What do you get when you add up every number from one to infinity? Obviously, if you stop this series at any point before infinity, it will just produce a very large number. But in fact, if you calculate the infinite series all at once as a set, you'll get an unusually specific, non-infinite answer: -1/12.
Related Video: How Do You Measure the Universe?
Watch an Explanation by Numberphile
Key Facts In This Video
The result of the infinite sum (1 + 2 + 3 + 4...) is used in string theory. 00:37
The result of the infinite sum (1 - 1 + 1 - 1 + 1...) is 1/2. 01:54
It's hard to conceive of an intuitive reason for why the infinite sum (1 + 2 + 3 + 4...) produces its strange result without writing out the proof. 06:38
Infinite Sets Don't Occur in Nature
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