It’s certainly far older than the Mennonites. I’ve already heard it attributed to Indian folklore.

It can’t be repeated often enough that infinite just means never ending. It doesn’t matter how you represent that. It doesn’t matter what base you use, either. A 9 is the largest digit in base 10, but in hex the largest digit is F. In trinary the largest digit is 2. You can convert any number to any base. The representation is irrelevant.

The numbers used don’t have to be the same either. The first hundred digits of pi is represented in base 10 by 3.141592653589793238462643383279 50288419716939937510 58209749445923078164 062862089986280348253421170679. It continues on from there forever. It would take an infinite number of digits to represent pi (true in all bases) and as far as we know there is no pattern to be found.

Yet pi can be - has to be - found by formulas. So pi is 4*(1/1 - 1/3 + 1/5 - 1/7…) That’s also infinite and exactly equal, eventually, to the 100 digits I gave above and more.

The simple series 1/2 + 1/3 + 1/4 + 1/5 + … is infinitely large. It takes longer to get to really big numbers than that huge rock does to disappear but it will eventually surpass any number that you can think of in any notation.

And you can think of infinity in other ways as well. The set of all possible curves is infinite. You could number them but you don’t need to.

The big leap is getting rid of that notion that infinity is the largest number, or a number of any kind. That holds you back from any possible thinking on the subject. Once you do it becomes easier to see how the even numbers can be infinite and the odd numbers can be infinite and the combination of the two is infinite in exactly the same way. Why? Because you can put 1,3,5,7,9… and 2,4,6,8,10… in a one-to-one correspondence with 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10… They don’t need to “catch up” because the series never ends. It works with squares, 1,4,9,16,25 and cubes 1,8,27,64… and fourth powers and everything else. If infinity were a number, this wouldn’t work.

Infinity will blow your mind, but it can be played with. Cast out the nines and start from there.*

*Yes, a math joke.