The universe may be flat, but it might still be structured like a doughnut, according to strange patterns in the light left behind from the Big Bang.
New study shows that the cosmos may in reality be a big doughnut, despite all evidence indicating that it is as flat as a pancake.

The study reveals that astronomers have not properly investigated the universe’s flatness, despite the fact that strange patterns seen in Big Bang echoes may be explained by a world with a more complex structure.

Flat surfaces

All current observations indicate that the universe is flat. Flatness refers to the behavior of parallel lines when they extend to infinity in geometry. Consider a tabletop: Parallel lines will continue to be parallel as they extend down the table’s length.

In comparison, consider the Earth. Beginning exactly parallel at the equator, lines of longitude ultimately converge at the poles. The initial intersection of parallel lines indicates that the Earth is not flat.

The same principle applies to the cosmos in three dimensions. For example, the cosmic microwave background (CMB) – radiation emitted when the universe was just 380,000 years old — is located roughly 42 billion light-years away and exhibits minute temperature variations throughout the sky. Compared to observations, astronomers have computed the projected magnitude of these variations. If their observed size varies from predictions, it indicates that these parallel streams of light changed directions across space-time, showing that the universe’s geometry is curved.

Yet, these same tests have revealed that the universe’s general shape is flat, ignoring small-scale deflections from galaxies and black holes.

Many forms of flat

Yet there are several types of apartments. Draw parallel lines, for instance, on a piece of paper. Next, join one end of the paper to the other to make a cylinder. Parallel lines continue to circumnavigate the cylinder. Mathematically speaking, all cylinders are geometrically flat, yet each has a unique topology. When both sides of the paper are folded together, a torus or doughnut form is created.

To create another example of an oddly flat form, wrap a small piece of paper in a circle while twisting one end 180 degrees. The ultimate result is a Mobius strip, which remains mathematically flat because parallel lines remain parallel even when they cross over one another.

Mathematicians have found 18 potential 3D topologies that are mathematically flat. At least one dimension loops around itself in each of them, and sometimes they flip over like a Mobius strip or do partial rotations. In such a twisted reality, if we peered far enough, we would see (perhaps inverted) a younger version of ourselves. If the universe were 1 billion light-years across, for instance, astronomers would observe a version of the Milky Way galaxy from 1 billion years ago, followed by a one from 2 billion years ago, and so on.

If the cosmos were a big doughnut, astronomers might observe duplicates in two directions.

The universe’s geometry

Scientists have studied the universe’s structure in a variety of ways, from searching for duplication of galaxy patterns to matching circles in the CMB. The cosmos is both geometrically flat and has a basic unwrapped topology, according to all available data.

Nevertheless, research released on the online archive arXiv on February 23 reveals that previous observations were constrained. Observations have mostly assumed that the cosmos has a simple topology consisting of a single dimension and no more dimensions. In addition, investigations of the CMB have shown bizarre, inexplicable abnormalities, such as the appearance of enormous patterns in unexpected places.

In reality, a universe with a complex topology may explain at least a portion of the CMB anomalies. While this is not an ironclad evidence for complex topologies, the researchers provided suggestions for more advanced direct searches, such as CMB follow-up investigations.

In this situation, there may be a mirror image of ourselves somewhere in the universe’s complexities.

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