Monday, June 2, 2008

The Promise of the Infinite

Last week I was at the Consortium Library in Anchorage. Inside, there is a Foucault pendulum. Why is a library the perfect place for such a thing? Consider this:

Wherever you put it, Foucault’s Pendulum swings from a motionless point while the earth rotates beneath it. Every point of the universe is a fixed point: all you have to do is hang the Pendulum from it. … It promises the infinite, but where to put the infinite is left to me. So it isn’t enough to worship to Pendulum; you still have to make a decision, you have to find the best point for it.
—from Umberto Eco’s Foucault’s Pendulum