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Our Expert Voices conversation on space.

We tend to think of space as a fundamental part of reality's architecture: it's where everything is located. But that reflects an outdated, classical intuition.

New view: These days we know that quantum mechanics provides a more accurate view of the world. According to quantum theory, the world isn't actually made of "objects" with "locations" in three-dimensional "space." Those are simply convenient ways of talking about features of an abstract and more fundamental description of the universe: the wave function. It evolves in a mathematical realm with more than 10^(10^100) dimensions. That's an absurdly large number, which should just make you think "Wow, that's a lot of dimensions."

In this view, ordinary space is like "temperature" or "wetness" – not a fundamental category, but a useful approximation we invoke to describe a tiny sliver of reality.

Bottom line: Physics has a long way to go before we understand how space emerges from quantum mechanics, but we shouldn't be surprised that the fundamental nature of stuff is something very different from what we're used to.

Other voices in the conversation:

Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
1 min ago - Economy & Business

Work-wherever turns to work-whenever

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic killed the 9-to-5 workday for many.

The big picture: So much of our society — from after-school child care programs to the most coveted time slots for television shows — is structured around working from 9 to 5. But our countrywide experiment in remote work has demonstrated that the hours we are logged on don't matter as long as the work gets done.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
30 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Biden's plan to upend Trump's environmental legacy

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden will on Wednesday order a government-wide review of over 100 Trump-era policies and direct agencies to prepare a suite of emissions and energy efficiency rules.

Why it matters: New information from transition officials offers the full scope of Biden's imminent, inauguration-day burst of environmental and energy policy moves.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
31 mins ago - Health

The public health presidency

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Joe Biden will take office today facing a challenge none of his modern predecessors have had to reckon with — his legacy will depend largely on how well he handles a once-in-a-century pandemic that's already raging out of control.

The big picture: Public health tends to be relatively apolitical and non-controversial. The limelight in health care politics typically belongs instead to debates over costs and coverage. But that will all change for the Biden administration.