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In physics, space (TR:76) (LH:12) (TL:88) is a volume, or region or region enclosed in a vessel or container, which may or may not contain matter, extended into three mutually perpendicular directions. A space without matter is defined as a void or vacuum, depending.



In Democritean physics, i.e. according to Democritus (c.420BC), the world consisted of atoms, of various shapes, moving in a void or space; the following is one take on this view:

“The totality consists of bodies and space. The fact of sensation itself universally attests that there are bodies, and it is by reference to sensation that we must rationally infer the existence of imperceptible bodies. If what we call ‘void’ or ‘space’ or ‘impalpable being’ were nonexistent, bodies would not have anywhere to exist, nor would they have a medium through which to move, as they manifestly do.”
Epicurus (c.350BC), “Letter to Herodotus”; as translated by George Strodach (1963) in Epicurus: the Art of Happiness (pg. 93)[1]

There are "atoms", according to Democritus, and between the atoms is "empty space".[2]


In 1663, Otto Guericke, after making experimental vacuums, stated that atmosphere has pressure, and that at a certain height above the earth, space or a pure vacuum exists.

In 1647, Otto Guericke, in opposition to the Parmenides-Aristotle idiom that vacuums or empty spaces are abhorred by nature, began to undertake an experimental investigation into the the science of making "empty space" and to study its properties; some views on this:

“Could empty space exist, and is heavenly space unbounded?”
— Otto Guericke (c.1647), mental note; in Magdeburg Experiments on the Existence of the Vacuum (pg. #)
“Even though a vacuum in a strictly scientific sense cannot be produced here on earth, nonetheless we perceive the reason, for clearly, the effluences of matter prevent this. Where substances are no longer found, however, far above the earth, there will be no effluence of things. With the cause lacking, the effect is absent. Consequently, space must be empty. Would it not be more rational to hold that whether or not there is an intermediate substance or not, that ‘space’, nonetheless, exists and endures, independent of motion and rest and that it makes no difference whether anything corporeal is present in it or not?”
— Otto Guericke (1663), Magdeburg Experiments on the Existence of the Vacuum (pg. 132)

Guericke's vacuum research, resulted to become one of the main spurs to the later invention of the steam engine and hence to the development of the science of thermodynamics.


In Newtonian physics, i.e. according to Newton (1687), space, time, and matter are treated as three separate entities.[3]


In Einsteinian physics, i.e. according to Einstein (1917), space and time are combined into a four-fold continuum called “spacetime”. If Space is considered relativistically, e.g. with respect to a reference frame moving near the speed of light or near a massive body, then space becomes morphed with time, into an new entity called spacetime. Moreover, in general relativity, relative matter is regarded as having an effect on space, causing it to curve.[3]

Planck scale

At small scales, e.g. over distances in the Planck length range, space and time, presumably, are said to loose their meaning; one conjecture is that quantum fluctuations of spacetime yield a morphed substance called "quantum foam" (Wheeler, 1955).[4]


The following are related quotes:

“The advantage of the principle of least action is that in one and the same equation it relates the quantities that are immediately relevant not only to mechanics but also to electrodynamics and thermodynamics; these are space, time, and potential.”
Max Planck (1909), Eight Lectures on Theoretical Physics[5]
Matter and energy have an original property, assuredly not by chance, which organizes the universe in space and time.”
Lawrence Henderson (1913), The Fitness of the Environment (pg. 308) [6]


  1. Epicurus. (c.350BC). Epicurus: the Art of Happiness (translator: George Strodach) (pg. 93). Penguin, 2012.
  2. Ueberweg, Friedrich. (1875). A History of Philosophy: from Thales to the Present Time, Volume One (pg. 69). Scribner.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Daintith, John. (2004). Oxford Dictionary of Physics (pg. 491). Oxford.
  4. Gribbin, John. (1998). Q is for Quantum: an Encyclopedia of Particle Physics (pg. 367). Touchstone.
  5. (a) Planck, Max. (1909). Eight Lectures on Theoretical Physics (pg. #). Columbia University.
    (b) Myint-U, TYn; Debnath, Lokkenath. (2007). Linear Partial Differential Equations for Scientists and Engineers (pg. vii). Springer, 2011.
  6. (a) Henderson, Lawrence. (1913). The Fitness of the Environment: An Inquiry into the Biological Significance of the Properties of Matter (chance quote, pg. 308; matter and energy, 25+ pgs). MacMillan Company.
    (b) Parascandola, John. (1992). “L. J. Henderson and the Mutual Dependence of Variables: From Physical Chemistry to Pareto”, in: Science at Harvard University: Historical Perspective (editors: Clark Elliott and Margaret Rossiter) (quote, pg. 174). Lehigh University Press.

External links

  • Space – Hmolpedia 2020.
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