Understanding the Fabric of Space

Is there a fabric for space? Is there an underlying fabric on which the entire universe rests? Looking at the space in all its vast eternity, we do not see any fabric. The space looks empty and only the distant stars and planets are visible, but no fabric can be seen. However, if you are a student of science and follow the latest happenings, you would have seen the formed images as follows:

The above images represent the fabric of space. It may not be visible in the universe out there, but Einstein with the discovery of the theory of Relativity confirmed the presence of the fabric for space. This fabric is not your typical fabric, this fabric is made up of time. Yes, it is made up of time. A concept not easy to grasp. Einstein showed that space and time were interlinked, and he changed the terminology from ‘space and time’ to ‘spacetime’. This spacetime had 4 specific dimensions, among which the 3 dimensions are for space and the 4th is for time. We can visualize the 3 dimensions out there in space. We are used to the 3 dimensions. Time is supposed to be a 4th dimension. It is hard to understand and visualize the 4th dimension of time. The fact is that, the spacetime fabric is made up of time and it operates in the 4th dimension.

One of the objectives of the theory of relativity was to show that in the presence of energy, time slows down. The slowing down of time is represented by the spacetime fabric bending or it curves around an object. This bending or curvature is like placing a heavy ball on a stretched-out rubber sheet. The weight of the ball will curve the rubber sheet around itself. The spacetime fabric operates in a similar manner. Place a heavy ball of mass on the spacetime fabric, the spacetime fabric curves around the object. It is to be noted here that the heavier the mass, greater is the curvature. A blackhole as shown above has a much deeper curvature as the mass of the blackhole is much greater.

The images above do show the spacetime fabric, but there are many unanswered questions that do follow:

1. Let us take for instance that the fabric is made up of time and it operates in the 4th dimension. A good question – where exactly is the 4th dimension? We know that thespace has 3 dimensions only. It is impossible for time to function in the 3 dimensions of space out there. So, where do time and 4th dimension function?

2. If the fabric is made up of time, then there must be a t = 0 for the fabric. There must be a start point for the spacetime fabric. Where is the t = 0 for the fabric?

3. Time is never static; it is always moving forward. So, what is the implication of this forward- moving time on the spacetime fabric?

4. Did you notice that the spacetime fabric is not a continuous, it is represented by a grid. Why a grid and why not a continuous fabric?

5. Spacetime and the Einstein theory of relativity are interconnected. What impact these theories have on time and on the spacetime fabric?

So, we can see that there are many unanswered questions regarding the fabric of the space. We will try and answers these questions in this article.   

The unanswered questions can be summarized as follows:

  1. Location of the Spacetime Fabric
  2. Start Point of the Spacetime Fabric
  3. Construction of the Spacetime Fabric
  4. Creation of Space
  5. Expansion of the Space
  6. Spacetime Fabric and Special Relativity
  7. Energy and Spacetime Fabric

Location of the Spacetime Fabric

Where is the time based spacetime fabric located? It should be at the same place where time is located. We have seen earlier that time is supposed to the 4th dimension. In that case, then, the spacetime fabric is also operating in the 4th dimension. Where is the 4th dimension? To hunt down the 4th dimension, let us understand the functioning of time.

Most people would try and locate time in the space out there. In other words, they would try and locate the 4th dimension within the 3 dimensions of space. For time to be effective, it must operate in the following 3 zones.

  • Past
  • Present or Now
  • Future

Are these 3-time zones available in the space out there? The answer is a definite NO. Why? Try and focus on the space out there. At any given moment, what you will always see in space is the Present or the ‘Now’ moment. You can never see the Past or the Future. There is no past or future in the space, there is always the Present or the Now moment. Just try it. At this moment, you will see the present only. What is the duration of the present? According to the plank constant, the smallest block of time is 10-44 sec. Once this extremely tiny time duration passes, the current present becomes the past and it is replaced by a new present. It always the Present or Now in space out there. There is no chance or possibility to have the past or the future in the space out there. 

As mentioned, time to function properly, it must have the ability to operate in the past, present and the future. This is not possible in space, because space only has the present moment, no past and future. Therefore, we need to look elsewhere for the 4th dimension for time and the spacetime fabric?

The only possible location is the mind. The mind is the storage of all the past events. We may not remember all events, but each moment of our lives is stored in the mind. We can and we do time travel into these past events regularly. Whenever the mind is idle, it is thinking of the past or daydreaming of the future. Also, time is never static; it is always moving forward. This forward push by time means that future events become the present and then the present becomes the past. All this happens in the mind only.

Vedanta has always been clear that time or ‘kala’ is present in the mind only. The source and location of time is the mind only.

Start Point of the Spacetime Fabric

It is not easy to grasp, but the spacetime fabric, which is made up of time is in the mind only. The space with all the objects is out there, but the fabric is within the mind only. As far as accepting or seeing and visualizing the concrete form of this spacetime fabric is concerned, it is not possible to locate it. You can only imagine or visualize the spacetime fabric. We are going to use this imagination to try and locate the start point of the spacetime fabric.

It is important to know the start point of the spacetime fabric. It will answer many unanswered questions. There must be a t = 0 for the fabric. Since the fabric is made up of time, it must have a start point, it must have a t = 0 location. The question is where this start point for the spacetime is?

We know the big bang happened about 13.7 billion years ago. We also know time started with the big bang. Before the big bang there was no time. Does that mean that the start point of the spacetime fabric occurs from the advent of the big bang? Yes, the start point of the spacetime fabric was the big bang, but it was the start point when the big bang happened. The big bang is no longer the start point or the t = 0 location for the fabric. Science really confuses the issue by saying the spacetime fabric starts with the big bang. Yes, time started 13.7 billion years back, but at this current moment, at this now moment, the t = 0 is for the spacetime fabric is not the big bang.  The big bang is the outer edge of the universe.

If not the big bang, where is the start point (t =0) for the spacetime fabric? To understand the t = 0 point for the spacetime fabric, you must look at space out there in terms of time and not distances. We measure everything in space in terms of distances. The tree is 50 feet away; the plane is flying at a height of 30,000 feet. You can also look at the same objects in terms of how much time light will take to reach us from different objects. Since we will be looking at objects in terms of time, this will help visualize the spacetime fabric.

Let us study the external objects ‘out there’. If we can see a faraway star, say 5 million light years away, it takes light from that star 5 million years to reach us. Now, we see the sun, the light from the sun takes 8 min to reach us. We look at the moon; its light will take 3 seconds to reach us. We look at the plane flying in the sky, at 30,000 feet; its light takes about 300 milliseconds to reach us. As the distance of the object being viewed is reduced, the time taken for light to reach us or for us to see it is much smaller. I now look at the tree outside the window; the time taken for light to reach me is 10 microseconds (10-6). For instance, I am looking at the computer screen 1 ft away typing this article, then light will take about 1 nanosecond (10-9). As the distance reduces the time taken for light also reduces. If you extrapolate this backward, the only logical place for it to be equal to 0 is the observer, who is watching all these objects. This means that the observer within you is the starting point of the spacetime fabric. This is the t = 0of the spacetime fabric. This means that the spacetime fabric starts with the observer within you.

If you or anyone else looks at the universe, they will reach the same conclusion. Everyone has their own spacetime fabric and t = 0 for the fabric is the observer within themselves. This will apply to every living being in the universe. It would seem; therefore, I have my own spacetime fabric, you have your own spacetime fabric and every living being in the universe has his or her own version of the spacetime fabric.

An important conclusion is that the t = 0 for the spacetime fabric start is always the observer with you.

Construction of the Spacetime Fabric

Logically you would expect that the spacetime fabric to be continuous. The images shown earlier, explain how the fabric is not continuous but it constitutes grid with discrete nodal points. Why? This is because time is not continuous. The time does feel continuous, but it is not continuous. Based on the Plank Constant, it is proven that time is made of discrete elements. The shortest separation between two discrete elements is 10-44 seconds. These discrete time elements make up the spacetime fabric. The start of the spacetime fabric is the t = 0, which is the observer within you. The first node will be at 10-44sec away from the observer. The second node will be at 2 x 10-44sec away, the third node will be 3 x 10-44away. With these small increments of the time nodes the entire spacetime fabric is built up. 10-44is small value. The human mind can even comprehend this. Can you imagine the number time nodes in the fabric to reach the sun which is 8 min away or to a faraway star which is 5 million light-years away?

Do you see the entire spacetime fabric at any given time? No. If you are sitting within your house, the spacetime fabric will end at the four walls of the house. If you move out, during the daytime the spacetime fabric will end with the sun. The limit of the spacetime fabric really depends upon what you are watching.

Creation of Space

The timebased spacetime fabric within the mind creates the space out there? How? If you read the post ‘Awareness –The Infinite Energy Source’, you will find out there is infinite energy available in the cosmic mind.  The energy which is available in the mind is pure energy. This energy plays different roles within the mind. It must be understood that this energy is independent of time; it is raw or pure energy which is available in the mind. Let us see what happens when a part of this energy interacts with time in the individual mind. This energy stretches out time, so that every second in time is equal to 186,000 miles (speed of light). Just like a rubber band can be stretched outwards, in the same way, time can be stretched outwards by this pure energy. With this stretching of time, space is created. One second in space becomes 186,000 miles. This is the space we see ‘out there’. So, space is created when this pure energy stretches out time, which is part of our mind.

Expansion of Space

Does the universe expand? Science tells us the universe is expanding. Why is the universe expanding? How fast the universe is expanding? Science is not very sure about these questions. Using powerful telescopes, they have watched the movement of different planets and galaxies and noticed the expansion is uneven. Some places the expansion is faster and other places the expansion is slower. There is proper no explanation about this uneven expansion. There is immense confusion about this subject.

To remove this confusion and get a proper understanding about the expansion, you need to know the start point or t = 0 for the spacetime fabric and you need to know the end-point of the spacetime fabric. We have already seen that the t = 0 for the space is the observer within you. The observer within each one of us will always be the start point for the spacetime fabric.

Science tells us that the age of the universe is 13.7 billion years old. This is the big bang moment. Light reaching us (or the observer) from the big bang moment constitutes the outer edge of the spacetime fabric. Light takes 13.7 billion light-years to reach us from this big bang moment. This is the outer edge because there was no universe before the big bang.

Is this spacetime expanding? Yes. How much? Let us try and understand this. If you assume the universe is 13.7 billion years old ‘right now’. After one second, the age of the universe will be 13.7 billion years + 1 sec. The light must now travel an additional 186,000 miles to reach the observer, which means the size of the universe has grown by 186,000 miles. After 10 seconds then, the size of the universe would increase by 186,000 x 10 = 1,860,000 miles. After one year from now, the size of the universe will increase by 1 light year. 1 light year is the distance light travels in one year.

From the above, we can conclude that the rate of expansion of the outer edge of the universe = 1 light year per year.

If you can imagine the spacetime fabric as an elastic rubber sheet, starting from the start point t=0 (which means you) to the outer edge of the universe. The end at the observer’s side is fixed. It is always t = 0, it does not change. The other end which is the outer edge of the universe is being pulled outwards. The outer edge of the elastic space time fabric is expanding by 186,000 miles every second. It expands at the speed of light every second, which is one light year every year. As time flows, the expansion of the spacetime fabric continues at the speed of light.

It must be understood that only the outer edge of the universe is expanding at the speed of light, and so, anything in between will not expand at the same speed, it will be proportional to the distance from the observer. Using the rubber sheet example, if you pull the outer edge by a certain distance, the inner parts will not be stretched by the same amount. The stretching therefore will be more at the outer edges, and it will be much less as you move inwards to the other side which is fixed. This idea can also be applied to the spacetime framework. This means that the rate of outward expansion of galaxies, stars etc., would really depend upon how far these galaxies are from the observer. The observer is t=0. Stars close by will expand more slowly, as compared to stars which are further away. This is because the space time for the stars nearby will stretch less as compared to the stars which are further away. 

Spacetime Fabric and Special Relativity

Einstein theory of special relativity had and has a great impact on science. It gave a new perspective to many aspects of science. Not only science, but this theory also affects our daily life.  

Without going into much details, one of the major conclusions of this theory is that time and motion are interconnected. Put simply, wherever there is motion time slows down. Yes, time does slow down with motion. Your clock will slow down. Faster you go, slower the time becomes. The ultimate possible speed is the speed of light (186,000 miles per sec). At that speed of light time does not move but it becomes standstill. This connection between motion and time is a proven fact. We are always on the move, walking, running, driving a car, flying in a plane. All these are at different speeds. The implication is that with this motion, the pace of your clock will be different at different speed. Also, if you are sitting on a chair and your friend is running, the pace of time ticking you and your friend will be different. Yes, the time frame keeps changing with motion, but the change is very small that the human mind cannot notice it. We have seen the smallest time frame is 10-44sec. Mother Nature operates with these parameters and it is sensitive to these very small-time changes. It does make all the required time changes to very small change in speeds. The changes are happening in nature, but the human mind is unable to discern these small changes.

Okay, motion and time are interconnected. So, what happens to motion and the spacetime fabric. We know the fabric is made up of time. Motion and the spacetime fabric must be interconnected. What happens?

The start point of the spacetime fabric is always the observer which is the t = 0 location. This never changes; it always remains the starting point. When motion occurs (time slows down), the observer at t = 0 does not move, but time nodes on the fabric get closer to the observer and the spacing between the time nodes get closer. Overall the fabric is more compressed as compared to the fabric before the motion happens. If the speed of the motion increases (time slows down further), the observer is still fixed at t = 0 and the spacetime fabric gets further pulled towards the observer. Now if you reach the speed of light (time does not move), there is no time and there will be no spacetime fabric. The fabric would then merge into the observer at t = 0. If now, you slow down and come to a complete rest – the spacetime fabric would pop out from the observer, and you will reach the initial state before we started this exercise.

As you increase speed, the fabric starts getting compressed and as you decrease speed, the fabric starts expanding. The interesting question to ask over here is what happens to the objects sitting on top of the spacetime fabric? These are the objects we see out there in the universe. With the increase in the motion speed, the fabric would compress to bring the objects on the fabric closer to the observer, which does not move at t = 0.

It must be understood, the observer does not move, it is fixed at t = 0. So, the motion is not happening to the observer (which is you), but instead the objects on the spacetime fabric are moving closer to the fixed observer. Can you see the illusion which is taking place? We always feel that we as the observer are moving and the objects out there (like trees, houses etc.) are always fixed. This is our daily experiences. We are being fooled. This is exactly like sitting on a stationery train and watching a moving train on the next track. We have an illusion that the train is moving, and the other train is stationery. This is exactly what happens with the motion and the spacetime fabric.    

Please read the following post, for a more detailed explanation of connection between motion and time.

Energy and Spacetime Fabric

Is this image an accurate representation of the spacetime fabric? It does convey the idea of the fabric quite well, but it is not accurate. Why? The fabric is made up of time and the Earth shown is a physical form and is present in the space out there. There is no spacetime fabric out there; it is in the mind only. So,logically it is incorrect for the physical earth to be shown on the time-basedfabric.

Just like space and time are connected. Space is physical and time is subtle and is present in the mind. In the same way mass and energy are also connected. The famous Einstein equation shows this connection E = mc2. Mass is the physical form and energy is the subtle form. Vedanta teaches us that everything subtle is and must be present in the mind only.Energy is subtle and must be part of the mind only. As shown in the post ‘Awareness –The Infinite Energy Source’, there is infinite energy available in the cosmic mind. A part of this energy is used to represent different objects in the universe. Every object has its own unique energy wave function and this wave function is present in the mind. Even quantum physics confirms that every object in this universe has the particle and wave duality. 

This energy wave function of the objects is placed on the spacetime fabric. In the image above, the energy wave function of Earth is placed on the spacetime fabric. In the same way the energy wave function of every object is placed appropriately on the spacetime fabric.

Based on the Einstein theory of general relativity, this energy wave function curves the spacetime fabric. It should be clear that every object with the energy wave function will curve the spacetime fabric. An ant, a stone, human being, trees, planets, suns, galaxies, blackholes, every object will curve the spacetime fabric. The only difference is that objects with greater energy will curve the spacetime much more. The blackhole has the greatest curvature because it packs in the largest amount of energy.

How to understand the curvature of the time based spacetime fabric? How is time affected by the curvature of the fabric? We have seen in the earlier section that the observer is the start point (t =0) of the fabric and the end point is the big bang which is 13.7 billion light years away. Also, this outer edge is expanding 1 light year every year. The size of the spacetime fabric is fixed based on the amount of time which has elapsed. When the spacetime curves or wraps around the object, the size of the time-based fabric does not increase, it remains the same. Then what happens? The time around the objects gets curved and that part stretches out. Let us take an example, the

  • Diameter for sun is 1.5 x 106 km.
  • Speed of light is 3 x 105 km/sec.
  • Time taken by light to cover the diameter = 1.5 x 106 km/3 x 105 km/sec = 5 sec

In the spacetime fabric, the sun will occupy 5 sec of space. These 5 seconds of space on the fabric would curve and wrap around the energy wave form of the sun. The same principle will then apply to every object from an ant to a blackhole.