What do you mean by Newtonian space? When you see this question, most of you might be thinking that I am trying to crack a joke or something..but no. This was a genuine doubt which one of my friends raised when we were discussing about NLOM on Whatsapp. He asked this question after I answered his query on what an inertial frame was..I wanted to clarify whether Newtonian space and inertial frame are the same or not..

  • $\begingroup$ What does NLOM mean? $\endgroup$
    – G. Smith
    Jun 21, 2019 at 17:05
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Newtonian space is three-dimensional Euclidean space. $\endgroup$
    – G. Smith
    Jun 21, 2019 at 17:07
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @G.Smith I assume it's Newton's Laws Of Mechanics, but Aakhyat needs to clarify this question. $\endgroup$
    – PM 2Ring
    Jun 21, 2019 at 17:44
  • $\begingroup$ Newton's Laws of Motion $\endgroup$ Jun 24, 2019 at 4:52

1 Answer 1


In terms of its geometric characteristics Newtonian space is 3D Euclidean spaces as said by G. Smith.

Besides that Newton had an interesting philosophical viewpoint regarding the nature of space. He thought that there was a "relative space", the one our senses and instruments could detect, and an "absolute space", an underlying physical object that acted like a scenario for all the physical processes to occur. When you measure the size of something you are measuring the difference in position between two extremes but you are not measuring the actual position of anything, just its relation to other positions. Newton thought that all our experience of the universe was based on the relative position of things, all measurements of positions are refered to another position to whom is relatively distant or not.

Scientific method tells that anything that can't be shown by evidence (by collecting data from observations) can be assumed to be non existent since something that no interaction reveals has no physical consequences and thus is indistinguishible from non existent. Newton realized that if our perception and our observations regarding space only accounted for relative positions, absolute space was just a belief that needed to be adressed with evidence separatedly, and that there were at the time no actual experiments showing this absolute space to really exist. Maybe space is just that, the inter-relations of positions but there are no actual positions in absolute terms.

Thus he devised some thought experiments (the most famous of which is the Newton's Bucket) to prove there was also an absolute space.

Today we think that absolute space indeed does not exist at all. But Newton's thought experiments are intriguin from that perspective. Trying to make Newton's experiments compatible with the ideo of no absolute space been there has led to a paradoxical conclusion by Ernst Mach: that matter comunicates across the universe by some means to generate some relative standard for mechanics to work.

It's difficult to adress all of this for me, I don't speak english very well and there might be tricky things in the debate that I didn't mention, but if you are interested in the topic these are excellent resources:


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