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Spacetime doesn't really exist does it? 
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#19
Apr611, 07:06 PM

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#20
Apr711, 12:49 AM

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#21
Apr711, 01:16 AM

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Marcus thanks for your interesting post and link to the other PF thread "what expands if there's no rubber". In fact that question  assuming you are referring to cosmological theories of expansion/inflation (I'm still unclear whether they are supposed to be different from one another)  is one of the main motivations for my question.
The popularised explanations of expansion use the ant on a balloon metaphor. In those cases it is possible to make a clear distinction between motion of the ant along the balloon and expansion of the balloon  eg just imagine a grid drawn on the balloon. However, when we are talking about spacetime, given two galaxies A and B, the distance between which is increasing at speed v m/s, can we decompose that into components (not necessarily simply additive) u from normal relative motion and w from expansion of the spacetime between them? I don't even know what I mean by "normal relative motion" in the preceding sentence, but the popularised descriptions of cosmological expansion appear to imply that such a thing can be sensibly defined. 


#22
Apr711, 04:29 AM

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Cheers, Harald Note: the Bessomemo link didn't work for me and I did not find it on http://www.tc.umn.edu/~janss011/ ... 


#23
Apr711, 06:28 AM

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#24
Apr711, 06:41 AM

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#25
Apr711, 07:45 AM

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Great discussion.....
One specific reply first: But I think this a reasonable point regarding the cosmological constant. I still remember several years ago when I posted a similar question to the one here from the OP and listed maybe a dozen reasons why I though spacetime does "exist"....and was lambasted, ridiculed and, well.....I felt like a conservative at Columbia University must feel. I don't recall anyone agreeing that it was possible spacetime is something , so again I say "Thanks, Ben Crowell"!!! Regardless, it's good to see an actual discussion, mostly representing points of view, rather than hurling accusations. I don't know what "exist" means, but it always seemed pretty obvious that spacetime is as much of an entity as energy or mass or gravity.,,or entropy!!!! For example how can dark energy or vacuum energy exist in "empty" space(time) if spacetime is just a theoretical artifact, if it is "nothing" "real". How does nothing curve and bend, time dilate and length contract?? And if they doesn't "exist", why do we think "nothing" is expanding...in the universe. Also, it seems horizons, such as black hole, Unruh effect and cosmological, suggest there is more to spacetime than we might understand completely. In any case I'm not sure we have touched yet on what may be the origin of all "existence": related to Verlinde's central notion that information is needed to derive gravity and that, separatelyand more generally, entropy/thermodynamics are simply a subset of information theory. And from information likely flows all the apparently separate entities we observe in this "existence". Maybe the more general question is "Does information really "exist""?? 


#26
Apr711, 08:33 AM

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I just searched "Is spacetime real"....there are hundreds of threads....!!!
I also came across a thread I started with "What is a particle.".....about a year ago.. http://www.physicsforums.com/showthr...spacetime+real For who think "particles are real" but spacetime isn't, check out the discussion...but beware there are mathematical discussions galore....including some posts about local versus global "reality".... I am reminded "reality" or "exist" are really tough, perhaps impossible, to pin down especially in the classical sense......Maybe that's my new perspective... 


#27
Apr711, 09:58 AM

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Space seems to be generally undifferentiated (isotropic, etc.,), but it seems that it can be disturbed in finite regions and in finite segments of time in a way that produces differentiated qualities. It could be argued that those disturbances generate information and that the qualitative and quantitative differentiations are information. 


#28
Apr711, 10:48 AM

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Gravitational waves are made when massive objects interact in space, then the waves propagate away. No mass, no gravitational waves. Could a Universe exist that was completely empty of mass, or could spacetime exist without mass, or objects? According to Penrose's new idea, a Universe cannot even continue to exist with just radiation in it. I personally suspect spacetime and mass are somehow dependent upon each other  you cannot have one without the other. Although, it's all still an open matter, I suppose. 


#29
Apr711, 11:34 AM

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#30
Apr711, 12:16 PM

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Excellent thread this, and quite surprising to find that there are such differing views on the subject. The question of "What is Space" has bothered me for years and I couldnt understand why no one had cracked this puzzle yet, is anyone even working on it? Coincidentally I started a thread about it just 2 days ago without seeing this thread:
http://physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=487911 Personally, I dislike mathematical descriptions of things, I prefer to understand what something really is. eg. I would not expect to see a mathematical equation for some obscure aspect of my car, instead I want to reach an understanding at the deepest level what my car really is. I was pretty good at maths at one time, but now I am afraid I think in terms of ideas and pictures. And also I would not accept that my car does not exist, even though I have been down that path myself! In fact I think my post was deleted when I suggested that space time didnt actually exist, or at least it seems to have got lost :) Perhaps space / space time is a medium in which various fields and energies can exist and propagate and which was created during inflation, and which continues to inflate today? Expanding into.... what? Perhaps we have to write down every known property of space, eg. The constants of nature. What it is composed of? Does it have any energy of its own? How is it affected by and how it affects other things? How it has changed over time, How it was made, and in what if anything it is contained? Is the creation and expansion of space time analogous in some way to the burning of a blank CD, creating information where there was none before, even if it is all zeros? 


#31
Apr711, 12:21 PM

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#32
Apr711, 12:22 PM

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#33
Apr711, 12:46 PM

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Well in reply, I would suggest that many of the concepts that we discuss in these posts are communicated mainly verbally and with charts and pictures and as a result we communicate a deeper understanding of all aspects of an issue, especially the fundermental concepts and where the emphasis or heart of the matter lies. Granted the Mathematics and equations are a tool for high precision. For those who are fully conversant with the specific mathematics it is also a form of language, but I dont believe that these ideas can only be communicated mathematically. In fact I frequently witness people having to resort to using words to explain the true meaning and intent of each mathematical statement. When was the last time that the conclusion of a paper was written in mathematics? Anyway I think this is off topic.



#34
Apr711, 02:35 PM

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#35
Apr711, 02:53 PM

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So, another 'reality debate'. In physics, which is 'real' the words or the math? I guess my view is physics about constructing mathematical models that, combined with correspondence rules between mathematical objects and measurements, successfully predict observations. 


#36
Apr711, 03:10 PM

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