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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 September 2006, 09:46 GMT 10:46 UK
A Brief History of Infinity: Space and the Universe
First broadcast September 2006

A Brief History of Infinity: Space and the Universe

Human beings have trouble with infinity - yet infinity is a surprisingly human subject.

Philosophers and mathematicians have gone insane contemplating its nature and complexity - yet it is a concept routinely used by schoolchildren.

Presented by the renowned astronomer Heather Couper, these programmes take the listener on a journey with an endless audio horizon and feature contributions from musicians who write endless music; science fiction authors, who create infinite worlds and timeless beings; theologians; Buddhist lamas; astro-physicists and mathematicians.

It is infinity... in a nutshell.

Part One: Space and the Universe

This first programme takes us outside the known universe, and tries to measure whether it has a beginning and end.

If a star is a fixed number of light years away, how do we know if there is anything lurking beyond the stars which will not show itself to a human being on earth for several more light years?

Are we more comfortable with the finite?

Is this why we developed theories like Big Bang to explain things we don't know in sizes which we do know?

A group of experts show how the human mind prefers to stop short of a total acceptance of the truly "without end".

Supersize, it seems, has to stop somewhere!

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Ways to Listen

A Brief History of Infinity - Part 1: Space and the Universe

Astronomer Heather Couper takes us outside the known universe, and tries to measure whether it has a beginning and end.

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