the universe is flat

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the universe is flat

Post by falkor » Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:43 am

Andrew Lange, who died on January 26 aged 52, was one of the pre-eminent cosmologists of his generation and co-leader of an international team that produced a detailed image of remnants of the Big Bang showing that the universe is flat.
Image it's FLAT!
In 2000 the findings of Lange's team, revealing that space is not curved and that light normally travels in straight lines, was hailed as a major advance in astronomy. The shape of the universe had been one of cosmology's greatest mysteries. If it is flat, the rules of Euclidean geometry taught to every schoolboy would apply to most of the universe; but if it is curved, as many astronomers had argued, then straight lines are really curved and light travels in arcs.

Lange's field was the structure and geometry of the very early universe, before stars, galaxies or even atoms. He measured irregularities in radiation signals from faint microwaves in the sky that provided a clear "snapshot" of the universe when it was a mere 400,000 years old.

In 1998, using novel detectors developed at Nasa's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and flown on a balloon-borne telescope high above Antarctica, Lange and his group of astrophysicists were able to make the first resolved images of these very faint patterns.

The images demonstrated that the radiation fluctuates on an angular scale of one degree, which is exactly what scientists expected from a mathematically flat universe.

His results also provided crucial support for a bold theory that the universe had undergone an explosive expansion, called inflation, when it was only a fraction of a fraction of a second old, and backed suggestions that the universe will expand forever and not collapse upon itself in the so-called "big crunch".

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