Is the Universe ‘Finite and Relatively Small’?

Could it be that the Universe is “only” 43 billion-light years in diameter at its smallest? And that it is shaped like a soccer ball — or rather, like a Poincaré dodecahedron? And that when you get to an edge, you just reappear at the other side, rotated 36 degrees?

Apparently, current information about the background radiation of the universe is sufficiently consistent with this hypothesis so that we can't rule it out. The full explanation is in A cosmic hall of mirrors. It's a little complex, but here's a slice of it,

We found that the smallest dimension of the Poincaré dodecahedron space is 43 billion light-years, compared with 53 billion light-years for the “horizon radius” of the observable universe. Moreover, the volume of this universe is about 20% smaller than the volume of the observable universe. (There is a common misconception that the horizon radius of a flat universe is 13.7 billion light-years, since that is the age of the universe multiplied by the speed of light. However, the horizon radius is actually much larger because photons from the horizon that are reaching us now have had to cross a much larger distance due to the expansion of the universe.)

If so,

A rocket leaving the dodecahedron through a given face immediately re-enters through the opposite face, and light propagates such that any observer whose line-of-sight intercepts one face has the illusion of seeing a slightly rotated copy of their own dodecahedron. This means that some photons from the cosmic microwave background, for example, would appear twice in the sky.

There's a lot more packed into this relatively short article, and it's fairly accessible to people like me without any knowledge of advanced cosmology. And I really like that this hypothesis generates testable (if rather hard to test) hypotheses.

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2 Responses to Is the Universe ‘Finite and Relatively Small’?

  1. This reminded me of a book that I’ve read for my philosophy of scientific inference class entitled Doing Physics, which is about how physicists actually manipulate the tools. One of the key points of that book is that sometimes the way we measure and that determine something is an effect of measuring it…. this is not the more common idea of Heisenberg (sp), but it is actually a well recognized ‘tool effect’ the tool and system of tools structure the data that we have available, and in structuring that data they leave their own inscriptions. To me, when i see something like the theory above, I think, I wonder if that is the universe, or the tool we are using to measure it. To what extent can the measurement be explained through the systemic application of the tools that we use to measure it? (This is of course one of Marx’s insights into political economy, to some extent too.)

  2. The universe is relatively small. The stars are not millions of light years away.
    Psalms 47:9 says, “the shields of the earth belong unto God” When astronomers
    look at the stars they are really just seening shields in front of the stars. The shields are
    about 100 million miles from the earth. They can be concave, convex, thick or thin. The
    greatest distance to the stars is 600 to 800 millions miles. Scripture trumps science.

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