Mathematicians who believe the universe is infinite state that anything that is possible will occur an infinite number of times. So, an infinite number of monkeys, with an infinite number of typewriters, will type the complete works of Shakespeare an infinite number of times. Certainly, in an infinite universe that is a possibility.

But, in an infinite universe where anything possible will happen those same monkeys will not type the complete works of Shakespeare but will just type the letter "a" an infinite number of times because that too is possible.

But even within an infinite universe those two outcomes cannot exist at the same time because that would be an impossibility.

So, an infinite universe where everything that can possibly happen will occur cannot exist because certain possibilities cannot exist in the same space. Therefore the universe is finite.

Alternatively, of course, the universe could be infinite but not everything that can possibly happens occur. For example, mathematicians will state that in an infinite universe the earth will be duplicated an infinite number of times, because eventually a finite number of particles have to form themselves into repeating patterns as there is a limit to the number of different patterns they can form (see billiard balls). But, even in an infinite universe it could be the case that complex forms stop at a certain point and the rest of infinity is full of dust particles, bananas or nothing.



  1. I suspect, dear MP, that you don’t quite grasp what it is that “infinite” entails.

    For example, the monkeys would generate the complete works of Shakespeare AND also an infinite number of “a”s in an infinite number of tries.

    Just bear in mind that there are an infinite number in the set of all numbers, and there are an infinite number in the set of all even numbers, and the numbers of each set are equal.

    I won’t even mention transfinite numbers.

  2. Oh, and I know all about odd and even numbers and infinity. But numbers are symbols and do not always conform to the realities we try to describe them with. And the odds and evens mindgame assumes that there are two sets of numbers in infinity. My point is that there does not need to be. As we are incapable of creating such a set of numbers it we are only talking about projections not realities. It’s a “what if” not a “what is.”

  3. RE: “For example, the monkeys would generate the complete works of Shakespeare AND also an infinite number of “a”s in an infinite number of tries.”

    And don’t forget an infinite number of posts on OCICBW…

    wv: pounden

    What those monkeys are doing on those typewriters.

  4. Here’s the thing: When we get to heaven we can ask God to explain about the infinite number in the set of all numbers, and the infinite number in the set of all even numbers. And God will say to us, “Here are an infinite number of mops and an infinite number of buckets. Go and mop an infinite number of floors. When you have finished, come back, and then I’ll explain.”

    WV: “fraydri” (how you will know when you are finished)

  5. Of course, I fucking do, you arrogant c*nt!
    You, on the other hand are no philosopher.

    C*nt and tosser both, then, Jonathan? That seems excessive.

    And yet on the other hand I am a philosopher. Have the inscribed sheepskin to prove it, if that’s what you want.

    But that’s neither here nor there.

    And just so you know (and if you care) I agree with you that the universe is probably not infinite. Not for your reason, though: In an infinite universe all things can be — infinity is large enough for anything, even more than we can conceive.

    But if the universe had a start, it cannot possibly be infinite. And I just don’t see anyone these days denying that the universe had a start — either the atheistic cosmologists or the biblical literalists. And the evidence is against the existence of the universal steady state. Ergo it’s not infinite.

    Just because someone disagrees with you doesn’t mean that you are being “belittled”. Coming from a working-class background doesn’t mean that you cannot be a philosopher. (I myself am a descendant of farmers, brewers, and ranchers.) But philosophy divorced from reality is worthless.

    Mollite se, frater.

  6. I suspect, dear MP, that you don’t quite grasp what it is that “infinite” entails.

    That’s not disagreeing – that’s belittling.

  7. infinity is large enough for anything, even more than we can conceive.

    Yes. But that doesn’t mean it has to contain everything. It could contain a little something plus a whole load of nothing. Or it could just repeat a relatively small number of things (e.g. dust particles over and over again ad infinitum.

  8. And, I tend to go for the view that the universe is infinite and has always existed. I think God may have always existed within (yes within) that universe and that he created our material bit of the universe in the Big Bang and that our bit of the universe exploded out into a “space” that was already there rather than creating space as it grew. This theory would allow for other areas of material, similarly created, being present within infinite space, beyond our horizon. This creates the possibility that dark matter is not the only thing involved in the expansion of our bit of the universe. Gravity could also be involved as we are pulled towards other areas of matter.

  9. This infinity stuff is a little bit too brainhurty for me, first thing in the morning. But then I haven’t had much sleep, so that could be why.

    I will say that I do know journalists who were given typewriters in the hope that in an infinite universe they would eventually produce something coherent… sadly, as yet with no result. Naming no names

    PS I thought the universe had been proven to consist of turtles all the way down?

  10. There once were some monkeys who typed
    And by golly their shite was much hyped
    They called it, “Shakespeare”
    With a new one each year
    Since evolving they eat bananas, over-riped.

  11. Because if it were truly infinite, there would be no beginning or end by definition.

    Tracie the Red

  12. Thanks, Renz. But I must point out that I took it down once Paul acknowledged he had seen it as I always intended to. I don’t want you thinking I’ve started listening to good advice or anything like that.

  13. This is why I prefer this description of how big the universe is:

    “Space,” it says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly hugely mindbogglingly big it is. I mean you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space, LISTEN!” and so on…

  14. Thought for this morning: Name-calling furthers no argument. Some might say that name-calling signals a weak argument, but I would never say that. 🙂

    No advice, just a thought, always with the caveat that, of course, I could be wrong.

  15. I totally agree, Mimi. Name calling furthers no argument. That’s why I never use it in an argument and only use it to punch someone in the face when they are on the other side of the world and then, only as a response to being punched by them in the first place.

    I wasn’t arguing with Paul. I was swearing at him.

  16. Yes, indeed, Mimi. Jonathan was just playing Jane, you ignorant slut when a contrary observation on language terms was proffered. It happened before and will doubtless happen again.

    It can make for entertaining dialogue, though.

    wv = monst
    (**no comment**)

  17. No, I’m sorry, that doesn’t work. It could have a beginning but no end. Whether it’s still growing is irrelevant too, if the actual growth continues into infinity.

    Actually, I can cope with the idea of infinity better than with eternity.
    I read this brilliant description of eternity: imagine a globe of steel the size of the earth. Every 10 million years a fly alights on it for a few seconds.
    When the friction from the fly has work away the whole of the globe eternity hasn’t even begun.

    That makes eternal life about the scariest thing in the world.

  18. See…I just would never have interpreted Paul’s statement as anything offensive. If anything, I would have thought he was being very polite. He said “dear MP” after all, and if someone had said “dear Tracie” to me, it would suggest gentle language, not ugly stuff.

    Of course, me being me, I might have worded the statement differently if it was me; I might have said something like this:

    “So what exactly do we mean by the word ‘infinite’ anyway? Let’s define our terms so we can all be on the same page…” and been very academic and boring about it.

    I have no idea what on earth you saw in that comment, MP.

    But then again, I have power pods – DDDs – that I can shake and turn most men’s minds to oatmeal and thus I get away with damn near anything. :insert shit-eating grin here:

    Bridge for sale! Bridge for sale!

  19. If you look up “infinite”, you will find differing definitions. Tracie and Erika could both be right according to dictionary definitions. “Look it up,” as Stephen Colbert says, “but not in a book.” Look on the internet at the reputable dictionary websites.

    From an early age, I was taught in religion classes, not in physics classes, that infinite meant “no beginning, no end”, but the dictionaries give other definitions.

    Depends also upon whether you’re using mathspeak, physicspeak, philosophyspeak, or religionspeak. I believe that in this thread, several different speaks are in operation. Of course, I could be wrong.

  20. Tracie’s boobs are infinity… but Erika’s globes are eternity.

    I think that’s the thought that I would take away from the discussion, anyway.