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Leonard Susskind on Space

  • Posted 11.10.11
  • NOVA
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Physicist Leonard Susskind says that Einstein’s equations show that space exists, but they don’t explain what it is.

Transcript

LEONARD SUSSKIND ON SPACE

Posted: November 10, 2011

As Newton knew it, things moved in three-dimensional space, and they moved in absolute time. Space was absolute. Time was absolute. And there was no reason, there was no reason for him to invent everything else.

Then came Einstein. It was only with the general theory of relativity that space began to have properties. It began to have a fluidity, it began to have an ability to deform itself. So, for example, in Einstein's theory of general relativity, there are gravitational waves. These are waves of curvature moving from place to place.

You have to say now that space is something. Space can vibrate, space can fluctuate, space can be quantum mechanical, but what the devil is it? And, you know, everybody has their own idea about what it is, but there's no coherent final consensus on why there is space. Why is there space rather than no space? Why is space three-dimensional? Why is space big? We have a lot of room to move around in. How come it's not tiny? We have no consensus about these things. We're still exploring them.

Credits

AUDIO

Produced by
David Levin
Original interview by
Graham Judd

IMAGE

(Leonard Susskind)
© WGBH Educational Foundation 2011

Major funding for "The Fabric of the Cosmos" is provided by the National Science Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Additional funding for this program is provided by the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations.

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