With the publication of his general theory of relativity a century ago, Albert Einstein swept aside traditional notions of a static and unchanging space and instead gave us the stretchy, supple miracle fabric of the space-time continuum.
No longer could space be seen as a featureless void, the nothingness between the somethingness of galaxies and stars. Einsteinian space has heft, shape and a sense of place. It bends around giant suns and plunges down the throats of black holes. It expands restlessly in all directions and drags us along for the ride.
Space refuses to be ignored, clamoring for attention even in human pursuits. In art, architecture, music, the designs of our cities and the psychology of the invisible, multistage privacy zones we construct around our bodies, space can speak volumes, and it demands to be explored.
Think you’re comfortable with a colleague at work? Anat Perry, a postdoctoral fellow in psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, suggests you try this simple exercise. The next time you speak to the person, adjust the space between yourselves by the length of a pinkie, standing two inches closer or farther away than you normally would.