One could go on and on forever talking about anything, but I'll just touch on it here.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spelling Infinity

"How do you spell infinity?"

The question came from a first-grade boy who's about as tall as my middle and in the habit of wearing his coat hood over his head any time he wears his coat. I'm not a South Park fan, but I can't help thinking of that infamous character Kenny, all bundled up with only his eyes showing. The resemblance ends there.

Rather than spell the word I asked the boy how he would spell it. I need to get back to him on that one, but he did say that it's "twenty-five letters long." There must be a joke that I'm not getting. You see, this kid will often wander around waiting for his ride and randomly quote Disney movies. And Sponge Bob. Maybe he saw this on a show.

Anyway, as I got excited about starting a blog I realized the first important step was creating a name. After numerous failed attempts—all my great ideas were taken—I thought about the many sayings that I pick up from kids. While talking to my husband, Luke, about the infinity kid, he helped me settle on this name: Touching on Infinity. And then he explained it to me, in the marvelous way that he can paint word pictures to help me understand something.

As a graduate student in computer science, Luke chose the thesis option for his master's requirement. He began researching topics and found that what he picked had so much more to it than what he could cover. (From my English teaching background this is where I help students focus their research paper topics from general to specific—a daunting task.) Luke was able to divide his thesis into four main sections. Within each section, however, he saw that each one was like a new pool of ideas that he could have written about. He knew that he couldn't just stay in one pool or he would get drawn into it.

He was reminded of Polly and Digory in The Magician's Nephew. Once they put on the rings, they went to this in-between world full of pools. Each pool could take them to another place, another world, and they used them to actually travel to those other worlds, such as Narnia.

Luke had to glean the information from each pool, as it pertained to his main focus. "I felt like I was just skimming along the surface," he tells me. "If I broke the surface I would get lost in oblivion." It's like floating a paperclip. If you break the surface tension of the water, the paperclip will sink. What Luke realized he was doing was touching on an infinite number of ideas, each pool holding more and more pools.

So I realize that this blog will also do that, touch on infinity as I muse and write about various topics and ideas without delving too far into them—though I might go off on tangents occasionally. (We do have squirrels in the yard and they might distract me sometimes.) One could go on and on forever talking about anything, but I'll just touch on it here.

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