Space and Space-time: real or imagined?
We’ve already talked about space being a word used to describe a concrete reality (the space that we inhabit – the universe) and a word used to describe an abstract framework we use to reference occurrences. And we’ve mentioned the impact of the term ‘fourth dimension’; how it hence imbues time with attributes of reality that there is no justification for implying. Space-time is articulated from the use of time as an abstract framework (not a mass noun – it’s about measurement, referencing and indexing). It is used to identify time (as an index) in a space-time co-ordinate.
So we are asking again, what then is space? The assumption is that it is mostly definitely ‘real’. We all live in it, so it must be real.
Or is it that people struggle to differentiate between a referencing framework, and the underlying concrete reality being referenced? Seems to me that Space simply references everything tangible i.e all matter – ‘existence’. My thinking goes like this:-
Space…the three dimension: up/down, left/right, forward/backward. So its a reference set too. We reference position, using ‘space’..
Hang on though, Space is only 3 dimensions isn’t it? We haven’t included the fourth dimension here, by definition. So there is no Time included, no change. So, Space must only reference STATIC position.
Its not until we introduce time/change that we get DYNAMIC position, i.e. motion.
So, Space references STATIC position and SPACE-TIME references motion.
So is the space being used in space-time the ‘real’, concrete existence of everything, or are we referring to the space as an abstract framework (i.e. for referencing points in real space)? If space-time is a viable construct of two separate paradigms, they need to be paradigms of compatible nature. So if time is an abstract dimension, then for space and time to fuse, the version of space being assimilated into space-time must also be an abstract dimension. And the resultant mix, space-time, must hence be an abstract dimension.
Incredible though Einstein’s’ theory of relativity – and hence his articulation of space-time – might be, it still only a set of mathematic/geometric relationships; it is merely a mental model, albeit a complex one. It does not discover anything tangible, it merely explains how the relationship between tangible objects operates and how they interact. It no more expresses a proof or explanation of time (or space) than Pythagoras theorem proves the existence of triangles. It predicted tangible reality (e.g. blackholes)….
So, the two fundamentals of reality are position and change. And they are referenced by two abstract frameworks – Space and Time.
It is time dilation that many people (of a physics countenance) point to as ‘proving’ the existence of time (or more usually, space-time).
Time dilation does NOT depend on time being a concrete thing (force, or phenomena or whatever this tangible thing is meant to be). Two unlinked event series producing different outcomes does not prove the existence of time. It proves that the abstract framework that “connect” them is non-linear… i.e. it all depends on your frame of reference. But Time is still an abstract.
The time being referenced in time dilation is specific (to each of the object/clocks) – it’s specific to each event. Time dilation shows how two separate (unconnected) clocks undergo different event series outcomes. Change is the underlying reality of the dimension Time, as we have said. Focus on the relationship between two quantum change series, not on the abstract intermediary time.
From a purely time perspective, that two clocks which undergo two different space-time projections should diverge merely underlines that time is no universal absolute. The two clocks are not linked; they experience different event series. The only connection is an abstract idea, a mathematical equation.
This phenomenon should really be labelled change dilation.
The misleading impact of the fourth “dimension”
We have touched on this already. ‘Dimension’ and ‘direction’ (i.e. the notion that time has a direction – how can it, its event outcomes that have a ‘direction’) are words borrowed from the spatial/three-dimensional abstract.
Borrowing these words and hence the collections of notions and inferences that stem from them, to talk about something that is essentially a descriptor of an underlying actuality, gives rise to a whole series of theoretical misadventures. It infers attributes for the notion (the notion of time) that have no representation in the underlying fundamental (i.e. events/change).
[In fact it could be argued that, as there is no unifying ‘concrete’ phenomenon called Time, every quantum event happens in its own unique “time dimension”. That’s an awful lot of time dimensions – take note QUBITS!].