Title Bar - Cosmology

The Shape of the Universe: Introduction

Part of understanding Cosmology involves understanding the size of the universe. The Size of the Universe section discussed the vast expanses of the universe. Another important concept in Cosmology is the expansion of the universe that was discussed in the Expanding Universe section. After studying the expansion of the universe, students and teachers alike often wonder about its general shape. This section begins to explore the shape of the universe by discussing its curvature and the factors that ultimately control the fate of the universe.

Although the actual shape, called the topology, and the curvature of the universe are not yet known, scientists have several predictions for these interrelated characteristics of the universe. In order to begin to understand these predictions for the shape of the universe, it is simpler for students to start by studying the shape of the Earth.

These next few activities and background materials discuss the measurement of the curvature of the Earth in preparation for studying the curvature of the Universe.

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