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Space & Astronomy

The universe may be a giant loop, study claims

By T.K. Randall
November 5, 2019 · Comment icon 32 comments

Do we live in a flat or curved universe ? Image Credit: CC BY 4.0 ESO / S. Brunier
New evidence suggests that, rather than being flat like a sheet, the universe may in fact loop around on itself.
What would happen if you got into your faster-than-light spacecraft and zoomed off in a perfectly straight line, never slowing down and never changing direction ? Would you reach the edge of the universe or would you ultimately end up right back where you started from ?

The idea that the universe is curved and loops around on itself has been around for a while, however it is a theory that isn't really compatible with conventional ideas about how the universe works.

Now though, a new paper has thrown a spanner in the works by suggesting that there may be something to the idea of a curved universe after all.

The study, which is based on the research of an international team of physicists, takes a renewed look at data for the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) - a remnant of the birth of our universe.

The key lies in the discovery of an anomaly suggesting that there is significantly more 'gravitational lensing' of the CMB than expected - more than can be explained by conventional physics.
According to the team's findings, if the universe really is curved then the curvature is very gentle, meaning that on a planetary scale or even on a galactic scale we are unlikely to actually notice it.

On a cosmic scale however, this curvature becomes increasingly prevalent until someone moving through the whole universe in a straight line will ultimately end up right back where they started.

There is however a long way to go to prove once and for all that this is actually the case.

"I don't want to say that I believe in a closed universe," said study co-author Alessandro Melchiorri. "I'm a little bit more neutral. I'd say, let's wait on the data and what the new data will say."

"What I believe is that there's a discrepancy now, that we have to be careful and try to find what is producing this discrepancy."

Source: Live Science | Comments (32)

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #23 Posted by L.A.T.1961 3 years ago
As I understand it the idea of curved space is not the same as a universe that has a spherical volume. In a universe that is like a big balloon you could set off in one direction and keep going, if space is not curved. If it is curved you would eventually come back to the starting point. The concept is also mind curving.  
Comment icon #24 Posted by pbarosso 3 years ago
if  the universe is a curved one and i believe it is, it would of course mean that it is not infinite....which of course it cannot be. but whats beyond the edge of the universe? there is no edge in a curved universe. right?
Comment icon #25 Posted by L.A.T.1961 3 years ago
The universe is everything there is, so in that sense there is no beyond. 
Comment icon #26 Posted by Rlyeh 3 years ago
So what floats on gravity? Tesla was wrong then, he said space had no properties.  Another Tesla fanboy who hasn't a clue what Tesla said.     What is the speed difference?   Since we can detect the Earth's movement, I'd say your entire scenario is nonsense.
Comment icon #27 Posted by lightly 3 years ago
         That seems to be the popular consensus ..and I accept it, I guess.   But do we really KNOW what the reality is? suddenly, I question everything...I dunno why.
Comment icon #28 Posted by Ultimatium 3 years ago
Well, its the type of thing that boggles your mind, thats for sure.
Comment icon #29 Posted by Twas Brillig 3 years ago
a toroid
Comment icon #30 Posted by Nnicolette 3 years ago
What i meant is that while the plane we inhabit, if curved, would not be infinite, perhaps the infinity lies in the directions not being employed. For example when i used the ball as an example and what we see as the surface... Maybe to an ant that is the entire surface but looking at it we know there is depth below that surface, space beyond it and more directions to utilized than just forward and backward around it. Maybe the many universe theory was right in seeing a froth and ouur universe as a bubble, maybe we are seeing this round surface but it is not the limit of entirety but just a ti... [More]
Comment icon #31 Posted by Mr Futzy 3 years ago
it makes perfect sense to me. The universe is 1 universe. Who says there can't be more than 1 universe? I think space is infinite, but the universe is not. However it is expanding. I see it as 2 possibilities. Like A donut, stacked onto other donuts. or like balls in a ball pit. To us, the Universe is immeasurable. But the human mind cant understand the scope of how big all of outer space is. Maybe Men in Black has it right, we are just inside a giant marble that some alien kid is playing with.
Comment icon #32 Posted by pbarosso 3 years ago
i think that if the universe was measurable the human mind could definitely understand it. 

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