How Many Angels?

How Many Angels? July 15, 2017

Few these days remember to ask,

How many angels can dance

on the point of a pin?

Angels have no more dimensions

Than points in a line.

They take up no space,

Though they do take up time,

No matter what number you pick,

More angels always come to dance.

Never make fun of those who ask

How dimensionless points

can add up to a line.

 

A woman mathematician once

Took me out to lunch—because that’s

The sort of rare breed women

mathematicians are—to  tell me

I think of numbers like a poet,

Not a mathematician. She said,

“Go major in poetry and be happy.”

I wish I could remember her name.

 

So I divide by zero all the time.

The answer is always infinite.

Those who call infinity meaningless

Seem to merely fear its implications.

Given an infinity of dimensionless points,

Like flocks of angels coming endlessly to dance,

They become a length, a height, a width

(Exact numbers need a different sleight of hand),

Because infinity times zero equals everything

 


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