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Space is the boundless three-dimensional Cartesian coordinate system used to indicate positions in space. Space is the boundless three-dimensional extent in which objects and events have relative position and direction.

Physical space is often conceived in three linear dimensions, although modern physicists usually consider it, with time, to be part of a boundless four-dimensional continuum known as spacetime.

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The concept of space is considered to be of fundamental importance to an understanding of the physical universe. However, disagreement continues between philosophers over whether it is itself an entity, a relationship between entities, or part of a conceptual framework.

Philosophy of space

Galilean and Cartesian theories about space, matter and motion are at the foundation of the Scientific Revolution, which is understood to have culminated with the publication of Newton’s Principia in 1687. Newton’s theories about space and time helped him explain the movement of objects. While his theory of space is considered the most influential in Physics, it emerged from his predecessors’ ideas about the same.

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As one of the pioneers of modern science, Galilei revised the established Aristotelian and Ptolemaic ideas about a geocentric cosmos. He backed the Copernican theory that the universe was heliocentric, with a sun at the center and the planets — including the Earth — revolving around the sun.

If the Earth moved, the Aristotelian belief that its natural tendency was to remain at rest was in question. Galilei wanted to prove instead that the sun moved around its axis, that motion was as natural to an object as the state of rest. In other words, for Galilei, celestial bodies, including the Earth, were naturally inclined to move in circles. This view displaced another Aristotelian idea—that all objects gravitated towards their designated natural place-of-belonging.

The physics of Space

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.

Geographical space and a sense of time

Geography is the branch of science concerned with identifying and describing places on Earth, utilizing spatial awareness to try to understand why things exist in specific locations. Cartography is the mapping of spaces to allow better navigation, for visualization purposes and to act as a locational device. Geostatistics apply statistical concepts to collected spatial data of Earth to create an estimate for unobserved phenomena.

Geographical space is often considered as land, and can have a relation to ownership usage

Geographical space is often considered as land, and can have a relation to ownership usage (in which space is seen as property or territory). While some cultures assert the rights of the individual in terms of ownership, other cultures will identify with a communal approach to land ownership, while still other cultures such as Australian Aboriginals, rather than asserting ownership rights to land, invert the relationship and consider that they are in fact owned by the land.

Spatial planning is a method of regulating the use of space at land-level, with decisions made at regional, national and international levels. Space can also impact on human and cultural behavior, being an important factor in architecture, where it will impact on the design of buildings and structures, and on farming.

Ownership of space is not restricted to land. Ownership of airspace and of waters is decided internationally. Other forms of ownership have been recently asserted to other spaces—for example to the radio bands of the electromagnetic spectrum or to cyberspace.

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Written by…

Rich Tabor

Founder at ThemeBeans, Gutenberg Developer + Avid Marketing Fanatic and Writing Enthusiast.

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