the first post in a finite series
If there’s one thing about math that people love—and to make it through the average day, I have to believe there’s at least one—it’s infinity.
Throw the word into a math lesson, and ears perk up. Infinity? Did he say infinity? It’s like a distant celebrity, the subject of endless gossip and rumor. “I heard infinity isn’t even a number!” “Only the universe is really infinite.” “My last teacher said infinity times two is the same as infinity.” “I can use infinity to prove that 1 = 0!”
Infinity is a sound too high for our ears, a light too bright for our eyes, a taste so sweet that it would tear through our tongues like acid. Basically, it’s mathematical Mountain Dew.
Tellingly, all of our words for infinity define it by what it isn’t. Infinite: not finite. Unlimited: not limited. Boundless: without bounds. It’s hard to articulate what infinity does, so we settle for naming what it doesn’t: end. Infinity is the Anansi of mathematics, a trickster spider weaving baffling webs of paradox and contradiction.
Take this example: which has more numbers, List A or List B?