Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

# TagDavid Hilbert (on infinities)

## 1. Why Infinity Does Not Exist in Reality

A few examples will show the absurd results that come from assuming that infinity exists in the world around us as it does in math

Does infinity exist in reality? There are, surprisingly, scientists who think infinity is a possibility even though they are unable to point to any example of infinity in reality. The great mathematician David Hilbert claimed that “the infinite is nowhere to be found in reality.” Nevertheless, the mathematical theory of infinity developed by Georg Cantor is beautiful. Hilbert was in awe of Cantor’s beautiful theory and said “No one shall drive us from the paradise which Cantor has created for us.” An assumption of the infinite leads to weird counterintuitive results. In this and the following four articles, various ludicrous properties of the infinite are explored. We’ll see, for example, that the entire Library of Congress is encoded somewhere in almost every Read More ›

## Math Fun: Hilbert’s Hotel Manager Copes With Infinity With Poise!

What, exactly, happens when a would-be guest shows up at a fully booked hotel — with infinite rooms?

Hilbert’s Hotel is a thought experiment that the great mathematician David Hilbert (1862–1943) developed to help us see the “counterintuitiveness of infinity.” He asks us to imagine a hotel which is “full” — except that because it is infinite, it can always create one more room. Mathematician Marianne Freiberger explains: Suppose that your hotel has infinitely many rooms, numbered 1, 2, 3, etc. All rooms are occupied, when a new guest arrives and asks to be put up. What do you do? It’s easy. Ask the guest in room 1 to move to room 2, the guest in room 2 to move into room 3, the guest in room 3 to move into room 4, and so on. If there Read More ›

## Why Just Anything Can’t Happen via Infinite Universes

We can see why not, using simple mathematical reasoning in this universe

Can anything happen if there are an infinite number of universes each with an infinite number of possibilities in each? Can you be bald in one universe and fully haired in another? Can you have two eyeballs in this universe and three in another? The answer is no. In a nutshell, the reason is that some infinities are bigger than other infinities. (And this is not a claim like infinity plus one is bigger than infinity. Infinity plus one is still infinity.) The number of points on a line segment from, say zero to one, is a bigger infinity than the number of counting numbers {1,2,3,…}. We can label the infinite number of universes in the multiverse as universe #1, Read More ›