The Best Representation of Space-Time Distortion I’ve Ever Seen

Or How The Theory Of Relativity Explains How Gravity Works

Juliano Righetto


One of the General Theory of Relativity’s outstanding achievements was the combination of space and time concepts, separated until then. Thanks to the calculations of Einstein and other theoretical physicists before him — Einstein managed to see the common points of several disconnected facts already raised at the time and organized them in the correct way — the concept of spacetime arose, being space responsible for three dimensions (height, width and depth) and time one, the “temporal” dimension.

When discovering that time and space are part of the same entity, it was also discovered that spacetime distortions are responsible for what we call gravity. Massive bodies distort the time-space around them, and this distortion is what “captures” other bodies, causing them to enter orbit (or collide, or be attracted and thrown away).

The problem is that it is difficult to see how this distortion works, mainly because the vast majority of representations illustrating it tend to look like this:

There are two problems with this representation: first, the universe has no two dimensions, so it is essentially wrong. Second, the universe does not have three dimensions. There are four, with time being the fourth. So the image above serves to give us an idea of ​​what happens, but the reality is closer to what we see in the pictures below:

Do you notice how the cubes distort with the massive object’s passage? This is a much more adequate representation of what happens in reality. That is why it does not matter where the other body is, above, below, beside… Gravity will always act on it.

The animated graphic above is not yet the most complete. There is another exciting representation, which takes time into account, the fourth dimension, which is also distorted by massive objects, according to the Theory of Relativity:

Notice the clocks. Those closest to the massive object goes by slowly, as indicated by the Theory of Relativity, and just as reality proved to be true.

Our world is much more interesting than you thought, isn’t it?

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Juliano Righetto

“We are nearsighted because we are brief.” Actor, Screenwriter, Author, Top Writer 2019 and 2020 on Quora in Portuguese with more than 26 million views.