miércoles, 15 de junio de 2011
Basic space-time explanation
It's hard to understand correctly the concept of space-time. Think of a very large ball. Even though you look at the ball in three space dimensions, the outer surface of the ball has the geometry of a sphere in two dimensions, because there are only two independent directions of motion along the surface. If you were very small and lived on the surface of the ball you might think you weren't on a ball at all, but on a big flat two-dimensional plane. But if you were to carefully measure distances on the sphere, you would discover that you were not living on a flat surface but on the curved surface of a large sphere.
The idea of the curvature of the surface of the ball can apply to the whole Universe at once. That was the great breakthrough in Einstein's theory of general relativity. Space and time are unified into a single geometric entity called spacetime, and the spacetime has a geometry, spacetime can be curved just like the surface of a large ball is curved.
When you look at or feel the surface of a large ball as a whole thing, you are experiencing the whole space of a sphere at once. The way mathematicians prefer to define the surface of that sphere is to describe the entire sphere, not just a part of it. One of the tricky aspects of describing a spacetime geometry is that we need to describe the whole of space and the whole of time. That means everywhere and forever at once. Spacetime geometry is the geometry of all space and all time together as one mathematical entity.
I'm preparing an entry about worm holes. I hope it'll be finished by tomorrow.