Physics Van 3-site Navigational Menu

Physics Van Navigational Menu

Q & A: does spacetime create 'stuff'?

Learn more physics!

Most recent answer: 08/08/2016
Q:
Is it that objects of mass that bend spacetime or is it possible that the behavior of spacetime causes a perceived object of mass to exist? Could the mass be a quality of spacetime which when it behaves in some of many ways, results in the many manifestations of the visible universes "stuff"... particles; atoms; molecules; planets; stars...?
- Mark (age 50)
Kilauea, HI. USA
A:

This is a sort of philosophical question. We usually work with a set of laws (something like the standard model within quantum field theory) for the local behavior of stuff, and think of that stuff as causing the bending of spacetime. Then we think of that bent spacetime as influencing the behavior of the stuff (gravity). Could we instead think of all the stuff as just ways of spacetime behaving? Maybe, but carrying that very far would require integrating quantum mechanics and gravity, and that hasn't been successfully done yet. Another approach that some people are looking into is to think of some abstract set of quantum interactions, with spacetime coordinates as an approximation to some parameters describing that behavior.  Until these approaches get farther, we won't know if any of them are right or if several of them are just different ways of describing mathematically equivalent constructs.

Mike W.


(published on 08/08/2016)

Follow-up on this answer.