“Infinity plus one is bigger than one plus infinity!” I heard those words spoken the other night by mathematician, pianist and author Eugenia Cheng. Initially my reaction was ’What? Don’t be stupid!’ but I carried on listening to what she had to say. I can’t explain it the way she did so if you want to know exactly how it works ask me and I’ll do my best or read her book.
This little snippet from her interview on Newstalk isn’t what interested me though. One of the things she said was for mathematicians to explore the possibility of different infinite numbers they had to use their imagination. They had to imagine other worlds where numbers can exist. Again, I’m not explaining it the way she does, but that’s not important – as I said read her book.
So mathematicians use their imaginations. This doesn’t sit right with me. Mathematicians are scientist and scientist base their work on fact, not imagination. You could argue that they start by using imagination to think about where their discoveries are going next but I’m not sure I agree with that. Even the path of their discoveries, to me, are based on fact.
Accepting that mathematicians use their imaginations opens up a world of questions for me personally but the biggest, and most important is this:
If they can use their imagination to see past limitations, can you?
Well of course you can. It was Albert Einstein who said “Logic will take you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.” He also claimed that imagination is more important than knowledge and that is something I’d disagree with. Personally I consider imagination to be as important as knowledge, but it’s your imagination you should use first.
Why? Because the possibilities it opens up are endless!
Your commute to work. Is it boring? Is it the some monotonous route you take every single day of your working life? People will say “Change it! Take a different route,” but that’s not always possible. So, in times when you can’t change the route use your imagination and change the reason you’re making that journey. You’re making that journey because it’s your company or because you’re the most important person there. You’re making that journey because your boss called and said they can’t do with out.
You can use your imagination in any situation and what makes it even better is what it can lead to. Your imagination will lead you to think about different situations. Maybe there’s something in your life you want to change? Use your imagination to think about the different possibilities open to you. This grants you the knowledge to know what you want and with that knowledge comes the power to make the change.
All you need to do is imagine it.