This month I'm posting Mad-Cool-Math nuggets.
Image courtesy: m.a.r.c.
I is for infinity.
Infinity is not a number. It is an idea, one of an endless, boundless, never-ending . . . something.
It's bigger than all the grains of sand on all the beaches on earth. It's bigger than all the stars in the universe. So if you try to think of infinity as a really big number consider this: a Googol (no, I didn't misspell Google, whoever came up with our favorite search engine did the misspelling) is a 1 followed by 100 zeros.
A Googol is bigger than all the elementary particles in the known universe. (Math is Fun) But it is not the biggest number, because you can have more than a hundred zeros after a 1; you can have a Googol of zeros! That's a Googolplex, which sounds like a good place to see a lot of movies. And that isn't the biggest number either. You can't ever get to the biggest number, because if you did, you could add 1 to it. There is no biggest number. There is infinity.
One of the cool things about infinity is that even though it's not a number, there are different sizes of infinity. Yes, you read that right. Think of the natural numbers starting 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and so on. These numbers will never end. They are infinite, but you can count them, so that size of infinity is called countable.
Compare the natural numbers to real numbers. Real numbers include the natural numbers, plus all the decimals like 1/2, 1/4, the square root of 2, and pi. Between the natural numbers 1 and 2 alone, there are an infinite number of real numbers! You can't count the real numbers, so they are called uncountable. Wild, huh?
So next time you watch one of Disney's Toy Story movies and Bud Lightyear says, "To infinity and beyond!", go ahead and call Bud an idiot. You can't go beyond that which has no end. Or can you?
Today is the last day to download my novella, Ursa Major, for free. This is a coming-of-age tale based on a nightmare I had about the woods, a freak September snowstorm, and a bear. Tune in next week for a different give away.