Button to scroll to the top of the page.
UTM Videos

Shapes of spaces: 2- and 3-manifolds

Marion Campisi

If you took off in a faster than light rocket-ship and flew in a straight line forever, what would happen? Would you hit the edge of the universe? Would you keep going forever, always getting further away from home? Is there another possibility? Could the answer to these questions give us any clues about the shape of the Universe? While we do not know what the actual shape of the universe is, mathematicians have been able to determine possible shapes a 3-dimensional universe could have. Before we try to understand these shapes, called 3-manifolds, we will build our intuition by considering the perspective of beings living in 2-dimensional universes, or 2-manifolds. We will consider possible 2-manifolds and develop tools that a being living in such a space could use to distinguish them. Finally, we will develop a picture of several different 3-manifolds and consider if there is any way to know whether any of them might be the shape of our own universe.