Nearly 100 Ways to Approach Infinity.
BY IAN VARLEY
1. Get a good pen and draw a straight line which does not end. You may also need to find some very long paper and a very long surface on which to put it. Concentrate on your feelings of superiority to the miserable creatures who must live in a single dimension, two whole dimensions less than you. Ha, ha. They can’t even tie their shoes, because they don’t have room to bend over.
2. Peel an infinitely large onion. (You can usually find these in the produce aisle of your local chain grocer; if that fails, try online at one of those infinite-produce Web sites you’ve heard so much about.) To reduce eye irritation, try holding an infinitely long matchstick in your mouth. Be careful not to cover any major metropolitan areas with the discarded skins. Do not eat it! You are finite and will probably die or at least get very bad indigestion from eating anything infinite, let alone an onion.
3. Approach an asymptote. Do not be nervous — it’s probably just as scared as you are. Ask it if it wants to get some coffee or maybe catch an old Bogart flick. Be prepared to wait while the ticket taker asks to see its ID. If anything goes wrong, don’t panic; remember that you are not infinite, and you can leave if you want to.
4. Go about your business as usual. If anyone asks what you are doing, open your mouth and inhale all the matter in the universe.
5. Cancel a date with your significant other; when asked why, explain that you are trying to approach infinity, and that it is very insensitive of him / her to not understand that. Say, “You’re just so finite.” Then laugh to yourself because when you get right down to it, you’re pretty finite too, more or less. Make up and have a never-ending vanilla malt.
6. Gather your belongings on a cloudy day. Set sail for an island off the coast of wherever you live. Give thanks to the sea for bearing you away from your heartaches and troubles. Repeat c. 35 trillion times.
7. Send a letter to yourself and when you get it, write “Return to Sender” on it. Be sure to hold on to a lamppost or bench so you are not sucked into the resulting vortex. (Just kidding; there’s no way to escape.)
8. Make a very, very tall stack of turtles. If someone asks you if you are trying to recreate the ancient myth of the world being supported on the back of a turtle, which is on the back of another turtle, and so forth, say, “No, I am just stacking turtles. What myth was that again?”
9. Realize that even if you multiply infinity raised to the infinity power times infinity plus infinite infinities, there’s always room for a little bit more. Try not to be infuriated by this and brood; accept it as a part of the nature of things. Punch your pillow if you need to.
10. Contemplate plenum. Contemplate void. Contemplate Daisy Duke and that painter guy on Murphy Brown playing Hearts recursively with Stephen Hawking and your Freshman roommate, on a steel raft floating in a sea of lava. Hold all these things in your heart and ponder them forever.
11. Weigh your dissent over time, first in metric units (grams per second) and then in English units (grains per fortnight). Take the integral of the function used to compute the difference, write it down, and arrange to have it tattooed on your back. Chicken out at the last minute.
12. Throw a can of tomato soup at the speed of light. Then travel back in time to catch it and invent tomato soup in 1983 and make a fortune.
SUGGESTED READSList: Popular Books Titled as Though Written in an Engineering, Scientific, and/or Mathematical Vernacular
by Ter McDermott (4/5/2001)
B.R. Cohen’s Annals of Science: Vol I: Newton, Leibniz, and Calculus; or, How to Put the Beat Down on a Rival in the 17th Century and Lavoisier, Priestley, and Oxygen; or, The Tyranny of Purity
by B.R. Cohen (10/3/2003)
A Guide to Scientific Expressions Used in Everyday Conversation
by Drew Piston (2/18/2008)
RECENTLYLinguistic Notice for Homo Sapiens Heretofore Known as “Pussies” and “Little Bitches.”
by Sarah Smarsh (3/31/2015)
Home On the Range: Brother, Can You Spare an Individual Bullet to Stop a Collective Tyrant?
by Robert Lawrence (3/31/2015)
Reviews of New Food
by Various New Food Tasters (3/31/2015)
POPULARAn Honest College Rejection Letter
by Mimi Evans (3/26/2015)
List: What Your Favorite ’80s Band Says About You
by John Peck (7/5/2011)
Reasons You Were Not Promoted That are Totally Unrelated to Gender
by Homa Mojtabai (1/27/2015)