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Tuesday, November 20, 2012


            The term space is typically defined as a noun in two main ways. Firstly as a continuous area that is unoccupied and secondly as the dimensions with which all things exist[1]. The term space is also a verb. To be ‘spaced out’ refers to someone ceasing to be aware of his or her own surroundings[1].

            The term space first appears in French as a variant of the term espace. It was used to describe a period or duration of time. In the thirteenth century, the term began to be used to describe the distance between two points. The classical Latin term, spatium, refers to an expanse of ground or the space occupied by something. In 1662, the concept of the infinite expanse of the universe was referred to as space for the first time. The word space shares the same Indo-European base as the term speed[1].

To describe something as board as the concept of space is a challenge within itself. In one of its many uses, it represents a literally infinite expanse. However, on earth, it is something created that requires the existence of boundaries in order to exist. The enterprise of architecture produces space as a thing which can be bought and sold.

At the larger end of the spectrum, outer space is the space in which we understand all of the planets to exist within. It is the space beyond the atmosphere of the earth, as space is a limited entity on earth. To our knowledge, it has no limits. Our understanding of space as it exists beyond earth is not concrete. It is impossible to gain a whole and conclusive understanding of such a concept.

The concept of space as it exists on earth is also challenging to define, but for different reasons. On earth we know space must be defined in some way, but what it is that defines space is not as simple to determine. Space is commonly defined as either negative or positive. A positive space is filled and a negative space is the surrounding empty space that is created as a result of the positive space.  Spaces can also be implied.  For example, when a group of people socialize is a circle, the circle implies a social space.

Space is often defined in in relation to time. The Oxford English Dictionary defines space-time as “the concepts of time and three-dimensional space regarded as fused in four-dimensional continuum”[1]. Being that time is the fourth dimension, the two cannot exist without each other.

[1] “space, n.1”. OED Online. September 2012. Oxford University Press.
http://www.oed.com/view/Entry?185414?rskey=p6p4c8&result=1 (accessed November 18, 12).

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