The Problem of Space

Obsolete: See A Logical Approach to Theoretical Physics


After realising that field is a more basic substance than matter, Einstein finally comes to terms with the assertion of Descartes that space is identical with extension, but extension is connected with bodies; thus there is no space without bodies and hence no empty space. 

Thus, the space, which we see as “empty” is actually the extension of an invisible field. This field was not known to Descartes when he boldly asserted based on philosophical reasoning that there is no empty space. If he were here today, he would have been highly satisfied with the discovery of the field.


History of Space

Historically, Aristotle viewed things as made of substance. To him, matter and thought were complementary principles. Space was included in the concept of substance.

Descartes postulated matter to be an abstract reality, independent of thought, whose inherent property was limited to extension. He, thus, saw matter separate from thought, and space as property of matter.

Newton developed Descartes’ notion of matter into the concept of material-substance that existed within an absolute space. The material-substance had intrinsic properties of extension, hardness, impenetrability, mobility, and inertia. He thus separated space from matter. Newton was, however, troubled by the notion of gravity as “action at a distance”.

Based on extensive experimentation, Faraday boiled down the phenomena of electricity and magnetism to the notion of “field” that acted as a medium for radiative phenomena and force. The field was made up of “lines of force” that originated from and terminated at material points. The field explained what appeared as “action at a distance”. Faraday identified space as field that formed the background medium of material bodies.

Maxwell saw Faraday’s approach to be compatible with the theory of potential from the mathematical discoveries of Laplace, Poisson, Green and Gauss. He came up with mathematical equations that showed radiative phenomena, such as, light, to be electromagnetic in nature that carried force and energy. Maxwell confirmed that Faraday’s field was real. From this followed the discovery of electromagnetic spectrum made up of electromagnetic cycles of increasing frequency.

Einstein then discovered that electromagnetic cycles that could be described by a continuous function at lower frequencies gradually became quantized at higher frequencies (see Einstein’s 1905 Paper on Light Quanta). Thus, light acted as wave and also as a particle. This showed light (and field in general) to be a real substance in its own right more fundamental than matter.


Space as Extension

Per Descartes, space is substance’s inherent property of extension. It does not exist in the absence of substance.

With the discovery of field as a substance more fundamental than matter, the philosophical assertion of Descartes becomes a physical reality. Space is not just something abstract or mathematical. It is as real as the substance of matter of field.

Space is the extension of substance (matter or field).


“Empty Space” is Field

Thus, the “empty space” is not really empty. There is an invisible field that takes the place of visible matter.

We have been measuring space by the amount of material substance that can be stored in it. This is true only when space represents the extension of actual matter. When the space represents the extension of field, it should be measured by the amount of field substance that can be stored in it.

“Empty space” is correctly measured by the amount of field substance actually present.


The Basic Space

The fundamental state of substance is a single field cycle that extends into infinity. This extension is space. Therefore, space is synonymous with the substance of a single field cycle. Thus, the basic space appears at the bottom of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The basic space is the single field cycle at the bottom of the electromagnetic spectrum that extends into infinity.

Below the level of basic space there is no electromagnetic spectrum. This is “absence of substance”, which was postulated as emptiness earlier (see The Postulates).


Further Research

As we move up the electromagnetic spectrum, the frequency increases. The space starts to become more substantial as a field. This requires a closer study of the field.


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