01 July 2010

Why space does not exist [1]

It is a great (and highly practical) illusion that something called space exists. This is not a mystical utterance (at least not in the typical sense of mystical); it is meant quite literally. For context, I would recommend the series of posts beginning here and continuing with the next two in December of 2009. In those posts I attempted to show that the concept of space demands to be thought as a field (sort of a cubic Cartesian plane) composed of discrete units. This point was proved more or less to my satisfaction and to the satisfaction of some others (who, I suspect, were privy to the secret we are about to discuss).

We begin by considering the manifold meanings of the word space. In common parlance we might ask someone to give us space. We might ask how much space is in a room, or how much space a certain object takes up. We speak of outer space and space travel. Things are spaced, words on the page no less than the pickets of a fence. Americans (we are told) like their space.

We can divide these meanings into the following definitions:

1) The area surrounding an object that is, in some sense, part of the object
2) The purported vacuum that composes most of the universe
3) Empty space between objects that place the objects into a certain order
4) Distance conceived in light of an abstract field composed of mathematically functional units

The fourth underlies all the other definitions, though it underlies the first the least. The existence of some sort of field (called space) in which objects exist at a certain space from each other (the 4th definition) is certainly necessary before we can begin to conceive of the universe as a series of planets with in space with space between them. Indeed, this concept seems self-evident and unquestionable.

But who among us has seen space? And do we ever actually mean space when we say space? If asked to say what we mean when we say space, we probably imagine a sort of map grid extended into all three dimensions. Is that actually how things are? For the reasons outlined in the previous post (linked to above), if such a field exists, it must be segmented in a discrete manner. This deduction was an analytic one from the very concept of space. But look around you.! The room I'm in now (messy again, unfortunately) is filled with all sorts of things all over the place. Now I imagine our cubic Cartesian plane extended around the room. Every object is located somewhere on this cubic plane. Is this actually my room? The fact that I can imagine it hardly means it is the case.

What we wish to show (and will hopefully continue to show) is that "space" is an abstraction. It is not real. There is no such thing as space anywhere. And yet science depends upon the concept of space: and this should tell us something about science...

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