Posted on **12/21/2001 8:40:31 AM PST** by **RightWhale**

http://www.spacedaily.com/news/cosmology-01f.html

** A Small Spherical Universe after All? **

Paris - Dec 19, 2001

What is the shape of space? Is it finite or infinite? Is it connected, has it "edges", "holes" or "handles"? This cosmic mystery, which has puzzled cosmologists for more than two thousands years, has recently been enlightened by a breakthrough in a new field of research: cosmic topology.

An international team involving researchers from France, the United States and Brazil recently filled a major gap in the field. They propose surprising universe models in which space, spherical yet much smaller than the observable universe, generates an optical illusion on a cosmic scale (topological lens effet).

Einstein's general relativity theory teaches us that space can have a positive, zero or negative constant curvature on the large scale, the sign of the curvature depending on the total density of matter and energy. The celebrated big bang models follow, depicting a universe starting from an initial singularity and expanding forever or not. However, Einstein's theory does not tell us whether the volume of space is finite or infinite, or what its overall topology is.

Fortunately, high redshift surveys of astronomical sources and accurate maps of the cosmic microwave background radiation are beginning to hint at the shape of the spatial universe, or at least limit the wide range of possibilities.

As a consequence, cosmic topology has gained an increased interest, as evidenced by the special session "Geometry and Topology of the Universe" organized by the American Mathematical Society during its 2001 meeting held last October in Williamstown, Mass.

Three French cosmologists were invited to present to an audience of mathematicians, physicists and astronomers the statistical method they recently devised for detecting space topology: ** cosmic crystallography** .

** Cosmic Crystallography **

Cosmic crystallography looks at the 3-dimensional observed distribution of high redshift sources (e.g. galaxy clusters, quasars) in order to discover repeating patterns in their distribution, much like the repeating patterns of atoms observed in crystals. They showed that "pair separation histograms" are in most cases able to detect a multi- connected topology of space, in the form of spikes clearly standing out above the noise distribution as expected in the simply-connected case. The researchers have particularly studied small universe models, which explain the **billions of visible galaxies are repeating images of a smaller number of actual galaxies**.

The two pictures below visualize the "topological lens effect" generated by a multi-connected shape of space, and the way the topology can be determined by the pair separation histogram method.

** Spherical Lensing **

Until recently, the search for the shape of space had focused on big bang models with flat or negatively curved spatial sections. Recently however, a combination of astronomical (type I supernovae) and cosmological (temperature anisotropies of the cosmic background radiation) observations seem to indicate that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, and constrain the value of space curvature in a range which marginally favors a positively curved (i.e. spherical) model. As a consequence, spherical spaceforms have come back to the forefront of cosmology.

In their latest work, to be published in Classical and Quantum Gravity, the authors and their Brazilian and American collaborators fill a gap in the cosmic topology literature by investigating the full properties of spherical universes. The simplest case is the celebrated **hypersphere**, which is **finite yet with no boundary**.

Actually there are an infinite number of spherical spaceforms, including the lens spaces and the fascinating Poincaré space. **The Poincaré space** is represented by a dodecahedron whose opposite faces are pairwise identified, and has **volume 120 times smaller than the hypersphere**. If cosmic space has such a shape, an extraordinary "spherical lens" is generated, with images of cosmic souces repeating according to the Poincaré space's 120-fold "crystal structure".

The authors give the construction and complete classification of all 3-dimensional spherical spaces, and discuss which topologies are likely to be detectable by crystallographic methods. They predict the shape of the pair separation histogram and they check their prediction by computer simulations.

**The Future of Cosmic Topology **

Experimental projects related to cosmic crystallographic methods and to the detection of correlated pairs of circles in the cosmic background radiation are currently underway. Presently, the data are not good enough to provide firm conclusions about the topology of the Universe. Fortunately breakthroughs are expected in the coming decade: high redshift surveys of galaxies will be completed, and high angular resolution maps of the cosmic radiation temperature will be provided by the MAP and Planck Surveyor satellite missions. The new data will provide clues to the shape of the Universe we live in, a question that puzzles not only **cosmologists, but also philosophers and artists**.

The authors are Jean-Pierre Luminet (DARC/LUTH, Observatoire de Paris, France), Roland Lehoucq (Service d’Astrophysique, CEA Saclay, France), Jean-Philippe Uzan (Laboratoire de Physique Théorique, Orsay, France), Evelise Gausmann (Université de Sao Paulo, Brésil) et Jeffrey Weeks (Canton, USA).

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And FReepers who want to know, **demand to know** what is going on.

To: **RightWhale**

My brain hurts.

To: **RightWhale**

This probably explains why, when I drive aimlessly and lost around a town I'm not familiar with, I always pass the same intersection a number of times.

To: **RightWhale**

I think that within 50 years that scientists will discover that the universe is sitting on the back of a big turtle after all.

To: **RightWhale;Physicist**

Is this just a pack of Pernod-crazed Frenchmen????

Remember, a topologist is a guy who can't tell the difference between a cup of coffee and a doughnut!

To: **KayEyeDoubleDee**

Uhh, if this were true, they'd each pocket $200,000.

To: **Maceman**

Such articles can be used to re-inflate long-unused math lobes in the brain. I find the process sometimes painful.

The hypothesis that our universe as we see it is actually a much smaller one than we have assumed, --seen multiple times--, is gaining popularity. At the same time, it is only a small step in the direction of my own hypothesis, that the entire universe is a single particle seen hyper-multiple times.

To: **RightWhale**

"*They propose surprising universe models in which space, spherical yet much smaller than the observable universe, generates an optical illusion on a cosmic scale (topological lens effect).*"

So it seems the use of light to measure time/distance is actually an illusion and isn't really accurate. I've always wondered how if time comes to a standstill at C (the speed of light), why scientists would equate time measurement with the distance to stars when time is never consistant - but seems time is relevant only to one's position in the universe.

To: **RightWhale**

Nice work if you can get it.

Number: Invention or Discovery?

To: **RightWhale**

It's the part about being finite with no boundaries that gives me brain cramps.

To: **RightWhale**

Why bother creating a massively huge universe when a small one with perfectly-aligned mirrors at each end will do?

To: **headsonpikes**

* Remember, a topologist is a guy who can't tell the difference between a cup of coffee and a doughnut!*

You've gotten them confused with proctocolygist.

To: **RightWhale**

Mobius strip?

To: **Maceman**

My brain hurts.

It's not hard to understand. The notion is that space is curved, kind of like the outer edge of a ring. The outer edge of a ring is finite, but you can go along it forever and never hit a boundary -- you just eventually end up right back where you started. Thus you have a finite spance with no boundaries, and from a two dimensional perspective it could be seen as infinite, because it can be traversed indefinitely.

Expand that to a three-dimensional curve, wheren you can start at one point in the universe, travel and after some indeterminable time you end up right back where you started. That's also what would create the illusion of a massive universe -- you keep looking and you keep seeing more "stuff" but as you go further you're really just looking at the same thing over and over again.

Now just try to picture it in your head. I'll try it...

...okay, now my brain hurts.

To: **RightWhale**

Does any of this mean that if a pretty girl in a short skirt is standing *behind me*, then I can see up her skirt by looking *forward* and *up*? (Didn't the Nazis do research along these lines during WWII?)

Mark W.

;-)

To: **RightWhale**

And that's almost identical to my own personal hypothesis, except you left out the part where it revolves around me.

To: **headsonpikes**

BWAAA-HAAAA-HAAA!

Guess the fact I found that so funny means I'm a nerd after all! Sheesh!

To: **headsonpikes**

That's because there is no difference. Hey, I read the story that proved it.

To: **packrat01**

"You've gotten them confused with proctocolygists."

Aren't those the guys who handle who-sits-where at diplomatic luncheons?

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