Twisted universe

Published: Friday 28 February 1997

The idea that the universe may be shaped like a torus -- rather like the inner tube of a bicycle -- has long fascinated cosmologists. Now Boud Roukema, a theorist at the National Observatory of Japan, says that the inner tube may also be twisted in a fourth dimension. His claim is based on the studies of the patterns made by quasars in different parts of the sky, which he says look like images of each other reflected in a distorted way, as if in a fairground mirror. Roukema has analysed the patterns made by quasars on different parts of the sky -- the quasar equivalent of constellations. He has found two pairs of constellations where the patterns in different directions look like distorted images of each other. Roukema admits that with such a small sample the effect could be due to chance. But if he is right, the implication is that our universe is not only toroidal, but twisted (New Scientist, Vol 153, No 2063).

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