Thursday, May 20, 2010

Mind Blowing Numbers

When we see growing numbers such as a million (1,000,000) or a trillion (a million million or 1,000,000,000,000) we gradually begin to realize that the number itself may well be feasible on paper, but the amount quickly becomes difficult to mentally grasp or let alone visualize.

Today I have two questions - please help me out - and let me briefly explain...

In much the same way as it is hard, or rather impossible, for the mind to understand the concept of infinity from an exploding point of view (like "there is no end to space") so it may also be the case in the opposite direction..!?

As children in elemantary school we learn about 0.1 and 0.001 as well as 0.00000001 etc. Think about this, for a second; is there an end to this? I mean, how small can a number get? Maybe, does it keep on going in exactly the same manner as exploding numbers, only in this respect moving inwardly "into space" almost as it were like an implosion? (I don't even know if this would be the proper use of the word "implosion".) And I mean seriously, not just from a philosophical point of view.

Two Questions
My first question, therefore is: Do you believe space is infinite - both ways?

My second question is: Would you please help me find online material where someone shared something to shed more light on this subject? (I suppose we may quickly move into Einstein's relativity..? which I find intriguing, to say the least!)

For instance, I quickly found a YouTube video that explains the vastness of the universe, but what about the other way around..? You see, they way I picture it, we're already living on an atom in the grand scheme of things, i.e. relatively speaking ;-)


  1. first) space could not be infinite in both way since in our 3D-world we think of space as "empty". The Universe however is based on a theory of "beeing infinite" for us since the theory also tells us that the Universe expands in the speed of light, and since we're not even close to travel the speed of light, we will have no chance of "hitting the end". Therefore: In a human point of view, the Universe is infinite and is constantly expanding in the outer space.

    second: :)

    and last, about your numbers. The smalles number (relative number) is 1 and anything belows it only refers to a fraction of 1.
    Based on this I would say that the smallest number that exists is ONE divided on the greatest number that exists.

  2. Wauw, well spoken, Sten + eXcellent source for more info. Thnx so much!

  3. The answer to this question depends on your chosen set of numbers/metric system. Nothing more nothing less ;-)

  4. Anilyzer: I think you're wrong. I believe you mean the chosen set of numeral system, since the metric system is just one in many different measurement systems.

    Anyway, in any chosen numerical system the smallest natural number is still -one-. Of course -one- can be represented by other digits or characters than "1", but still the number one is the smallest natural number number. "0" or -zero- is also often reffered to as a number, and in a way it is, but it's not a natural number since you cannot put something in order with zero.
    In mathematics all natural numbers can be used to either count something or put something in order. Like count 3 apples and rank me as the #1 golf player in the world. You can also tell me that I have 0 apples, but I can never be the number 0 golf player in the world.

    -just my zero cents

  5. Interesting post. I like this visualisation of "the powers of ten" to help understanding how small (yet big) we humans are.

  6. Wauw! that is a brilliant clip and illustration, isn't it?! Exactly what I was looking for, Svend. Thnx ;-)