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The Universe Is Flat... Maybe

The Universe is flat...maybe, is the more widely held theory among physical cosmologists based on recent Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) measurements. "We now know that the universe is flat with only a 0.4% margin of error", say NASA scientists.

Saturday, 28.12.2013
07:00 (Cet)

 
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This is the more widely held theory among physical cosmologists based on recent Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) measurements. "We now know that the universe is flat with only a 0.4% margin of error", say NASA scientists. 

Describing the shape of the universe requires a consideration of two aspects:
1. its local geometry, which mostly concerns the curvature of the universe, particularly the observable universe, and
2. its global geometry, which concerns the topology of the universe as a whole.

Additionally, there is the question of whether universe is finite or infinite. Ultimately 3 more acknowledged theories for the shape of the universe are under debate. In other words, it's complicated.

Flat Universe
In a flat universe, all of the local curvature and local geometry is flat. It is generally assumed that it is described by a Euclidean space, although there are some spatial geometries that are flat and bounded in one or more directions (like the surface of a cylinder, for example).

Spherical Universe
A positively curved universe is described by spherical geometry, and can be thought of as a three-dimensional hypersphere, or some other spherical 3-manifold (such as the Poincaré dodecahedral space), all of which are quotients of the 3-sphere.

Hyperbolic Universe
A hyperbolic universe, one of a negative spatial curvature, is described by hyperbolic geometry, and can be thought of locally as a three-dimensional analog of an infinitely extended saddle shape.

Further Reading

Image: interior designer and artist, Elizabeth Joy Clements explores the structure of the universe and our connection to it in her sculptural chandelier String Theory, the name itself derived from a branch of theoretical physics.

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