Do we know what the topology of the universe is? Is it possible to determine? By us, I mean. - Some thoughts, nothing more.
I think that most people think about the physical universe as one huge cube or sphere, filled with space-time, dark matter and dark energy, like the air in a balloon. The air of that 'balloon' however is polluted with billions and billions of galaxies. Somewhere in that balloon is our tiny earth from which we are observing everything and making smart conclusions so that we finally became able to understand the universe from its inception: the Big Bang. We even know what will happen to the universe in a few billion years. It's hard to check whether there has ever been a Big Bang. ( Physicists working in branches where results are verifiable are very modest. Think about weather predictions, and engineering another moon-mission: it would take decades. )
In popular science documentaries they bring us to 'the end of the universe', show us pictures of stars in faraway galaxies in extreme quality. How do they do that? It's not that the pictures are sent to us from that remote galaxy, they are taken from Earth('s orbit). Basically, data is captured, analyzed and processed. From that data a picture is generated: call it "probabilistic photography". ( It helps funding research if you can show some beautiful animations or pictures. What they really have though is a database with numbers. )
Physicists speak with authority and certainty about the Big Bang and the topology of the universe. That certainty is a pose, absolutely nothing is certain in physics.
I got kicked out of class once. Because I kept asking the physics teacher about gravity. "What -is- gravity?", ( I honestly didn't know that he couldn't have a clue at that time. ) I asked, when he started again about the g. constant. "Sir, -why- do objects fall to the ground?" Finally, he literally kicked me out of class.
To the point. I made two images.
Imagine that this is an abstraction of what we really know about the universe. The following image shows the same objects but from another viewpoint.
What is our viewpoint in relation to the vastness of what is around us? Does the topology of the universe permits us to see it all? Is the topology of the universe like that balloon or is it, perhaps, some topology not even discovered in the realm of mathematics? Would we ever be able to determine that?
Compare us with little intelligent tiny fish on the bottom of the ocean 'studying' the(ir) universe. What would their conclusion be?
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