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Thursday, August 18, 2022

Going Deeper into ‘To Infinity and Beyond’

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Who hasn’t heard the iconic quote, “To Infinity and Beyond”?

This four-word quote has created a lot of sensation everywhere. Many have gone ahead to get it printed on their t-shirts and coffee mugs. People have also made many ‘to infinity and beyond’ meme. Others just throw it as a ‘cool’ catchphrase. Still, others don’t think anything of it. However, most people take a pause and reflect on what it means to go to infinity and beyond.

Many philosophers and mathematical theorists have presented their theories about this phrase. No one seems to have a definite answer but there are many interesting theories on it. Many mathematicians have written (scary) articles full of mathematical notations on this. So, in this article, we will touch upon where this phrase comes from. We will also briefly mention the different perspectives on this phrase.

Its most well-known usage seems to be in Buzz Lightyear’s words, in the famous movie, Toy Story. However, that is not the only recorded usage of these words. A few years before Toy Story, Eli Maor’s book about the history of infinity had the words as the title.

In 2008, Beyonce’s song, Single Ladies, uses this as a part of its lyrics.

Also, in 2008, after the report that a father-son duo had used this phrase to help keep track of the other while treading water in the ocean for 15 hours, it made the international news. When sending the Buzz Lightyear commercial figure into space for experiments, astronauts used these words in the context of literally going beyond.

‘To Infinity and Beyond’ in Toy Story

In1995, Toy Story film and the story of Pixar Animation Studios, Buzz and Woody say this phrase at the film’s ending after they part ways for the final time as Woody joins Bo Peep and her friends. However, Buzz and the rest of the gang remain with Bonnie. Buzz says “To infinity” and that cuts to Woody saying “and beyond.”

Buzz also says this quote just before jumping the railing at Sid Phillip’s house. Eggman Movers is a moving company in the second season. They move everything from Andy’s house to the new home. This quote is also heard in the Buzz Lightyear commercial. There are also many mock versions of this phrase. For example, in Toy Story 4, Bunny and Ducky make fun of the phrase. When Ducky kicks Buzz in the head, they say “to infinity and my foot.”

Bunny also says, “To infinity and your mom!” And, Ducky says, “To insanity and a blonde!” Another instance of this quote is seen when Bunny and Ducky are mocking the quote. They say that it is the stupidest thing that they’ve heard. “You can’t go beyond infinity dummy, it’s impossible. / He’s talking about going to infinity! / Gonna go ‘beyond’ infinity. / You don’t know nothin’ about science.”Maybe, going to infinity and beyond reflects more than science. In the other definitions, we have also explored these underlying connotations of this phrase.

This quote has also topped the best movie quotes poll in the UK. So, we can easily call it one of the most famous and influential movie quotes of all time.

Buzz Lightyear of Star Command

This was an animated series on ABC’s Disney. It was aired from 2000 to 2001 as a spin-off for Toy Story. It follows many adventures of Space Ranger Buzz Lightyear and his team. Buzz Lightyear of Star Command has around 62 episodes in total and it was also aired again in the United States until 2008.

We hear to infinity and beyond in many of the plot introductions for the episodes.

Logical Definition

Many people like to give a logical definition of this catchphrase. Logically, there is nothing beyond infinity, because infinity is unreachable.

In geometrical terms, going beyond infinity has been described as starting to come back to the starting point from the opposite direction. In a way, this is just like crossing the half-way point of a circle. Also, remember, that the half-way point of a circle doesn’t even exist! So, what could this metaphor refer to?

Standard Definition

Using a little less logic, its meaning becomes clear at once. It means to have no limits, to be limitless, etc. Experts in MIT, state that the mathematical version of the definition is that Buzz Lightyear is showing everyone that he can do the impossible by crossing asymptotes.

You might know that in mathematics, asymptotes are the limit and can’t be crossed. Also, it is possible to cross horizontal asymptotes, but crossing vertical asymptotes is not. So, he can also cross-vertical asymptotes and turn impossible to I’m possible!

The Real Meaning of To Infinity and Beyond

This has become a famous quote over time. However, it is also an overused and abused quote that people like to use as a throwaway line. It has become a part of pop culture and no one actually thinks about its implications before using it.

If you pause to think for a second, this quote has a deeper meaning underlying the words. When you try to delve in it deeper, you might even get confused. How can one go beyond infinity? Isn’t infinity the limit? Or can infinity be the limit? How ever you say it, it resonates with an underlying paradox.

When you can’t go to infinity, how can you go beyond it? It doesn’t seem to be possible to overtake infinity. Ducky and Bunny in Toy Story 4 also made fun of this quote saying that it made no sense. Maybe we need to change the way we look at infinity. If we change our perspective, we can think beyond infinity. So, in a way, this is a quite thought-provoking quote that had led to a lot of debate.

It is also possible that infinity is not the limit because it is endless itself. Therefore, one way of thinking about infinity and beyond is that there are limitless possibilities. So, there could be limitless limits. In many ways, there is a deep paradox hidden in this.

So, are you ready to go to infinity and beyond?

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