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Posts Tagged ‘Zeno

“I am incapable of conceiving infinity, and yet I do not accept finity”*…

 

hilberts_hotel

Suppose you’re working at a hotel with infinitely many rooms in it, numbered 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, … all the way up forever and ever. (This is known as a Hilbert Hotel.) One evening when every single room is occupied, a traveler arrives and requests to be accommodated too. You’re the manager. What do you do to help the traveler?

Simple. You just ask each occupant to one room forward. 1 goes to 2, and 2 goes to 3, and so on. Every previous occupant gets a new room. And the first room is now open for the traveler.

The procedure above is characterized by an infinite number of actions or tasks to be carried out in a finite amount of time. Procedures with this character are known as supertasks…

More on the ins and outs of infinities at “Introducing Supertasks.” (More fun musings on infinity here and here; and more on Hilbert’s Hotel here.)

* Simone de Beauvoir, La Vieillesse

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As we muse on many, we might spare a thought for Hermann Hankel; he died on this date in 1873.  A mathematician who worked with Möbius, Riemann, Weierstrass,  and Kronecker (among others), he made important contributions to the understanding of complex numbers and quaternions… and to work begun by Bernard Bolzano on infinite series.

220px-Hankel source

 

Written by LW

August 29, 2018 at 1:01 am

“Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others…”*

 

One of a wonderful series of Faces in Things.

* Jonathan Swift

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As we endeavor to follow Schopenhauer’s good advice, we might send amusing birthday greetings to Aron Ettore Schmitz; he was born on this date in 1861.  Much better known by his pen name, Italo Svevo (though not so nearly well known as he deserves to be), Schmitz was a successful businessman and aspiring writer who drew James Joyce as an English tutor during Joyce’s sojourn as a Berlitz instructor in Trieste.  Joyce admired Schmitz’s first (and largely ignored) novel Senilità. Years later Schmitz failed to find an Italian publisher for his second novel and ultimately self-published; Joyce, by then in Paris, had the text translated into French and intervened with his publisher to secure a release.  The novel, La Coscienza di Zeno (The Confessions of Zeno, or Zeno’s Conscience as a later English translation has it) was such a critical success that the then-dean of Italian critics, Eugenio Montale, discovered it, and Schmitz’s novel got a commercial release in Italy.  

Zeno Cosini, the novel’s hero, a businessman fascinated by Freudian theory, mirrored Schmitz– who was also a model for Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Joyce’s Ulysses.

 source

 

Written by LW

December 19, 2013 at 1:01 am

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