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Is Space Something? Is Time Something? Or are they Nothing? When Did Space First Begun? When Did Time First Begin?


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Initial post: Oct 6, 2011 6:12:55 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 6, 2011 6:13:46 PM PDT
DRM says:
Is Space Something? Is Time Something? Or are they Nothing? When Did Space First Begin? When Did Time First Begin?

Posted on Oct 7, 2011 7:41:38 PM PDT
Saltraker says:
Intersting questions. However, do you really expect to find the answers on an Amazon forum?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 7, 2011 8:27:31 PM PDT
Is space something?
Yes, if you don't believe it is try moving into an efficiency.

Is time something?
Yes, we will all run out of it someday.

When did space first begin?
At the big bang.

When did time begin?
At the big bang?

Posted on Oct 7, 2011 11:26:11 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 7, 2011 11:28:45 PM PDT
thunder road says:
Hey DRM. These are great questions, but philosophy questions. Not science questions.

Let's start with space and time. Science gives us several operational definitions of space and time-for instance, Einstein's intriguing notions of gravitation warping space-time. Still, I cannot rightly say that space and time are contained by his equations.

Nor, for instance, can you say that Newtonian gravity and vector maths define space, especially in the light of said Relativistic Theory. Yet, as wacky as it seems, empirical evidence supports both Einstein and Newtonian concepts of space-time.

And, those are just physics definitions. Other disciplines use time. There is chemical reaction time. Cognitive scientist measure reaction and memory decay time. In geology there is slow, steady course of erosion and shifting plates and volcanic eruptions.

The same would go for asking when the entire she-bang began. If the big-bang started it all, what was the origin of the singularity? Was it pre-existent? Was that the universe in a different form? And, was it the result of an oscillation between expanding and contracting universes?

Great questions. In love them. But I doubt that scientists could ever ask the questions in a way that would make answerable using the scientist's tool kit: hypothesis, observations, experiments, measurements and carefully reasoned deductions.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 8, 2011 11:54:06 AM PDT
Don Jennings says:
//thunder road says:
Hey DRM. These are great questions, but philosophy questions. Not science questions.//

Actually, I think that they are science questions -- although perhaps a bit hard to answer.

I have been taken by some articles in SciAm and on line where real, qualified physicists point out that since 1916 with the publication of general relativity, space ain't what it used to be. We human beings find it nearly impossible to think of space as anything but a neutral background in which stuff happens. But GR showed that it was valid to think of space (or, better, space-time) as being bent and curved by matter.

Moreover, quantum field theory predicted and Casimir verified that "empty space" is full of short-lived virtual particles -- and even tho each one exists for a tiny fraction of a second, space is actually seething with these particles.

So, space might indeed be "something" not the absence of something. It may be that space and matter are inseparable -- y'can't have one without the other.

Posted on Oct 8, 2011 3:05:42 PM PDT
Ponger says:
Actually these are perfect questions for science to address. As far as we understand at the moment space is something and time may or may not be. We have not been able to create or destroy matter/energy, only change their forms. There are several theories of what came before the big bang and matter/energy can be collasped into amazingly small volumes like the singularity at the center of a black hole. The big bang was some kind of singularity exploding. I don't think the human mind can comprend how something can come from nothing as our thinking process seems to be based on cause and effect. Or we just make things up out of thin air. Best we can tell matter/energy always was.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 8, 2011 4:38:44 PM PDT
thunder road says:
Hey Don... First off, thanks for making me think. I used to love science forums until they became Evolution/ ID and Global Warming/ Global Warming is Bunk shouting matches. Amusing but pointless.

Very interesting point. "Actually, I think that they are science questions -- although perhaps a bit hard to answer." And some great examples. While unfamiliar with "virtual particles," I assume are valid due to the source. [SciAm rules, though I have not had a subscription since completing grad school (14 years ago)].

But, the reason I think about these questions are philosophical in nature is, actually, highlighted by your example. Think of the following concepts of space in physics alone: Newtonian absolute space; Galilean relativistic space; Einstein's General Relativity; and, of course, the quantum conception of space that you just laid out. Each view is equally valid in their places. But each incomplete.

It is always evident that science points to "there is something out there. Reality is consistent. It behaves in predictable--or, in hyper-complex systems like quantum mechanics, biology and psychology, a probabilistic--way. There are too many independent, peer-reviewed observations to dispute that (unless, of course, you are a fan of Depak Chopra, etc.).

But how can one discipline (physics here) create four valid conceptions of space? It seems to me that we often confuse the map with the territory. Each of these interpretations began with data. And data fueled theories. Essentially, each theory is the pragmatic answer to this question: "How can I explain this phenomena in the way that is simple without being simplistic'?"

Science is unparalleled in its ability to uncover things "as they are," and not "as you'd want them to be." Yet, I have always found science unsuited to answer essence questions. And, "what is space?" is an essence question. We know that it is full of "virtual particles" according to your post. We also know that classical gravitation works in a proscribed way in that space.

But we are still left with descriptions of an aspect of space... and no scientific definition of space.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 8, 2011 4:48:41 PM PDT
When Did Time First Begin?
==================
Improper question.
"When" inquires about a point in time while time was not defined.

When Did Space First Begin?
=====================
Improper question.
Because space and time refers to matter and its motion.

The proper question is:

What is energy?

If energy is defined, matter will follow, defining both space and time.

Posted on Oct 8, 2011 4:49:50 PM PDT
thunder road says:
Don Jennings and Ponger:

Just thought of something--it could be a lack of imagination on my part. Perhaps I've been looking at this wrong-way around.

So, I just thought if a question: "How could the questions DRM brought up be stated in a way that a scientist could investigate?" Could be using experimental or observational data. Either way, I am going to spend an hour at the gym chewing on this, but keeping my focus on defining space...

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 8, 2011 5:02:18 PM PDT
Don Jennings says:
thunder road //But, the reason I think about these questions are philosophical in nature is, actually, highlighted by your example. Think of the following concepts of space in physics alone: Newtonian absolute space; Galilean relativistic space; Einstein's General Relativity; and, of course, the quantum conception of space that you just laid out. Each view is equally valid in their places. But each incomplete.//

I guess that what you say is OK by me -- but I am not absolutely sure that I think that philosophies of some types are not OK to be included in science. Scientists have to have a way to think about physical ideas before a theory can be formulated. Einstein was greatly influenced by Ernst Mach during the time he was formulating GR for example. Sean Carroll just wrote an excellent book on time called From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time where he explored various approaches to understanding the nature of time.

"Philosophy" can be a title for groundless speculation but there is a version of philosophy that can be very helpful in scientific thinking.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 8, 2011 5:04:56 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 8, 2011 5:05:18 PM PDT
Don Jennings says:
thunder road //So, I just thought if a question: "How could the questions DRM brought up be stated in a way that a scientist could investigate?" //

Good question and I'm not totally sure if I can do the task. I suspect that the investigation is coming in by the back door: for example, dark energy appears to be energy contained in space .... it does not dominate until the space between clumps of matter is significant. Theories on dark matter may tell us a lot about what space actually is.

Posted on Oct 10, 2011 2:08:45 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 10, 2011 2:36:57 AM PDT
Tim the Duke says:
I'm just going to jump in here with my interpretation of things. Time and space are the two dimensions of space-time. It's why the c is squared in the equation E=mc^2. To me it means energy is matter moving thru both space and time at the speed of light. Time can be thought of as distance. You are one light-year away from who you were one year ago. The energy in your body that makes up all that you are has traveled that far in that amount of time. Traveled where? In the dimension of time. Since matter and energy are equal, that is matter is energy, it is just as correct to say we are purely energy as it is to say we are purely matter. E=mc^2 means that all matter is energy distilled if you will. Matter only makes sense if you think of it as energy stationary in both space and time. But it also means that all matter is made up of pure energy moving at the speed of light thru two dimensions, space and time. All matter is ultimately made up of radiation oscillating at the speed of light. Physicists tell me I'm wrong. My intuition tells me I'm dead on.

Posted on Oct 10, 2011 9:58:40 AM PDT
There is no reason to believe that space or time began.

Posted on Oct 10, 2011 12:16:50 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 18, 2011 6:19:22 AM PDT
Billy says:
The most basic way to understand this is geometric. So, taking a crack at this by using the simplest shapes possible for illustration:

Start with a point.
The distance between that point and another is a line.
The area between that line and another is a square.
The volume between that square an another is a cube.
The interval between that cube as it exists now and and as it exists later is time.

Time, then, would have first begun when there was first a three-dimensional shape in existence for some distinct duration.

In the purest theoretical terms, when space began depends on how you define "space", because the term can mean different things with subtle distinctions.

Space can be the empty thing in which objects can exist, such as a point in space. In this context, space can basically be thought of like a blank sheet of paper. But the term "space" can also be used to describe the combination of the first three dimensions. In this context, space is length, width and height combined (or rather the physical dimensions which allow objects with length, width and height to exist). So in the former context, space might well have always been as it is, since it is literally "nothing", but in the latter context, it "began" when length, width and height began.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 10, 2011 1:03:25 PM PDT
freedom4all says:
W K, that is a good instructional view of space-time

Posted on Oct 10, 2011 3:50:56 PM PDT
Ted Slack says:
Apparently you want to know the meaning of life the universe and everything.
The answer is 42.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 10, 2011 7:53:50 PM PDT
[Deleted by the author on Feb 27, 2013 8:39:18 PM PST]

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2011 8:00:12 AM PDT
md says:
When did time begin? That question answers itself.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 11, 2011 11:33:26 AM PDT
barbW says:
Is time real in the physics mass/energy sense?

If time is deleted from the equation for a quantum mass the result is a billion times smaller. This could be troubling for experimental physicists, and maybe the rest of us also.. if another value for a quantum mass is accepted at Cern.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2011 10:44:31 PM PDT
thunder road says:
Point well taken Don. I used to rail against philosophy too. To me, it seemed silly to hear folks say that Democritus "discovered" the atomic theory. No. It was Dalton and Avogadro who did that (6.02 *10^23 time more that Democritus to my tooth). They did the actual work to prove it.

But I want to make a very explicit point here: I am not talking about rampant, Panaglossaian speculation here. That is called "New Age Thinking." This thought creates things like "What the Bleep do We Know?" Which, for all of it's purported "science", it fantastically un-scientific (simple debunking: http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2005/04/what_the_bleep_.html)

I am talking about philosophy in the intellectually honest, rigorous sense here--striving towards truth.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2011 10:55:30 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 14, 2011 11:08:56 PM PDT
thunder road says:
Tim said: " Time and space are the two dimensions of space-time. It's why the c is squared in the equation E=mc^2. To me it means energy is matter moving thru both space and time at the speed of light. Time can be thought of as distance. You are one light-year away from who you were one year ago."

Interesting point. I always thought about the equation as a showing what the true kinetic energy stored in any mass m is. It does hint at the relationship between mass, space and time. But, what is that relationship? And what do physicists say Einstein's equation means?

Whatever the answer, I get the feeling that we are on the boundary of "science informed" philosophy--as opposed to "New Age"--and science here.

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 14, 2011 11:04:06 PM PDT
thunder road says:
md says:
When did time begin? That question answers itself

How so md?

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 15, 2011 11:52:25 AM PDT
Don Jennings says:
thunder road //But I want to make a very explicit point here: I am not talking about rampant, Panaglossaian speculation here. That is called "New Age Thinking." This thought creates things like "What the Bleep do We Know?" Which, for all of it's purported "science", it fantastically un-scientific (simple debunking: http://skeptico.blogs.com/skeptico/2005/04/what_the_bleep_.html) //

Yes -- and by the way, I find that most "philosophy" introduced to all the Amazon forums is the worst kind of sophomoric self abuse.

Posted on Oct 16, 2011 12:12:43 AM PDT
Space and time began ten seconds ago, created by some kind of Cosmic Special Effects Department, which filled in all the illusory past in order to fool us. Wow, it worked!

In reply to an earlier post on Oct 16, 2011 3:25:24 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Oct 16, 2011 3:27:11 AM PDT
Karl Schmitt says:
Time is not an additional dimension of space, as the specific theory of relativety demands, but an indeterminate unity of future, present and past that takes effect within the dimension of space. Here this is called: "The Spatial Classification of Time".Die räumliche Einordnung der Zeit / The Spatial Classification of Time (German and English Edition)
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