Correspondence | Published:

Still light-years away from articulating the infinite

Naturevolume 441page812 (2006) | Download Citation



The Universe may perhaps be infinite, but even to distinguish this from a very large finite Universe would seem to be scientifically impossible. Yet objects such as comet Encke, used to illustrate Peter Coles' book review (“From here to eternity” Nature 441, 285; 2006), hardly encourage us to consider an infinite universe to be reasonable. Encke is a body in the Solar System, a few light-hours away. In fact, it is one of the closest comets to the Sun.

You might have pictured a distant galactic cluster, such as the Great Wall — perhaps 200–300 million light years away. But even that would be a finite distance, no closer to infinity than a walk across the road.

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  1. Mathematics Institute, University of Warwick, Coventry, CV4 7AL, UK

    • Ian Stewart


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