Jump to content
Objectivism Online Forum

Of what does Space consist?

Rate this topic


Recommended Posts

  • Replies 117
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

What names for what we've found so far have we?

to qwote myself in a previous discussion:

"From the way I understand it, space is filled with charged particles, electromagnetic fields, and ionized gases. These seem like pretty inconsequential stuff to take the place of gravity, but the idea behind a plasma pinch focus generator is the same principle that operates the center of our galaxy and possibly our sun. Plasma and EM effects do not replace gravity, they just compliment it, and they explain the universe more comprehensively with than without it."

So what about the clumpy bits, matter, planets, asteroids, gas giants, etc.? Well this is the astounding difference between the effect of gravity compared to the effect of electromagnetism, namely that gravity adheres to an inverse square law, whereas EM effect (attraction/repulsion depending on polarity) is a simple inverse relationship.

When one is one distance unit away from a mass, the gravity is one unit, and the EM one unit.

When one is two distance units away from a mass, the gravity is one quarter unit, and the EM one half unit.

When one is three distance units away from a mass, the gravity is one ninth unit, and the EM one third unit.

...

So after a short while travelling between bodies in space, gravity is not really that important, but electromagnetic effects are still present. EM effects are also created when ionized particles move through space, such as the "solar wind", comets, planets with magnetic tails, etc.

I hope this answers some of your questions.

Plasmatic, altonhare, feel free to help out here,

Stay Focused,

<*>aj

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Electro-magnetic effects - is that what the "ether" - the actual space (as opposed to things in space) is? Is the space a medium on or through which plasma (and gravity for that matter) take effect, or is it a vacuum devoid of everything? That isn't possible, tho, is it? So if space isn't an actual nothing, then what is it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Electro-magnetic effects - is that what the "ether" - the actual space (as opposed to things in space) is? Is the space a medium on or through which plasma (and gravity for that matter) take effect, or is it a vacuum devoid of everything? That isn't possible, tho, is it? So if space isn't an actual nothing, then what is it?

I'm not qualified to explain aether. I need to learn more.

Two wires with current flowing through them create a magnetic effect (attraction/repulsion depending on the polarity) as I described above.

Two ionized particles travelling through the vacuum of space create the same effect.

The ionized tail of a comet, the tail following every rotating body with sufficient mass (?), even spacecraft create similar EM effects.

These interactions interact. EM fields interact with other fields and moving bodies, in the vacuum of space.

So vacuum does not mean empty. (space between planets, i think, has a density of one particle per cubic km)

Density is just one aspect of the concept of "space". But if those particles are part of a plasma sheath that attracts repels focuses and streams particles, the effect is present, just not obvious to those only looking for gravitational effects.

We only see EM effects when there are aurorae, lightening, when asteroids pass through a plasma stream and light up extraordinarily, when a comet impactor sets off an unexplained arc flash, when the sun warms the earth in unpredictable cycles, when a solar eclipse is visible, but that doesn't mean the effects are not happening all the time in the "dark and emptiness" of space.

First Rule of Government Funded Science: What we won't see doesn't exist.

Stay Focused,

<*>aj

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think when you ask a question, such as of what does space consist, you need to be clear on what you are referring to. If you think "space" is a concept denoting a distance between this and that, then space in that sense is not a substance, but rather a concept involving distance. However, if you are asking what is there between things in the smallest pockets of seemingly nothing or what is there between galaxies, then the answer is that we don't know yet. I personally like to call it the aether, for lack of a better term, because I don't think there is an actual nil that is possible in reality. We could probably deduce what it's properties are, but I don't think anyone has done that yet. The earlier attempts to deduce what was there in between things fell too much in the mechanical side of fluid mechanics -- where the term aether was actually used -- but the model didn't work, and so it was dropped in science. And no one has yet come up with a better model, or has discovered what that is in between things, so the question is unresolved.

I do not think that space is a something, as it is implied in Relativity -- something that can be bent and distorted; for there would have to actually be something there for it to be able to change (i.e. become distorted), but scientists are not actually claiming that space or space-time is a real substance occupying three dimensional space that can be distorted or changed. The mathematics work, but no one has yet come up with a good explanation of why they work.

Objectivism holds that reality is a full plenum, that there is no nil, but as to what is there has to be answered by scientists studying what is actually there going by the evidence.

I wrote a poem about this quest on my website. I call it, The Aether.

Edited by Thomas M. Miovas Jr.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Cool poem, Thomas.

Is "space" only a concept of distance? There must be some way to describe its properties which make it capable of transmitting light & energy. Is light a kind of energy? The fact of the force of gravity or EM reducing as the distance between the source of the force and the object acted upon seems like a clue to the nature of "space."

Has no spaceship or space station put its detectors just "out in space" to get readings on what all is there?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Has no spaceship or space station put its detectors just "out in space" to get readings on what all is there?

Thanks for the compliment on the poem.

Detectors are set up to detect something specific, such as magnetic fields, charged particles, acceleration, gamma rays, etc. One cannot make a detector to detect what one doesn't know anything about. The detectors are set up to do something due to a causal chain of events -- i.e. a charged particle will trigger a small voltage or small current, a gamma ray will cause something to happen in the device, or the magnetic field will change something going on a circuit. One cannot, in effect, just stick one's finger outside the spaceship and see what happens to detect "space" or what is in space. We would have to know something about what is going on there, and then make detectors respond to those effects, but without knowing much about it, no one knows how to design a detector to detect it.

The Michaelson-Morley experiment was set up to detect the aether or the aethereal wind, but the null result really threw them off, and the project was dropped. The idea was that light traveling through the aether would react a certain way, and that change would be detected; and it was set up so that it was full-proof according to the current theory. Getting no result means they were way off track in their theory, and they couldn't come up with anything better, so no one serious in science these days talks about the aether, except to pooh pooh the whole idea.

Whatever there is that is out there has to be detectable somehow, but the how is the big question.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Objectivism holds that reality is a full plenum, that there is no nil, but as to what is there has to be answered by scientists studying what is actually there going by the evidence.
While it's true that everything which exists is something, and a nothing or nil cannot exist, this fact should not be construed as meaning that if entity A and entity B are 1 meter apart, that there must be something in between them (either continuously or discretely). Distance is a relationship between two entities. It has no meaning in the absence of two or more entities, and it doesn't require a medium.

Is "space" only a concept of distance? There must be some way to describe its properties which make it capable of transmitting light & energy. Is light a kind of energy?
To the first question, I would say yes.

Light was traditionally considered to be a wave, because it looks continuous as it comes out of a light bulb or a laser, and it exhibits interference patterns when you have multiple light sources (like two pebbles thrown in a pond near each other). As experimental procedures progressed, it was discovered that light is actually emitted in quantized (discrete) packets called photons. The energy of each photon is determined by the wavelength (or color) of the light. Photons are called particles, because they are localized and discrete. However, unlike the more familiar particles (protons, electrons, etc.), photons have no mass and can exist in the same place at the same time (i.e. the distance between two photons can be zero). The quantized nature of light/photons is necessary to predict things like the color of the Sun or neon lights (as is the quantized nature of electron orbits in an atom).

Yes, light is electromagnetic energy - just like radio/TV broadcasts, comsic rays, and the infrared radiation that emanates from anything hot.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 month later...

As a physics student, my understanding is that space and time are relations between matter, rather than any sort of substance. There is a 'hole argument' (or was it 'hole problem'?), if you look at the philosophy of space and time, which is basically: you can change the way you label coordinates and get different spacetime metrics (since general relativity is invariant with respect to general coordinate transformations), and therefore different-looking manifolds (if you were to try to represent the 'shape' of spacetime graphically), but once you use the metric to describe particle trajectories, you get the same physical trajectory. The argument that Einstein and various philosophers take is that space/time are only relations between particles of matter, and are only meaningful in as much as they explain the way matter behaves. So as you said in before, space is basically just distance.

There is no such thing as aether. That's been disproved long ago.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

While it's true that everything which exists is something, and a nothing or nil cannot exist, this fact should not be construed as meaning that if entity A and entity B are 1 meter apart, that there must be something in between them (either continuously or discretely). Distance is a relationship between two entities. It has no meaning in the absence of two or more entities, and it doesn't require a medium.

I'm not saying distance requires a medium; I'm saying that if two things are 1 meter apart then there is something in-between them because there is no nil. Otherwise, you are saying that the nothing has physical properties (such as length and substance) which it cannot have because it isn't anything. If there was not anything in-between them, they'd be touching.

As to the existence of the aether; the early Michelson-Morely experiments showed that their theories about the nature of the aether were incorrect -- but those experiments did not show that there is a nothing. The whole issue was basically dropped after that experiment, instead of them re-thinking their concepts of the aether as having properties similar to water (i.e. the earth moving through the aether would create a current that would delay or deflect light).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not saying distance requires a medium; I'm saying that if two things are 1 meter apart then there is something in-between them because there is no nil.
It does not follow that there is a thing between your 1-meter separated things A and B. In fact if you claim that there is always a thing (call it X) between A and B, then there must also be a thing between A and X, X'; and then there must be a thing between A and X' (X'') and infinitum. This leads to "actualized infinity", which is wrong.

You have to understand that "between" is an abstraction of method and that if in fact no thing stands between A and B, then there is no "between". Some existent Q is actually "between" A and B if and only if it actually exists and satisfies the appropriate relation "betweenness" (shorthand for some simple math). There is something between two things if and only if there is some thing between them. There is nothing between the two things if and only if there is no thing between them.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not saying distance requires a medium; I'm saying that if two things are 1 meter apart then there is something in-between them because there is no nil. Otherwise, you are saying that the nothing has physical properties (such as length and substance) which it cannot have because it isn't anything. If there was not anything in-between them, they'd be touching.

You are equating empty space with non-existence, and that is not the case at all. If vacuum, space, etcetera, were non-existence itself, we wouldn't even be conscious of such space because it wouldn't exist. The mere consideration that you can use it as a measure of distance between two bodies (whether they be planets or atoms) indicates that it is, in fact, an existent attribute of the known universe. Here, I think, we are running into linguistic ambiguities- we say there is 'nothing' between those two bodies when we mean to say there are no substantial supratomic bodies in the intervening distance between body A and body B, since all microscopic and subatomic particles between them cannot be felt or seen by us without use of sense-enhancing technological innovations.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It does not follow that there is a thing between your 1-meter separated things A and B. In fact if you claim that there is always a thing (call it X) between A and B, then there must also be a thing between A and X, X'; and then there must be a thing between A and X' (X'') and infinitum. This leads to "actualized infinity", which is wrong.

Everyone tends to want to think about the aether as some sort of particles, when we don't have that evidence yet as to what it is. No, I am not saying there has to be something in-between the in-between the in-between. At some point, there isn't anything in-between because it is fully packed with something. There is no infinitesimal. So, whatever this stuff is, there would be a limit as to how small it can be.

As to space itself being this stuff, one can think of it that way, but then space would have to actually be something and would have properties, but modern science doesn't assert that space itself has properties. There is the concept of space-time, but Relativists don't claim that it is a real thing, just a mathematical tool.

I do think we are close to figuring it out, but no one has come up with a theory to characterize it. In my view, the fact that there is resistance to change of motion (inertia) shows that there is something there, otherwise, in a total vacuum, why would there be any resistance to changing the position of something? In other words, why is it difficult to get something to move, and why is there an upper limit (the speed of light) if there is not anything there that has properties?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As to the aether I thought this quote of Rand would be of interest;

Scientific Methodology

Prof. M: Would you consider the following method of confirming a scientific principle to be valid? One formulates the principle being guided by one's knowledge of fact. Using the principle, one next deduces how entities under certain conditions should act. Then, if one observes such action and, within the context of one's knowledge can account for it only by the principle which predicted it, it follows that the principle has been confirmed. In summary, one induces the <ioe2_302> principle, deduces its consequences, and if only that principle is known to give rise to those consequences, which in turn exist, then the principle is confirmed as a contextual absolute.

AR: This is outside the province of my book; this is the theory of induction. But within this context, I would say, no, this would not be the right procedure, and there is a danger of a very, very grave error here. Because if you follow the procedure you outline here, and you make certain predictions on the basis of a hypothesis, and the entities do act accordingly, you conclude that you can hold as a contextual absolute that it was your hypothesis that was operating and that it is therefore true. You are assuming an omniscience that contextual knowledge cannot permit. Because since you are not omniscient, within the context of your knowledge you cannot say that your particular hypothesis was the only possible cause of the entities acting the way you predicted. You would have to say this offers great confirmation of your hypothesis, but it still remains a hypothesis and cannot be taken as knowledge. Why? Because so many other possibilities are involved. And I don't mean unknown or unknowable factors—I mean that it would be impossible, for any complex principle of science that you are trying to establish, to eliminate, even within your own context of knowledge, all the other possibilities.

What I would question is this part of the procedure: "if only that principle is known to give rise to those consequences"—that's the mistake of arrested knowledge, right there.Prof. M: Even though it is relative to what you know at that time?

AR: Even though it's at that time and it's your full context of knowledge. Because you cannot conclude that something which is not fully known to you can be produced only by one hypothesized factor. On the basis of that same context of knowledge, any number of hypotheses could be constructed. Which is why we need hypotheses. If it were <ioe2_303> otherwise, then your hypothesis to begin with would almost have to be a certainty.

Historically, some dreadful errors have resulted from that method. One of them is the denial of the existence of ether. I don't mean that ether necessarily exists; I mean the process by which they denied it, was of this type. They predicted something with an artificial absolute or ultimatum delivered to nature—if light bends in a certain way (or something on that order), then it proves that space is a vacuum. It certainly does not, and I am no physicist, I am just an epistemologist. You cannot arbitrarily restrict the facts of nature to your current level of knowledge. In other words, you cannot take the context of your knowledge, as if reality were confined only to that which you know, and deliver ultimatums, saying, "If my hypothesis predicts correctly, then it is only my hypothesis that can be true."

Any material element or resource which, in order to become of use or value to men, requires the application of human knowledge and effort, should be private property—by the right of those who apply the knowledge and effort.

This is particularly true of broadcasting frequencies or waves, because they are produced by human action and do not exist without it. What exists in nature is only the potential and the medium through which those waves must travel. (That medium is not air; in legal discussions it is often referred to by the mythical term of "ether"-to indicate some element in space, at present unidentified.) Without the broadcasting station which generates the waves, that "ether"-on our present level of knowledge-is of no practical use or value to anyone.

Now I personally have been studying certain aether theories and the "rejection" Rand talks of and theres more garbage than not on the subject. The same way that one cannot consider the concept of distance an entity, the Aether theories for the most part reify other things such as "time" and "space".These are more often than not already reified in modern physics. An example is the assertion/usage of "waves" "angular momentum","velocity" ,"forces","fields" ,as if they were nouns and entities or causal primaries.

Even the oft missed and denied electrodynamic properties of plasma that pervades the universe as the primary state of matter [the 4th state] begs the question as to what is between the particles that become ionized. We us the words force and field to refer to the observation of the "action at a distance" we observe between the primary causal entities interacting dynamically. But this is a discription used as a definition. there are no "fields" apart from entities causing them through dynamic relationship with other entities. A wave is what something does NOT what something is. The particle theories do not explain convergence in any causal manner they just use description as if they were definitions.

I agree with David Harriman and reccomend his PHYSICIST LOST IN SPACE. He refers to space as "a sum of places" and that there is "no nothing". At the end in the question period where he alludes to the fact that we havent even answered very fundamental questions such as when he stated "I think we need a non-contradictory view of what light is." I would add that we need to go back and correct fundamental errors such as using descriptions of dynamic interactions[forces and fields] as though they where nouns and causal primaries. Aristotle pointed out that entities are causal primaries a long time ago.

As to space and time I like these links:

http://www.quackgrass.com/time.html

http://www.quackgrass.com/space.html

For a controversial view of aether {as if everything else ive said wasnt controversial ; ] } that I find much less distateful than others try this:

http://www.holoscience.com/news.php?articl...rds=aether#dest

Edited by Plasmatic
Link to comment
Share on other sites

As to space itself being this stuff, one can think of it that way, but then space would have to actually be something and would have properties, but modern science doesn't assert that space itself has properties. There is the concept of space-time, but Relativists don't claim that it is a real thing, just a mathematical tool.

I wish this were true Thomas. Modern physics does indeed attribute a geometry to "space and "time" that "warps" and bends" as if it were a causal entity.

Edited by Plasmatic
Link to comment
Share on other sites

What names for what we've found so far have we?

Space is not a thing and it does not consist of anything. There exist many things, which are located somewhere and which take up some volume - but space is not made up of them.

We have no evidence from observation that space is composed of anything in particular, let alone any evidence shedding light on the properties of this form of material. There is nothing out there indicating that space has mass, or emits radiation, or can combine with any of the subatomic particles. We as a sentient species have neither directly nor indirectly ever observed the properties of space.

The meter between two objects separated in space by one meter is not itself a real thing. It is but our form of measuring the spatial relationship between the two objects. It is not our form of measuring space, because space is not itself subject to measure. The concept of measurement depends on the concept of observation, and since we have never observed space, whether directly or indirectly, we cannot properly use the concept of measurement in relation to space. There is no real "in-between" in between the two objects, since in-between-ness is a product of our mode of cognition, of our scientific methods of measuring the objects around us. The "in-between" is neither filled nor unfilled, since it is not properly a concept from metaphysics, but from epistemology.

The treatment of general relativity as the geometry of space does not, in itself, lend any weight to the idea that space is real. Geometry describes the distance between two objects, and the way in which the distance between the two objects will change based on how the objects move. It does not attribute causal properties to space. There are many physicists who do attribute causal properties to space, but that is not the same thing as claiming a geometric interpretation of general relativity in and of itself attributes causal properties to space, which it does not.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The treatment of general relativity as the geometry of space does not, in itself, lend any weight to the idea that space is real. Geometry describes the distance between two objects, and the way in which the distance between the two objects will change based on how the objects move. It does not attribute causal properties to space. There are many physicists who do attribute causal properties to space, but that is not the same thing as claiming a geometric interpretation of general relativity in and of itself attributes causal properties to space, which it does not.

So your saying that the "space-time" of modern science is only reified by physicist [most that ive read] but not meant to be so by GR itself?

Edited by Plasmatic
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is no real "in-between" in between the two objects, since in-between-ness is a product of our mode of cognition, of our scientific methods of measuring the objects around us. The "in-between" is neither filled nor unfilled, since it is not properly a concept from metaphysics, but from epistemology.

You seem to be saying that if one object is here and another is over there that our concept of "in-between" is just epistemological rather than the conceptualization of something real. For example, if one says that the cheese is "in-between" two slices of bread, or that my can of Coca-Cola is "in-between" my keyboard and my monitor, that we are not saying anything about reality. It's just an epistemological convenience. I strongly disagree with this.

The concept of "in-between" is developed from the observation that when two things are separated, say A and C, and some third thing is positions as B is to ABC, then "in-between" connotes the position of B. This is a statement regarding the real positions of ABC, specifically B. So, it is not just epistemological but rather is derived from observation in a rational manner.

When two things are separated by a spatial distance, it is rational to ask, "What is in-between them?" And what I'm saying is that if two things are separated by a spatial distance, there is something in-between them -- even if we haven't detected the properties of that something yet.

As a further answer to an issue raised by David Odden, I think there is a tendency in physics to consider all aspects of reality to particles, and further that all particles are point-like. Aside from the fact that even particles have a size, it does not follow that whatever is in-between must be particle-like. We would have to investigate to find out what the properties are of that which is in-between material particles that we can currently detect (without implying that whatever is in-between is not material, since we don't know what it is yet).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As a further answer to an issue raised by David Odden, I think there is a tendency in physics to consider all aspects of reality to particles, and further that all particles are point-like. Aside from the fact that even particles have a size, it does not follow that whatever is in-between must be particle-like. We would have to investigate to find out what the properties are of that which is in-between material particles that we can currently detect (without implying that whatever is in-between is not material, since we don't know what it is yet).
My observation does not depend on entities being point-like. It rests on the simple fact that "in between" is a method-of-measurement concept involving three things in reality: in [j X e], X is "in between" j, o. Whether or not you opt to exclude X from a specialized relationship "in between" that involves some fancy proper inclusion of paths between the corners of a bounding box doesn't matter to me -- I will stick with the ordinary notion of "in between". Once we finally decide what counts as "in between", the point remains that in reality, there is something in between j and e if and only if there is some actual thing. We can imagine a thing in some location by applying the method concept, but if there is no actual thing, the ability to imagine a thing does not mean that a thing exists

Until there is real evidence that things exists everywhere -- include aether, whatever it is, there is no logical necessity for claiming that aether exists.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't think modern science has a complete accurate view of what space, time, or spacetime is so far. However, if we are talking about special and general relativity, then those two theories conclude that thee is such a thing as absolute spacetime. To see what Einstein thought about this subject, you can look up the Bucket and spinning water thought experiment. Various scientists including Newton, Mach, and Einstein discuss what the water in the bucket is spinning relative too.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

When two things are separated by a spatial distance, it is rational to ask, "What is in-between them?" And what I'm saying is that if two things are separated by a spatial distance, there is something in-between them -- even if we haven't detected the properties of that something yet.

My observation does not depend on entities being point-like. It rests on the simple fact that "in between" is a method-of-measurement concept involving three things in reality: in [j X e], X is "in between" j, o. Whether or not you opt to exclude X from a specialized relationship "in between" that involves some fancy proper inclusion of paths between the corners of a bounding box doesn't matter to me -- I will stick with the ordinary notion of "in between". Once we finally decide what counts as "in between", the point remains that in reality, there is something in between j and e if and only if there is some actual thing. We can imagine a thing in some location by applying the method concept, but if there is no actual thing, the ability to imagine a thing does not mean that a thing exists

Until there is real evidence that things exists everywhere -- include aether, whatever it is, there is no logical necessity for claiming that aether exists.

I'm confused by your statement, Mr. Odden. What Mr. Miovas has stated is what Dr. Peikoff has said (I don't know where. Anyone?), that if there is nothing between two things then they are touching. "Nothing" is not a kind of existent. If two things are apart, not touching, then there is something between there even if we don't know what that something is.

Isn't that enough to properly hold that there is something, some kind of thing, even if we don't know anything else about it, between two spacially distant things?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
×
×
  • Create New...