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.
But is the space being used in space-time the ‘real’, concrete space, 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 framework, then for space and time to fuse, the version of space being assimilated into space-time must also be an abstract framework. And the resultant mix, space-time, must hence be an abstract framework. How could it work that time – (the abstract framework) co-joins with space ( the concrete manifestation of three dimensions) – the resultant space-time child would be a confused hybrid of abstract and real. It doesn’t make sense- so space-time must be an abstract framework. Why, then, do scientists still insist in searching for its nature (e.g. a ‘super-fluid’ etc.)?
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 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. But it 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.
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.
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!].