Let *K* be an ordered field. Define the *n*-sphere:

$$S^n(K) := \{ (x_1,x_2,\dots,x_n+1) \in K^{n+1} \mid \sum_{i=1}^{n+1} x_i^2 = 1 \}$$

A set of vectors $v_1, v_2, \dots, v_r \in S^n(K)$ is *orthonormal* if the dot product of any two of them is zero. An *orthonormal basis* is an orthonormal set of cardinality $n + 1$.

- Is every vector in $S^n(K)$ a member of an orthonormal basis? If not, what is the largest
*r*such that very vector is a member of an orthonormal set of size*r*? - More generally, given
*n*and*s*, what is the largest*r*such that every orthonormal set in $S^n(K)$ of size*s*is contained in an orthonormal set of size*r*?

What's known:

- For $n = 1$, every vector in $S^n(K)$ is a member of an orthonormal basis, regardless of
*K*. - If
*K*is Pythagorean (i.e., a sum of squares is a square) every orthonormal set completes to an orthonormal basis (use Gram-Schmidt).

Can more be said? I'm most interested in the case of *K* the field of rational numbers or a real number field, and the case $n = 2$.

ADDED LATER: I am assuming that *K* is an ordered field here. Otherwise, we need to modify our definition of orthonormal set to also include the condition that the vectors are linearly independent, which is automatically true for ordered fields. Observations for fields that are not ordered (such as non-real number fields or fields of positive characteristic) would also be much appreciated. MODIFIED: As Bjorn Poonen points out below, linear independence turns out to follow automatically in this case. (Though in general, over non-ordered fields, there can exist orthogonal vectors that are linearly dependent, our condition that the vectors be "normal" rules this out).