Is infinity an illusion?

  • 376 Replies
  • 70286 Views

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

*

lean bean

  • Guest
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #150 on: 22/09/2013 10:29:26 »
My contention is that infinity cannot be measured in units of anything, and eternity cannot be measured in units of time. 

At risk of being accused of repetition, I would say: infinity is not a very big number, in fact it is not a number at all, and eternity is not a very long time, it is not time at all.   That’s probably as close as I can get to answering your question.
I must be missing some deeper  point here...
You seem to be just saying... you can't measure the extent of infinity and you can't measure a total duration period for eternity, is that a surprise?
 
Quote
I assume time, as we perceive it, had a beginning.

Going along with the standard BB model that's right, but as you know ,there are other theories, the eternal inflationary universe idea and others.

Those yoga chappies always seem to END their timeless period! That’s if they say they can go into a ‘timeless’  whatnot.
« Last Edit: 22/09/2013 10:35:18 by lean bean »

*

Offline Bill S

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1880
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #151 on: 22/09/2013 13:03:23 »
Quote from: JeffreyH
How about an infinite time and dimension that is on the equivalent of a mobius strip. Continuous, joined up and unbounded. You would never get back to the same point even though it is connected.

With a mobius strip, as with a circle, you do come back to the same place.  The time, of course, is different so you could argue that you were looking at different spacetime events each time round, but I'm a bit doubtful about the value of that.  You could claim that your garden was infinite because you could keep walking round it without returning to the same spacetime event.
There never was nothing.

*

Offline Bill S

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1880
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #152 on: 22/09/2013 13:07:39 »
Quote from: lean bean
I must be missing some deeper  point here...
You seem to be just saying... you can't measure the extent of infinity and you can't measure a total duration period for eternity

That's exactly what I'm saying.  Tell me what you feel you have missed and let's see if we can sort it out.
There never was nothing.

*

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1449
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #153 on: 22/09/2013 15:06:06 »
Observers, do they need a consciousness, and what defines a consciousness?
As I understand it, an observer is potentially anything involved in a measurement, and, in QM terms, a measurement is an interaction. So a particle can be an 'observer'. In macro-scale physics, the observer just provides a disinterested viewpoint; at micro-scales, the 'observer effect' becomes significant, and in some interpretations of QM, the relation between observer and observed is complicated, even incestuous.

As for what defines a consciousness, I'm not sure what you're really after; a dictionary? those behaviours we identify as conscious? claims of qualia?

Quote
A arrow?
?? what about an arrow?

Quote
If I assumed the universe to be a representation of a quantum computer :) Which isn't that far from the idea of multiple universes created as a wave function breaks down, also assuming that this 'universe' contains it all.

Would a observer need to be 'locked' (to be conscious) under a arrow?
I have no idea what you're talking about.

Quote
How do we define consciousness?
You go first...
« Last Edit: 22/09/2013 15:09:37 by dlorde »

*

lean bean

  • Guest
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #154 on: 22/09/2013 18:49:27 »
Quote from: lean bean
I must be missing some deeper  point here...
You seem to be just saying... you can't measure the extent of infinity and you can't measure a total duration period for eternity 

That's exactly what I'm saying.  Tell me what you feel you have missed and let's see if we can sort it out.
Well, I don't think I have missed anything if that's all your saying, I have always thought of infinity and eternity as unmeasurable, that's why I asked '' is that a surprise?'' Here...

You seem to be just saying... you can't measure the extent of infinity and you can't measure a total duration period for eternity, is that a surprise?
My bold.  :)
 
« Last Edit: 22/09/2013 18:53:15 by lean bean »

*

Offline Bill S

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1880
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #155 on: 22/09/2013 22:43:17 »
Quote
is that a surprise?

Not to me; and apparently not to you.  I'm inclined to think that no one will admit to being surprised.  :)
There never was nothing.

*

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1449
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #156 on: 22/09/2013 23:42:22 »
I'm inclined to think that no one will admit to being surprised.  :)
I'm only surprised (as I think lean bean was) that you said it at all...

*

Offline Bill S

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1880
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #157 on: 23/09/2013 15:21:15 »
Quote from: dlorde
I'm only surprised (as I think lean bean was) that you said it at all...

Perhaps the surprising thing is that I didn't say it sooner!  One thing I have certainly learned from discussing infinity is that however obvious something may seem to me, it is best to make sure others agree before trying to progress. 

This could be the only point on which we have complete agreement.

After all this time, is it safe to say we agree that infinity/eternity is not measurable?

Is someone going to say: there are countable infinities; if you can count them, you can measure them?  :)
There never was nothing.

*

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1449
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #158 on: 23/09/2013 16:50:47 »
Is someone going to say: there are countable infinities; if you can count them, you can measure them?  :)
Not exactly; there are countable infinities; it means you can count them just as you can count the integers (you can only count them all if you've got infinite time off work).

*

Offline Bill S

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1880
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #159 on: 23/09/2013 18:53:10 »
Quote from: dlorde
Not exactly

Hence the smiley.
There never was nothing.

*

Offline jeffreyH

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • 4175
  • The graviton sucks
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #160 on: 23/09/2013 19:12:00 »
Quote from: JeffreyH
How about an infinite time and dimension that is on the equivalent of a mobius strip. Continuous, joined up and unbounded. You would never get back to the same point even though it is connected.

With a mobius strip, as with a circle, you do come back to the same place.  The time, of course, is different so you could argue that you were looking at different spacetime events each time round, but I'm a bit doubtful about the value of that.  You could claim that your garden was infinite because you could keep walking round it without returning to the same spacetime event.

The point being with an infinite mobius strip you would need an infinite amount of time to get back to where you started. Whilst it would be theoretically possible in reality it would never be achieved.
Fixation on the Einstein papers is a good definition of OCD.

*

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1449
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #161 on: 23/09/2013 20:08:46 »
The point being with an infinite mobius strip you would need an infinite amount of time to get back to where you started. Whilst it would be theoretically possible in reality it would never be achieved.
Isn't the same true of an infinite simple loop? with the mobius strip you have to go round twice to get back to the same point on the same side, but infinite is infinite...

*

Offline Pmb

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1838
  • Physicist
    • View Profile
    • New England Science Constortium
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #162 on: 24/09/2013 03:24:04 »
At this point I'm curious about something. Has any part of this topic not yet been explored? The reason I'm asking is because I'm interested in how these things progress and am wondering if there is a natural end to them. Sometimes it seems as if the same old things are being discussed but the discussion remains only in the area of semantics.

What new stuff has been covered here since last week before I got sick and had to stay off the interent for a while. Thanks!

*

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1449
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #163 on: 24/09/2013 09:56:10 »
... I'm interested in how these things progress and am wondering if there is a natural end to them.
I suspect they go on for ever :)

Quote
Sometimes it seems as if the same old things are being discussed but the discussion remains only in the area of semantics.
Agreeing the semantics is important to understanding what we're talking about.

Quote
What new stuff has been covered here since last week before I got sick and had to stay off the interent for a while. Thanks!
Not a lot. There was some talk about 'nothing' (can it physically exist if it is literally not something?), and time (what does it mean if time starts when the universe begins?) and eternity as timelessness.

*

Offline Pmb

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1838
  • Physicist
    • View Profile
    • New England Science Constortium
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #164 on: 24/09/2013 15:40:38 »
... I'm interested in how these things progress and am wondering if there is a natural end to them.
I suspect they go on for ever :)

Quote
Sometimes it seems as if the same old things are being discussed but the discussion remains only in the area of semantics.
Agreeing the semantics is important to understanding what we're talking about.

Quote
What new stuff has been covered here since last week before I got sick and had to stay off the interent for a while. Thanks!
Not a lot. There was some talk about 'nothing' (can it physically exist if it is literally not something?), and time (what does it mean if time starts when the universe begins?) and eternity as timelessness.

Then aren't you just repeating yourself at this point? Don't you get frustrated when it gets to where it is now?

*

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1449
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #165 on: 24/09/2013 15:54:48 »
Then aren't you just repeating yourself at this point?
In different ways, yes.

Quote
Don't you get frustrated when it gets to where it is now?
Yes, a little. On the other hand, with semantically messy subjects like this, I'm never sure I fully understand the other person's view, and they mine, so tackling it in different ways helps. It's also good thinking practice; and if it gets boring, one moves on  :)

*

Offline Pmb

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1838
  • Physicist
    • View Profile
    • New England Science Constortium
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #166 on: 24/09/2013 15:59:02 »
Then aren't you just repeating yourself at this point?
In different ways, yes.

Quote
Don't you get frustrated when it gets to where it is now?
Yes, a little. On the other hand, with semantically messy subjects like this, I'm never sure I fully understand the other person's view, and they mine, so tackling it in different ways helps. It's also good thinking practice; and if it gets boring, one moves on  :)
Okay. I guess this is a learning point for me. Other people have much more patients than I do on things like this.

Then again when I was researching the concept of mass in relativity the other people lost their patients and I never did.

*

Offline jeffreyH

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • 4175
  • The graviton sucks
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #167 on: 24/09/2013 17:40:54 »
Quote from: JeffreyH
How about an infinite time and dimension that is on the equivalent of a mobius strip. Continuous, joined up and unbounded. You would never get back to the same point even though it is connected.

With a mobius strip, as with a circle, you do come back to the same place.  The time, of course, is different so you could argue that you were looking at different spacetime events each time round, but I'm a bit doubtful about the value of that.  You could claim that your garden was infinite because you could keep walking round it without returning to the same spacetime event.

The point being with an infinite mobius strip you would need an infinite amount of time to get back to where you started. Whilst it would be theoretically possible in reality it would never be achieved.

The difference and the interesting thing is that with the infinite mobius strip you have points that are opposite each other on different planes. In this scenario the two points have an interesting property. Gravitational effects experienced on one plane will have an equal and opposite effect on the other. While these can be considered to be an infinite distance apart and to all intents and purposes in a different universe. This results in a multi-dimensional spacetime concept where one universe can easily affect another. This is also one description of strings. Even if the strip were not infinite it could be expanding its spacetime.
« Last Edit: 24/09/2013 17:42:36 by jeffreyH »
Fixation on the Einstein papers is a good definition of OCD.

*

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1449
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #168 on: 24/09/2013 19:21:11 »
The difference and the interesting thing is that with the infinite mobius strip you have points that are opposite each other on different planes. In this scenario the two points have an interesting property. Gravitational effects experienced on one plane will have an equal and opposite effect on the other. While these can be considered to be an infinite distance apart and to all intents and purposes in a different universe. This results in a multi-dimensional spacetime concept where one universe can easily affect another. This is also one description of strings. Even if the strip were not infinite it could be expanding its spacetime.
Mobius String Theory?

*

Offline jeffreyH

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • 4175
  • The graviton sucks
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #169 on: 25/09/2013 11:52:19 »
The difference and the interesting thing is that with the infinite mobius strip you have points that are opposite each other on different planes. In this scenario the two points have an interesting property. Gravitational effects experienced on one plane will have an equal and opposite effect on the other. While these can be considered to be an infinite distance apart and to all intents and purposes in a different universe. This results in a multi-dimensional spacetime concept where one universe can easily affect another. This is also one description of strings. Even if the strip were not infinite it could be expanding its spacetime.
Mobius String Theory?
Hey with all the other multi-dimensional string theories around I don't think this is that way out.
Fixation on the Einstein papers is a good definition of OCD.

*

Offline jeffreyH

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • 4175
  • The graviton sucks
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #170 on: 25/09/2013 12:03:07 »
BTW This could also incorporate particle spin, quantum angular momentum.
Fixation on the Einstein papers is a good definition of OCD.

*

Offline Bill S

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1880
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #171 on: 29/09/2013 23:10:45 »
Just "passing through" with a quick question.

What is the nature of Cantor’s “absolute infinity”?

In terms of mathematical infinities, Cantor established not only that there were many infinities, but that there were infinitely many infinities.  He established that there was no overarching infinity that included all other infinities. 

This he seems to have called “Absolute Infinity”.  What this means is that he designated an “Absolute Infinity”, which he proved did not exist. 

Is there a paradox here?
There never was nothing.

*

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1449
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #172 on: 30/09/2013 00:01:34 »
It gets a bit confusing - he seems to have also equated it with the concept of God. If you google for it, there's lots of articles about it.

*

Offline jeffreyH

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • 4175
  • The graviton sucks
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #173 on: 30/09/2013 00:03:56 »
Just "passing through" with a quick question.

What is the nature of Cantor’s “absolute infinity”?

In terms of mathematical infinities, Cantor established not only that there were many infinities, but that there were infinitely many infinities.  He established that there was no overarching infinity that included all other infinities. 

This he seems to have called “Absolute Infinity”.  What this means is that he designated an “Absolute Infinity”, which he proved did not exist. 

Is there a paradox here?

There has to be a limit just because of the size of a finite universe, if that is what we are in. There will be a physical limit past which a numeric cannot be represented as it would require more information than the physical universe can contain.
Fixation on the Einstein papers is a good definition of OCD.

*

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1449
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #174 on: 30/09/2013 00:10:51 »
There has to be a limit just because of the size of a finite universe, if that is what we are in.
If...

*

Offline jeffreyH

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • 4175
  • The graviton sucks
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #175 on: 30/09/2013 00:56:32 »
There has to be a limit just because of the size of a finite universe, if that is what we are in.
If...

Even in the infinite situation you would need a proportionally larger data store than available to represent the information. This would mean that the representational system would have to contain the universe and not the other way round. I know this sound very absurd but if you think about it long enough you will see why.
Fixation on the Einstein papers is a good definition of OCD.

*

Offline Bill S

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1880
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #176 on: 01/10/2013 19:45:56 »
Quote from: jeffreyH
There has to be a limit just because of the size of a finite universe, if that is what we are in. There will be a physical limit past which a numeric cannot be represented as it would require more information than the physical universe can contain.

We may be able to make good arguments for a finite Universe, but it seems quite reasonable to suggest that it could be “embedded” in an infinite cosmos.
There never was nothing.

*

Offline scienceguy123

  • First timers
  • *
  • 4
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #177 on: 01/10/2013 20:57:07 »
Infinity, I believe is an illusion because it really is everything and anything. For example 1 can be infinity and so can 50. I believe infinity is just the name for all the nameless numbers out there. So any number can be infinity

*

Offline syhprum

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 3922
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #178 on: 01/10/2013 21:25:59 »
During the war the propaganda ministry operated a ex USA 600Kw radio station about 30 miles from me with a Crystal receiver, a large antenna and a sensitive speaker one could hear this OK with no batteries
syhprum

*

Offline scienceguy123

  • First timers
  • *
  • 4
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #179 on: 02/10/2013 00:12:49 »
The universe cant be infinity. It either repeats over and over which means that there is infinite copies of the universe or that is is expanding so fast that we will never know if it is in fact infinity. If you tried to see the end of the universe you wouldn't be able to because your eyes perceive things a little slower than the speed of light and the universe would be moving faster than light.

*

Offline scienceguy123

  • First timers
  • *
  • 4
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #180 on: 02/10/2013 00:19:31 »
Nothing tangible is truly infinite, numbers for example are and aren't tangible. They are tangible in the essence that they are the amount of something and like i said, nothing is infinite, but as a written or verbal number, it is in fact infinite. This is of course what i believe in. Nothing tangible is infinite it only has high numbers that dont have names yet, and since we don't know the words, but we know that they are there we call it infinite because we don't know when and if it ends. Am i confusing you?  ???

*

Offline JP

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 3366
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #181 on: 02/10/2013 14:10:15 »
Infinity, I believe is an illusion because it really is everything and anything. For example 1 can be infinity and so can 50. I believe infinity is just the name for all the nameless numbers out there. So any number can be infinity

With respect, Scienceguy, this isn't true.  Infinity can be used in different contexts (as has been discussed a few times over the course of this very long thread), but it does have definitions.  A very important part of all those definitions is that it is not simply a number.  It is more like a concept of something so big that you can't pick any number that is bigger than it.  Unnamed numbers are simply unnamed, but since they're numbers, they have a numerical value (even if you don't know it).  You can always add one to anything with a numerical value, making a bigger number, so therefore it can't be infinity.

*

Offline Bill S

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1880
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #182 on: 02/10/2013 15:32:47 »
Quote from: JP
You can always add one to anything with a numerical value, making a bigger number, so therefore it can't be infinity.


For some time I have felt that I was alone in saying you can’t add anything to infinity.  Could it be that I am, in fact, in quite illustrious company? :)

Could we have reached a degree of consensus on three points?

1.  Infinity is not a number.

2.  Infinity cannot be measured.

3.  You cannot add anything to infinity.
There never was nothing.

*

Offline JP

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 3366
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #183 on: 02/10/2013 16:35:44 »
I agree with points 1 and 3, but...

Point 3 is redundant with point 1 and the definition of addition.  I agree with it, but you don't need to list it separately.  Addition is defined to take two numbers as input and produce a single number as output.  Since infinity is not a number, you can't use it as input into the "addition" operation.  (You can imagine that addition is a compute program that takes numbers--if you input "infinity" it would tell you "Error: Please input only numbers").  Similarly, you can't subtract, multiply or divide with infinity, but these don't have to be listed separately from #1.  In fact, any operation that requires numbers as inputs can't be performed if you try to input infinity.

I would also argue that #2 is meaningless unless you precisely define measure.  In the sense of mathematics, you can calculate the measure an infinite set, for example:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Measure_(mathematics
« Last Edit: 02/10/2013 16:49:29 by JP »

*

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1449
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #184 on: 02/10/2013 17:55:12 »
I suggest that Hilbert's Hotel means point 3 is open to interpretation. Hilbert's Hotel is an infinite hotel with a guest in every room, i.e. fully occupied. But when a new guest arrives, she can be accommodated by moving each guest to the next highest room. This can be repeated for any finite number of new arrivals. An infinite number of arrivals can be accommodated by moving every guest, from room n to room 2n, freeing up an infinite number of odd numbered rooms...

Is adding guests to a fully occupied infinite hotel 'adding' to infinity?

*

Offline JP

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 3366
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #185 on: 02/10/2013 18:16:29 »
Is adding guests to a fully occupied infinite hotel 'adding' to infinity?

Good point and it comes back to the precision of definitions.  Addition of real (or complex numbers) cannot be performed on infinity for the reasons I stated.  The idea of adding elements to a set CAN be performed on infinite sets without a problem, which is (part of) what's going on in Hilbert's hotel. 

*

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1449
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #186 on: 02/10/2013 20:59:48 »
... The idea of adding elements to a set CAN be performed on infinite sets without a problem, which is (part of) what's going on in Hilbert's hotel. 
You don't want to know the rest of what goes on in Hilbert's hotel - I think there's going to be a TV series, which is likely to drag on ad infinitum, like Lost...

*

Offline JP

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 3366
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #187 on: 02/10/2013 21:50:35 »
You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave?

*

Offline jeffreyH

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • 4175
  • The graviton sucks
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #188 on: 02/10/2013 22:44:18 »
If Hilbert's hotel is infinite then it must contain everything within itself. Therefore all the new guests must already be in the lobby. If the number of new guests is infinite and the number of residents is infinite, then, both of these quantities being infinite and outside any numerical system they CAN be added together.
Fixation on the Einstein papers is a good definition of OCD.

*

Offline JP

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 3366
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #189 on: 02/10/2013 23:21:57 »
If Hilbert's hotel is infinite then it must contain everything within itself. Therefore all the new guests must already be in the lobby. If the number of new guests is infinite and the number of residents is infinite, then, both of these quantities being infinite and outside any numerical system they CAN be added together.

That's also not quite right.  If the hotel is the set of natural numbers, it's infinite and all slots are filled.  Any real, non-natural number can come along and be added to the set.  3.1, 3.2, 3.3 can all jump into the hotel.  There would likely be a problem if the (uncountably infinite) set of real numbers wanted to enter the (countably infinite) hotel--a mathematician could probably clarify that one in detail.  But suffice it to say that adding sets with infinite elements doesn't follow intuitive rules.

*

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1449
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #190 on: 02/10/2013 23:46:28 »
If Hilbert's hotel is infinite then it must contain everything within itself. Therefore all the new guests must already be in the lobby.
No, that doesn't follow at all. Only the number of rooms is infinite (and consequently the number of occupants). New arrivals come from outside the hotel, where there is an infinite supply of the homeless (that remains infinite, even when an infinite number of them have been housed in Hilbert's hotel).

*

Offline Bill S

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1880
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #191 on: 03/10/2013 03:19:46 »
I suspect that David Hilbert had a sense of humour, and that he proposed the hotel idea just to see how many highly intelligent people would take it seriously and use it to support arguments about the physical world, in which it makes no sense at all.  The only reason it appears to work is that you could never stop moving guests to higher number rooms; so you cannot actually accommodate more than the infinite number of guests you had to start with. 

You might argue that you would have eternity in which to perform the manoeuver, but in eternity you would already have done this an infinite number of times, and since there seems to be a distinct possibility that you cannot add to infinity, how can you perform the manoeuver again?
There never was nothing.

*

Offline jeffreyH

  • Global Moderator
  • Neilep Level Member
  • *****
  • 4175
  • The graviton sucks
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #192 on: 03/10/2013 03:24:09 »
I suspect that David Hilbert had a sense of humour, and that he proposed the hotel idea just to see how many highly intelligent people would take it seriously and use it to support arguments about the physical world, in which it makes no sense at all.  The only reason it appears to work is that you could never stop moving guests to higher number rooms; so you cannot actually accommodate more than the infinite number of guests you had to start with. 

You might argue that you would have eternity in which to perform the manoeuver, but in eternity you would already have done this an infinite number of times, and since there seems to be a distinct possibility that you cannot add to infinity, how can you perform the manoeuver again?

I better stop playing now.
Fixation on the Einstein papers is a good definition of OCD.

*

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • 12342
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #193 on: 03/10/2013 10:52:01 »
K. Assume that there is a way to be conscious without a arrow Dlorde, and there I used a 'quantum computer' as a analogue. What defines consciousness? linear time? If you now had a way, as those mysterious men and women meditating sometimes are depicted as, to experience the universe and all in a 'instant', as a gestalt?

Or must a arrow be there, for consciousness to exist?

that's a pretty nice question i think :)
"BOMB DISPOSAL EXPERT. If you see me running, try to keep up."

*

Offline dlorde

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1449
  • ex human-biologist & software developer
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #194 on: 03/10/2013 11:31:01 »
Or must a arrow be there, for consciousness to exist?
If consciousness is a process, and all the indications are that it is, then, like all other physiological processes, it is driven by the arrow of time, entropy gradients. In a philosophical sense, consciousness is the realisation of awareness and the progression of events, which are temporal phenomena.

*

Offline JP

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 3366
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #195 on: 03/10/2013 14:39:21 »
I suspect that David Hilbert had a sense of humour, and that he proposed the hotel idea just to see how many highly intelligent people would take it seriously and use it to support arguments about the physical world, in which it makes no sense at all.  The only reason it appears to work is that you could never stop moving guests to higher number rooms; so you cannot actually accommodate more than the infinite number of guests you had to start with. 

You might argue that you would have eternity in which to perform the manoeuver, but in eternity you would already have done this an infinite number of times, and since there seems to be a distinct possibility that you cannot add to infinity, how can you perform the manoeuver again?


I suspect his point was to show that intuitive thinking doesn't apply to the mathematics of infinite sets.  I doubt he meant anyone to take it seriously as something that physically exists.

*

Offline Bill S

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1880
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #196 on: 03/10/2013 15:31:27 »
Quote from: JP
I doubt he meant anyone to take it seriously as something that physically exists.

Precisely. Sadly, it seems to have suffered from the same sort of torsion as Schrödinger’s “cat in a box” example. 

By now, I should know better than to include more than one point in a single post.  Some people never learn. :) So I’m going to have another go with:
 
“You might argue that you would have eternity in which to perform the manoeuvre, but in eternity you would already have done this an infinite number of times, and since there seems to be a distinct possibility that you cannot add to infinity, how can you perform the manoeuvre again?”
There never was nothing.

*

Offline JP

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 3366
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #197 on: 03/10/2013 17:16:07 »
I think this thread would really benefit from being split into two: one to address the mathematical aspects of infinity and one to deal with the use of infinity in physics (including whether the universe can be infinite, space can be infinitely subdivided, etc.)

I'm going to stick to mathematics in this thread, since it's too confusing to mix the two.

*

Offline Bill S

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 1880
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #198 on: 03/10/2013 21:38:07 »
Quote from: JP
I think this thread would really benefit from being split into two:

I agree, but experience says that “infinity in physics” tends to drift quickly into the mathematical type.  Perhaps I have a reputation (probably justified) as an infinity crackpot.  I am reluctant to start another thread in the wake of this protracted effort.

As an experiment, I posted the same OP, at the same time,  in three forums, by far the most encouraging response has been in TNS.
There never was nothing.

*

Offline JP

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • 3366
    • View Profile
Re: Is infinity an illusion?
« Reply #199 on: 04/10/2013 16:25:47 »
It has to--mathematics it he language of physics, so we need to fully understand what mathematics says about infinity before we can start thinking about what nature might say about infinity. 

Of course, we might need new math, but existing math is always the best place to start.  If we work out the predictions of an infinite universe based on mathematics, we can then scientifically evaluate those predictions and see if they make sense.  Unfortunately, much of this thread is putting the cart ahead of the mathematical horse and using intuition to argue about infinities, without a firm grounding in how the mathematics of infinities work and what this means for predictions.