Objectivity of Space & Time

space-time

Einstein struggled with the concepts of Space and Time till the end of his life. He even dived into subjectivity, which is a dangerous thing for a scientist to do. In his 1952 essay “Relativity and the Problem of Space” Einstein says the following about Space:

The psychological origin of the idea of space, or of the necessity for it, is far from being so obvious as it may appear to be on the basis of our customary habit of thought. The old geometers deal with conceptual objects (straight line, point, surface), but not really with space as such, as was done later in analytical geometry. The idea of space, however, is suggested by certain primitive experiences. Suppose that a box has been constructed…

When a smaller box s is situated, relatively at rest, inside the hollow space of a larger box S, then the hollow space of s is a part of the hollow space of S, and the same “space”, which contains both of them, belongs to each of the boxes. When s is in motion with respect to S, however, the concept is less simple. One is then inclined to think that s encloses always the same space, but a variable part of the space S. It then becomes necessary to apportion to each box its particular space, not thought of as bounded, and to assume that these two spaces are in motion with respect to each other.

Before one has become aware of this complication, space appears as an unbounded medium or container in which material objects swim around. But it must now be remembered that there is an infinite number of spaces, which are in motion with respect to each other.

The concept of space as something existing objectively and independent of things belongs to pre-scientific thought, but not so the idea of the existence of an infinite number of spaces in motion relatively to each other.

By considering if space has bounds, Einstein is treating space as an object. Space is not an object. It is neither bounded nor unbounded. Space is abstraction of the bounds of matter.

Einstein is correct in saying that space does not exist independent of objects, but we can view space objectively despite Einstein’s opinion otherwise. Please see The Boundary of Space.

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Einstein says the following about Time:

What do we mean by rendering objective the concept of time? Let us consider an example. A person A (“I”) has the experience “it is lightning”. At the same time the person A also experiences such a behaviour of the person B as brings the behaviour of B into relation with his own experience “it is lightning”. Thus it comes about that A associates with B the experience “it is lightning”. For the person A the idea arises that other persons also participate in the experience “it is lightning”. “It is lightning” is now no longer interpreted as an exclusively personal experience, but as an experience of other persons (or eventually only as a “potential experience”). In this way arises the interpretation that “it is lightning”, which originally entered into the consciousness as an “experience”, is now also interpreted as an (objective) “event”. It is just the sum total of all events that we mean when we speak of the “real external world”…

Now what is the position in this respect with the “events” which we have associated with the experiences? At first sight it seems obvious to assume that a temporal arrangement of events exists which agrees with the temporal arrangement of the experiences. In general, and unconsciously this was done, until sceptical doubts made themselves felt.  In order to arrive at the idea of an objective world, an additional constructive concept still is necessary: the event is localised not only in time, but also in space.

When Einstein “apportions each box its particular space and assumes that these spaces are in motion with respect to each other,” he is subjectively apportioning separate consciousness (viewpoint) to each box. Later, when talking about time, Einstein is attributing objectivity to agreement among separate viewpoints (points of consciousness). Agreement among viewpoints would be like a mixture of oil and water if those viewpoints are to keep their separate individuality.

Objectivity does not come from agreement among viewpoints. Objectivity comes from the context a viewpoint is using to view. The broader is the context the greater is the objectivity. For example, before Galileo appeared on the scene, people believed that Earth was the center of the universe; and therefore Sun revolved around the Earth. Since then Physics has helped broaden the context in which we can see that Sun is at the center of a planetary system. Sun appears to revolve around Earth because Earth rotates on an axis.

Objectivity is the characteristic of a viewpoint. The broader is the context of a viewpoint the more objective it is.

Thus we may express objective view of Space as follows.

Space is neither bound nor unbound. Space exists only as the boundary of this universe.

It seems that when there is no universe there would be no space either. The universe consists of matter as well as electromagnetic field. We tend to confuse this electromagnetic field with space.  Dark energy and matter seem to be aspects of electromagnetic field. The current research into Disturbance Theory attempts to resolve this confusion. (Reference: The Boundary of Space)

 

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Time is the ordering principle of the universe. Objectivity of time comes from looking at the order of things in the broadest context possible.

We may provide an analogy in terms of looking through the window of a moving train. The narrower is the window the more chaotic seems to be the order of things viewed through it. When one climbs to the roof of the train’s cabin, one has a 360° view of the surroundings. The order of all things acquires a proper perspective. One now has a more objective view of time. It is only by referencing to the whole can one objectively evaluate the relationships among parts.

Thus we may express objective view of Time as follows.

Time is the ordering principle of the universe physically as well as conceptually and logically. 

It seems that one can arrive at the idea of an objective world only when one is looking from a broad universal context and not from a narrow personal context characterized by bias, prejudice, fixed idea, assumption and blind faith.

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