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Everywhere and EverywhenAdventures in Physics and Philosophy$
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Nick Huggett

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195379518

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195379518.001.0001

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The Shape of Space I

The Shape of Space I

Topology

Chapter:
(p.31) 4 The Shape of Space I
Source:
Everywhere and Everywhen
Author(s):

Nick Huggett (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195379518.003.0004

The question of the ‘shape’ of space can be approached in two ways: whether space is ‘curved’ or ‘flat’ is discussed later, these chapters address ‘topology’, the properties that would stay the same if space were stretched, squashed or twisted (like a rubber sheet): for instance, whether it has an edge and its dimensionality. Since antiquity is seemed that unless space had an edge it must be infinite, which many found problematic. It took advances in the mathematical understanding of space to address this otherwise philosophical issue (explaining space can be finite without an end). Modern physics, especially string theory, makes important the question of whether space has more than three dimensions; the book explains what worlds of different dimensionality would be like. It criticizes some physicists' (such as Hawking) philosophical invocation of ‘anthropic arguments’: for instance, that there are three dimensions because otherwise intelligent life would be impossible.

Keywords:   topology, Archytas, space, dimensions, string theory, anthropic argument, Hawking

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