It all started with reading How the Universe Got Its Spots, by Janna Levin. The book is all about science and maths, scattered with Janna’s love-life experiences. It really is a unique book – it’s as though Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert has met up with Relativity: The Special and General Theory by Einstein and had a sexy little baby together.
So far, I like the book. I don’t know if I would have liked it if I hadn’t already explored many of the concepts already, such as watching every Brian Greene documentary in existence and reading most of the Einstein publication mentioned above.
When I say “most”, what I mean is this: I read all of Einstein’s explanation of the Special Theory, relating to time and space, and not quite half of the section on the General Theory that followed. I think I stopped reading because it got too hard, but I like to pretend I lost interest.
My interest levels dipped below my intelligence levels, I guess.
At the start of the book Janna herself explains that the book is her personal account of life in the cosmos, and she even provides an extensive list of books which delve much further into the concepts she only touches upon in her book. Her list does include Brian Greene, which is good, so you can cheat like I did by watching his documentaries (if science is of interest to you, that is).
I do like how she delves more into mathematics than most science books. Since maths and science are really inseparable, it’s nice that she pays a little more attention to it. But in a couple of throw-away paragraphs, she has quite simply ruined my life. Thanks Janna.
In talking about infinity, she mentions how “nature packs infinity between the most humble interval”. Using the example of the numbers 0 – 1, she casually mentions that in between them lies an infinity. For example, there is ½, ¼, and so on. The numbers continue on forever.
Forever! Ok, I already knew that in a way, you probably did too, but I never actually thought about it.
It made me think about how everything is both finite and infinite, and how you can have different “sizes” of infinities – they can be massive or incredibly small, but both continuing on forever. If I cut a block of cheese in half, then throw one half away, and cut the remaining half in half, then throw the other half away, and continue on with that process, the pile of halves I have thrown away and the pile of halves I have kept will both be the same size and infinite, because I will never get to zero.
Of course, there comes a point when I stop cutting the cheese because I cannot see the pieces anymore, but this is my flaw and not the cheese’s.
I hate everything.
Also, Janna mentioned Zeno’s paradox, which is quite similar to the cheese thing.
Zeno’s paradox mentions that if you are able to move between point a and b, you must first have to move half way through these points. This is logical, yes? But then, you must move through half of the half of the half to… infinity. Thus, since there are so many points we must pass through before we can get anywhere, movement is impossible.
I am the finite infinite cheese. I cannot move, it is not possible. Maths is stupid.
I hate everything.