Infinity: An Intriguing Theoretical Idea And Beyond

Infinity – we all know about it conceptually. But is it limited to its definition? In 17th Century, Jonathan Swift wrote flamboyantly about the concept of self-similarity in nature in his poem “On Poetry: A Rhapsody”.

“So nat’ralists observe, a flea

Has smaller fleas that on him prey;

And these have smaller fleas to bite ’em.

And so proceeds Ad infinitum.”

The Victorian Era mathematician Augustus De Morgan further elaborated this with an identical poetry.

Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite ’em,

And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.

And the great fleas themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on,

While these again have greater still and greater still, and so on.

When Swift used the term Ad Infinitum in his poem, his context was to depict a non-terminating yet repetitive process. But the intriguing feature of infinity encouraged De Morgan to frame these lines.

But really, what is so intriguing about infinity?

Firstly, let’s understand what infinity actually is.

It’s the depth of a black hole where the nature succumbs. The never ending length of the universe. It’s the turn of time which lets loose without limit. A hope that encourages us to never fear an end. The flowing force of life which tells us that all remains connected. It’s the distance between what we mean to say and what is said. Also, as Einstein defines, it’s the perfect measure of human stupidity.

Mathematically, infinity is a complete theoretical idea explaining a number which has no bound. Modern mathematics utilizes the idea of infinity to solve many practical and abstract mathematical as well as real life problems.

Aristotle classified infinity to be of two types- potential infinity and actual infinity.

Potential Infinity

It is said to be a group of numbers or things that continue with no end. They keep going on repeating itself over and over again without any recognizable ending point. The thing that makes it really ‘potential’ is the concept that if we take a slice of sponge and examine the number of pores, we will be able to observe a finite set of numbers. Another example can be a simple geometric line, which we can extend on without any end. It will be potentially infinite as one would keep on adding more length to a finite length.

Actual Infinity

It involves never ending sets of things that are in a certain space having a definite beginning and end. In other words, it implies to a series that is already complete but has infinite number of members. They are mostly paradoxical. You cannot add another member in an already completed set which has a beginning and an end.

Our bodies are bound to live with certain flaws and physicality but our mind is free to imagine infinite things. The distance between mind and body brings another landscape which is transcendental i.e. has some spiritual realms bound with it above all materialism. However, in this empirical nature, it seems impossible but we are constantly living with all the realities and also desiring all kinds of infinity to find a beautiful life filled with soul and dignity.

Metaphysically, the universe constantly expands for a never ending answer. It is like spirituality that goes beyond our imagination for conceiving infinity in its nature leads us towards optimism of never ending humanity and human kindness.

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