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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
    http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/9074/

    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?
    http://lanl.arxiv.org/pdf/0912.1475.pdf

    Are There Quantum Effects Coming from Outside Space-time? Nonlocality, free will and "no many-worlds"
    http://lanl.arxiv.org/pdf/1011.3440.pdf
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2012
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