And yet it is also a question that has reality in everyday life — a question that even young children grapple with as they learn to count: Aristotle, the first person recorded to consider the issue of infinity, distinguishes between two varieties of infinity: Potential infinity characterises an unending universe or an unending list — for example the natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on. These lists or expanses have no end or boundary: In contrast, Aristotle banned actual infinities. Defined as a measurable, local item — such as the density of a solid, the brightness of a light, or the temperature of an object — that becomes infinite at a particular place or time.
Encountering this infinity locally in the universe was, as far as Aristotle was concerned, an impossibility. His only permissible actual infinity was the divine — and this philosophy underpinned Western and Christian thought for several thousand years. But towards the end of the 19th century, mathematician Georg Cantor developed a more subtle way of defining mathematical infinities.
Countable infinity can literally be counted — put in one-to-one correspondence with the natural numbers.
This takes in the unending list of natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and so on , but also any other series that can be counted without limit. This idea had some funny consequences. For example, if you make a list of all the even numbers, you have a countable infinity. Intuitively you might think there are only half as many even numbers 2, 4, 6, 8… as natural numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8… because that would be true for a finite list.
But when the list becomes unending that is no longer true. This fact was first noticed by Galileo although he was counting the squares 1, 4, 9, 16 and so on, rather than even numbers , who thought it was so strange that it put him off thinking about infinite collections of things any further. He thought there was just something dangerously paradoxical about them. For Cantor, though, this feature of being able to create a one-to-one correspondence between a set of numbers and a subset of them was the defining characteristic of an infinite set.
One such infinity is characterised by the list of all real numbers.
These cannot be counted; there is no recipe for listing them systematically. This uncountable infinity is also called the continuum. Cantor showed that you could find infinitely bigger sets still, all the way upwards forever: This neverending tower of infinities pointed towards something called absolute infinity — an unreachable summit of the tower of infinities.
Another type of infinity arises in gravitation theory and cosmology. These infinities, if they do exist, would be actual infinities. Cosmologists who come from particle physics and are interested in what string theory has to say about the beginning of the universe would tend to the view that these infinities are not real, but are rather just an artefact of the unfinished character of the theory.
There are others who think that the initial infinity at the beginning of the universe plays a very important role in the structure of physics. But even if these infinities are an artefact, the density of those false infinities is stupefyingly high: Something very odd happens if we assume that the universe will eventually stop expanding and contract back to another infinity, a big crunch.
That big crunch could be non-simultaneous because some parts of the universe, where there are galaxies and so on, are denser than others. The places that are denser will run into their future infinities before the low-density regions. If we were in a bit of the universe that had a greatly delayed future infinity, or even none at all, then we could look back and see the end of the universe happening in other places — we would see something infinite.
You might see evidence of space and time coming to an end elsewhere. It is hard to predict exactly what you will see if an actual infinity arises somewhere.
The way our universe is understood at the moment implies a curious defence mechanism. A simple interpretation of things suggests that there is an infinite density occurring at the centre of every black hole, which is just like the infinity at the end of the universe.
But a black hole creates a horizon around this phenomenon: And neither can the infinity influence us. The authors call the "Big Bang" religion masquerading as science. Naturally, the acolytes of the Big Bang religion, attempt to discredit anyone who questions their religion, by engaging in name calling, lies, and distortions, for example, by claiming that critics are pushing a religious or mystical alternative, when in fact, the Big Bang was proposed by a Catholic Priest, a Bishop and member of the Pope's Council of scientists. The Big Bang was proposed to make the Bible scientific.
Those who believe the universe began with a big bang, are pushing mystical, supernatural explanations which have no scientific basis.
Why should the universe have a beginning? Doesn't a creation event, imply a creator? An infinite universe has no creator and does away with the mystical nonsense that pervade big bang theology. I provided an extra star for the pretty pictures.
However, one of the illustrations is telling. The diagrams of solar-system atoms showing electrons in neat planetary orbits made me wonder who the book is targeted to. Certainly not anyone with a basic understanding of atomic structure. But the real problem is with broad, sweeping unsupported conclusions For example, because there are countless natural forms of spiral structure found in nature, therefore the universe as a whole must exhibit a spiral nature. Mystical arguments in an attempt to provide a world-view free of western religion.
Sorry, I can believe in the big bang if that turns out true , generated by a random quantum fluctuation Or the collision of multi-dimensional branes Without any theology or mysticism. See all 3 reviews. Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway. Quantum Physics of Infinity.
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