Infinity, Earworms and the Song That Never Ends

I recently had cause to experience The Song That Never Ends. Again. Of course it “got stuck in my head,” as many songs do. Which made me think of infinity, finiteness and one of the weirdest concepts: earworms.


It’s not a medical problem, although it sounds like a mix between ear mites and pinworms – yuck! Turns out earworms are those bits of a song that get in your ear and cause the whole thing to get stuck in your head.

The cure to an earworm is to play the song in its entirety. It’s a psychological thing. It’s been studied.

Yup – if you listen to the whole song, it goes away (you’re welcome).

But what if the song never ends?

“This is the song that never ends…”

By the very definition of the song, it’s infinite. Which means you can never play it in its entirety. Which means it’s the quintessential earworm.

Theoretically, there’s no cure for it. But I have tried, successfully, to displace it with another earworm and then play that song in its entirety.


And here we come to the beautiful math part of all this. The next time you get a chance to explain infinity, the concept not the cardinality, you can pull out the song that never ends.

After all it’s already stuck in your head isn’t it?


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