Is there something that you find impossible to think about?

Another thread at SDMB caused me to Google for some info on Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem and in this page’s summaries of what that theorem implies/means, I found:

This caused me to wonder if there’s some idea or concept, maybe just a notion, that is impossible for us to think about.

Do you have such a subject or idea that you find is impossible to consider?

Flann O’Brien (the world’s greatest writer) reckoned it was impossible to conceive of a new colour.

No matter how hard I try to approach the idea, I can never really grasp what infinity is all about. It’s as if I can follow the sense of the arguments and have the structure of the arguments make sense, but the notion of infinity itself just escapes me.

It would be impossible for me to think about something I find impossible to think about.

Think about it.

Yeah, I realized that the vicious circle of the concept would open up this side of it. Bad wording, I suppose. Aside from that trap, though, is there some concept that you can identify by a name or description that you can go no further with?

Like, it’s easy enough to put a name to “nothing” or “zero” or the notion of “the absence of everything” or the like, but after you’ve done the naming of it, can you go no deeper into understanding it? That sort of thing is what I was after.

The color one is good.

Infinity I can deal with. The best way I’ve come up with to understand infinity is this; if both time and space are infinite, how could life not exist on another planet? Now granted, considering E.T. could exist is kinda a pre-requisite, but still an interesting notion to think about.

Personally, Religion and/or GW Bush’s outlook on life, the universe and everything is something I just can’t get a grip on. Makes my head feel like it has been 10 rounds with Mike Tyson every time I try to understand it.

I know there is something out there that I cannot think about, and I keep trying to sneak up on it, but I always get sidtracked just when I think I am about to grasp whatever it is.

All I can think of now is that old story of the flying carpet that only works if you don’t think about elephants. Once told that, the rider finds it impossible to NOT think of elephants, so the damn thing won’t fly.

See?? I got sidetracked again. Almost had it too…

I agree, the colour one is good, I have always wondered about that.

Infinity I can see, it’s the concept of nothing I can’t. How can there not be anything? And how does it turn into something?

Zeldar, the quote you give refers to some peoples’ opinions and is in no way a fact.

AI programs have come up with new results that were unknown to their creators. The earliest I know of dates from the '60s.

Computers are just very primitive compared to brains nowadays. Will be for quite some time. That’s technology, not logic.

Death. Not in a fearful way, but I can’t comprehend the idea of not existing. To guess at how it would feel to not exist is, well, impossible, since it presupposed something existing to do the feeling.

Existence. Why is there anything at all? How could there not have been anything before the Big Bang? What is beyond the edge of the expanding universe? Boggles my mind and mathematical equations don’t help at all.

Infinity - I can accept the idea in an intellectual sense, but if I try to imagine it, my brain seems to short-circuit.

Existence too, particularly personal existence - why me, now, from these parents, in this century, etc etc

Death, no problem, just like anaesthesia. Life goes on without me.

One more - the end of the world, everything destroyed, not even a bacterium to kickstart evolution again. Can’t do it.

Conceiving of a new colour is the one that came to mind for me, too.

The sheer size of the universe and ‘insignificance’ of this planet and all its complexity in comparison.

What jimpatro said re. the beginning of time.

Um, like the total perspective vortex in the HHGTTG, in fact.

A 4 dimensional object where Z is not time but rather a spacial dimension.


where n = 4th dimension

I was going to reply with a 4th spatial dimension, but it appears I was beaten to it.

Trying to imagine an axis perpendicular to x, y, and z freaks me out. I understand the mathematical consequences and expected behaviors (physical, geometric, etc.) of 4-D space. It makes sense in the form of equations, but no way can I visualize it. Almost everyone has the same handicap.

You could, of course, carry that into any higher dimension you wish. I try not to think about 5 or 6 spatial dimensions, for fear of my head exploding.

I also really like the “new color” idea.

Here is the one that stumps me. Imagine yourself a 2-dimensional being on a flat plane. Your entire existence is spent on this plane and you have no concept of anything perpendicular to the plane. Now imagine becoming conscious of the 3rd dimension and being able to see your world from outside. That is, seing the plane from above or below as we see a sheet of paper on a table. This much should be easy for all those who currently live in a 3 dimensional world. Now try the same experiment for a 3 dimensional being. What would it be like to step “perpendicular” to our reality and be able to see the 3 dimesional world spread out below you? I just can’t picture it. I don’t think our brains were made to understand 4 dimensional space.

Alternately, I suppose I could read the ENTIRE thread and not post what the people directly above me posted!! ::smack::

Wow. I am surprised that so many humans have a difficult time envisioning a fourth spatial dimension. Its not that hard.

I’m not sure if this counts, but really really small objects, like atoms and quarks and such, are really hard to imagine. I like to think of them as little balls, except things that small aren’t really ball-shaped. They take up space and have mass and all that, but they don’t really have a shape. They’re just…there. And looking at something and trying to imagine that deep down it’s really billions and billions of atoms, and in those atoms is mostly empty space, well that’s a mind bender.