Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Day 278, on which it depends. [5.10.10]

Dag to hundrede otteoghalvfjerds. Well well well, what have we here? Tuesday, eh? D'you think you're funny, kid? Messin' round cause you got the same first letter as good ol' Thursday over here? I don't think so, bucko. Get in that cell and shut your gobby post-Monday mouth. And no, you'll get your phonecall when I bloody well want you to get it. I don't care how legal that is. It's legal in my eye, though to be honest I'm pretty smashed tonight. So my eye's a bit off-focus and walking in straight lines is a problem. But nevermind, no phonecall for you. Ahahahahaha.

I snapped a whole roll of film today on John Junior, in my school. May turn out good. We'll have to see. I just need some goddamn ASA 400 film, none of this ASA 200 rubbish. Gah.

It depends. "What depends?" you ask. Everything depends, is what I answer. Nothing's for certain in this messed up world. The only answer you can truly give to a question is "it depends", or rephrase it to "maybe" if you like. There's no definite in the world.

Just to prove this to you, I'm going to run through the possible definites we rely on so much. To prove you wrong and feed my ego.

One of the most biological definites is death. Death is definite, right? Well, yes and no. It's definite that it does exist, but whether you will die in the future is not definite. With technology and medecine moving as fast as they are, it's only a matter of time before we achieve 'immortality'. I say immortality in quotes because it could be immortality through technology, through uploading our personalities or plugging our brains in as I mentioned. You may be thinking "death was definite for people in the past, right?" but in every generation there's been hopes for achieving immortality. People have wondered whether their death was perhaps not inevitable. But it was eventually. On your deathbed, your death is definite, but then the answer to "is death definite" is "it depends" because it's not definite in any other circumstance.

The next definite in the world is zero. 0. So-called nothing. But, in fact, zero is less definite than you thought. Zero is ultimately an impossible concept: it means the existence of nothing. How can nothing exist? Nothing is basically the non-existence of everything else in the space where it is said to be. So what's the most definite nothing? I'd say space. But that's probably not empty. What about dark matter, dark energy, or even normal energy? That's traveling through space all the time! If you're floating through 'empty' space and you can see a star, then light's travelling through the empty space to meet your eye. Hence, space is not empty by any means.

So, is zero definite? In mathematical terms, we can't really consider it. There's no square root of zero, so why should we say it's definite? Everything we know about 0 in terms of maths is simply speculation; you can't work with normal numbers and zero, which is the absence of numbers! You just can't conceive the concept of zero in maths. So zero is not definite. Perhaps there's zero - nothingness - at the centre of a Black Hole, but that's only a theory. So, as to whether zero is definite or not, it depends.

The third and final concept I will tackle tonight is that of infinity. If infinity wasn't definite, then a lot of the theories we use for maths and science will go out of the window. For example, what is one third? It's 0.333333... with an infinite number of 3s. Even zero is an infinite amount of nothingness. So what's so indefinite about infinity?

I've mentioned a lot about infinity in the past. For example, the whole concept of infinity fits into mathematics about as much as zero; ie. it is totally impossible to deal with and works only in theory. Plus, there's the 'red and blue balls' argument; if you had an infinite number of balls in a bag, but half were blue and half were red, then there must be an infinite number of red and infinite number of blue balls. If you counted them as red, blue, red, blue, red, blue, etc., then you'd go on forever and you'd have counted an infinite number of each colour of ball. Hence, infinity plus infinity equals infinity. And this is about as moronic as saying 2 plus 2 equals 2.

Another interesting thing to note about infinity is that it occurs in different levels. Say you were counting in twos from zero and went on infinitely. 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, etc. You'd reach infinity. Now say you were counting in fours from zero infinitely. 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, 24, etc. You'd still reach infinity, but in fact you'd reach a higher level of infinity, or a higher rung on the ladder of infinity. Because if you're going up in 4s forever your infinity would be higher than if you were going up in 2s. It wouldn't necessarily be double, and they would both be generalised by infinity, but in fact it would be a higher level of infinity.

And thus, if infinity has so many problems and contradictions, it can't be trusted. Is infinity definite? If so, it's like saying 2+2=2 and that if you counted in 2s to 12 you'd reach a lower number than if you counted in 4s to 12. In other words, infinity is far from definite. It occurs a lot in science and maths and we can keep counting the digits after Pi or keep counting up in 4s forever and ever. Maybe we will find the end; and infinity will not be real. Maybe we'll never find the end. So if you ask whether infinity is definite or not, I can reply "it depends". We'll have to keep counting and then ask that question again.

And so I conclude today's little maths and philosophy rant with this statement: nothing is definite. The answer to any question you'll ever come across will, truthfully, be "it depends". But, for now, I say we should just go about our daily business lying and saying "yes" and "no", just to make it all easier for us. That'll avoid all this kerfuffle with infinity.

~John

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