Tag Archives: Incredible String Band

Matter, Energy, Space, and Time

sq_MESTThe first little ball is red and green
Oh it’s pretty, yes I know what you mean
I call it Substance, do dio dio do
And what it will do I just don’t know

The next little ball is silver and black
See it chase the first one forward and back
I call it Space, do dio dio do
What it will do I just don’t know

The next little ball is too hot to hold
I have to keep tossing it and I hope it gets cold
I call it Power do dio dio dio
What it will do I just don’t know

The next little ball is orange and blue
I can’t juggle four so I’ll toss it to you
And I call it Time…

— From “The Juggler’s Song” by The Incredible String Band

Here’s a nice little fourfold that I’ve overlooked until now, kind of like a four-leaf clover. If you search for images of matter, energy, space, and time, several websites show a diagram quite similar to this, and some have interesting things to say.

One shows free energy instead of energy in general. Free energy is energy that is able to do work, and that is an important distinction, especially if you are thinking about the Four Causes. Then the four can be considered fundamental resources.

There are some other things to consider from these references. One is that there is the familiar equivalence between matter and energy. Another is the equivalence principle between gravity and acceleration.

Also, there are obvious analogies between this fourfold and the Four Elements and the Four States of Matter. sq_Noether's TheoremI have also used the pairs space-time and matter-energy as two parts of the fourfold Noether’s Theorem, the other two parts being symmetry and conservation. There is also the fourfold Spacetime that has some similarities to this one. And let’s not forget the atomism of On the Nature of Things by Lucretius.

Be sure and watch the upcoming television series Cosmos: a Spacetime Odyssey, hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson. I’m sure there will be much talk of Matter, Energy, Space, and Time.


There is even a term coined for Matter-Energy-Space-Time: MEST. Of course, MEST also stands for Math, Engineering, Science, and Technology! No, sorry, that’s STEM!






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