space Definition and Topics - 178 Discussions

Space is the boundless three-dimensional extent in which objects and events have relative position and direction. In classical physics, physical space is often conceived in three linear dimensions, although modern physicists usually consider it, with time, to be part of a boundless four-dimensional continuum known as spacetime. The concept of space is considered to be of fundamental importance to an understanding of the physical universe. However, disagreement continues between philosophers over whether it is itself an entity, a relationship between entities, or part of a conceptual framework.
Debates concerning the nature, essence and the mode of existence of space date back to antiquity; namely, to treatises like the Timaeus of Plato, or Socrates in his reflections on what the Greeks called khôra (i.e. "space"), or in the Physics of Aristotle (Book IV, Delta) in the definition of topos (i.e. place), or in the later "geometrical conception of place" as "space qua extension" in the Discourse on Place (Qawl fi al-Makan) of the 11th-century Arab polymath Alhazen. Many of these classical philosophical questions were discussed in the Renaissance and then reformulated in the 17th century, particularly during the early development of classical mechanics. In Isaac Newton's view, space was absolute—in the sense that it existed permanently and independently of whether there was any matter in the space. Other natural philosophers, notably Gottfried Leibniz, thought instead that space was in fact a collection of relations between objects, given by their distance and direction from one another. In the 18th century, the philosopher and theologian George Berkeley attempted to refute the "visibility of spatial depth" in his Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision. Later, the metaphysician Immanuel Kant said that the concepts of space and time are not empirical ones derived from experiences of the outside world—they are elements of an already given systematic framework that humans possess and use to structure all experiences. Kant referred to the experience of "space" in his Critique of Pure Reason as being a subjective "pure a priori form of intuition".
In the 19th and 20th centuries mathematicians began to examine geometries that are non-Euclidean, in which space is conceived as curved, rather than flat. According to Albert Einstein's theory of general relativity, space around gravitational fields deviates from Euclidean space. Experimental tests of general relativity have confirmed that non-Euclidean geometries provide a better model for the shape of space.

View More On
  1. N

    Circular motion -- Position of the Sun seen from an airplane crossing the Equator

    We know that ##v = \omega r## where ##r = R_{\text{E}} + h##. To compensate for the motion, the plane must fly along the equator at the same speed as the Earth but in the opposite direction, i.e. from east to west, so $$\vec{v} = -\vec{ v}_{\text{E}}$$ $$v_{\text{E}} = \omega_{\text{E}}...
  2. J

    The Genesis Project plans to use robots to seed the galaxy with life. Will this be possible in the future?
  3. W

    B According to current physics, is vacuum still something or nothing?

    Before that, Lawrence Kraus stated "Empty space is a boiling, bubbling brew of virtual particles that pop in and out of existence in a time scale so short that you can't even measure them" . After reading especially this statement...
  4. O

    B Untraditional Space Travel

    If an infinite amount of energy were available to create the lift mechanism for a space launch. What would be required to fire a 200lb object into low earth orbit(160km) after speeding it up in a way similar to how the large hadron collider speeds up a particle. Assuming the launch vehicle...
  5. Viii

    Interplanetary cruise problem

    Summary:: You have a spacecraft the size of a cube (2x2x2 m^3, m=3000 kg. It has 24 thrusters (2N each) and one main engine. For preparing your spacecraft for maneuvers, you want to rotate by 180 degrees. For the rotation, you'll use n=4 attitude thrusters per burn. What am I doing wrong...
  6. D

    Work, Power, Energy, Efficiency

    The answer in the textbook says 0J but I am not sure what the concept behind it is. Does it have something to do with gravity?
  7. AlfSalte

    B What happens to time as space is expanding?

    I have one question I hope someone here can answer for me. Relativity theory tells us that space and time are sort of the same thing, as a spacetime. So when space is expanding, what happens to time? I find it hard to believe that time is somehow unaffected by the expansion of space, so while...
  8. Tone L

    Satellite failure

    I was thinking this past morning of the challenger explosion due to the stiff and cold failed O-rings in the fuel segments. I was trying to think of satellite failures, I couldn't find too much... Do you all know of satellite (components, instruments, etc) failures that occurred while in...
  9. K

    Ideas for novel I'm writing! I would love some insight on a concept!

    Summary:: Ideas for a novel I want to begin writing. Brainstorming ideas and need help with a certain concept. Any help is appreciated! Hello to you all, this is my first post, and I Google searched this astrophysics forum because I thought it might be a good place to begin asking for advice...
  10. S

    Converting State Vectors to Keplerian Orbital Elements for Binary Objects

    Homework Statement:: I'm working on a personal project to convert objects from a simulation using state vectors for position and velocity to Keplerian orbital elements (semimajor axis, eccentricity, argument of periapsis, etc.). However, the equations I am using do not calculate the...
  11. R

    B Torricelli Vacuum Experiment

    If Evangelista Torricelli truly created a vacuum, then there would be nothing in it, yet you can see through it which means light is obviously still in there (and who knows what else), right? If there was truly nothing in it, and glass is a highly viscous fluid, and fluids conform to fill empty...
  12. B

    I Distortion of Space Time

    Presume we look at a two-dimensional view of space time, with no local masses, and we draw a grid of equidistance spaced lines. The intent is to look at space but not time. As we begin, we look in all directions and the grid lines are evenly spaced. Begin adding mass to the center of the grid...
  13. Athenian

    [SR] - Test Particle inside the Sun's Gravitational Field - Part 4

    So, here's an attempted solution: With ##r_{min}##, $$r_{min} = \frac{1}{B + \frac{\beta}{\alpha^2}}$$ With ##r_{max}##, I get: $$r_{max} = \frac{1}{B - \frac{\beta}{\alpha^2}}$$ or $$r_{max} = \frac{1}{\frac{\beta}{\alpha^2}}$$ Other than this, I and the team have absolutely no idea on how...
  14. Athenian

    [SR] - Test Particle inside the Sun's Gravitational Field - Part 3

    Below, I have already solved - I assume - correctly for question 1. Question 2, I am nearing to what I believe is the solution. Question 3, I simply have no idea where I should begin considering that it is interconnected with question 2. With that said, below is the lengthy and somewhat tedious...
  15. Athenian

    [SR] - Test Particle inside the Sun's Gravitational Field - Part 2

    To begin with, I posted this thread ahead of time simply because I thought it may provide me some insight on how to solve for another problem that I have previously posted here:
  16. Athenian

    [Special Relativity] Test Particle Inside the Sun's Gravitational Field

    Below is an attempted solution based off of another user's work on StackExchange: Source: [] To begin with, I will be using the following equation mentioned in...
  17. K

    A Solar Rayleigh scattering power per molecule and photoionization rates for CO2, H2O

    I'm pondering the behavior and persistence of rocket exhaust plume molecules far above the atmosphere. For example, the plume from an apogee circularization thrust from GTO (Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit) to GEO (Geosynchronous orbit). CO₂ and H₂O are among the molecular species emitted by a...
  18. Quantum Alchemy

    B A Question about space and the multiverse

    My question is about space and the multiverse. I was reading work by Max Tegmark and he sees the multiverse as Level 1-4. A Level 1 multiverse seems like it's self evident and I was wondering about the evidence against it. It's simple: Space expands faster than we can observe it so we exist in...
  19. S

    A Is there any theory that can be modeled in any type of space?

    Is there any theory in physics that can be modelled in any type of space (Hilbert space, Euclidean, Non-Euclidean...etc)? And if yes, could that theory also contain/be compatible with all types of (physical) symmetries?
  20. J

    B How physics equations transform under inverse of parameters

    It is obvious that there is a one-to-one relationship between real numbers (defined to include infinity) and their multiplicative inverses (assuming we map the inverse of zero to infinity and vice versa). Thus, one should be able to replace the distance between two points in space with it's...
  21. G

    Understanding forced motion in space

    Hello, Can you please explain the analogy oft quoted to explain the concept of applied motion to objects in space, which goes as follows : 1. You are standing on a skateboard or sitting in a boat floating on the water, holding a bowling ball. 2. You throw the bowling ball towards the back of...
  22. Ryu

    Theoretical Higher spatial dimensions question

    So I had a topic which I would like to fact check from an informed scientific source. Basically there is an argument about whether or not an object that naturally exists in a fourth dimensional space, would by default have more than countably infinite times the energy of a 3 dimensional Object...
  23. H

    A peculiar world

    Hello everyone! I am an undergraduate getting three bachelors in Anthropology/Ecology/Neurosciences (just to show off of course), but sadly no true physics (I don't show off that much, I'm still humble). I am working on a personal project, a tabletop role playing game, where my main struggle is...
  24. JD_PM

    Physics Essential skills for applying for Space Agency jobs as a physicist

    Hi Physics Forums community. Let me briefly explain my current state of affairs. Next season, if every goes as planned, I will begin my Master's in Physics. I have, what I call, a positive problem; I like lots of branches of Physics (I study Physics because of pure passion and not because I...
  25. Antony Death

    B Is the current definition of gravity accurate?

    The current definition of Gravity is: The force of attraction between bodies as a result of their mass. Gravity affects both the space and time of the area surrounding a mass, diminishing with distance, so is the current accepted definition truly accurate? Do I have the correct definition and if...
  26. A

    Flight Path Angle and Velocity During Atmospheric Re-entry

    A space vehicle enters the sensible atmosphere of the earth (300,000 ft) with a velocity of 25,000 ft/sec at a flight-path angle of -60 degrees. What is its velocity and flight-path angle at an altitude of 100 nautical miles during descent? (Assuming no drag or perturbations, two body orbital...
  27. Mr C Odd

    Time dilation in a magnetic field

    Hi all. I was wondering if time is dilated whilst travelling in a stable magnetic field that is generated by the object travelling, and if so, does this vary if you reduce or intensify the magnetic field? Also, what happens if the object is generating two opposing magnetic fields, would...
  28. H

    B Feasibility of a L1 Gravity Swing Cold Launch?

    At an L1 LaGrangian point between two bodies, one could - materials science notwithstanding - pit two of Newton's Laws (LM3,UG) against each other to provide thruster-free stationkeeping. Would it be feasible to use that to launch free from the system ? either spit out like a watermelon seed...
  29. V

    B Is space is continuous or discrete?

    I was watching a video where well known physicist Lisa Randall said that we still don't know whether space is continuous or discrete. My question is, how do we find whether space is continuous or discrete?? What type of experiments are possible? Is it being done now?? I am thinking this may be...
  30. M

    What would happen to a blob of mercury in space?

    How long would it take for a blob of mercury (the size of a marble or so) to freeze in space? I'd emagine it would have to boil in some way first, and that would send pieces of it flying around, but the surface tension of mercury is much greater than that of water, or urine (as we'd seen...