Download Understanding Space-Time by Disalle R. PDF

By Disalle R.

Provides the heritage of space-time physics, from Newton to Einstein, as philosophical and clinical advancements.

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The reason why this fact has been difficult to see, and why absolute space has therefore been the subject of so many misdirected arguments, has to do with another under-emphasized point of Stein (1967): Newton’s theory of absolute space concerns the structure, not of space only, but of space-time. It implies not that “space is absolute” – whatever that might mean in Leibnizian or any other metaphysical terminology – but that space is connected with time in such a way that states of motion are well-defined.

On the one hand, as a program for mechanical explanation, Cartesian physics was an extension of Galileo’s: its basic problem was to explain motion mechanically, and its fundamental assumption was that a body persists in a simple, uniform motion until external influences interfere. In Galileo’s case, the assumption was that “nearly” uniform motions parallel to the Earth’s surface – that is, circular motions – would persist, so that the rotation of the Earth must be nearly undetectable by mechanical experiments performed on the Earth; thus objects seem to fall in a straight line to the center of the Earth, in spite of the constant rotation, because their continuing horizontal motion is simply composed with their gravitation toward the Earth.

Instead, he was merely pointing out some of the characteristic symmetries of Euclidean space that are fully incorporated into absolute space as Newton defines it. In particular, any shift in spatial position or direction is permitted as long as it leaves the velocities of Absolute space and motion 27 bodies unchanged. In other words, Newton’s theory only requires that the difference between motion and rest be respected, but does not in any way distinguish positions or directions in space. It must be possible to say, of any body, whether it occupies the same position over time, but which position it occupies is irrelevant.

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