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Is space currently thought of as discrete or continuous?

  1. Apr 22, 2012 #1
    I was wondering what the majority opinion was on this issue, among physicists and philosophers as well. I can't imagine zooming in a million times smaller than the plank length and still not being at a smallest length, however a discrete universe doesn't make much sense to me.

    Are there any known consequences or effects of the universe being discrete versus continuous? Would there be a measurable effect?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 22, 2012 #2
    To be honest that is a really big can of worms and with no definitive answer.
    I guess we will never know untill someone successfully hits "the end of the universe" as it were I heard there is a great resturant there to
  4. Apr 22, 2012 #3
    In both general relativity and the standard model, space-time is always continuous. Thus, the standard, excepted picture is continuous. There are many indications (namely from quantum mechanics) that space-time might be quantized at the planck-scale, as is described by theories like loop quantum gravity, and (at least much of) string theory.
  5. Apr 23, 2012 #4
    There are suggestions that spacetime might be something that emerges from a non-spatio-temporal and more "fundamental" level but it isn't clear what one means by "emergence". A recent, short philosophical paper on this topic can be found below with some interesting quotes. The section "Emergence in what sense" is an interesting section:
    A dilemma for the emergence of spacetime in canonical quantum gravity

    I'm guessing some physicists like N. Gisin would probably disagree somewhat with first quote (?) because he does argue in some of his papers that, in fact,
    Quantum nonlocality: How does Nature perform the trick?

    Are There Quantum Effects Coming from Outside Space-time? Nonlocality, free will and "no many-worlds"
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2012
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