Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Examples of Infinity
Name: reanna montgomery
Status: N/A
Age: N/A
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A 

I want some examples of what goes on forever. What is infinite?

Infinity is not 'a thing' - we don't know any practical examples of infinity. It's a purely abstract concept - if you can't see any logical reason why 'something' should stop, you think of it as infinite. Like numbers: which number is the biggest? Whenever you pick an actual number, like 762454230347032457652734735874325875483248723423 or whichever you like, you can always imagine that you add something to it, like the number 1, and immediately you have a bigger number.

To make things worse, 'infinite' isn't just 'infinite'. Take the set of all integers: it's infinite. So is the set of real numbers. But there are more real numbers than integers - the 'infinite number of reals' is greater than the 'infinite number of integers'. This can be proved, of course, but not here. I may find a reference, if you're interested.

jan p anderson

Check out an author named Rudy Rudkin for a very readable account of the various "levels" of infinity.


"I can't help it, the idea of the infinite torments me." Alfred de Musset (1810-1857) I offer this as a physicist, not as a mathematician.

On the other hand, William Blake wrote:
To see a World in a Grain of Sand,
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.


Click here to return to the Mathematics Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory