Fractal Tree  
 
||  WHERE WE ARE GOING   ||         ||  HOW WE WILL KNOW WE GOT THERE   ||         ||  STOPS ALONG THE WAY   ||         ||  THE GUIDE   ||        ||  INSPIRATIONS   ||

 

 

   S
   t
   o
   p
   s

   A
   l
   o
   n
   g

   T
   h
   e

   W
   a
   y

 

 

Salvador Dali - The Persistence of MemorySome say it is best not to go near the center of time. Life is a vessel of      
sadness but it is nobel to live life, and without time there is no life.      
Others disagree. They would rather have an eternity of      
contentment, even if that eternity were fixed and      
frozen, like a butterfly mounted in a      

case.      

Alan Lightman, Einstein's Dreams      




A tentative schedule of topics, reading assignments and due dates for Reflection Tasks is shown below.  Nothing will be made due earlier than indicated but some things may be pushed back or eliminated altogether, depending on time.  All changes will be announced in class, on the course Collab site, and posted here on the course website.

WEEK

QUESTIONS TO EXPLORE


Pre-Course
 


∞ Welcome to Infinity

Peruse course website; complete questionnaire
 


Week 1
(Aug 25)


∞ Echoes of Infinity

The Ultimate Question:
What does infinity look like through the eyes of the artist, the poet, the scientist, the philosopher…?

Postscript: The Infinite Book, Preface and Chapter 1, pp. 1-12.
 


Week 2
(Sept 1)

Reflection Task #1
(Pre-assignment)
Due electronically
Sunday, Sept 6
by 11:55pm.

 


∞ Number


The Ultimate Question:
What is number? Are numbers real? What do they mean? How do they help us make sense of our world?

Musings about the Question:
Falling from Infinity, pp. 36-40. Dantzig, Tobias. Number: The Language of Science. Ed. Joseph Mazur. New York: Plume, 2007. 6-12.

Course Website: Poetry of Mark Jarmin (“I have lost my explanation”).
 


Week 3
(Sept 8)

Reflection Task #1
(Interviews)
Due electronically
Sunday, Sept 13
by 11:55pm.


∞ Numbers Beyond Number


The Ultimate Question:
What happens when numbers (or spaces or times) get bigger or smaller than we can even begin to imagine?

Musings about the Question:
The Infinite Book, Chapter 1, pp. 12-22.

Course Website: Art of M. C. Escher (“Regular Division of the Plane #70,” “Smaller and Smaller,” “Circle Limit I,” “Circle Limit III,” “Circle Limit IV”).

Postscript: Art of M. C. Escher (“Snakes,” “Path of Life II,” and “Whirlpools”)
  


Week
4
(Sept 15)


 


∞ Probing Infinity


The Ultimate Question:
What is the difference between actual, potential and theological infinity? directional, cyclic and dependent infinity? mathematical, physical and absolute infinity?

Musings about the Question:
The Infinite Book, Chapter 2, pp. 23-40.
 


Week 5
(Sept 22)


∞ Unlocking Infinity

The Ultimate Question:
Why are there just as many even integers as there are total integers?  How can an infinite line fill an infinite volume?

Musings about the Question:
The Infinite Book, Chapter 3, pp. 41-50.

Postscript: The Infinite Book, Chapter 4, pp. 51-69.
 


Week 6
(Sept 29)

Reflection Task #2
(Photo Essay)
Due electronically
Sunday,
Oct 11, 2009
by 11:55pm.
 


∞ Unlocking Infinity

The Ultimate Question:
Is there an ultimate infinity? Is that ultimate infinity God?

Musings about the Question:
The Infinite Book, Chapter 4-5, pp. 69-91.
 


Week
7
(Oct 6)

 


A Finite Break
 


Week 8
(Oct 13)

 


∞ Infinity’s Twin


The Ultimate Question:
What is the connection between everything and nothing? Can something be both everything and nothing at the same time?

Musings about the Question:
Falling from Infinity, pp. 19-20. Borges, Jorge Luis, “The Disk,” The Book of Sand and Shakespeare’s Memory. New York: Penguin Putnam, Inc., 1998. 86-88.

Falling from Infinity, pp. 79-82. von Kleist, Heinrich. “On the Puppet Theater,” An Abyss Deep Enough. Ed. Philip B. Miller. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1982. 211-216.

Course Website: Art of M.C. Escher (“Mobius Strip II”); Poetry of Mark Strand (“Keeping Things Whole”).




Week
9
(Oct 20)

 


∞ Infinity on High

The Ultimate Question:
How small is small? How big is big? And, where do we fit in?

Musings about the Question:
Falling from Infinity, pp. 52-57. Millhauser, Steven. “In the Reign of Harad IV,” Dangerous Laughter: Thirteen Stories. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008. 123-131.

Course Website: Pascal, Blaise. Pensées, Section II, 74. Translated by W.F. Trotter. 1660; Art of Caspar David Friedrich (“Monk by the Sea”).
 


Week 10
(Oct 27)

Reflection Task #3
(Short Story):

Draft due in class
Tuesday, Nov 3;

Final story due
electronically
Sunday, Nov 8
by 11:55pm.
 


∞ Infinity on High

The Ultimate Question:
How small is small? How big is big? And, where do we fit in?

Musings about the Question:
Falling from Infinity, pp. 9-17. Borges, Jorge Luis, “The Aleph,” The Aleph and Other Stories, 1933-1969, Together with Commentaries and an Autobiographical Essay. Ed. Norman Thomas di Giovanni. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1970. 15-30.

The Infinite Book, Chapter 7, pp. 115-154.

Course Website: Art of Vincent van Gogh (“Starry Night”).
 


Week 11
(Nov 3)

 


∞ Infinity on High

The Ultimate Question:
If the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything is 42, what is the question?

Musings about the Question:
Falling from Infinity, pp. 2-8. Adams, Douglas. “Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy,” The Ultimate Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. New York: Ballantine Books, 2002. 111-121.

Falling from Infinity, pp. 24-28. Borges, Jorge Luis, “The Library of Babel,” Ficciones. Ed. Anthony Kerrigan. New York: Grove Press, 1962. 79-88.

Postscript: The Infinite Book, Chapter 8, pp. 155-176.
 


Week 12
(Nov 10)

 


∞ Eternity! O, dread and dire word.

The Ultimate Question:
What is time?

Musings about the Question:
Falling from Infinity, pp. 46-51. Lightman, Alan. Einstein’s Dreams. New York: Warner Books, 1993. 8-12, 70-74, and 163-165.

Falling from Infinity, pp. 29-35. Borges, Jorge Luis, “The Garden of Forking Paths,” Ficciones. Ed. Anthony Kerrigan. New York: Grove Press, 1962. 89-101.

Course Website: Poetry of Archibald MacLeish (“An Eternity”); Poetry of Mark Jarmin (“Eternity”).
 


Week 13
(Nov 17)


∞ Eternity! O, dread and dire word.


The Ultimate Question:
When did time begin and when will it end?

Musings about the Question:
Falling from Infinity, pp. 65-78. St. Augustine. “Confessions,” Classics of Western Philosophy, 6th Ed. Ed. Steven M. Cahn. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2002. 353-365.

Course Website: Art of Salvador Dali (“The Persistence of Memory” and "The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory"; Poetry of Louise Gluck (“Wild Iris”).
 


Week
14
(Nov 24)

Reflection Task #4
(Digital Story
Telling):

Project idea due
via email
Monday, Nov 31.

Initial storyboad
due in class
Tuesday, Dec 1.

Near-final,
storyboard
due in person
Friday, Dec 4.

Final project
due in class
Tuesday, Dec 8.
 


∞ Eternity! O, dread and dire word.


The Ultimate Question:
Do you want to live forever?

Musings about the Question:
Falling from Infinity, pp. 41-45. Joyce, James. “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Dubliners. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2004. 111-117.

Course Website: Art of Vincent van Gogh (“At Eternity’s Gate”); Poetry of Billy Collins (“Forgetfullness”).

Postscript: The Infinite Book, Chapter 11, pp. 247-260.
 


Week 15
(Dec 1)


 


∞ Falling from Infinity

The Ultimate Question:
If you’re falling from infinity, would you know it? or want to know it?

Musings about the Question:
Falling from Infinity, pp. 57-64. Millhauser, Steven. “The Tower,” Dangerous Laughter: Thirteen Stories. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008. 145-158.
 


Week 16
(Dec 8)

 


∞ Falling from Infinity

The Ultimate Question:
What does your vision of infinity look like?
 


Final Exam
(Thursday,
Dec 17 from
9-12:00pm)

Final Reflection
Portfolio

Due electronically
by the end of
of the final
exam period
(Thursday,
Dec 17, 12:00pm).

 


∞ The End of Infinity (or maybe this is the beginning...again!)