Monday, August 27, 2012

An Animated Explanation of the Vastness of Infinity

Maria Popova authors the very cool Brain Pickings blog, which should be in most feed readers if it isn't already. She is consistently entertaining and educational. In this post she features a TED video that attempts to explain the size of infinity, offer insight into the "genius and limitations of mathematics."

How Big Is Infinity? An Animated Explanation from TED

On the whimsy and limitations of mathematics.

Beloved novelist Umberto Eco believed that we use lists to make infinity comprehensible. Quantum computation pioneer David Deutsch teased apart the beginning and unboundedness of infinity. But what, exactly, is “infinity” and how big is it?

The fine folks at TED-Ed have teamed up with educator Dennis Wildfogel and animation studio Augenblick to explore the dimensions of infinity through this stimulatingly mind-bending lesson on legacies of mathematicians Georg Cantor, David Hilbet, Kurt Gödel, and Paul J. Cohen, exposing both the genius and limitations of mathematics.

For more on this fascinating subject, see George Gamow’s 1961 gem One Two Three . . . Infinity: Facts and Speculations of Science, which features more than 120 pen-and-ink illustrations by the author himself, such as this:

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