What Is the Shape of the Universe?
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What Is the Shape of the Universe?

It’s the kind of question that sort of breaks
your brain when you even start to figure out how to think about it: what shape is the universe? No one can be sure; until we can step outside
of the universe and walk around it somehow — we can’t actually do that ever — the
best we can do is take what we know to model the likeliest scenario. The idea of the shape of the universe comes
down to the key insight from General Relativity that says mass warps space, and that objects
moving through space have their paths curved. Here’s a simple way to think about it: imagine
there’s a bowling ball on a trampoline. That’s the sun warping space around it. Now roll a marble past the bowling ball to
mimic a planet in orbit. From the marble’s perspective it’s rolling
in a straight line, but we can see that its path is curved by the bowling ball depressing
the trampoline. Now imagine that the universe is a giant trampoline
covered in bowling-ball stars, medicine-ball black holes, and little planet marbles. This means that masses are warping space all
over the place, and the combined force of all that mass has the capacity to shape the
universe. So really, when we talk about the shape of
the universe we’re talking about the density of the universe. The simplest shape to get your head around
is the flat universe, which isn’t flat like a two dimensional piece of paper, it’s flat
because it has no curvature. This is the shape the universe would take
if it has the exact amount of mass to stop the universe expanding after an infinite time. It will have no bounds and expand forever,
slowing but never stopping. If the universe contains more mass — more
than critical mass so enough to stop its expansion — it will have a positive curvature. In this scenario the universe is closed and
looks a little like a sphere. It would be finite but without a beginning
or end. Eventually, the mass will cause the universe
to collapse back in on itself. If, on the other extreme, the universe has
insufficient mass to stop its expansion, it will have no bounds and expand forever in
an open shape sort of like a saddle. So, which is it? Well, current cosmological observations say
the Universe should expand forever, so the positive curvature isn’t likely. But, it also doesn’t seem to have the right
conditions for negative curvature. Data from NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy
Probe mission of distant supernovae show that the universe’s rate of expansion is accelerating,
but that rate is balanced by the mass of dark matter. In short, the Universe is likely ever so nearly
flat. But it’s possible that’s the observable
universe. Because the speed of light is a fixed value,
we can only see 13.8 billion years back. It’s possible we just can’t detect a complete
curvature with the instruments we have, or in ways that the laws of physics will allow. So while we all know the Earth isn’t flat…
it looks like the universe almost is. It’s been almost FOUR YEARS since I started
here, and I’ve loved every single episode! Especially that awkward naked cold open and
fun time with chimerism! But I’ve got some exciting new things in
the works so I’m not going to be around Seeker as much. I’m still doing Vintage Space, so if you
want to keep up with me and see what I’ve got coming — and Pete pics! — be sure to
follow me on YouTube as well as Twitter and Instagram. And of course be sure to Subscribe for more
Seeker. Thanks for watching.


  • Ray Lay

    If the universe was in the shape of a triangle lol then we couldn't see it still because funny enough we can't actually fully see triangles. Triangles are technically one dimensional shapes

  • Ray Lay

    If the universe was in the shape of a triangle lol then we couldn't see it still because funny enough we can't actually fully see triangles. Triangles are technically one dimensional shapes

  • Lil Tweekerz

    well i guess the real question is, when something explodes does the debris only go forward and back or does it spread in different directions.

  • 4ichpich

    it's a flat disc. a very big flat disc. flat earthers are not completely wrong it's just not the earth but the whole universe that is flat

  • Omprakash Verma

    The Universe is OVAL SHAPED. See link http://www.discoverybooks.org/tu-15.html

    .Called as geometry, the three suggested shapes of universe is mere speculation. There are many errors in the Big Bang Cosmology besides LHC failure. To name a few its age. Scientists have missed to apply the relativity factor as a result 13.7 billion years considered as the age of the universe is actually the age of the Solar System. Its Age is 155.4 trillion years.

    Based on Indian Scriptures and supported with over 32 mathematical, observational and experimental evidences the New Indian cosmology reveals over 50 features of the Universe. Without knowing the structure or the face of the universe it is ridiculous to talk about the features of the universe. Visit www.discoverybooks.org to see 'The Universe' isbn9788190950206

  • Donny Tee

    If our moon travels around earth on a different plane, why do planets not travel around the sun on differents planes, or why is our moon not on the same plane as planets?

  • Cynx 13

    i m just imagining scientist looking at the telescope and shading: ''But where is the curve!???''
    idk why but its super funny to me lol

  • Chloe Jones

    I love these comment sections because everybody here is a science geek and it's awesome. All the theories and ideas that give you headaches from blowing your mind…. it's great, I love it here?

  • Joe Jupiter

    2:22 Sometimes I like to explain exactly that with a parking lot on planet Earth.
    When we are standing on a parking lot and all we can observe is this parking lot, then we see that it's completely flat and we conclude that the Earth has to be flat, too.
    Just that it isn't.
    The Earth is so much bigger than the part we can see, so we can't make any save conclusions for the whole Earth just by the observable part.

  • Slank

    What if the universe was around forever? That the big bang happend, created planets and stars, then everything eventually became one black hole, and it collapsed on itself or something creating the big bang? And it's just been happening over and over since infinity?

  • Akash Arjunwadkar

    Universe is not flat or with negative curvature. It must be spherical. Every object with mass due to surface tension forms spherical shape. Universe itself cannot go beyond its rule. from molecule to black holes everything is spherical/oval. if universe started from a point at big bang then it must have spread in 360 direction. which makes it spherical. Even in Vedic scripture of Hinduism Universe is called 'Brahmand' that is Brahm + anda. It means Egg of Brahm or Egg shaped.


  • Joseph Paul Duffey

    I'm sorry, no offense, but what a bunch of bologna.

    I understand that they are looking at a "4D" resting state of the supposed "space time" field, which isn't a platonic, "3D" shape, but basing anything on this inflationary/dark matter mumbo jumbo is just a joke.

    It's somewhat rhetorical to jump back to ultimates, but really.. There is no explanation for how a "Big Bang" ever occurred. We do not have a shape or marker for any origin. It doesn't really matter if the "space-time" field is warping or woofing when there's no way it ever occurred to begin with… Saying that the "Universe" is flat is like a tautological loop saying it's resting back to stasis.

    When you look out at the stars, there are still definite shapes to the cosmos. Those shapes result in properties and functions.

    I was hoping they were going to bring up the Poincare manifold. I know it's a simple "Seeker" video, but how complicated is that?

    I have to say that a scale invariant, "fractal" basis of some sort certainly makes a lot of sense.

    IMHO, the physical "shape" of the "Universe" is dodecahedral/icosahedral "matrix face" of an underlying 4D/5D supersystem of analogous 120/600 cell + systems…

    I am not talking about some "idea in the head". I am saying right now, out across the heavens, it is really, IMHO, following a multi-dimensional, fractal explosion geometry.

  • wcdeich4

    Are we talking about the hyper-geometrical shape of the universe, or the shape of a space-time diagram of the universe? In the classical model of a negative curvature, the universe would still be a hyper-sphere — it is just never stops expanding.

  • Steven Westfall

    Why can't it be an expanding infinite sphere?if you have a curved line on a graph and zoom in infinity it would look streight. That would be the same concept of our pea sized lense looking into an infinite universe.

  • sanjuansteve

    @0:35 Why do we use 2D graphs and show celestial objects pushing that 2D grid downward' with gravity, when it should be a 3D grid where the lines are all drawn in towards the center of the mass in all directions?

  • sanjuansteve

    The big bang exploded in every direction giving all of the known mass in our expanding universe a spherical and growing shape that is expanding at the outer edges into otherwise empty space (not even dark matter is there yet) at speeds faster than the speed of light (which I believe is because dark matter is the limiting factor). No?

  • Saptarshi Bhattacharya

    If mass wraps space. Which means the powerful celestial bodies changes the shape of space time then dont u think that the universe is very much distorted.. I mean i our solar system. There is the sun, the other planets, satellites and many more.. so they would have made the space to much distorted.

  • Wade Haden

    Ba ba ba ba ….science knows everything. Show of hands…who is stupid enough to think we have discovered the entire electromagnetic spectrum?

  • Esparia

    It's not "flat" as we know it because we can't picture fourth-dimensional space. It could be like a mobius strip, it's not round or whatever, but flat but it's still finite in a strange sort of way???

  • Gurby Dhar

    It's a simulation. We all are collective observers as our genetics are similar so is our perception we all are extension of a single observer hence we all agree to scientific things. Coming back to simulation there are glitches in the continuity of space-time But as an advanced simulation it's reset-ed N we have no clue about it. Also black holes are the places where there's a lot of data at a very small point in space so the time slows down as the processor is trying to process so much data in real time but is unable to so everything is slowed down there while the place where there hardly any matter, time seem to be running at a normal rate. The only way you can guess its a simulation is by observing at a smallest particle for e.g an electron n it's motion I.e double slit experiment. The duality of the particle suggest that the end result where n how the particle behave will always depend on obesrvation. Even if u observe an electron at random the whole property of the electron changes as if the electron went back in time also this going back in time is the simulation resetting it-Self.

  • TheTokuin

    Are explosions flat? Pretty sure the answer is no… So remind me again, how did the universe begin?

    Our universe might look "almost flat" from where we are "standing" just like the earth might look flat from where we are standing. Stop trusting your eyes to explain what you see and instead let your mind tell you how to look.


    As per islam….our universe is like a ring in desert below the second sky….
    And again the second sky ilooks same in front of 3rd….and continues to 7 sky..
    ….And quran described that Allah would wrap the universe like letters in ancient time were used to be wraped to close…

  • Albert Constantine

    Why does this narrator have such an immature, squeaky voice? Are these people incapable of speaking with anything like a trained, intelligent-sounding voice, which detracts from the content. Ugh.

  • Matt Alibozek

    I think our Universe has a positive curvature. It starts and end with black holes. Like waves on a beach. It flows and expands until the black holes suck everything up back into a singularity. Then it explodes like the Big Bang and does this over and over.

  • Keith Watson

    The universe is shaped like a donut. Space is a fluid. Not a fabric. It flows through the donut shaped universe, expanding towards the outer edge, and condensing towards the middle, then making it's way back around. If it was an expanding fabric, the Andromeda Galaxy wouldn't be on a collision course for the milkyway. If you want to jump through space time, you have to creat a vortex kind of like you would in water. I actually have a legitimate idea about how to do it.

  • Jan Taljaard

    At least she did not make propaganda for the fake "moon landing".So the universe is all most flat it will expand indefnitely.

  • Ian Macbeth

    We can only see 13.8 billion years back which is funnily enough what we consider the age of the universe, could it be older but we just can’t see it?

  • crodd92

    I like the idea of the universe being a sphere shape, almost like star. Compressing all that energy at the center until boom big bang.

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