Space+Time

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Spacetime

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses of this term, see Spacetime (disambiguation).
Two-dimensional analogy of space–time distortion. Matter changes the geometry of spacetime, this (curved) geometry being interpreted as gravity. White lines do not represent the curvature of space but instead represent the coordinate system imposed on the curved spacetime, which would be rectilinear in a flat spacetime.

In physics, spacetime (or space–time; or space/time) is any mathematical model that combines space and time into a single continuum. Spacetime is usually interpreted with space being three-dimensional and time playing the role of a fourth dimension that is of a different sort from the spatial dimensions. According to certain Euclidean space perceptions, the universe has three dimensions of space and one dimension of time. By combining space and time into a single manifold, physicists have significantly simplified a large number of physical theories, as well as described in a more uniform way the workings of the universe at both the supergalactic and subatomic levels.

In classical mechanics, the use of Euclidean space instead of spacetime is appropriate, as time is treated as universal and constant, being independent of the state of motion of an observer. In relativistic contexts, however, time cannot be separated from the three dimensions of space, because the observed rate at which time passes for an object depends on the object’s velocity relative to the observer and also on the strength of intense gravitational fields, which can slow the passage of time.

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