So… does it have an edge? Well, not exactly.
After having a sneak peek of “Is There An Edge To The Universe?” — which airs tonight at 10 p.m. E/P — I found myself thinking back over years of science reading and writing, piecing together areas of cosmological research that, at first glance, appeared to have little relationship.
But during this excellent hour-long episode, Freeman — helped by some of the world’s most prominent cosmologists, physicists and astronomers — threads together some of the most complex and groundbreaking theories as to the origin and scope of our Universe.
Through history, as Freeman explains to background music composed by the legendary Hans Zimmer, mankind has undergone moments of revolution as to our location in the Cosmos.
From Copernicus to Hubble, we’ve not only realized that our planet isn’t the focal point of the solar system or galaxy, but our galaxy isn’t even that special in this seemingly infinite ocean of spacetime.
But now, is it time to go one step further? Perhaps even our Universe isn’t unique… or infinite.
Assembling evidence for the “multiverse” — where many other universes exist alongside ours — is no easy task, but scientists are working hard to arrive at mind-boggling, and sometimes controversial, theories.
Key to many of the theories explored in Through The Wormhole, the focus is on the cosmic microwave background radiation (or CMBR) being mapped by NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP).
This view of the Universe tells us an incredible amount of information about our Universe’s violent beginning. But could it also provide information about the shape of our Universe? Could “cold spots” in this map actually indicate the presence of neighboring universes?
“…if our Universe is like a hotel room, shouldn’t we be able to detect the presence of guests in the room next door?” asks Freeman in a particularly good analogy of the multiverse.
There are several “wow” moments in this episode, particularly when astrophysicist Jean-Pierre Luminet, of the Observatoire de Paris, discusses an observed periodicity in the CMBR pattern, hinting that the Universe is shaped like a dodecahedron.
My initial response to such a definite conclusion was extreme skepticism. Although iron-clad evidence is hard to come by, other scientists stepped in with their interpretations of Luminet’s ideas, revealing that a universe shaped like a soccer ball isn’t such a crazy idea after all.
From the observed “dark flow” of galaxies — possibly indicative of the gravitational tug of a neighboring universe — to string theory, all the pieces of the puzzle are laid out and expertly assembled by Freeman, making this episode of Through The Wormhole my favorite yet.