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21 November 2011 @ 01:25 pm
The Real LJ Idol: "Infinity"  
Infinity

Real LJ Idol | week five | 129 words
Inconceivable

x-x-x-x-x

We can fathom the notion of 'forever,' that time keeps unfolding even without witnesses to what results.

We can conceive of stars so distant that their light may not reach us until after they are gone.

But 'infinity' is impossibly harder. The nature of space is too big to fit inside one's head.

Surely, space cannot be limitless. What could be large enough to hold it? But the question itself only incurs more of the same:

What contains that which contains? What lies beyond the boundary of all the things that were previously understood?

This one little word, so quietly complex, describes something that is outside the human experience.

It is a cornerstone of science, and yet our belief in it is nothing less than an act of faith.




If you like this entry, please vote for it in this group here. Thanks!

 
 
 
Katie: St. Pat's Bearktdid525 on November 22nd, 2011 12:11 am (UTC)
I like your entry. I honestly have a hard time understanding forever or infinity. Forever is not a concept that I can grasp because everything we know has an end, so something being endless just doesn't make sense.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: Bookshalfshellvenus on November 22nd, 2011 04:30 am (UTC)
I do better with "forever," but I do tend to think of it as unidirectional (when you could as easily ask, "What was before the beginning?")

But "infinity"... you know that by definition, there has to be something outside the boundaries, and outside those boundaries, and yet, that isn't how we really conceive of things. Logic says it must be true, and you make yourself believe it, but both sides seem wrong. Bounded seems wrong, and unbounded seems impossible. I've been boggling over this since childhood.
whipchickwhipchick on November 22nd, 2011 02:25 am (UTC)
You're right - it's an interesting paradox!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 22nd, 2011 04:31 am (UTC)
"Paradox" is exactly the word for it! You know it has to be true, and yet the opposite also seems like it should be true.

You believe it because you have to, but somehow... it's a struggle!
the middle of the road's fine with no cars aroundnoodledays on November 22nd, 2011 03:39 am (UTC)
I love the introspection and thoughts you prompt in this.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 22nd, 2011 07:30 am (UTC)
These are areas I've been puzzling over for a long time, because they really do amount to something you have to just decide to believe. They make an impossible kind of sense, but the brain really doesn't know how to wrap itself around them.

We accept these ideas, but can't really fully conceive of them except perhaps in the negative: they must be true, because their opposite is impossible.

That's the kind of thinking most brain really don't enjoy getting into!
jacq22jacq22 on November 22nd, 2011 04:04 am (UTC)
I have trouble getting round the vastness of space, endless and infinity... put that in the 'too hard' basket. Made me think though.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 22nd, 2011 07:32 am (UTC)
That's exactly why I picked this for the prompt. We know the concepts, and we're forced to accept them, but trying to visualize them as a complete idea mostly results in a headache rather than a clear and simple image.

Thanks for reading and commenting!
Myrnamyrna_bird on November 22nd, 2011 06:47 pm (UTC)
This makes me feel in awe of that which is greater than myself.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 22nd, 2011 06:57 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

There are many things too vast and grand to really "grasp" in that mental sense, and space is the one which has always haunted me. So fascinating, and while we can learn amazing details, we will never truly understand the whole of it.
(no subject) - myrna_bird on November 22nd, 2011 10:25 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Danmuchtooarrogant on November 22nd, 2011 08:00 pm (UTC)
I liked this, short but profound. Well done.

Dan
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 22nd, 2011 08:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Dan!

This was a tough topic, partly because it was hard to think of anything like a "story" that seemed to fit it, and also because of the immediate tendency to hear "Inconthievable!" in my head, thanks to too many viewings of The Princess Bride.
(no subject) - muchtooarrogant on November 22nd, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC) (Expand)
devon99 on November 22nd, 2011 08:58 pm (UTC)
It's such a difficult concept to grasp, isn't it? I often watch programmes about time and space and just wish I was that little bit smarter to really understand the science of it. Such an interesting topic.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 26th, 2011 06:30 pm (UTC)
It's always fascinated me, and unless you've specialized in physics I think most of it is going to be fairly abstract.

But even the most basic part of it is hard to wrap your head around!

Thanks for reading. :)
nodressrehersalnodressrehersal on November 23rd, 2011 08:43 pm (UTC)
Amazingly enjoyable, given the brevity and my most unsciencely nature.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 26th, 2011 06:40 pm (UTC)
I think this aspect of our universe is probably a quandary for most people. You learn it in childhood, and it never quit makes sense even though you know that it has to be that way.

It's always seemed a beautiful conundrum to me. Still pondering, all these years later!

Thanks so much for reading and commenting. :)
Jemima Paulerjem0000000 on November 24th, 2011 03:31 am (UTC)
Infinity is a difficult concept for me, too. It amazes me how much science is willing to take on faith. ;)

P.S. This is a bit off-topic, but your journal layout is beautiful!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 26th, 2011 06:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you, on both accounts!

The journal layout is an older scheme and fairly simple, but I've tweaked the colors to be both pretty and soothing to the eyes. At least, I hope so. ;)
(no subject) - jem0000000 on November 27th, 2011 05:06 am (UTC) (Expand)
minnesattva on November 25th, 2011 04:10 pm (UTC)
It was apparently believed by some that Georg Cantor, a 19th century mathematician who made some vital discoveries about the nature of infinity (including that some infinities are bigger than others!), was driven made by contemplating the nature of infinity.

His madness (he'd probably be categorized as bipolar now) undoubtedly had the prosaic causes that all mental illness does, but that people were willing to believe that there was something intrinsic about infinity that was either attracting mad people, or driving the sane mad, is indicative of how powerfully we react to this dizzying concept of infinity.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 26th, 2011 06:50 pm (UTC)
This is an interesting bit of history! I didn't know about any of this, but it sure fits this story.

Thank you for sharing that. Looks like my ponderings on this topic have some longstanding (and slightly scary) company. :)
Vice Captain of the Universe: shigurusweeny_todd on November 27th, 2011 02:01 am (UTC)
infinity is really darn hard!!

this is a really thoughtful, and thought provoking, piece of writing.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 29th, 2011 06:23 pm (UTC)
I get so caught on what must be true vs. but how does that actually work.

This topic really brought that whole dichotomy to mind. You can't truly fathom it, but you must believe it. Ow, my brain!

fourzoasfourzoas on November 27th, 2011 08:09 pm (UTC)
The mathematical sign for infinity is a favorite symbol of mine because it says everything and nothing all at once--a representation of the completely unfathomable.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 29th, 2011 06:24 pm (UTC)
I've always liked it too-- it is a simple and easily-understood graphical representation of something that is not remotely simple or "graspable" in actuality.

And how often does something like that happen?

Thanks for reading and commenting!
the key of the day and the lock of the nightlocknkey on November 28th, 2011 12:11 am (UTC)
Nicely said. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 29th, 2011 06:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you, bb!
basric: Basric Stones gifbasric on November 28th, 2011 12:36 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this. Well done.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on November 29th, 2011 06:25 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I'm in love with youre new icon here. The colors, the textures, the rippling water. Wow!
A Karmic Sandbox: Mona Lisa Impressionkarmasoup on December 1st, 2011 04:36 pm (UTC)
Poignant, and provocative. I'm always impressed with folks who can say so much, without much having been said. (Especially since that is not really a skill I quite possess.)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on December 1st, 2011 06:32 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

I tend to be kind of a micro-ficcer, which makes shorter works more my forte. But longer, involved stories? The inability to get those out is an ongoing frustration. I've got a few 5K stories, and a 7K and 8K one, but that's it. I envy people who can regularly produce 10Ks or Big-Bangs. That last is something that I can't imagine every achieving.