Personal Science & Physics

The shape of the universe

Theories explaining the shape of the universe are many; sphere, torus and even a flat, infinite sheet. But what if the universe isn’t really any kind of shape we could even comprehend?

Theories explaining the shape of the universe are many; sphere, torus and even a flat, infinite sheet. But what if the universe isn’t really any kind of shape we could even comprehend?

Now that the Large Hadron Collider has passed its first tests, the search begins for the new and the exotic. There’s even talk of discovering those hidden dimensions beyond our prosaic and commonplace four — three of space and one of time.

The most common explanation of where these other regions of the hidden universe are to be found is as infinitely small coils of space & time, only accessible with extreme experiments requiring previously unimagined energies.

Personally, I just don’t like that idea. When we look at those things the universe has hidden from us, they’re often left in plain view. An example is Dark Matter, which may have been recently found hiding in the Bullet Nebula.

This pervasive cloud of invisible matter is all around us, but we’re simply not able to see it yet. Similarly, all regular objects like you, me, the stars and the planets are made up of impossibly small atoms, but entirely definable and measurable.

Of course, hidden dimensions are a different proposition, but if they exist — which many physicists think they do — then surely their shape and general positioning relative to our own must be sympathetic to the shape of the universe itself?

That might sound confusing, but imagine we lived inside of a football, the inside of which is a bladder, with a valve that passes through the outer leather skin of the ball itself. To get into our universe, you’d need to pass through the valve, so it’s highly unlikely that you’re going to find the valve in the middle the bladder.

That’s a very simplistic example, but that at least illustrates my line of reasoning.

Yet again, as I have previously when airing my theories, I must make it clear that I am not a physicist, but instead someone with a fanciful imagination who has at least some grasp of the major concepts in physics, certainly enough to explain these theories to others.

The comprehension of other dimensions

Quite recently, I watched a series of videos explaining the theories and ideas behind dimensions. Within moments of me watching chapter 3, I had something of an epiphany.

The idea of higher dimensions found a champion in Swiss geometer Ludwig Schläfli. He managed to explain all regular polyhedra (cubes, dodecahedrons et cetera) within four spacial dimensions. The videos provided tantalizing glimpses of shapes that for obvious reasons cannot be visualized in our world. Never the less, I saw something that immediately set my mind racing.

Two of his most amazing shapes were the 120 cell (composed of 600 vertices and 1,200 edges) and the 600 cell (composed of 120 vertices and 720 edges).

As I’m sure you’ll appreciate, if these are the shapes we could expect to see within the confines of just one extra spacial dimension, what shapes might we expect to see in five dimensions and above? Indeed, a common theory in physics is that there are in total eleven dimensions.

As the video illustrates, these shapes are amazingly complex, yet surprising simple in certain respects. In the case of the 120 cell, all edges and all vertices play the same roll, which highlights an amazing internal symmetry.

Visualizing any kind of multidimensional geometric shape isn’t an easy task, mostly because our brains are hard wired to deal almost exclusively with only the four dimensions we’re born into. That isn’t to say we couldn’t comprehend higher dimensional space if we were to see it, but since there’s no evidence of that ever happening, it’s thus far an untestable theory.

However, it’s most likely a question of perception, rather than a failing of our senses or even our brain. For example, if I were to tell you that it’s perfectly possible to create a triangle whose 3 angles are all at 90 degrees, you’d say I was crazy. However, the truth is, it’s perfectly possible.

Say you’re standing at (90 degrees North latitude) which is the North Pole, you could fly in a straight line to the Equator (approximately 20,000 kilometers South), upon arrival, you’d turn 90 degrees West and head along the Equator for approximately another 20,000 kilometers (yes, this is an approximation, since the Earth does seem to exhibit a bulge around its Equator). Upon arrival, you would turn 90 degrees North and travel approximately another and final 20,000 kilometers.

What’s unusual about this journey? Quite apart from plotting a triangle whose 3 angles are all 90 degrees, you’d arrive back where you started. Why? Because of the geometry of the Earth, which is roughly a sphere.

Again, much like the football example I gave earlier, this is an over simplification, but it does illustrate how the seemingly impossible is entirely possible. Now take that into a multidimensional geometric shape and what else might be possible?

The greatest illusion in the universe

Back in January 2007, I outlined my ideas concerning the shape of the universe, a shape not dissimilar to the dodecahedron, which incidentally is the same shape as a football:

“Think back to the last time you washed your hands. Can you see the bubbles in the sink basin? Look through your mind’s eye and then in turn inside the seething froth of bubbles.

Individually, a bubble is a perfect sphere. A marvel of nature. But what happens when you force these spheres together? As they push against each other, their surfaces become faceted as they make room for those other, adjoining spheres. Faceted like a football or a Buckminsterfullerene, perhaps?”

It is these symmetries across scales which I find endlessly fascinating. If the outer shape of our universe is that of a dodecahedron, what might its internal structure look like?

What if the universe is a multidimensional geometric shape, whose internal faces form the fabric onto which our four dimensional universe resides?

If such a shape was composed in eleven dimensional space-time, the number of internal faces would be truly astounding. With so many internal faces, most of which resident in these additional dimensions, we might never be more than a few millimeters from the internal face of an additional dimension — but we would never be aware of this during the course of our ordinary lives, since these faces would pass right through our universe unseen.

By now, the number of questions in my head were outnumbering my ideas, most of which beginning with most powerful two words in any language: “What if…”

Back in May 2007, I outlined my own take on how Quantum Entanglement might be explained, which I was immediately reminded of. If this universe of ours was indeed a huge multidimensional geometric shape, these internal faces would be the boundary layers, allowing for the communication that I spoke of:

“And here’s where I started to think — if we live in a layered universe, one composed of eleven dimensions (as suggested for providing a mathematical framework in which relativity and quantum theory can be unified) and not just the four we’re currently aware of, maybe there’s another way to communicate that doesn’t rely on sending information between two fixed points inside our four dimensions of time & space, but via the remaining seven dimensions.”

Instead of those other dimensions being infinitely small, shriveled artifacts of a hidden universe, they would in effect envelop and shape our universe.

Thinking again about my question of what might be possible, if such a universe existed, the complexity of the internal shape might allow for most amazing illusion of them all — that the universe is without end…

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By Wayne Smallman

Wayne is the man behind the Blah, Blah! Technology website, and the creator of the Under Cloud, a digital research assistant for journalists and academics.

7 replies on “The shape of the universe”

Interesting musings Wayne…there are certainly many ways to interpret hypothetical hyper dimensions as we’ve discussed offline on various occasions. The next step to take is to see what your hypothesis might predict about the nature of reality and then to seek out observations that support the predictions. If you can find them, then you could be on to something. Of course, string theorists and 11-dimensionalists have been trying to do that very thing for years and are no closer to the goal. Hopefully, LHC will not find the Higgs boson and the diversions of some of the more esoteric theories around will burst like a hyperbubble and we’ll see something much more exciting emerge from the petabytes of data spurting out of the collider.

It’s worth mentioning that David’s the first person I turn to when I imagine these crazy ideas.

I’m not entirely sure what David thinks I’m on to (or on, for that matter), but I’m hoping this stuff is marginally more interesting to him than reading through press releases from pharmaceutical manufacturers…

Marina, the Greenwich meridian is a great circle that passes through Greenwich and the north and south poles. Imagine walking along it north to south and then turning east or west when you reach the Equator. You’d have turned through 90 degrees, that’s two sides of Wayne’s triangle. Walk a while (quarter way round the earth in fact) then turn north (90 degrees) and walk north back to the north pole. You’d have travelled a triangular shape but only ever turned through 90 degree turns to get back where you started.

However, strictly speaking it’s not a triangle that you’ve created it’s a projection of a triangle on a sphere, which is not the same thing, and although it’s interesting to do this 90 degree trick I’m not sure whether cosmologists/geometricistsisisists would actually see it as valuable or valid.

Hi Marina, thanks for the comment!

Hopefully, the further explanation by David will have helped out.

As I pointed out, the example isn’t given as any kind of theory of anything, but simply as an illustration of how our perception of something can make the impossible appear possible…



This offer that I present is a result of my study and my imagination in the main Cosmology and Cosmography subjects . this deserves from you some attention and analysis like o ther hypothesis. And before showing the results we have to agree on just twopontis: 1-its an attempt of non specialised person to see such complex subject from other way 2-its impossible to apply most of the results of this hypthesis practicly

RESULTS”: 1-the universe takes ashape of ahollw ball not surface and it turns around itself from right to left. 2- this ball is devided into seven (width lines) as following a- All width circles are similar in thier physicsroles b- the univrese,galaxies and stars are located on the first width circle c-the first widit circle is less condensated from gas of(dark matter) and it is faster moving around the biggiob.o therwise the seventh widith circle is more condensated and Slow and it directly scratches with cosmic vaccum causing what is called (Background rediation). d-we canit evaluate the thikness of every width circle now untill man can find anewdevice (OMA)to achieve this goal

3-this globad universe located in hollow glob is bigger than it and more older historicaly this rencans existence of second (UNV 2)bigger in size and full of first smoke A- all roles of(UNV 2) is unknown B- it turns around it self vice versa(UNV1) C-we cant evafuate the line betwenn the (UNV1)and(UNV2) BUT WITH (OMA)that is still unknown and maybe Background rediation is the line whiah seperate them D- THE (unv2)is formed before ours tirnely

4- How does universe forming process happened (big bang) ? 1- universe was hard substance and has two stages A. Big Bang because of temperature that causes the first smoke that causes (unvz) without forming any substance inside it such as (galaties , dark matter and stars) . but the first smoke b. The rest of the first smoke is condensated without temperature . and with the velocity of first cloud causes (Big expansion) that formed (unv 2) c. (unvt) is still expanded inside globe (unv2) until reaches the same size . at zero point collapse process occurred in all physics roles that causes Big crunch in (unv 1) + (unv 2) and it will be faster than silk rubber.

5- univers energy is devided to :- A- Energy was in first globe and with Big Bang it launched into both sides (1+2). b- Galaxies movement in (unv 1) generates abig cosmic energy that we cant measure it but it has unknown playsic activity in (unv 1). c- Dark matter has arole in energy (unv 1) too.

6- When light collides in black hole , so its laws will change.

7- Dark matter . A- It is aradiation gas . It consists of (U238 + H2 + C + elechonics +X + He,2 + photons +Li + Be + H ) b- Day will come that we’ll discover that Dark matter is white matter . but the roles that control it is difference that we see it Dark. C- It has a great roles in activities of this universe like grauity and energy . d- (unv 1) floats inside the environment of the Dark matter.

After all those results I add just two points 1- The universe is not formed by chance but it is a group ofroles combined together that formed from one low . 2- From the first moment of birth of this universe it carried its mortality matter.

My reqardes: ADEL ALI AL NAZORE LIBYA -BENGHAZI.P.O.BOX:14192 EMAIL:[email protected] [email protected]

note:when its published I hope to inform me

1 – these ideas and scientific conclusions took me six years of study and analysis, reflection and not stealing from the scientific or other google
2 – imposition or guess is the conclusion reached by the researcher to answer questions. Imposing a temporary solution to the problem. Imposing a step towards the discovery of scientific facts
3 – acknowledged the error to set the results and analyses at one particular components of gas called the cosmological dark rule and should have been submitted to the parts.
After all, I assure my thoughts on scientific based on six key elements:
1 – There are two objects, not the fact that one
2 – the universe is flat, like a galaxy in which we live inside
3 – Unknown outer universe is composed of dust only the physical laws are unknown
4 – every object around himself and the income of which we are inside the fastest in the movement
5 – all Mafany universe of galaxies float within Article dark
6 – Article dark hidden role in the laws of gravity and energy in the universe
7 – a process of the universe passed two stages and then the explosion expansion

Finally, thank you for the opportunity to challenge

adel al nazore

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