Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Is it fair to state mass distorts space-time

  1. Jul 27, 2013 #1
    Is it fair to state "mass distorts space-time"

    I thought it was. Here's the response I'm getting,

    I think time is a constant and space is undistortable (gravity's influence on mass can be mistaken. You're talking about gravity fields and their impact on the space/time continuum but nothing distorts space or time.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 28, 2013 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Where are you getting this response? I see you're new to PF, and there's no response like that in the only other thread you've started.

    As far as your question goes, "mass distorts spacetime" is one way of expressing what General Relativity says, yes. A better way of saying it is that "stress-energy curves spacetime", since not just mass in the usual sense, but all forms of energy, plus stresses such as pressure, contribute to spacetime curvature; and curvature is a more precise way of describing what happens than "distortion", which is vague.
  4. Jul 28, 2013 #3
    Here's the full response,

    "Mass distorts space/time? Really? I think time is a constant and space is undistortable (gravity's influence on mass can be mistaken. You're talking about gravity fields and their impact on the space/time continuum but nothing distorts space or time. Its really rough to use something as an example of how smart you are...and find out you didn't get it right after all. Understanding the relationship of space and time is one of the hardest things for the finite brain to understand. Its the light that bends, more specifically, the portions of the light that exists in physical form and those are affected by gravity, but not space and not time. Space and time are the metering sticks, gravity is the metered anomaly.

    "Space/time" is not one thing. Its two things that are measured in relation to other factors. Space, itself, can have paradoxical measuring properties that can be misunderstood as "distortion". What counts here is that it is impossible to answer your question as long as it rides on the presupposition that I have to misunderstand the question just so you can try to answer it. First of all, since gravity absolutly can't prove laws that we know as true (that light's protonic activities are what allows a gravity field to be applicable for light. Its not there. You have to get into quantum-physcial abstractions before you can accurately both factors. Your question is only applicable if you can measure and predict the effects of "space AND time". It can't be done, time doesn't distort. Time is used to measure the impact in relation to space. Space is the measurable factor as figured by gravity but time is unnmoveable. A constant. "Space/time" should be covered because it just doesn't seem like you actually know what it means, more, you like sounding like you know."

    The response was from another forum. Basically states that "science" has the answer to everything. This is what bothers me about that,

    Experiment tells us what the laws are

    but experiments don't exactly tell us why the laws are set that way.

    For example, why is C the constant of the universe or why does mass distort space-time in the first place? Ever watch that video on Feynman explaining magnets? He never explained it. Reason? Because no one can. That's just the way nature is. Magnets work because they just do. It's just extremely difficult to ask why when dealing with something so fundamental, like the laws of nature. I posted that other thread because I wanted to know theoretically, if it was possible to answer those questions. I think it'd be fantastic. Then science would be this "circular dynamic" I thought it was.

    I'm getting off topic here. I know there was another individual talking about gravity in the thread, but I'm pretty sure he directed that towards me. I'm an EE student. I have a few years, but advanced physics is coming. The least I can do is get a grasp so it's not so over whelming. Learning "bad science" wouldn't do me any good.

    Just want to make sure I had the idea correct,

    "mass distorts space-time"

  5. Jul 28, 2013 #4


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    Well, now you know to stay away from that forum :smile:
    Seriously, the standard of moderation at PF is higher than in than in many forums, and it shows in the high signal-to-noise ratio and generally high-quality responses.
  6. Jul 28, 2013 #5


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper

    hehe. signal-to-noise ratio. That's a good way to put it. Yes, that person's post looks very much on the noisy side.
  7. Jul 28, 2013 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    That right there should tell you to ignore this person. It is quite the opposite. Space and time are not individual things, they are aspects of the single thing "space-time". CLASSIC physics treated them as two things, which turns out to be OK only on small scales and low speeds and away from massive gravitational forces.
  8. Jul 28, 2013 #7

    Vanadium 50

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor
    2017 Award

    Let's leave arguments conducted on those other forums on those other forums. Experience (and basic politeness) tells us communication is more effective directly rather than through a third party.
  9. Jul 28, 2013 #8


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Fair enough
  10. Jul 28, 2013 #9
    I understand. I'm not hear to "collect" information. It took me a long time to wrap my mind around relativity. If there was something I missed within that individual's post, then I'd like to know.

    I guess that's not the case.

Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook