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The concept of infinite.


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#1    ShaunZero

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 04:18 PM

I didn't know where to post this, so I just put it here. Last night while laying down trying to go to sleep, a question popped in my head that I found quite interesting. I'm not sure how to answer it, or if the question is even valid. If an object has always existed and ceases to exist today, how long did it exist for? The answer seems like it would be "An infinite amount of time", but at the same time... how could that be since it no longer exists? It's age is infinite yet it no longer exists? Perhaps the entire concept of something always existing is impossible. Maybe there HAS to be a beginning. Perhaps the very fact that it predates time itself makes the question invalid? I don't know, you tell me.

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#2    lookingfortruth

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 06:55 PM

This made me think of a line, it starts at one point (being when it ceased to exist in this example) and jetted forever in the other direction. that end goes on to infinity but the other one ends some time . Its really hard to answer this question but I did it in the best way I could so hope it helps!

Edited by lookingfortruth, 25 October 2009 - 06:56 PM.


#3    ShaunZero

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 07:33 PM

Something that has a beginning can never be called infinite. It is only a potential infinity, since it always has an age that is ever growing. To be truly infinite in my opinion, you'd have to have no beginning. It's hard to comprehend, because instead of going forward for an infinite amount of time, in which the future hasn't happened yet, you have to look into the PAST, which has already occured, for infinity. It's almost as if since you can't call something infinite that has a beginning due to the future not occuring yet, it begs to say that an infinite amount of time could NOT have already past since we still have future yet to come. My head hurts.  :rofl:

Edited by ShaunZero, 25 October 2009 - 07:35 PM.

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#4    lookingfortruth

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Posted 25 October 2009 - 08:47 PM

View PostShaunZero, on 25 October 2009 - 07:33 PM, said:

Something that has a beginning can never be called infinite. It is only a potential infinity, since it always has an age that is ever growing. To be truly infinite in my opinion, you'd have to have no beginning. It's hard to comprehend, because instead of going forward for an infinite amount of time, in which the future hasn't happened yet, you have to look into the PAST, which has already occured, for infinity. It's almost as if since you can't call something infinite that has a beginning due to the future not occuring yet, it begs to say that an infinite amount of time could NOT have already past since we still have future yet to come. My head hurts.  :rofl:
Lol! my head hurts too :(


#5    BurnSide

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 10:43 AM

Let me ask you another question ShaunZero.
Can you give an example of something in own known universe that you believe is infinite? Our limited definition of infinite suggests that the concept must have no beginning and no end.
If the big bang theory is correct, the universe started at the moment of the big bang. Therefore everything that exists physically must be finite. With a start, and probably an end.
What about a creationalist take? In the beginning there was nothing at all right, and then god got busy and here we are. So that means that our universe is finite, since it had a beginning. But, what about god? Was he here before the universe and as such, could god be infinite?

I believe our reality is extremely multi-layered and we have landed ourselves nicely somewhere between the third and forth dimensions. Our evolution as carbon based life forms has turned our brains into sharp tools of elimination, filtering out all dimensions except our own, and what we need to perceive within it to keep our frail, partially fourth dimensional bodies going long enough to procreate and nurture the next generation.

I know, generally when we think of our dimension we say the third dimension. First is completely outside of our level of perception, as is fifth. We see two and three quite nicely but the fourth dimension, ahh. We only have a limited perception of the fourth dimension which of course we call 'Time'.

I apologize I sure like to ramble on when topics peek my interest. Hope this will give you food for thought, but it's in no way an answer. I'm only human. ;)


#6    Emma_Acid

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 12:26 PM

View PostShaunZero, on 25 October 2009 - 04:18 PM, said:

I didn't know where to post this, so I just put it here. Last night while laying down trying to go to sleep, a question popped in my head that I found quite interesting. I'm not sure how to answer it, or if the question is even valid. If an object has always existed and ceases to exist today, how long did it exist for? The answer seems like it would be "An infinite amount of time", but at the same time... how could that be since it no longer exists? It's age is infinite yet it no longer exists? Perhaps the entire concept of something always existing is impossible.

Thats the nature of infinity I'm afraid. Its nicely summed up in this puzzler: with infinity, there are more even numbers than even and odd numbers put together.

"Science is the least subjective form of deduction" ~ A. Mulder

#7    Tim G

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 01:00 PM

Don't look at infinity in terms of lines but in terms of "dots." Paul Davies How to Build a Time Machine book has some interesting data on infinity. It's quite important in science, though it's unmeasurable. A black hole has an infinite amount of energy inside of the "point." The same power also existed in the Big Bang theory. Imagine a point with no width or height or depth but has unlimited power, that's quite infinite. Another infinite science thing you would like is that when an object approaches the speed of light, it's mass becomes infinite making it impossible to have enough fuel to get something to that speed. That's theory of relativity. Just my thoughts.
-Tim G


#8    ShaunZero

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 04:06 PM

View PostBurnSide, on 27 October 2009 - 10:43 AM, said:

Let me ask you another question ShaunZero.
Can you give an example of something in own known universe that you believe is infinite? Our limited definition of infinite suggests that the concept must have no beginning and no end.
If the big bang theory is correct, the universe started at the moment of the big bang. Therefore everything that exists physically must be finite. With a start, and probably an end.
What about a creationalist take? In the beginning there was nothing at all right, and then god got busy and here we are. So that means that our universe is finite, since it had a beginning. But, what about god? Was he here before the universe and as such, could god be infinite?

I believe our reality is extremely multi-layered and we have landed ourselves nicely somewhere between the third and forth dimensions. Our evolution as carbon based life forms has turned our brains into sharp tools of elimination, filtering out all dimensions except our own, and what we need to perceive within it to keep our frail, partially fourth dimensional bodies going long enough to procreate and nurture the next generation.

I know, generally when we think of our dimension we say the third dimension. First is completely outside of our level of perception, as is fifth. We see two and three quite nicely but the fourth dimension, ahh. We only have a limited perception of the fourth dimension which of course we call 'Time'.

I apologize I sure like to ramble on when topics peek my interest. Hope this will give you food for thought, but it's in no way an answer. I'm only human. ;)

Heh, interesting. However, since we know that something can not come from nothing, whatever started the universe had to have always existed and it could not have had a beginning. Therefore infinity has to exist. Sure, maybe the universe is not infinite, but whatever "sparked" it did.

Quote

Don't look at infinity in terms of lines but in terms of "dots." Paul Davies How to Build a Time Machine book has some interesting data on infinity. It's quite important in science, though it's unmeasurable. A black hole has an infinite amount of energy inside of the "point." The same power also existed in the Big Bang theory. Imagine a point with no width or height or depth but has unlimited power, that's quite infinite. Another infinite science thing you would like is that when an object approaches the speed of light, it's mass becomes infinite making it impossible to have enough fuel to get something to that speed. That's theory of relativity. Just my thoughts.
-Tim G

I've always wondered about these scientific ideas. If we can't measure infinite, and therefore can not logically point to any instance of it, how can we say that those things(Black Holes energy, etc) are infinite?

Edited by ShaunZero, 27 October 2009 - 04:07 PM.

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#9    sepulchrave

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 06:13 PM

As usual, Emma_Acid is correct. A line that starts at point A and goes off to infinity is just as long as a line that never starts nor stops.

Similarly, there are the same number of positive integer multiples of 5 (i.e. {0, 5, 10, 15, 20, ...}) as there are integers (i.e. {... -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, ...} ), or even rationals (i.e. {x/y} where both x and y are integers).

There are, however, more real numbers than rational numbers (the first is `uncountably infinite', the second is `countably infinite').

View PostShaunZero, on 27 October 2009 - 04:06 PM, said:

I've always wondered about these scientific ideas. If we can't measure infinite, and therefore can not logically point to any instance of it, how can we say that those things(Black Holes energy, etc) are infinite?

We say black holes are infinite because that is what the mathematics suggest (a black hole is basically `dividing by zero'). However infinities are usually avoided in science. It is one thing to say that something is unbounded - i.e. as you accelerate something towards the speed of light its mass increases continually - but that isn't the same as being infinite. If you had infinite energy you could accelerate something to infinite mass; but of course you don't have infinite energy in the first place.

The fact that a black hole is theoretically an infinity (usually referred to as a `singularity') is unsatisfactory to many scientists. A common believe is that once we've figured out how to merge general relativity and quantum mechanics together, this infinity will disappear.

As a corollary, classical electrodynamics predicts an electron (or proton) has an infinite charge density - but this infinity was removed by quantum mechanics.


#10    ShaunZero

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 09:15 PM

A problem that I see with your first comment is that an object that has a
beginning is never infinite. In order to be so an infinite amount of time would be required to have already passed. It is only potentially infinite, in it is as old as the time between it's start up untill present(as are we) which can never equal infinite.

It's confusing because it begs to say that infinite can only exist in the past(ie: an infinite amount of time has past) yet if we we then pin point a beginning, you can no longer have infinite because you can no longer say that an infinite amount of time has past due to the present. So if infinite exists in the past, the present can not falsify it oddly because past exists bit future does not.

A beginning prevents infinite past and the present prevents an infinite future if there is a beginning. You can remove a beginning (conceptually) but you can't remove the present.

Edited by ShaunZero, 27 October 2009 - 09:30 PM.

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#11    BurnSide

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 09:21 PM

Hrmm. What about a circle? There is a beginning, where you first start drawing and the circle is still open. But once you complete the circle does it not then become infinite, since there is no longer a beginning or an end?
What if the beginning is erased, does an object then become infinite?


#12    ShaunZero

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Posted 27 October 2009 - 11:20 PM

View PostBurnSide, on 27 October 2009 - 09:21 PM, said:

Hrmm. What about a circle? There is a beginning, where you first start drawing and the circle is still open. But once you complete the circle does it not then become infinite, since there is no longer a beginning or an end?
What if the beginning is erased, does an object then become infinite?

I don't know if a circle would technically be infinite, since it's going from one point straight back to said point. You could measure the circle for instance. Also, how exactly would you erase something's beginning? Saying "erase it's beginning" is basically saying "make it's past infinite". Once it has a beginning, to remove that beginning totally rather than move it further back you would have to create an infinite amount of past behind said subject.

Edited by ShaunZero, 27 October 2009 - 11:21 PM.

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#13    BurnSide

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Posted 28 October 2009 - 12:06 AM

Say you open a door, step into a circular room, and close the door behind you. The door vanishes. In the room you can only walk in one direction around the outside wall, and you will do this forever. For infinity, from that moment on. With your definition of infinity, you wouldn't actually be walking around the circle for infinity because you at one point started walking in the first place. So while you are doomed to walk the circle for infinity, it's not actually infinity since it was not always the case.


#14    sepulchrave

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Posted 28 October 2009 - 01:09 AM

I think (forgive me if I am wrong), that when ShaunZero refers to something as `infinite' he means, mathematically, `infinite and boundless'.

A circle could be regarded as `infinite', but it is certainly not `boundless'.
A straight line that starts at point A but never stops might have an `infinite' length, but again, it clearly also has `boundaries'.
Conversely, a normalizable function in real space (say a Gaussian) has no boundaries, but is finite (as in, for example, has a finite integral).

Technically, `infinite' and `boundless' (either unbounded above or below, or both, numerically speaking) mean basically the same thing. But since both are mathematical properties it is important to state the quantity that is infinite. A black hole might have negative infinite (bounded above by 0) gravitational binding energy; it does not have infinite mass.

Nothing (save, perhaps, God - if you believe in that sort of thing) is completely infinite in all aspects. Likewise there is little you can say even about specific completely unbounded infinities. Things are often defined by their boundaries, constraints, or limiting conditions - it is hard to talk about, or even recognize, something that is unbounded and infinite, other than as a `field' on which you can define other objects.

I would point out that a straight line with no end points is not completely unbounded, as it is obviously quite well constrained in all but 1 dimension - and it is precisely these constraints which make it possible to visualize. Try visualizing a volume which stretches to both positive and negative infinity in an infinite number of dimensions.


#15    ShaunZero

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Posted 28 October 2009 - 02:03 AM

Quote

A straight line that starts at point A but never stops might have an `infinite' length, but again, it clearly also has `boundaries'.

Technically a circle would stop where it started, so it wouldn't be infinite in any sense. If you measured it, it would have a length. You couldn't continuously measure it because you would eventually measure one section more than once. Measuring from one point to itself would give the same measurement as if you somehow snipped the circle and created a straight line and measured it, verifying that it only looks infinite, and seems infinite in idea.

Anyway, this idea was also influenced by the idea of causation. Everything must have a cause. This means that existence itself MUST be infinite, and can NOT have had a beginning. If it has a beginning, something did not have a cause; it "came from nothing". Does not the idea of causality prove conceptually that existence of infinite?

Edited by ShaunZero, 28 October 2009 - 02:05 AM.

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