The Idea of Infinity
I visited Calcutta (now Kolkata) for the first time when i was 13. Among other places, I visited the Birla Science Museum, located near Gurusaday Road. The museum was fantastic, atleast that’s what I thought when I visited it then. It had several separate galleries exhibiting the various wonders of science.
Among other things exhibited, one particularly interested me. It was nothing much, nothing as I think of it now. At one place exhibiting various kinds of mirrors, there were these two very large mirrors, (large enough to capture the image of the whole room) identical in shape and size, fixed on two opposite walls. Now as soon as you entered the room, there was this feeling of being in a hallway of gigantic proportions. I was amused to see so many images of my little self extending way beyond my eyes could see….in both directions ! This was the first time I was face-to-face with infinity, so to say.
Later on in my school I learnt in optics that whenever two plane mirrors are kept parallel to each other, any object kept between the two would have infinite images, extending unbounded in both directions. So from then on, whenever in my schooling I was disturbed or inhibited by infinity, I tried to mentally draw analogies with the “parallel mirrors” concept. Even the infinite number system has two parts: negative and positive, and both are mirror images of each other.
Now a few years ago I heard that modern physicists are working theories on the “handedness” of matter. So to speak, in crude terms, the fundamental particles of matter viz. protons, neutrons and electrons, present on earth are all “left handed”. They even predict that there might be certain galaxies in the universe which have only “right handed” matter or what they call “mirror matter”. All these facts encourage me to propose a rather crude theory that I had in mind for many years:
Our physicists have submitted to the fact of the ‘infinite universe’. Honestly, the idea of infinite space gives me creeps! Why can’t it be something comprehendable? If we have parallel mirrors in all directions around us, won’t it make us feel that we were in an infinite space? It certainly will, and these mirrors would be very special mirrors. These would not produce just optical images, these will image the entire matter. Ergo, “mirror matter”. So in fact, it is possible that at this point of time, millions of light years away, there may be another “mirror me” typing this same blog!! So, the universe might not be infinite, after all….it is pseudo-infinite.
My theory might seem too far-fetched to some people, but let me tell you that I was surprised to find on the net a few days ago, that the same theory is being popularised by a group of American Researchers. Though their treatment is somewhat different. They say that if you travel in a spaceship from earth in any particular direction, and travel really fast, there may be some point of time when you will reach back where you started, just like the cursor on the computer screen returns back to its initial position, and similar to a very well-known arcade game called “Space Invaders”.
So, infinity might not be infinite, after all, atleast in some cases.