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Could You Travel In A Straight Line In Space And Return To Earth? (Synopsis)

10 Aug 2016, 14:14 UTC
Could You Travel In A Straight Line In Space And Return To Earth? (Synopsis) ESO and deviantART user InTheStarlightGarden, under a c.c.-by-s.a. 4.0 license.
(200 words excerpt, click title or image to see full post)

“For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” -Leonardo da Vinci
The Universe is an awfully big place, but how certain are we that we couldn’t travel in a straight line for a very long time and simply return to our starting position? Just because we can travel through the Universe for an arbitrarily, perhaps infinitely long distance-or-time, doesn’t mean the Universe itself is infinite. It’s quite possible that it closes in on itself, and that any straight-line path will eventually return you to your beginning.
In a hypertorus model of the Universe, motion in a straight line will return you to your original location. Image credit: ESO and deviantART user InTheStarlightGarden, under a c.c.-by-s.a. 4.0 license.
If we wanted to test this possibility, there are a few ways to do it. The best would be to look for repeating structures at a specific distance in the Universe. While we wouldn’t recognize a younger version of our Milky Way, the large-scale structure or the cosmic microwave background would exhibit correlations if the Universe repeated on the scale of what’s observable ...

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