Exploring +,- & 0 Curvature in Space

  • Thread starter DaveC426913
  • Start date
  • Tags
    Curvature
In summary, Brian Greene describes three possible curvatures that space may have: positive curvature (like a ball or torus), negative curvature (like a saddle) or zero curvature (like an infinite flat tabletop, or like a Pacman video game screen). He demonstrates how, as in Pacman, if you exit side of the screen, you reappear at the other side, same with top/bottom, so it is with a flat universe - if you continue in one direction long enough in a zero-curvature universe, you will eventually wrap around, and arrive back where you started. He says that, mathematically, this is called a "2 dimensional torus".
  • #1
DaveC426913
Gold Member
22,671
6,344
In Brian Greene's 'Fabric of the Cosmos', he describes three possible curvatures that space may have: positive curvature (like a ball or torus), negative curvature (like a saddle) or zero curvature (like an infinite flat tabletop, or like a Pacman video game screen).

In his analogy to a video game screen, he demonstrates how, as in Pacman, if you exit side of the screen, you reappear at the other side, same with top/bottom, so it is with a flat universe - if you continue in one direction long enough in a zero-curvature universe, you will eventually wrap around, and arrive back where you started. He says that, mathematically, this is called a "2 dimensional torus".

?

Colour me hogtied, but I thought that was the quintessential closed, curved universe (be it spherical or toroidal). i.e.: the way you get 3 dimensional space to loop back on itself is to bend it in the 4th dimension so that it is a 4D sphere or torus.

A zero-curvature universe would very definitely NOT loop around like a video game screen, it would continue on forever.

Am I misunderstanding?
 
Astronomy news on Phys.org
  • #2
The great thing about differential geometry is it frees you of the notion that "space" has to be embedded in some (possibly higher-dimensional) Euclidean space.


Curvature is a purely local and intrinsic property. Looking at just a small piece of the pac-man gaming surface, it is indistinguishable from an ordinary plane. Thus, flat.

For another example, the surface of a cylinder is also flat!

Incidentally, the surface of a torus in 3-space is not flat -- you need 4 dimensions (more?) to get a torus with zero curvature.
 
  • #3
Hurkyl said:
The great thing about differential geometry is it frees you of the notion that "space" has to be embedded in some (possibly higher-dimensional) Euclidean space.


Curvature is a purely local and intrinsic property. Looking at just a small piece of the pac-man gaming surface, it is indistinguishable from an ordinary plane. Thus, flat.

For another example, the surface of a cylinder is also flat!

Incidentally, the surface of a torus in 3-space is not flat -- you need 4 dimensions (more?) to get a torus with zero curvature.

I'm not sure how this answers my question.

If the Pacman video game wraps around behind to join up to the other side then, while locally, part of it might be flat, it's overall curvature is curved and closed. It is topologically identical to a sphere.

A cylinder, while is has flat portions, is still a closed, positively curved shape. It is topologically identical to a sphere.

Green is saying that a flat universe with zero curvature is toplogically unlike a curved, closed shape. Yet he claims that, somehow, it wraps around and rejoins without being topo-equivalent.
 
  • #4
I'm pointing out the difference between your use of the word "curvature" and its actual meaning.


There's something called "extrinsic curvature" that, I believe, coincides with your interpretation of "curvature", but the "intrinsic curvature" is the only thing that matters. (At least as long as you stay within space!)
 
  • #5
DaveC426913 said:
In his analogy to a video game screen, he demonstrates how, as in Pacman, if you exit side of the screen, you reappear at the other side, same with top/bottom, so it is with a flat universe - if you continue in one direction long enough in a zero-curvature universe, you will eventually wrap around, and arrive back where you started. He says that, mathematically, this is called a "2 dimensional torus".
If the universe were spatially closed, and there was an initial even distribution of matter, then wouldn't we see matter entering the universe since it will have traveled to the point of return? Could this be the ZPE of the cosmological constant?
 

Related to Exploring +,- & 0 Curvature in Space

1. What is curvature in space?

Curvature in space is a measure of how space is curved or bent. It is a concept used in the theory of relativity to describe the effects of gravity on the curvature of space-time.

2. How is curvature in space measured?

Curvature in space is measured using mathematical equations and concepts, such as Riemann curvature tensor and Gaussian curvature. These concepts help determine the amount of curvature in a given space.

3. What is the significance of exploring curvature in space?

Exploring curvature in space helps us understand the fundamental properties of our universe and how it behaves. It is crucial in understanding the effects of gravity, the shape of the universe, and the motion of celestial objects.

4. Can negative curvature in space exist?

Yes, negative curvature in space is possible. In fact, it is predicted by the theory of relativity in certain scenarios, such as in the presence of massive objects like black holes.

5. How does the curvature of space affect our daily lives?

The curvature of space has a significant impact on our daily lives, as it plays a crucial role in determining the behavior of objects in space, including planets, stars, and galaxies. It also helps us understand the concept of gravity, which is essential for our understanding of the world around us.

Similar threads

Replies
20
Views
2K
  • Special and General Relativity
Replies
30
Views
831
  • New Member Introductions
Replies
1
Views
143
Replies
25
Views
2K
  • Special and General Relativity
Replies
6
Views
1K
  • Special and General Relativity
Replies
3
Views
1K
  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
Replies
22
Views
2K
Replies
62
Views
3K
  • Special and General Relativity
Replies
11
Views
3K
  • Special and General Relativity
Replies
13
Views
1K
Back
Top