Zogg From Betelgeuse Explains Why the Universe Has No Edge

Trying to explain the topology of the Universe is really complicated… for humans. But it clearly comes naturally to Zogg the Alien from Betelgeuse. In this 10-minute video, the plucky alien vividly describes how we could have a Universe which is flat and finite, but doesn’t have an edge. How we could travel in one direction and return to our starting point, never bumping into the outside of the Universe.

What is the Universe expanding into? Nothing, it’s just expanding.

Dig a little further through Zogg’s YouTube channel, and you’ll see a great collection of explainers on eating, vision; and even esoteric topics like imagination and beauty.

I’d love to see more in this series Zogg… hint, hint.

16 Replies to “Zogg From Betelgeuse Explains Why the Universe Has No Edge”

  1. The traveling to an inverted planet seemed a bit over the top – how do we even know if we could see the opposite side (same side, I know moebius objects get loose with the definiftion) from the point in 3D space from our earth or that it would mirror it? After all, if I draw an “X” on one side of a moebius strip, that doesn’t mean there’s automatically an “X” on the inverse side.

    However that idea does bring up some interesting thought on “where did all the antimatter go from the early universe?” question. Maybe it’s all just on the inverse side of the strip with a small amount of normal matter mirroring the small amount of antimatter here, thus making a complete balanced antimatter and normal universe.

    The idea of a 3D moebius strip torus expanding from the big bang hurts my head. But that’s okay, it’s a good hurt. 🙂

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    1. I think it’s a jab at Cthulu – R’lyeh is supposedly designed with alien geometries that will drive you mad if you look at them.

      1. Though I LOVE the Lovecraft ref (I’m obsessed with his work!), I don’t think an ancient super-being/deity like Cthulhu would be dumb enough to believe that the Earth is expanding.

  2. Correct me if I’m wrong but, you can’t return to your point of origin, because that would imply an external point of view, and by the time you return, the universe would have changed significantly (none of your recognizable stars would still be alive).

    1. Yep. Our Universe is probably so large that by the time you got back to where you came from your Galaxy would be elsewhere, your sun dead. When it comes to ideas like the shape of the universe, the age of the universe, etc – we’re really out of our league. Oh, we have a lot of smart folks who feel like they get it, BUT that fact remains that we’re out of our league and the answers will come slowly-slowly-slowly.

      The answers we have now are probably comparable to the folks who were sure the Earth was the center of the solar system. It really did work just fine for the era the idea was around in. But there’s folks a thousand years in the future who are reading our textbooks and internet archives and snickering to themselves about what we didn’t and couldn’t know.

      1. Susskind discusses the topology of the universe in his youtube lectures. We do have observations that constrains size and topology, even if they don’t do so on large enough scales.

        But as for the age of the observable universe, we know that firmly and robustly since the inflationary standard cosmology was constrained and it is a common encyclopedia entry. We don’t know it quite as well as the age of Earth, but at least within +/- 40 million years uncertainty, or 1 % error . [ nhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Age_of_the_universe ]

      2. Against the league of what reality is in comparison to the future discoveries of mankind. Or simply the fact that we are a silly little race of apes brought up in 3 dimensions trying to wrap our heads around complicated topography.

        Remember being “out of our league” does not mean we’re not winning the race. I mean out of our league as in “we’re not playing in our usual, comfy confines” not “We have no business being here”.

  3. Zogg seems to be an alien mathematician – a bit too hard on the popularizations and a bit too soft on the physics.

    Granted that the last popularized clip mashed the questions of topology and finiteness together, but the simplest flat topology is also the most popular which I believe was the intended message. It is popular because it is simplest, it is consistent with observations as we now look back far enough to exclude finiteness within the observable universe, and we don’t have examples of any objects that have different topologies. (Even if string theory would be correct and other manifolds exists, they would then be small scale in most models and we would have no large scale examples.) Other reasons is our observed particle zoo, see below.

    And I don’t think anyone has succeeded in making QED charges properties of geometry. Einstein tried explicitly but couldn’t do it, I believe a Weinberg has mentioned he wanted to do it as young, Penrose tried too in a manner. I suspect that sending an object through a Moebius strip would reverse its parity. It wouldn’t even be mirror matter, but the phase shift of the wave function would be reversed which AFAIK shows up as the same spin but opposite spin parity.

    Such matter is not anti-matter but some sort of exotic particles. All Standard Model particles are left-handed vs spin parity, but these would be right-handed. Meaning that such a cosmology is rejected by observation, we don’t see such particles.

  4. A torus topology for a universe would violate the Hawking-Penrose energy conditions. These topologies are multiply connected and can lead to closed timelike curves. This type of topology is unlikely.


  5. Very good, please continue with the shape of the universe; I want to know what happened to the elephants and the tortoise 🙂

  6. lcrowell and Torbjörn Larsson: I love reading your well-informed posts. If I had the time and gumption, I’d like to collect them into one cohesive, topically arranged body. It would be a fascinating read!

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