Is the Universe Infinite?
Explore the biggest question of all… in 1080p. How far do the stars stretch out into space? And what’s beyond them? In modern times, we built giant telescopes that have allowed us to cast our gaze deep into the universe. Astronomers have been able to look back to near the time of its birth. They’ve reconstructed the course of cosmic history in astonishing detail.
From intensive computer modeling, and myriad close observations, they’ve uncovered important clues to its ongoing evolution. Many now conclude that what we can see, the stars and galaxies that stretch out to the limits of our vision, represent only a small fraction of all there is.
Does the universe go on forever? Where do we fit within it? And how would the great thinkers have wrapped their brains around the far-out ideas on today’s cutting edge?
For those who find infinity hard to grasp, even troubling, you’re not alone. It’s a concept that has long tormented even the best minds.
Over two thousand years ago, the Greek mathematician Pythagoras and his followers saw numerical relationships as the key to understanding the world around them.
But in their investigation of geometric shapes, they discovered that some important ratios could not be expressed in simple numbers.
Take the circumference of a circle to its diameter, called Pi.
Computer scientists recently calculated Pi to 5 trillion digits, confirming what the Greeks learned: there are no repeating patterns and no ending in sight.
The discovery of the so-called irrational numbers like Pi was so disturbing, legend has it, that one member of the Pythagorian cult, Hippassus, was drowned at sea for divulging their existence.
A century later, the philosopher Zeno brought infinity into the open with a series of paradoxes: situations that are true, but strongly counter-intuitive.
In this modern update of one of Zeno’s paradoxes, say you have arrived at an intersection. But you are only allowed to cross the street in increments of half the d