Not everything will die.

Pi, for example. Pi will never cease to be. It existed, as a cosmic truth of mathematics, before anyone thought to derive it or calculate it or measure it. It will still exist after all life has evaporated from the Earth and the universe has cooled into a silent, homogenous void punctuated at unbelievably great intervals by solitary atoms of helium.

And pi is more than immortal. It is infinite. Its digits stretch on and out forever, in no particular pattern, never looping, always changing. Because of these properties, pi can be shown to contain any sequence of digits imaginable, no matter how long. Pi contains your phone number. It contains your birthday. It contains your name and the name of your first crush, translated into their ASCII numerical equivalents and concatenated, side by side, as if they were meant to be there. But of course, they were not meant to be there, just as you were not meant to be here. They, like you, are the product of chaos.

Pi contains the complete works of William Shakespeare. It contains the exact same information that is stored on your computer’s hard drive at this moment. If you dumped the digits of pi into an infinitely long WAV file and played it back, every song in the world would eventually emerge. It contains your genome, and the genome of everyone else on earth. It contains the genomes of everyone who has ever died. It contains the genomes of people who will never be born.

Of course, most of this information lies out in the extreme far reaches of the digits of pi, at a decimal depth so great that not even the most powerful computers could calculate it in the lifetime of the universe. Because pi, unlike the universe, is infinite. The universe has a finite amount of matter and energy, but pi goes on. The digits of pi contain more information than the entire universe.

Because of this, pi contains not only this universe, but all possible universes. Anything you can imagine has already been dreamt of by pi. The universe where you can play guitar. The universe where you can fly. The universe where there is justice. The universe where you said No. The universe where you said Yes.

So start memorizing digits. Somewhere out there in the zillionth decimal place is the information that represents you. You as you are right now. You as you could only hope to be. You, memorizing the digits of pi, on and on into oblivion, for who knows how long. Far beyond the digits you know is the information that could tell you when you will stop.

July 28, 2010 at 7:51 am |

This is…comforting? Strangely, it could be.

August 7, 2010 at 2:52 am |

You wrote this? It’s quite beautiful.

August 13, 2010 at 8:59 am |

Beautiful. 🙂 Thank you for sharing.

September 29, 2011 at 7:06 pm |

Who cares?