Denis Defreyne

Nothing is “near infinite”

(Source: Weeknotes 2022 W24: Near-infinite)

The term “near-infinite” is nonsense! Nothing is near-infinite!

Literally all numbers are closer to zero than to infinity. The biggest number you can think of? Not even remotely close to infinite. Practically zero, in fact, in the grander scheme of things.

The estimated number of stars in the entire observable universe is 200 sextillion stars. A number so large it is beyond human comprehension. Wow, that sure sounds like a near-infinite amount, right? Not so much! That number is closer to zero than to infinity.

What about the number of particles in the universe? That number is estimated to be 10⁸⁰. Yes, that number is very, very, veryveryvery large. That’s a hundred quinvigintillion, Wikipedia tells me. Wild! Is it near-infinite though? Not quite: it’s still closer to zero than to infinity.

Look, I’m not suggesting that we replace uses of “near-infinite” with “near-zero,” even though it would absolutely be more correct. From a marketing perspective, it wouldn’t be the best idea to describe, for example, a highly customizable blogging platform as offering “near-zero personalization options.” That would be technically correct, just not very useful.

Note last edited November 2022.
Backlinks: Infinity is not a number.