T Nation

Concept of Infinity


Can we discuss this? It fucking blows my mind again and again. I've barely begun to understand it, and I can't wrap my head around it no matter how hard I try.

For example, before the universe, what was there? Specifically, this notion of a backwards infinity makes me want to stab someone with sheer frustration.

So the universe began ... where did it begin? It must have had some space (some nothingness) to expand into, right? Right?

Just want to talk about infinity as a concept.



An infinite amount of people are going to view this thread without replying.

Is that the joke, you twats?


the terms "before the universe" are meaningless.

by definition, the universe is the totality of everything that exists. space and time included.

therefore there is no "before the universe" and no "outside the universe"


If nothingness is the absence of everything, we have no way of knowing what it is.

The concept of nothingness is therefore meaningless.

Infinity, well, just imagine that any point in the universe is the centre, and that's it.



This is what I'm trying to get at. Does it not make you dizzy?


Aye! Its the imagining part of it that I have a problem with. I can do it, but am never comfortable with it. Don't quite have the vocabulary to talk about it either.

For example, its possible that there have been billions of universes everywhere, right? Infinite universes? Meaning an infinite number of permutations ...

Meaning this very exchange is taking place an infinite number of time in an infinite amount of universes?

Or is what I'm saying something out of the looney bin?


not really,
as a teacher, i see too many grammatical errors a day to feel dizzy about this one.


there is only one universe, by definition (see above).

there could be multiple "worlds", multiple timelines, multiple spaces, but, in the end and strictly speaking, they compose one and only one universe.




Time itself is really an imaginary concept to begin with. It's a useful tool to label the way we experience existence. Nothing more. You cannot apply it to abstract concepts like origin and infinity because it simply does not apply.


Essentially, time is a natural law of the universe. You cannot apply it to things outside the universe. You cannot define the existence of the universe using internal components. If you tried to, you'd have nothing more than a circular definition.


Ask Jerry



Some interesting ideas here, though most are a little off the mark. A few points:

  1. Time is not necessarily an "imaginary concept." There are plenty of physicists who would argue that time and more importantly time symmetry is inexorably interwoven with electromagnetism. Their argument tends to reduce to the relationship between the electric dipoles of neutrons and their intrinsic direction of spin.

  2. In terms of defining the "universe;" It is also plausible that there are things outside of our universe. There are certainly things that are beyond what is our "observable universe," things past our event horizon. As above, there is plenty of good science supporting multiverse theories.

  3. Time is also not guaranteed to be consistent in pace or even direction in all parts of our universe. Hawkins made a very good case for time literally flowing backwards in a black hole.

  4. Much of what troubles you with the concept of infinity could simply be the result of not having the proper context within which to consider it. Time and its behavior becomes a mathematical exercise at some point, and this may be the only way that we can interact with it that transcends our hard-wired perceptions of causality, etc... evolutionary tools suitable to our environment.

I'm near the end of a really fantastic book on just this topic; About TIme by Paul Davies. I can't recommend it highly enough... in fact, pretty much everything I've read by him has been great. Though, Cosmic Jackpot stands out. I would almost say read that one first, then About Time.


This guy has some mathematical videos on infinity.


Fuck yeah, used to watch this show all the time with my dad.


Interesting. Thanks for the help swole and kamui. Brother Chris ... er ... you too.

What I was considering I suppose, was this:

Can another me exist? Of course, by definition it wouldn't be me. What I mean is this. Given that we exist, that our universe exists, is it reasonable to assume that the conditions which brought it by can/will bring another existance into being which does not interact/overlap with ours?

If so, can this happen again and again to the point that somewhere, there's an existance which to a hypothetical being that could "view" both existances, would appear exactly the same?

I say yes! Quite simply because that'd be so cool.

End childish dream/


Typical bronze age school of thought.

I don't know what a lightning bolt is, so let's just say my (!) god is behind it.

Textbook example of intellectual lazyness that won't bother to explore the capabilities and shortcomings of the human mind.

An ant cannot comprehend human nature, just like we cannot "grasp" the concept of infinity.

That doesn't make us ant-gods, nor does it make it necessary for us to create gods.


Questions such as "can something come from nothing?" bother me - as I'm not up to date with scientific enquiry on this matter, I'm going to assume - for argument's sake - that something cannot come from nothing.

And if the universe exists, then it came from something. But does my previous sentence imply that 'something' has always existed?

At this point, my head will generally spin out and I'll attack the nearest person to me. Because the "something has always existed" takes me into the realm of infinity and beyond ... (is it called infinite regression?)

I hope that 'About Time' book you mentioned deals with this scenario, as I'm about to order it!


One way to look at it is through the indefinable point of quantum mechanics... basically, there is an infinite amount of moments between now and "the beginning." You can always divide time again.

And, incidentally, the book Cosmic Jackpot touches more on the origins of the universe than About Time. Both are great, though.


I'll look into it, thanks. I bought a cheap book called "chronos" but am not sure who the author was. Haven't got around to reading it yet.

As for infinite moments between now and the beginning, I kind of understand that concept - my only problem is that we can in fact - and do -regularly pass these moments.

What I mean to say is that in the time it took me to type this post, an infinite number of moments existed (if we divide the time) but I did somehow get through them all ... is it a bit too conceptual? A kind of paradox?

Will definitely look into the cosmic jackpot book then.