Three Times A Charm = Infinity

March 26, 2013 by Rieshy

A few days ago I was reading a quirky little non-fiction math book, Life of Fred- Butterflies, to my 6 year old- lest you think I was torturing him, he loves this math series.   Along with Don Quixote it discussed cardinal numbers and then the cardinal number for infinity.

What?  Infinity has a cardinal number, wait what are cardinal numbers again?" were my panicky thoughts.  Math generally induces panicky thoughts in me that I must suppress with a stern self-lecture of, "I must not fear, fear is the mind-killer." -because quoting Dune makes me feel more mathy. 

Aleph-null is the cardinal number associated with the set of all whole numbers.  It is the smallest infinite number...  Not that I understand this, and we moved on to some other activity.  My brain was ready to flush the whole concept. Except a couple of days later I was standing in the library stacks waiting for my 6 year old to locate a particularly coveted bound compendium of Calvin and Hobbes, which weighs more than he does, when a book caught my eye:  The History of Infinity.

Wow.  The last math book I read, Innumeracy, merely explained how stupid I was and then laughed at me as it demanded I return my college diploma but as I don't tend to learn from my mistakes, I checked it out in full expectation that I will not actually finish it or understand more than 10% of what I do finish.

However, the the coup de grĂ¢ce on coincidence: my husband and I ran away from home for an evening of adulthood to hear The Atlantic Ensemble perform works by composer Lawrence Dillon.  One of the string quartets was Infinite Sphere and Dillon started the evening by quoting Blaise Pascal, "Nature is an infinite sphere of which the center is everywhere and the circumference nowhere."

Funny enough, this post replicated and I had to delete the extra postings out of Blogger...  I guess I really really need to read The History of Infinity.



Anonymous said...

Hello! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any trouble with hackers?

My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing
months of hard work due to no data backup. Do you have any solutions to protect against hackers?

Here is my web blog: hip to waist ratio

Amy said...

Wow, very serendipitous! I hope it is a surprisingly enjoyable book for you. :)

Post a Comment