Ellis Knight
3 min readAug 4, 2021


Medicine is very interested in space. If enough social distance space between individuals is not maintained, the spaces inside the lungs' air sacks can be inflamed and flooded with fluid due to Covid.

There are “potential” spaces such as that between the two fine membranes surrounding the heart, lungs, and other major organs. Or the collapsed spaces in our groins where hernias expand and grow.

Intravascular spaces inside blood vessels can be compromised by clots and plaques, limiting blood flow to vital structures. Surgeons and other proceduralists love to explore anatomical spaces directly with knives, fingers, catheters, and scopes. In contrast, other physicians use messenger molecules (pharmaceuticals, biologics) and electromagnetic forces (radiation) to explore and eradicate disease occupying the myriad small spaces throughout the human body.

Physics also has a predilection for space. The most famous physicist of all, Albert Einstein, showed that space is malleable, expanding or contracting depending on the relative speed of the observer to the observed. Cosmologists hypothesize that the entire universe inflated rapidly out of an energy flux within a small area of space. Theories regarding the quantum world of the very small describe a phenomenon where adjoining spaces seem to snap wavy fields of potential into the reality of individual particles.

Geopoliticians covet space, and many wars have been precipitated by conflicts over who owns pockets of space around the globe. In fact, seemingly perpetual conflicts over ownership and occupancy of certain spaces on the map (Oh, Jerusalem) seem to be intractable.

Finally, philosophers have long debated the nature of reality, including physical space. Descartes most famously thought that the process of thinking was the only ontological proof available. But if Einstein was right and space itself is subject to change depending on how fast it moves relative to the speed of light, and since we all think at the speed of light as electromagnetic currents move along our neuronal membranes, can any of the spaces of interest to physicians, physicists, politicians, and philosophers be real or just figments of our imagination?

Who then can we blame? Who thought into existence the space occupied by a spike protein on the coronavirus as it triggers pneumonia and suffering (further thoughts?)in a susceptible patient? Who snapped the wave potentials oscillating along the neuronal pathways of millions into electron-mediated thoughts of tribalism and avarice toward their fellow man? Who thought the whole universe into existence, and who thinks it forward (or backward as the case may be), including those geographical regions soaked with so much real or imagined blood? God, nature, you, me (ha!)?

Better yet, what space does this thinker occupy? Is there space in reality for such an entity, or is this entity reality itself, occupying each nook and crevice of reality as we know it? Whatever space this entity occupies, its dimensions are likely more complicated than those envisioned by string theorists, who seem to multiply the necessary dimensions for their theories to work every time I check.

Or does this entity exist metaphysically in a space outside of reality? Either way, how do we get outside of our own reality, our known spaces, to answer this question? We can’t. There’s not enough space.

Ellis Knight

Semi-retired physician and healthcare executive / consultant spending my time advocating for value-based care reform in the US healthcare system.