Just a hypothetical question. What would change about our understanding of physics and such if the aether (or plenum or whatever you want to call it) was proven to exist? What would be the implications? I know most don't believe in its possibility, and such discussion has been covered extensively elsewhere. For this thread, please just consider implications of its existence.

Adam, It would mean that matter could be converted to space, and vice versa. It would also mean that the universe is finite in size. Tom

Adam, If the universe was infinite in size, and space was composed of matter, then the amount of matter in the universe would be infinite. If this was the case, the laws of conservation(not to mention math in general) would no longer apply. Example: What is infinity-5??? What about infinity+700??? Tom

It would mean that matter could be converted to space, and vice versa. Do you mean converting matter into nothing and nothing into matter? Or do you mean matter into energy? If the former, how so? It would also mean that the universe is finite in size. How do you draw this conclusion? If the universe was infinite in size, and space was composed of matter, then the amount of matter in the universe would be infinite. Doesn't this contradict what you stated above about the universe being finite if there were an aether?

Q, ""It would mean that matter could be converted to space, and vice versa." Do you mean converting matter into nothing and nothing into matter? Or do you mean matter into energy? If the former, how so?" I meant the converting of matter into empty space or a vacuum. I believe that empty space has to contain a little matter for it to even exist. Unfortunately, I don't know under what circumstances matter can be converted to space. Perhaps it only can occure at the edge of the universe. ""If the universe was infinite in size, and space was composed of matter, then the amount of matter in the universe would be infinite." Doesn't this contradict what you stated above about the universe being finite if there were an aether?" From my statement I am implying why the universe HAS to be finite in size. I was answering Adam's question in his previous post. Tom

Adam, The problem with infinity is that if you subtract a number from it, the result is still infinity. If you add a number to it, the result is infinity as well. Under the laws of conservation of matter/energy the sum of the matter and energy always remains constant. Here is an example of the mathematical problems you face with infinity: Let's say that you have an infinite amount of matter in the universe, but a small finite amount of energy. Now lets say that you take one kilogram of matter and convert it to energy. How much matter do you have left??? You still have an infinite amount of matter but now you have more energy. Doesn't this break the laws of conservation of mass/energy?? Basically, infinity does NOT exist. I personally think "infinity" should be removed from all math books. It only messes up all the formulas that it is in. Tom

Since matter and energy are supposedly equivalent, wouldn't the universe still be exactly the same as befor if you did that? As in, it doesn't matter what you do with energy/matter.

Think of it like this, if you convert Matter into energy, it leaves space. The energy can dispate over time or reconstituted into mass, so what space that energy took up can now be void of any more than zero-point energy (near enough nothing). So Space is infinite, mass could be conceivably finite, but then again if mass is born of energy, then it too is infinite.

If matter is required for space to exist, then it is reasonable to assume a lower limit on the matter per spatial unit. In that case, as Tom points out, an infinite universe would imply infinite matter. (However if there is no lower limit on density, then an infinite universe could have a finite amount of matter.) What would be the gravitation affect of matter uniformly distributed across an infinite universe? Without assuming boundaries or shape to the universe, the problem seems ill defined. Gravitational forces sum globally so adding the effects of infinite mass distributed over infinite space is not well defined. (Local conservation laws should still hold.)

ImaHamster2, The gravitational constant is a finite number, indicating that the matter in the universe is finite. According to quantum physics it appears as if matter and mass are quantified as well. This would mean that space contains the smallest quantums of matter/mass. So if matter is finite as indicated above, and space can't have less than one quantum of matter, then the size of the universe would also have to be finite. Note: Did anyone consider that "dark matter" is the matter that space is made out of??? Tom