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Stiffness of space

  1. Mar 22, 2014 #1
    Looking at the Einstein equation, stresses can cause a deformation of space time.
    This link here
    https://twitter.com/anilananth/status/339030628181868544
    gives a value for the elastic modulus ("stiffness") of spacetime.
    I think that the value of 10^24GPa must be related to Einstein's constant 8 pi G/c^4 - I suspect that one uses the equations for a small perturbation of flat spacetime (as Misner Thorne Wheeler, eq. 18.8b) to calculate this, but I don't see how it is done exactly.
     
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  3. Mar 22, 2014 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    It would be helpful to have a source with more detail than twitter.
     
  4. Mar 23, 2014 #3
    Yes it would, but that's all I have found...
     
  5. Mar 23, 2014 #4

    Bill_K

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    I think this is just an example of the party game, Planck Scale Fun.

    Take any physical quantity (pressure, say). Out of the Planck Mass, Length and Time, construct a unit with those dimensions. Then marvel about how large/small that unit is. :wink:
     
  6. Mar 23, 2014 #5
    But isn't there a physical meaning to it?
    After all, the rhs of the linearised Einstein equation contains a stress (in the T_ij-part of the tensor), the lhs a change in the metric (which is similar to an elastic strain, it is a chenge of length relative to a length).
    So I think it should be posisble to re-write things in a way similar to Hooke's law - at least that is what I thought when I read "stiffness of space". Or is this too simplistic?
     
  7. Mar 23, 2014 #6

    Bill_K

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    OK, more seriously.. This guy Anil Ananthaswamy is not a scientist, he's a popular science writer. Even if he had a valid point to make, Twitter is not the place of choice to publish it, I think! :eek:

    Secondly, isn't it just a naming coincidence - the "stress" Tij in Einstein's Equation is the stress in a material body, not some stress being applied to spacetime. And the "strain" hμν generally results from T00 rather than Tij. Also it is a nonlocal effect - stress here produces strain over there.

    There always have been attempts to imagine spacetime as some kind of elastic medium. I know when our class first learned about the dragging of inertial frames near a rotating body, we used to joke about calculating the "Viscosity of Free Space". :smile:
     
  8. Mar 23, 2014 #7
    @Bill_K
    So even in this interpretation it is matter being stressed that causes a "strain" (change in the metric), but it is not spacetime that is "stressed" in any way.

    "There always have been attempts to imagine spacetime as some kind of elastic medium."
    I found this, for example
    [crackpot link deleted]
    Is this kind of approach meaningful?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 23, 2014
  9. Mar 23, 2014 #8

    Vanadium 50

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    That approach is in a crackpot journal. So it's unlikely that this kind of approach is meaningful.

    Given that we have one source from twitter, one source from a crackpot journal, and nothing else, I have to conclude that this idea is not part of the scientific mainstream, so does not fit the PF mission. (To be fair, I think a better description is that we have something too vague to discuss)
     
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