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Infinity – where will it all end?

Swept under the rug

Letters to the Editor. Illustration: Paul Scott
The Irish Times - Letters to the Editor.

Sir, – In Peter Lynch’s very interesting article on infinities (“What is truly infinite may just be the abyss of our ignorance”, That’s Maths, June 20th), he states that “quantum theory seems to put a bound on how small we can go”.

There is no currently no generally agreed limit on exactly how small subatomic particles such as electrons can be. Calculations in modern theoretical physics requires various mathematical “tricks” to avoid infinities.

Richard Feynman, one of the creators of these mathematical techniques, referred to these procedures as “sweeping infinities under the rug”.

This is partially the reason string theory was developed, in order to try to avoid the infinities that occur in our current best model of particle physics.


However, mathematically sophisticated as it is, unfortunately string theory has virtually no supporting experimental evidence to support it. – Yours, etc,