Newsletter 19 - The Nature of Infinity

Hi friends, Fantasy/Sci-Fi/Horror author Paul James Keyes here with another newsletter!

Last time I flexed my poetic chops. [LINK TO NEWSLETTER 18 - POETRY IN MOTION].  This time I want to talk about the mind-shattering concept and nature of Infinity.

The concept of an infinite universe—everything that can physically exist in this moment, does.

Infinity. It’s a funny thing. Infinite—never ending—it’s incomprehensible to finite beings such as ourselves. We can only hope to understand it through metaphor. But I would like to take a logical approach to understanding what infinity means.

First off, yes, I saw that Netflix math documentary, A Trip to Infinity (and you should too). It talks about math and the concept of infinity and is very interesting even to less mathematically inclined individuals. I saw it a few months ago, so I come at this topic now from a more philosophical perspective.

If we accept that the universe is infinite, then we are accepting that anything that can physically happen under the laws of physics in our universe is currently happening somewhere out there right now. There are only so many positions an atom or a group of atoms such as ourselves can superimpose into. Like lego builds with any certain amount of blocks, there are a very large but finite number of combinations.  The less common the orientation of atoms, the less likely you are to run into an exact duplicate of something out there in the infinitely wide universe. But that does not mean that statistically there isn’t a chance.

Just as twins can exist with the same genetic build but be made up of different atoms, somewhere, out there in the infinite universe, infinite identical and nearly identical and completely different versions of a place like Earth and also places that are not like Earth at all plus every other possible scenario under any sun that could ever exist… are all existing, all at once, everywhere.

Everything that can exist, is existing.

If you haven’t seen Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, it’s a fantastic film! It’s a fantasy, obviously, but it quite possibly depicts the true nature of reality more realistically than one would expect.

Every moment of time is currently existing at the same time, because really, time is an illusion created by the brain. I’m not trying to convince you of any of this. It is simply a fact that given infinite space and the limited possible orientations of atoms within a finite space at our scale of existence, every possible thing that can physically be happening under the governing rules of our universe—that being fundamental physics—is currently, and always happening, forever. All at once. Always.

Right. So just let that sink in.

If all of that is not true, then the universe is not infinite.

Given an infinite universe, the fact that you exist is both a miracle, and an inevitability. Every form of something that could look or feel like you exists and is going through every possible experience all at once. All good scenarios and all bad ones. Ones that make sense, and ones that are complete and utter nonsense. Somewhere a [insert any random orientation of atoms here] appears in front of “you.” Somewhere, an anvil appears in the air above “your” head and squishes “you” at the worst possible moment. It’s a rare occurrence, but also there’s no such thing as “rare” when there’s also infinite. At this point, “you” is a concept with infinite iterations and variations all coexisting.

There’s a lot that you could empathize with out there, but its all too far away to ever effect you… probably.

The chances of you ever encountering a separate Earth or “you” is very very small, but at the same time, given infinite space, somewhere out there random occurrences form just the right orientation for a facsimile of you to meet another version of you with a slightly worse haircut.

For the record, after grappling with this concept, I am not convinced the universe actually is infinite. Maybe it’s just a really big bubble that loops back in on itself and is actually super finite. Maybe that’s nonsense.  There’s no answers here, and there never really can be any because our brains are finite and cannot even fully comprehend the nature of infinity. You start going down this road, and you end up going in a circle. It all starts to feel meaningless under the vast everything out there, but ultimately, even if we only move in a meaningless circle, we did get to be conscious for the ride.

Hopefully you are enjoying the ride. You don’t get to know what any of those other “you’s” experienced, but since you know the answer is “everything possible” you can imagine it and never really be wrong.

Letting relevancy by our guide to the here and now is the best way to anchor our slowly computing analog brains to the needs of our bodies. You’ll both take and not take my advice to live in the moment. Hopefully the version of you reading this version of this newsletter can appreciate the existence of the infinite while still living a fulfilling life of experiences and joy.

Until next time, stay safe out there!

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