Relativity and the Dimensionality of the World

  • Vesselin Petkov

Part of the Fundamental Theories of Physics book series (FTPH, volume 153)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Paul S. Wesson
    Pages 1-11
  3. Orfeu Bertolami
    Pages 31-47
  4. George F. R. Ellis
    Pages 49-79
  5. Hans C. Ohanian
    Pages 81-100
  6. Vesselin Petkov
    Pages 115-135
  7. Joy Christian
    Pages 163-195
  8. Michael Silberstein, W. M. Stuckey, Michael Cifone
    Pages 197-216
  9. H. I. Arcos, José Geraldo Pereira
    Pages 217-227
  10. Back Matter
    Pages 271-277

About this book


All physicists would agree that one of the most fundamental problems of the 21st century physics is the dimensionality of the world. In the four-dimensional world of Minkowski (or Minkowski spacetime) the most challenging problem is the nature of the temporal dimension. In Minkowski spacetime it is merely one of the four dimensions, which means that it is entirely given like the other three spacial dimensions. If the temporal dimension were not given in its entirety and only one constantly changing moment of it existed, Minkowski spacetime would be reduced to the ordinary three-dimensional space.
But if the physical world, represented by Minkowski spacetime, is indeed four-dimensional with time being the fourth dimension, then such a world is drastically different from its image based on our perceptions. Minkowski four-dimensional world is a block Universe, a frozen world in which nothing happens since all moments of time are given ‘at once', which means that physical bodies are four-dimensional worldtubes containing the whole histories in time of the three-dimensional bodies of our everyday experience. The implications of a real Minkowski world for physics itself and especially for our world view are enormous.
The main focus of this volume is the question: is spacetime nothing more than a mathematical space (which describes the evolution in time of the ordinary three-dimensional world) or is it a mathematical model of a real four-dimensional world with time entirely given as the fourth dimension? It contains fourteen invited papers which either directly address the main question of the nature of spacetime or explore issues related to it.

Physicists and philosophers


Lorentzian space-time Minkowski space Minkowski spacetime Relativity Universe four-dimensional reality general relativity non-relativistic quantum mechanics quantum mechanics temporal dimension theory of relativity

Editors and affiliations

  • Vesselin Petkov
    • 1
  1. 1.Concordia UniversityMontrealCanada

Bibliographic information