Is the universe "flat" ? I am only casually interested in astronomy so its rather difficult for me to articulate my thoughts, but I will try my best. Consider me a layman and please accordingly use layman's terms if possible when you write your answer. When I see planetary systems, galaxies etc. depicted all objects in the systems appear to be at the same... um.. altitude (I know that that is a terrible word to describe it but as I said its difficult for me to articulate this) and everything is on the same "level". That is what i mean by the question Is the universe "flat". If so, why is this ? Is there anything above or below the Earth? for instance if i was to take a spacecraft and fly directly upwards from the north pole or directly downwards from the south pole?