by definition!
    In mathematics, we can always add one to any number, and therefore math demands infinity. But mathematics can not define reality, only attempt to describe it - check out Goodell's Incompleteness Theorem.
    Therefore, it is impossible to say with certainty whether infinity lies outside in the physical world - which is to say there is always an infinity of uncertainty. ( I'll catch you yet, Schrodinger's cat!)
    Infinite uncertainty leads to absurdity - which may be the word beyond infinity that I believe for which you were looking. Beyond infinity lies absurdity! ;-)
    • May 5 2013: Funny, I once made reference to Schrödinger's cat in an argument with my GF. She had no clue what I was talking about. The main point I got from Schrödinger's cat was that by making an observation, you can then affect the outcome of the observation.
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      May 12 2013: "...Beyond infinity lies absurdity" is implying that something lies beyound infinity? I think that is even more absurd. :)
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    May 3 2013: beyond infinity is of course infinity itself. Its like describing black. Darker than black,is black itself.
    or you can also equate it to being the same as multiplying something by the number 1. its always that number itself.
  • May 13 2013: Infinity exist if you are a theist, if you are humble, if you are selfless, if you are wise. Infinity exist because we know that we will never know everything and that there is either an eternal darkness that follows the grave for atheist or an eternity of regret or love for the believers. Infinity exist simply because there is such thing as oblivion, because if there is something missing(for oblivion's case everything and anything else) that fills it up(the endless source of everything and anything else.) GOD is infinity.
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      May 13 2013: I like that. That's profound. Lots of meaning in there.
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      May 15 2013: Poetic, and perhaps resonates with a particular type of Theistic world view that assumes wisdom and humility is tied in some way to believing in a specific Theistic god.

      Perhaps it is anything but wise and humble to assume to assume Deists, Pantheists, Polytheists and non believers are less likely to share these qualities.

      I suggest wisdom and humility is probably equally distributed between different believers and non believers.

      I suggest there is wisdom and humility in accepting you don’t know if there are gods, life after death and cosmic justice or punishment.

      I agree anyone who asserts they are absolutely certain there are no gods may be unreasonable. But so are Theists who are absolutely certain their particular version of a god and associated dogma is the one true interpretation and the thousands or millions of others are wrong.

      Most of the people I know who consider themselves atheists simply say they don’t find sufficient evidence
      for any particular god belief to be correct, so they don’t believe in any gods. However, they don’t deny the possibility of something(s) existing that might deserve the name gods or God.

      I suggest the intellectual concept of infinity exists for non theists as well. And believing in an infinite god does not mean it exists other than as a concept. There may also be gods that are finite.
  • May 12 2013: I must agree
    Infinity is surplus. Not needed.
    Infinity has no place at all.
    Infinity should be struck from the dictionary.

    Governments who fund study of Infinity are fools.
    Scientists who study Infinity are crazed.
    We, including I, who write this tripe are idiots.

    What happens when we die? Infinity?
    Does God manufacture Infinity?
    So many questions about nothing at all...
    • May 13 2013: "I think, therefore I am." - René Descartes (philosopher and mathematician)
      • May 13 2013: "Much ado about nothing"... a comedic play by William Shakespeare

        Where does this end???
  • May 8 2013: What would be the difference between infinity and nothing?
  • May 8 2013: Let me try two perspectives:
    1) The context by which we understand things.
    It appears that the basis for everything that we understand is in terms of comparison. How could we understand cold if there is no heat. Distance is relative to some point. All measurements are given quantity, relative values. We conceptualize infinity due to the finite things we perceive.

    Frankly from a mental state perspective - infinity is the border of insanity. We do not know how to conceptualize infinity because it defies the way we understand everything else. Suppose, we could stop measuring, analyzing, comparing and conceptualizing. We could then put ourselves in a state of "being". This may sound philosophical and it is. The first step in science is to philosophize.

    So I suggest that we shut off our current thought process, quiet the mind then enter the state of "Being". Welcome to the Infinite Universe. Oddly enough it doesn't require definition anymore. The choice is yours - accept the state of "Being", one with the Universe or pursue the thing that we can not understand and drive yourself insane.

    2) A spiritual approach.
    If there is such a thing as God I would have to ask the question, "What would be my greatest creation?" Here is my possible answer, "Self Realization". This is not a difficult concept to accept. We constantly challenge ourselves to see what we are capable of doing. Our accomplishments, capability and potential define us. It is our choice whether or not we live up to our potential. But the point is we don't know that limit. Creation can be extended by creating other things that can create also. Our nature is to create things. Interestingly we value our children over the objects we create. The creation of children extends our ability to create. And so on........
    Infinity means in this context that there may not be an end because as long as we continue to create, the Universe expands. Once the spirit dies, so does the Universe. Would that be so hard to accept?
    • May 8 2013: Hi Martin, you mentioned creation and there is a very strong connection, one way or an other, that should join Infinity with finite stuff like us.

      It is all about perspectives indeed. We often could not know what is in a picture unless a penny is included :)

      This treatise is about creation, and possibly why, just a perspective..
      http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/documents/Creation.pdf
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      May 11 2013: Being naturally curious is a state of being. You don't have to be insane to indulge in it.
  • May 7 2013: We don't know if infinity is, but we can know what makes infinity possible, your unconditional awareness.

    Since for the purpose and function of awareness-as the human mind (consciousness, memory, etc)
    infinity is only an appearance therein, and thus a projection (as concept, unverifiable by any means),
    a mere idea (no matter how elaborated), limited to conditioned speculation (mental or physical, like the
    apparent infinity of space), research and "conclusions."

    Whether we unconditionally (in objectless meditation) or conditionally (in thought, belief, self-interest)
    look for the source of all appearances, we find nothing. Nothing that is, but awareness.

    Here we discover how all things are dependent on awareness to be, while awareness depends
    on nothing, and is indeed self-arising, uncreated presence, with a Heart of unconditional goodness,
    just like you...

    More, the appearance of self-recognizing unconditional awareness is proof of its singular unity
    with and as all appearances, including infinity.

    Likewise, God, and all His attributes are an appearance in awareness.

    This begs the question:

    Since unconditional awareness is presence, spontaneous universal wholeness, and is uncreated,
    the limits and ignorance of conditioned mind are obvious.

    But isn't freedom beyond "freedom from" likewise obvious?

    Now the world, society and human behavior are nakedly exposed for the inner dysfunction, the
    chronically incomplete view and understanding of this sacred moment's infinite potential.

    Since nothing can be done to change the changeless being of your unconditional awareness and goodness,
    how can you say there are "problems?"
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    May 7 2013: In plane geometry, isn't infinity defined by the circle?
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      May 11 2013: No. It is a closed function.

      A circle can be defined as the locus of all points that satisfy the equation
      x2 + y2 = r2
      where x,y are the coordinates of each point and r is the radius of the circle.

      Of course there are an infinite number of points on a circle.

      The circle is a strange element...... it attracts the curious minded.
  • May 5 2013: Of course mathematics can not define reality - and irrational numbers like pi and phi prove this point exactly. In mathematics, those ratios go on and never end. In nature, they are whole.
    Kind of like the way calculus and digital audio approximate a wave form by slicing them into many small slices - but never truly take the shape of the wave.
    Reality will always be much larger than a few formulas on a page.
    As for Schrodinger's cat having 18 half-lives - that's a good one!
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        May 12 2013: That symbol always bugged me. It looks more like a closed loop.
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    May 4 2013: hello Mark, please check out this video.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wHHz4mB9GKY

    Science v's God : Its The Collapse Of Physics As We Know it
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      May 12 2013: Vincenzo, aren't you a little lost here?
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        May 13 2013: I'm never lost John, everybody tends to tell me where to go. lol
        ok, on a serious note: No John, I have been blessed with internal GPS.
        I can only claim responsibility for the things that I say. What others say are reflections of themselves and that includes Dr. Michiu Kaku hypothesis.
  • May 1 2013: Consider the word Diety. It is the non-personal aspect of the Original Eternal Mind. Infinity does exist and is not fully understood by man. Good of you to think.

    How do you want to relate to infinity? Of what value is infinity to you and what are the possibilities for relating to life when infinity could be applied to anything?
  • May 14 2013: You people posting here need to take a look at www.topofthescale.com on infinite, intelligence, and many topics, he's a genius.
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    May 14 2013: I heard the definition: "set of all sets" as a definition for infinity in calculus class more than 20 years ago.
  • May 14 2013: Infinity is an idea that dodges anyone trying to approach it, people had lost their reason and even their life in trying to understand it. Just to give you an idea of what I'm talking about, imagine: staring at certain point in a plane you project 3 lines in of the same length with 120 degrees of separation, you can then connect the ending points of each line in order to form a triangle, if at half of the distance of each line (60 degrees) you project another 3 lines of the same length you can connect the ending points to form an hexagon, if you repeat the process over and over again, progressively you will get closer a shape that would look more and more like a circle, however in order to reach a perfect circle you will need an infinite number of lines... but what if: once you have a perfect circle you double the length of the lines?... you won't have a perfect circle anymore, there will be gaps that would only be filled by adding another infinite number of lines... can you see the implications?... This means: your assumption that infinite is equal to infinite is wrong, because there are infinities that are greater than others. In this exercise you started with 3 lines, then 6, and then doubled them over and over again, so this means: infinite can be divided exactly by 3, 6, 12, 24, etc.. but you can repeat the experiment starting with 2, 5, 7, 11 or 13 lines, and after a while you will realize that you can divide infinite by any integer number and the result will always be a number which is both integer and infinite.. so the conclusion that not all infinities are equal seems unavoidable.

    The reason of this is that "infinity" is only a mathematical concept designed to deal with numbers beyond human comprehension. Consider the number of grains of sand in a beach, it maybe so overwhelmingly huge that for practical proposes you can safely consider it infinite, but sure as the sun, there is a finite number of them, the same applies for the atoms in the universe, etc.
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    May 13 2013: I am sorry but i tire of having these types of conversations containig the words "no-things" , "existence" and " emptiness".
  • May 13 2013: Here I'll state an additional perspective on how the concept of infinity might work. Many are debating whether infinity is a closed or open system. I'm a visual thinker. That's why I've put forward the idea of applying the term infinity to a figurative box that holds everything in this universe. You simply scale it down to looking at a box in your backyard for instance. Of course the box is then surrounded by earths atmosphere to the space in our solar system and on and on until you finally see that "NO" that box that holds everything can't be infinity because much more goes on whether it be space or matter.

    Now on to that additional concept of how infinity could be both an open system and a closed one, meeting the stipulations of the paradoxical properties that infinity calls for.

    Imagine a Möbius strip. Now with an understanding of chaos theory and what bifurcations are, apply a bifurcation chart to each side of the strip of paper that will be made into the Möbius strip. Now imagine that Möbius strip is continually looping. The mobius strip represents space and time while the bifurcation chart represents matter and energy and how it changes from total consolidation to dispersion into the chaos of variation that matter and energy can manifest to become.

    Follow that looping Möbius strip around and you'll come to find there are infinite beginnings and endings for a universe as time infinitely goes on. Matter and energy continually consolidates and figuratively explodes or expands once again as time goes on. This is my scaled down analog of a universe.

    Now you may see that there is no beginning or end to the universe.
    That the 2nd law of thermodynamics holds true regarding entropy.
    That the law of conservation of energy holds true meaning that nothing is created nor destroyed...
    Hence, it was always there and always will be.
    The only thing different will be how it unfolds and how it collapses each time.

    Free yourself from your Galilean Invarience.
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    May 12 2013: Infinity is something that I cannot understand. Does my lack of understanding mean that it does not exist ?? If so then I am in control of what does or does not exist.
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      May 13 2013: Helen, I do understand that infinity doesn't exist. All in existence is finite.
      Infinity is the source of existence, generating all change in being.
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        May 13 2013: Hello...Put that way I can agree with you. The God I believe in is not a being. Regards from Helen
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        May 13 2013: I gotta ask in another place too. If this is where we discuss infinity, what is all this?

        0 = the null set; there is nothing in it. Zero is the opposite of infinity.
        :∞ = the set of everything or the set of all sets. This is the usual definition of infinity.

        (But What are these! Wikipedia has no clue!)

        ⧜ = incomplete infinity

        ⧝ = tie over infinity

        ⧞ = infinity negated with a vertical bar

        They all have UTF-8 codes and are included in multiple character sets/fonts. So some mathematician had to think these latter three up and give each one a meaning. They don't give UTF-8 codes to symbols that have no meaning or no utility. So what's up?
  • May 12 2013: " Infinity does not exist"

    Thank you for an alternative perspective.
    He's right we shouldn't assume it does. Not to get too obsessed with the geometry of infinity but as we approach a boundary it could fold back on itself like the folds of the brain. There is no outside- just infinite folds.
    Just fun speculation...
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    May 12 2013: We have problems conceptualizing large numbers, let alone the concept of the infinite. I don't believe anyone can really conceptualize the finite number one trillion, for example. Perhaps the limit of our ability to truly conceptualize numbers is 5 or 7, according to some researchers. After that, I just trust that the math works.
  • May 12 2013: Infinity does not exsist. It is a mathmatical/philosophical construct. Our universe is finite. It is both the box and the contents. There is no singulatity at the beginning of the universe neither did the universe come out of nothing. the universe has always exsisted only it's configuration changes which gives us a concept of time, which also does not exsist.
    • May 13 2013: "It is both the box and the contents". Ok, you've agreed to define the box, but what is cradling the box.
  • May 12 2013: The main point is that i don't give the mind metaphysical abilities. Although we can imagine a lot it is still a physical instrument not much different than a microscope,a thermometer or a telescope. It will give us only so much data and thats it..
    There are MANY, people that are smarter than me and so "imagine" more than i do.
    An infinite universe that exists in it entirety right now, without borders,or a container......
    well i just can't imagine that!
    And if infinity exist some other way i can't imagine that either.
    There is a school of thought that asserts nothing exists without an observer.That we create the universe by observing it. I say that is nonsense. The mind (we) evolved as a reaction to outside the mind events, For example mutations, sexual selection,and the enviroment.acting on US! We in other words are a subset of the universe, a part of it, Not the creators of it by the mere act of observation.( or measuring it as in quantum phenomena)
    Having the ability to define reality by choosing a reality might mean we only see that reality but the others are there whether we observe them or not.
    I get the feeling this is were these conversations are going... the mind as magic.
  • May 12 2013: There is no way that we can possibly attempt to understand this question. Our minds have evolved to comprehend the world under the parameters from which we evolved. In essence the question and the debate surrounding it, just produces mental noise. Our minds cannot grasp the ungraspable. Our cognition itself only works through concepts, so attempting to analytically transcend concepts is an uphill battle to say the least.
  • May 9 2013: (Mark Southerland)..."If infinity is limited, then educate me on the word that is that which is beyond infinity. If this is so, then our definition of infinity is incorrect".
    Hi. Let me give it a shot.
    Theory sais that the known universe as we know it 'came' out of the 'big bang'. Is the Universe Infinite at it's present form?
    I dont know, but it exist whether in a infinite or finite form. What about before the 'big bang'? Was there an infinite amount of nothing or infinite amount of something? Again, I dont know. But whether there was 'Nothing' or 'Something', there was an existence of 'IT'.
    Existence...whether infinity exist or has ever existed, it is still contained by existence...So in this train of thought existence is beyond infinity, and before infinity and everything that exist out of infinity...
    Note: Its kinda interesting how in the Torah God calls him self "Haya" which is hebrew for "to exist" or "existence".
    Just my thoughts ;)
    (please forgive any grammatical errors)
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      May 10 2013: Existence would not be beyond infinity. Existence is where and when we and god started contemplating infinity/eternity
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      May 11 2013: I wouldn't say we "and" God. From a religous perspective: Perhaps God alone.

      Infinity has no beginning because: if Infinity encompasses all things then what encompasses infinity? If we localize infinity, what to we pin the idea of localization to? All things together make up the elements of infinity, that is the best we can hope to accomplish.

      Perhaps our Idea of 'Universe' should be limited to the notion: it is an element of reality as opposed to the all, encompassing, set of all things -perhaps it is a mere building block of reality.

      Using the box anology, there is inside the box and outside the box. For the box to exist, it must exist inside inside of something else. If the implication is that something else must exist to house "stuff", then we are not allowed (by reasoning) to limited the deminsions of the constraining environment because all environments are constrained.
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        May 12 2013: I don't see the box as inside and outside. Because once you get out of one box you are just in another box. We are, man and god/gods prisoners of infinity/eternity
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        May 12 2013: Yeah but I don't think we can escape infinity. Unless that's what this is supposed to be? Where we can contemplate it but not "live" it
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        May 14 2013: I can't, in fact I am pretty sure we are
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    May 9 2013: Infinity: Einstein's general theory collapses at the singularity but, everything collapses at that point. At that point infinity begins. That is the theory.
    One can possibly physically measure to the singularity but, beyond that, one must accept the impossibility of physical measure. Infinity times infinity equals infinity. It is preposterous to assume that physics will compute beyond that. However, when one crosses that line he will find it easy looking for a Deity. This might possibly be due to the weight that is assumed to physics.
    Try this: close your eyes. Now, through your eyelids, can you determine where light starts and where it ends? Don't fret, here we have physics and the physical understanding that we are really looking at our eyelids.
    I am very comfortable that infinity is immeasurable and exist or doesn't. It is well the reason that finite is measurable......now, isn't that comforting? :)

    Cheers
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      May 10 2013: A singularity would still be infinite, our problem is we like to measure the immeasurable
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      May 12 2013: Actually it doesn't collapse. It just gets sucked inside with everything else.
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        May 13 2013: That might suggest that everything is the same but smaller. Everything collapses, everything breaks apart and sucked in, as you might suggest/.
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    May 9 2013: In infinity all labels and values are arbitrary, for there are infinite outcomes. What concept would you like to know about infinity? There is infinity in any whole...I repeat there is infinity in any whole
  • May 8 2013: Huh?
  • May 7 2013: It might go from one "Thing", to another "thing" , or perhaps loop back onto itself but your right, I don't think we would recognize the boundaries logic or form.
  • May 6 2013: I was curious if anyone had any thoughts on this idea? Does infinity,assuming it exists, exist in it entirety right now; or is it growing infinitely large?Growing at the speed of light? Faster?
    My guess is that it exists whole somehow. But doesn't that somehow imply a "container"?
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      May 6 2013: While I feel that we lack sufficient knowledge and understanding of "infinity" to model it with any reasonable accuracy, there's definitely no harm in speculating. I would postulate that infinity cannot be easily defined (or bounded) in terms of any of the usual constraints that our human brains are capable of processing (time, spatial dimensions, etc). That being said, I intuitively share your opinion that infinity already exists wholly - at least as we understand it. The speed of light (or even anything that's faster, but measurable) seems far too finite a limit for that which is infinite. However, I have very little confidence in the validity of my conjecture.
      • May 7 2013: Thank you for assuring me Im not mad. So the absurdity of this whole thing is that it exists whole but has no boundaries....I don,t think our minds bend that way....
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          May 7 2013: Indeed not. As computationally impressive as our brains can be within the scope of our own world, they are designed to process structure and consistency. It's entirely possible that infinity has "boundaries", but not boundaries that can be defined in terms of any parameters our minds are physically capable of understanding and thus, for our own purposes, infinity may as well be limitless.
      • May 7 2013: Hi Stephen and Jacqueline, as you say, "infinity already exists wholly" and also that thinking within the box of time and space there is no way we can 'picture' it.

        There is this book I highly recommend
        http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/documents/DLW.pdf

        We are spirits in a body, and if we limit our thought to that body, we're not going to get anywhere.

        This is part of what it says regarding that on page 1,
        "The reason so many people do not grasp this is that they love what is earthly and are therefore reluctant to lift their thinking above it into spiritual light. People who are reluctant can think only spatially, even about God; and thinking spatially about God is thinking about the extended size of nature.
        This premise is necessary because without a knowledge and some sense that Divinity is not in space, we cannot understand anything about the divine life that is love and wisdom, which are our present topic. This means there can be little if any understanding of divine providence, omnipresence, omniscience, omnipotence, infinity, and eternity, which are to be dealt with in sequence."
        And then it goes on..
        Edited, I hope it looks better now :)
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          May 7 2013: Adriaan, you make good points. Thank you for sharing the link, I will take a look.
        • May 7 2013: Hi Adriaan. The reason i don't accept "divine" interpretations is because of lines like "there can be little understanding of divine providence...and we cannot understand anything about the divine life..."ect.
          I, a born iconoclast,has to ask, who is it that understands this and so gets to claim i don't..
          The answer is a man with a pen.
          My premise is that we can.t know, yours is that you already do.
          My answer is you do not.
          But i respect your right to be wrong.
      • May 7 2013: Sorry to hear you were born that way Stephen :)

        However, I think we are saying the very same thing.

        "My premise is that we can.t know, yours is that you already do."
        No, I'm also saying we can't know, because it is not in our realm. All this discussing the size and place of infinity is not going anywhere for the 'simple' reason that we don't know.
        • May 7 2013: I'm sorry i was born that way too Adriaan. Life is easier as a follower.

          I'm glad we agree on what
          is unknowable.
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        May 13 2013: 0 = = the null set; there is nothing in it

        ∞ = the set of everything or the set of all sets.

        (But What are these! Wikipedia has no clue!)

        ⧜ = incomplete infinity


        ⧝ = tie over infinity

        ⧞ = infinity negated with a vertical bar

        They all (3) have UTF-8 codes; so they have to be important. Some mathematician had to think them up so they must be significant!
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      May 12 2013: Yes, you are correct. It does imply a container. The previous post about a circle is curious. We can have infinite points on a circle but we feel a type of closuer with the idea it is not really an infinite number of points.

      When you graph 1/x, we know that x cannot equal zero but we can get as close to zero as we want, right up next to it if we like. So we have a line that the function implies never touches the x axis, yet continues to exist on and on into an infinity of smaller and smaller numbers.

      Crazy....
  • May 5 2013: Maths is erroneous and man made - it places too much trust in things we can prove made by our own hand. It's a dialectic - are we both right and wrong at the same time and how did we get to the same conclusion?
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      May 12 2013: I don't think it is erroneous. It depends on your frame of reference, what your trying to prove. It can yield confusing results sometimes but perhaps it's not the math but the way we apply it.
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    May 5 2013: it's the old tree in the woods scenario. does infinity exist beyond the consciousness that conceived it?
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      May 12 2013: Hello Scott..... from Big think, right?

      What if more than one consciousness concieves of it? Does that give some sort of relavence to the idea?
      If a photon is travelling at the speed of light, is it pushing against an infinite force?
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        May 12 2013: I dunno. All I know is that humans are the source of all those cool ideas like infinity. I guess that if "we" thought of it, then it's real. I'm open to any idea but I also have a pretty good bullsh*t detector (even though it often goes off when I'm talking).
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          May 12 2013: It's always good to know one's true source of inspiration Scott. I commend you.
  • May 5 2013: Its' precisely this ego,this false exagerated view of our powers as humans to comprehend these things intelligently that inspres people to say things like ego limits imagination. That comment is a reflection of an a "dragon" that is not slayed.
    Dont get me wrong , I love the topic,the conversation was good until the all knowing sages chimed in. The "absolutist " that just "know".
    No ,the mind is not infinite it's your ego that tells you so.
    Further, our minds have nothing to do with it. Infinity either exist or it does'nt.
  • May 5 2013: Well, shoot, I guess if we have really really good eyes --
    We might see around a corner...
    Or see the other end of the circle.
    Or see past infinity to whatever is there.

    Just because we cannot get there from here is not a sign
    that there does not exist.

    De ja vu?
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      May 12 2013: Yeah.... it's kinda like when people tell you it's over younder... where ever that is.
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    May 4 2013: The concept of infinity is immensely difficult for the finite human brain to process (let alone, define properly). As Andrew Jones pointed out, the word is derived from roots meaning "unmeasurable". Fitting, isn't it? The logic of our brains is developed and reinforced by a physical world that has boundaries, structure, and consistency - none of which apply to the concept of infinity in the same way.

    In English, it is considered poor form to define words using themselves (for example, "infinity has always been infinite"), and perhaps one of the reasons that these autological words are so uncomfortable (and impractical, ordinarily) for us to use is because this type of recursive logic is not consistent with the types of parameters that our brains are conditioned to work with.

    Thank you for sharing this interesting thought exercise.
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      May 12 2013: But, isn't the "... physical world that has boundaries, structure, and consistency..." still part of that invariable homogeneousness we call infinity?
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        May 13 2013: Yes, but for many practical purposes, the physical world is usually dealt with outside the scope the "invariable homogeneousness (very apt description) we call infinity".
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          May 14 2013: Yes, and so it is; for both purpose and reason. Once purpose has been fulfilled, we are still left to reason the why and way of things. Reason also appears to be infinite in scope.
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      May 13 2013: 0 = the null set (there is nothing in it) =

      ∞ = the set of everything or the set of all sets.

      But what do these forms of infinity Mean? There are at least 4 types of infinity. (3 more listed below. What are these! Wikipedia has no clue!) But some Mathematician had to make them up! Otherwise there would be no UTF-8 code for them!

      ⧜ = incomplete infinity

      ⧝ = tie over infinity

      ⧞ = infinity negated with a vertical bar

      I found all these extra symbols for infinity, but I can't figure out what they mean!
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        May 14 2013: First, the null set is empty, therefore contains nothing, especially the all encompassing set of all things: infinity.

        The two are not compatible, I don't believe.
        Therefore the null set could not be contained in the set of infinity; or could it?

        I am completely at a lose of what would be a good symbol for infinity. Have you seen those open heart necklaces? Perhaps something along that line; something open, not looped.
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    May 4 2013: Makes sense.
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    May 4 2013: Infinite is merely something we cannot currently measure.

    Infinite space because we just cannot measure it. This doesn't mean we will never be able to measure it. So "infinite" is merely a state where modern units of measure do not apply.

    You are thinking of "infinity" as "it goes on forever". That's just not accurate. Infinity does not necessarily mean that something goes on forever. Infinite merely means we cannot possibly measure it given our current understanding of measurement.

    We cannot say anything is infinite. We haven't been far enough into space to determine that it is endless. As a matter of fact the term "endless" goes against everything we know about everything. Everything has a beginning and an end.

    Nothing is the only thing that remains infinite. There is no limit to the size or capacity of nothing.
    • May 4 2013: "Nothing is the only thing that remains infinite. There is no limit to the size or capacity of nothing."
      Therefore infinity exists
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        May 4 2013: I don't believe I said infinity doesn't exist.

        If you are referencing "We cannot say anything is infinite" I think you may have misunderstood.

        Any-thing.
        Anything would relate to material objects, or objects we can measure. We cannot measure "the amount of stars" because the body of stars in existence is not understood.

        We cannot measure "space" because "space" and it's components are not understood.

        Therefore, we use the word "infinite". It merely means "we cannot possibly measure it" not "it can never be measured".

        Nothing or No thing relates to no material objects within a defined space. You do not have to have limits on "nothing" as it is a state of containing no definable boundaries set by matter or something we can measure.
        • May 5 2013: My point is that while our observed universe thus far in terms of space, matter and various other variables the concept of infinity can be applied to, can be infinitely different in other universes, realms or dimensions.

          In our own universe, we have observed a lot of space interspersed with clusters of matter. That's not to say there are other universes or dimensions made entirely up of energy, solid matter or empty space.
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        May 4 2013: Infinite has nothing to do with growth, and how can you know of something's existence if you also state we cannot perceive it?
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        May 8 2013: The term infinite is not indicative of growth. I'm not sure where you are getting that from. If we are incapable of perceiving something then I can venture to say we are incapable of knowing it exists for sure.

        We cannot ever hope to conceive of something beyond the physical realm. We are unfortunately bound to this physical realm. Death is the only release.
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      May 12 2013: " Infinite is merely something we cannot currently measure. "

      If it is infinit, when will we 'currently' be able to measure it?
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        May 12 2013: Many consider the universe to be infinite. If we are able to reach the outer edges of our universe and measure its mass it is no longer infinite.
  • May 4 2013: We're contemplating now but somethings can not be understood. "I don't know "doesn't sell but it is really the only thing that we'll keep us from killing ourselves .Since these discussions always digress into arguments about how its all about something unseen,unfelt and unprovable. Most worrisome is the absolute conviction of people for things we can NEVER know.So we can contemplate but with humility.
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      May 12 2013: Your right Stephen. We should be spending more time looking for missing children.
  • May 4 2013: If this universe, and lets suppose all those outside ours, is infinite, wouldn't it take an infinite mind to understand it?
    i Understand the God solution to this problem,(i.e. only God could pull this off) but other than that i think this leaves us out from ever understanding infinity..We should be honest about what we don't know as well as what is unknowable So unless you are God please don't tell me what infinity is.
    • May 4 2013: I think there may be a difference between understanding something and contemplating something. Man contemplated space travel before man understood how to make it happen.
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      • May 4 2013: But the mind is not infinite.Imagination is not infinite since i can not understand infinity.
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          May 12 2013: Unless you know where infinity starts and stops, how can you assert that the mind is not infinite? Where does the mind start? Where does it end? Where is the limite of imagination?

          I'm assuming that mind starts with self-awarness and continues as long as there is a mind to assume anything.
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    May 3 2013: I would say, with the definitions of this new experiment, that it depends whether or not there really is a 'wall' or whether the 'wall' is an illusion. If it were a 'wall', then the scanner would report back. If it were an illusion and 'the universe' really did continue, the scanner would recognize the 'obstruction', report its thickness, and ask us whether or not we were interested in what lay beyond.
    • May 4 2013: It it reported back a thickness, then space and matter continue infinitely. If the scan never reported back, then only solid matter continues infinitely.
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        May 4 2013: You lost me there. If we reached the end of the known universe and found a wall, and measured its thickness, why would it follow that space and matter continue? If the scanner never reported, then why does it follow that matter continues?
        • May 5 2013: I think because your stuck with thinking our universe is that which is infinite or finite. If the wall was measured and came back with a thickness, that means more space is beyond our universal boundary leading us to conclude that there is more than our single universe. And if there's more than one, than surely there's more than two and on infinitum.

          If our scanner continued to scan forever, then our known universe is encased in solid matter infinitum. That's to say if we were to live forever to know the scanner never returned a result.
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        May 5 2013: Oh, ok. Yes. You are describing dynamics that exist in 'our' infinity. I still hold that we are only capable of identifying infinity within the bounds of our ability to imagine and discover it, and to my premise that similar to 'plane-like' or dimensional, but not as such, beyond such concepts, could lie alternate infinities, yet all still infinite in their own right. Thank you for an interesting discourse.
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        May 12 2013: How can you get a report without a reflection?
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    May 3 2013: Interesting topic Mark.
    I understand the argument that infinity cannot be contained because it would not then represent a never ending schema. But I would put forward this is semantical thinking. You are suggesting that our somewhat romantic notion of an end is correct. In the last 50 years we have discovered that there is no end...to anything. Even if you were able to definitely say that a thing was no longer in this existence, then there is no guarantee that it merely became undetectable from our instruments or technology to measure. Therefore infinity may indeed have an end...that is...one that is fathomable to us at any one time.

    The other point I would like to make is that there could be no beginning if there was no end, further to that point there could be no end if there was infinity. Similarly this assumption that God does not exist is folly (and I am not a particularity religious man...more spiritual I think). This argument itself presents a God as a certainty because this universe was caused to wink into existence by something (even you concurred with this), something that is beyond our ability to comprehend. Religion merely describes our maker in human terms, Our maker could be any form for all we know and may not even be sentient...but of course the argument wouldn’t finish there...who made the god like non sentient maker of this universe...etc.

    Lastly, the idea of matter and time is only relevant to our experience of it in this universe. This idea you have of a multi verse of bubble universes has to exist in something, some space, some time. Perhaps the space that the bubble universes are propagated in have an incredibly slower decay rate of matter than its created universes....therefore an end. I believe it is folly to take ideas as truths no matter how well we convince our selves of the scientific or non-scientific validity, what we think we know could be said to be “A”truth only at best, not “The” truth.
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      May 12 2013: "...In the last 50 years we have discovered that there is no end...to anything." I guess I didn't get that copy of Reader's Digest Robert. Who discovered this fact?
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        May 13 2013: Unkindness is one example of no end john. Folly is another, believing that what we have learnt from others is absolute truth without exception is perhaps the worst example, your on a roll. I didn't read it from text, or heard it on tv or from the lips of another human being john, I considered all I have learnt from my own life and the scientific discoveries of humanity especially the onging hidden wonders of quantum physics and extrapolated the idea all by myself. I did not say it was fact, the worst I did was suggest that we as a community had discovered it. Enjoy your readers digest john.
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          May 13 2013: I will Robert. I read it all the time.
          Cheer up Dude. I meant nothing personal. I play guitar myself. I love science fiction. I have a good grasp on science. I once started writing a SciFy book called "Green Salvation", but never finished it. It was inspired by the early GMO protest days back in the 90's.

          Send me an email and let's chat....... You sound like a pretty cool, level headed guy.

          Infinity is one of my pet themes.

          Robert. Have you ever had a dream that was so real that when you woke up you were surprised to find yourself in this reality? Have you ever wondered what would happen if you didn't wake up?

          Infinity is a cloudy idea at best. It's one of those things you either accept or refuse to debate but you can't prove it either way.
  • May 1 2013: Research the term Infinitely infinite. There is nothing beyond infinity. If there was something beyond infinity, then that something would be the real the infinity.
    The beyond thing was just a catchphrase from toy story.
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    May 1 2013: I would say 'layers', or 'dimensions', would be beyond infinity. Using your 'box', everything outside of the box would be 'beyond infinity'. But 'beyond the box' presupposes the same thinking patterns of the box within: Infinitely large, small, space ,time, etc. Very linear. What if there were layers of infinity? Each layer infinite. Or a number of (or infinite) dimensions, with each dimension infinite in itself? This would be beyond our abilities to conceptualize since there is no reference point as it is beyond our own infinity.
    • May 1 2013: While there are sets of infinity, infinity will nonetheless continue whether there are layers, multiple universes, or dimensions. Infinity is non linear.
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        May 1 2013: Ok. in an effort to participate in this very interesting 'thought experiment', I will offer this: Infinity, regardless of mankind's ability to conceptualize it, is a creation of mankind. We cannot know if it exists outside our realm of conceptualization. We can't conceive of things outside our ability to conceive of them. We cannot call infinity a 'universal truth'. There are no such things as universal truths because we cannot conceive of a universe outside of our concept of the universe - or infinity, which if known, could negate our truths. If this is true, then 'infinity' is limited to our ability to imagine existence without mankind. Therefore I used the term "linear" in describing our ability to imagine infinity as a quality and function of our ability to imagine it. Outside of our infinite number of concepts regarding infinity's lack of need for us, could be other possibilities outside of infinity. Although infinity may not be 'bounded or measured' from our point of view, it would therefore be limited.
        • May 1 2013: Infinity was conceptualized by man, not created by man. If man created infinity then man created the concept of god.

          You're basically saying the concept of infinity is inconceivable by man....so what does that say about mans concept or perception of a god figure?

          If infinity is bounded and has a limitation of any particular quality, then that observed (or conceptualized) limitation is but a compartmentalization of infinity and infinity continues beyond the observed limit.
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        May 2 2013: Thank you for that. Let me reply to your 3 offerings. 1) If not man, then who created the concept of God? 2) I wasn't clear. I'm not saying 'infinity is inconceivable by man', I'm saying that man's concept of infinity is limited by man's ability to conceive, and that there could be other 'infinities' outside of man's ability to conceptualize them. 3) '...beyond the observed limit.' We're very close here. My whole offer rests on man's 'observable limit'. Man can imagine infinity, man can say that infinity encompasses 'all things' infinitely - known and unknown, but that concept of infinity is limited by man's ability to conceive of the known and unknown of infinity. If man could see all of infinity, it would be man's infinity only. There may be others as yet inconceivable.
        • May 2 2013: Lets back up with another thought experiment.

          Lets say our universe is an immense sphere billions and billions of light years across composed of space and matter. We jump in our space craft capable of traveling large distances in little time. Our space craft reaches the edge of the universe. We'll even say that the space craft had to come to a stop because it appears our universe is contained by a wall of unknown thickness acting as the inner surface of the immense sphere that our universe is contained within.

          We have scanning equipment on board to make our necessary observations of the thickness of our universal wall. You push the button to start the scanning.

          Will the scanning reach completion and report back with the observation or will it continue to scan forever?
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    May 1 2013: I get the topic, but is there a question?
    • May 1 2013: The question is definitely theological, but I'm trying to set a precedence to base further observations upon. Once a creationist realizes that is what I'm doing, then usually their mind shuts off and goes back to auto pilot with where their faith lies.
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        May 1 2013: Your assessment of Creationists may be distorted by personal bias. As a Creationist I repeat, is there a question? I ask because I do not see a single question mark in your entire post. Thank you for posting a relevant, provocative subject. Be well sir.
  • May 1 2013: Dear Mark, I have the feeling that you'd like to find the definition of infinity on the physical level. As in
    Infinitely large, small, time, etc. as infinity has room for everything (physical?)

    Infinity has nothing to do with matter, space or time. In this space there are only appearances of infinity, like the grains of sand, or the loves of people.

    God is in time without being part of, or being limited by, time. The same with space. In the spiritual world there is only an appearance of time and space. E.g. distance is determined by difference of love, not position.

    In case you'd like to read about it, this is a book about heaven and hell. About who is where and why.
    http://webhome.idirect.com/~abraam/documents/Heaven%20and%20Hell.pdf

    One does not have to start on page one, but can choose the chapter that seems most interesting.
    • May 1 2013: I disagree. The presence of infinity is the presence of infinity in all concepts. Otherwise, there is no infinity. Setting a limit to what infinity applies to is the same as saying infinity has limits.
      • May 1 2013: Seems like I did not explain things very well.

        The basic idea is we cannot explain or express infinity in material terms. There is no relationship between infinity and space, just as there is no relationship between eternity and time. In fact they both are the absence of the limit.

        That does not mean the infinite God is not also in and influencing space, in fact He created space. But since there is no relationship we should not try to describe Infinity with space or distance.
        • May 1 2013: Not knowing what we don't know is the basis for ignorance. Mankind breaks through the barrier of ignorance everyday in many ways.

          According to what you're saying, space and time is not infinite because infinity has no relationship to space and time or apparently anything else unless you're talking about god. When god comes into the picture, then there is such a thing as infinity and since god is everything then the infinitive quality of god has to apply to everything that god concievably is.

          Your proof is your faith which requires no proof but your faith

          The concept of god is an anthropomorphized concept of mankinds grappling with the concept of a superior being. Infinity is simply an applicable quality.
      • May 2 2013: Yes, time and space do not exist beyond this material world. God is infinite ans so can be omnipresent in the material world without being limited and confined to this world.

        We can get a feeling of this disconnection when we're having fun, time flies. When we don't like something time drags on.

        Since God is infinite and eternal, past present and future are one with Him. That makes it possible for Him to make prophesies, plan ahead etc. This also, to many people, seems to take away our freedom. Because God knows what we are going to do we're stuck. Not so because God is in the past present and future and 'sees' us doing our things in that future.
        While God is with us in time and space, nothing within us is infinite.

        "Your proof is your faith which requires no proof but your faith"
        What I have read and heard makes sense to me and thus I accept it as truth. The last thing I want to be part of is 'blind' faith.
  • May 1 2013: Before we are to debate deities, gods, or god we need to be able to source a universal truth. Faith is not a universal truth. Though my definition of infinity includes the infinite possibility of god like figures, it is then to be debated as to how a god figure (the word figure being used loosely) is to exist in accordance with the definition of infinity.

    Some simply say that god is infinity, or that god is infinite, but that god doesn't exist within infinity for that would mean that god is somehow bounded by that which is unbounded.

    I've had this debate before with creationists and once they realized that the definition of infinity put into question their beliefs of the biblical god and their timeline of 6000 years, they stopped arguing and basically resorted back to their faith as being the ultimate truth.

    I am not an atheist, but I am a seeker of truth in my life.
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      May 1 2013: Hi Mark.
      You need to educate me. If the universe is 14 billion, or 6000 years old, what difference does it make to our idea of infinity ? If I live to 80, that will be unaffected by me spending a week skydiving.

      The bible speaks of an infinite God who manufactured this universe for the specific purpose of raising children. When that is accomplished he will no doubt do something else; ad infinitum. The time taken to manufacture a universe is a side issue; especially as it is beginning to look as if time itself was manufactured at the same time (?).

      :-)
      • May 1 2013: Our universe is but one of infinity. Using the box analogy, our universe is but one box of everything we have observed and know to be. Outside of that box are more universes.

        Imagine an infinite pool of bubbles, some are popping into existence, some popping out of existence. This provides localized time lines of space/time to each bubble. The bubbles expand and contract but infinity remains infinite.

        Our observable universe is roughly 14 billion years old and is expanding from a point of origin. That's fine and is concurrent with my definition of infinity. What is not fine is a 6000 year old universe. Our knowledge of the speed of light and dead stars light reaching us, radiometric and carbon dating, ice cores, geological strata, fossils and on and on all point to a much older existence.
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          May 2 2013: Your imagination is admirable, but no more relevant than anyone else's. I cannot have faith in imagination, I need some facts. All talk of multiverses & infinity is out with our comprehension, so it is a matter of faith with very little in the way of fact.
          Your estimate of the age of the earth is based on current majority scientific opinion. This is not surprising, as that is what is currently taught in our schools & pushed on our media. However it has little to do with infinity that I can tell.
          You mention your antagonism for Creationism several times; why not just have an "Age of the Earth" conversation, & be done with it. I am still intrigued as to why you think the idea of infinity trumps the YEC's argument.

          :-)
      • May 7 2013: Peter,
        I'm probably not in a position to educate you, nor anyone else. For me infinity is endless; a concept we humans find troublesome. To admit endless and not able to see the results thereof, is to admit limits of capability and knowledge. How can anyone form an absolute opinion while not seeing infinity? Only Absolute Original Mind knows all and sees all while simultaneously omnipotent. How can man explain anything else.

        On the worldwide stage people say in many different ways, endless and unlimited are God!