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One consequence of this postulate, which follows from the equations of general

relativity, is the prediction of moving ripples of space-time, called gravitational


waves. While indirect evidence for these waves has been found (in the motions of
the Hulse�Taylor binary system, for example) experiments attempting to directly
measure these waves are ongoing at the LIGO and Virgo collaborations. LIGO
scientists reported the first such direct observation of gravitational waves on 14
September 2015.[21][22]

Cosmology
Main article: Shape of the universe
Relativity theory leads to the cosmological question of what shape the universe is,
and where space came from. It appears that space was created in the Big Bang, 13.8
billion years ago[23] and has been expanding ever since. The overall shape of space
is not known, but space is known to be expanding very rapidly due to the cosmic
inflation.

Spatial measurement
Main article: Measurement
The measurement of physical space has long been important. Although earlier
societies had developed measuring systems, the International System of Units, (SI),
is now the most common system of units used in the measuring of space, and is
almost universally used.

Currently, the standard space interval, called a standard meter or simply meter, is
defined as the distance traveled by light in a vacuum during a time interval of
exactly 1/299,792,458 of a second. This definition coupled with present definition
of the second is based on the special theory of relativity in which the speed of
light plays the role of a fundamental constant of nature.

Physics
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{\displaystyle {\vec {F}}=m{\vec {a}}} {\vec {F}}=m{\vec {a}}
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Space is one of the few fundamental quantities in physics, meaning that it cannot
be defined via other quantities because nothing more fundamental is known at the
present. On the other hand, it can be related to other fundamental quantities.
Thus, similar to other fundamental quantities (like time and mass), space can be
explored via measurement and experiment.

Today, our three-dimensional space is viewed as embedded in a four-dimensional


spacetime, called Minkowski space (see special relativity). The idea behind space-
time is that time is hyperbolic-orthogonal to each of the three spatial dimensions.

Relativity
Main article: Theory of relativity
Before Einstein's work on relativistic physics, time and space were viewed as
independent dimensions. Einstein's discoveries showed that due to relativity of
motion our space and time can be mathematically combined into one object�spacetime.
It turns out that distances in space or in time separately are not invariant with
respect to Lorentz coordinate transformations, but distances in Minkowski space-
time along space-time intervals are�which justifies the name.

In addition, time and space dimensions should not be viewed as exactly equivalent
in Minkowski space-time. One can freely move in space but not in time. Thus, time
and space coordinates are treated differently both in special relativity (where
time is sometimes considered an imaginary coordinate) and in general relativity
(where different signs are assigned to time and space components of spacetime
metric).

Furthermore, in Einstein's general theory of relativity, it is postulated that


space-time is geometrically distorted- curved -near to gravitationally significant
masses.[20]

Philosophy of space
Leibniz and Newton

Gottfried Leibniz
In the seventeenth century, the philosophy of space and time emerged as a central
issue in epistemology and metaphysics. At its heart, Gottfried Leibniz, the German
philosopher-mathematician, and Isaac Newton, the English physicist-mathematician,
set out two opposing theories of what space is. Rather than being an entity that
independently exists over and above other matter, Leibniz held that space is no
more than the collection of spatial relations between objects in the world: "space
is that which results from places taken together".[5] Unoccupied regions are those
that could have objects in them, and thus spatial relations with other places. For
Leibniz, then, space was an idealised abstraction from the relations between
individual entities or their possible locations and therefore could not be
continuous but must be discrete.[6] Space could be thought of in a similar way to
the relations between family members. Although people in the family are related to
one another, the relations do not exist independently of the people.[7] Although
there was a prevailing Kantian consensus at the time, once non-Euclidean geometries
had been formalised, some began to wonder whether or not physical space is curved.
Carl Friedrich Gauss, a German mathematician, was the first to consider an
empirical investigation of the geometrical structure of space. He thought of making
a test of the sum of the angles of an enormous stellar triangle, and there are
reports that he actually carried out a test, on a small scale, by triangulating
mountain tops in Germany.[14]

Henri Poincar�, a French mathematician and physicist of the late 19th century,
introduced an important insight in which he attempted to demonstrate the futility
of any attempt to discover which geometry applies to space by experiment.[15] He
considered the predicament that would face scientists if they were confined to the
surface of an imaginary large sphere with particular properties, known as a sphere-
world. In this world, the temperature is taken to vary in such a way that all
objects expand and contract in similar proportions in different places on the
sphere. With a suitable falloff in temperature, if the scientists try to use
measuring rods to determine the sum of the angles in a triangle, they can be
deceived into thinking that they inhabit a plane, rather than a spherical surface.
[16] In fact, the scientists cannot in principle determine whether they inhabit a
plane or sphere and, Poincar� argued, the same is true for the debate over whether
real space is Euclidean or not. For him, which geometry was used to describe space
was a matter of convention.[17] Since Euclidean geometry is simpler than non-
Euclidean geometry, he assumed the former would always be used to describe the
'true' geometry of the world.[18]Leibniz argued that space could not exist
independently of objects in the world because that implies a difference between two
universes exactly alike except for the location of the material world in each
universe. But since there would be no observational way of telling these universes
apart then, according to the identity of indiscernibles, there would be no real
difference between them. According to the principle of sufficient reason, any
theory of space that implied that there could be these two possible universes must
therefore be wrong.[8]

Isaac Newton
Newton took space to be more than relations between material objects and based his
position on observation and experimentation. For a relationist there can be no real
difference between inertial motion, in which the object travels with constant
velocity, and non-inertial motion, in which the velocity changes with time, since
all spatial measurements are relative to other objects and their motions. But
Newton argued that since non-inertial motion generates forces, it must be absolute.
[9] He used the example of water in a spinning bucket to demonstrate his argument.
Water in a bucket is hung from a rope and set to spin, starts with a flat surface.
After a while, as the bucket continues to spin, the surface of the water becomes
concave. If the bucket's spinning is stopped then the surface of the water remains
concave as it continues to spin. The concave surface is therefore apparently not
the result of relative motion between the bucket and the water.[10] Instead, Newton
argued, it must be a result of non-inertial motion relative to space itself. For
several centuries the bucket argument was considered decisive in showing that space
must exist independently of matter.

Kant

Immanuel Kant
In the eighteenth century the German philosopher Immanuel Kant developed a theory
of knowledge in which knowledge about space can be both a priori and synthetic.[11]
According to Kant, knowledge about space is synthetic, in that statements about
space are not simply true by virtue of the meaning of the words in the statement.
In his work, Kant rejected the view that space must be either a substance or
relation. Instead he came to the conclusion that space and time are not discovered
by humans to be objective features of the world, but imposed by us as part of a
framework for organizing experience.[12]