The dedication of a team in Japan and an amazing observational system could revolutionize astronomy and beyond. Here is what could be the true shape of the Universe
DISCOVERING the true SHAPE of the UNIVERSE
# Contemplating the sky
Mankind has been querying the sky since time immemorial, since before history exists. From the prehistoric era until today, the only investigations ways that have left unchanged are exploration and observation. Humans have never stopped contemplating the sky, and while waiting to explore it to discover its secrets directly, we will always find scientists with their eyes up to the sky formulating theories. Until now the combination of new theories and observation has been the basis for one of the most exciting debates in the physical world: what shape is the universe?
According to the Italian edition of Esquire, a team of Japanese astronomers led by Masato Shirasaki, has announced the exit of a new study that could advance the theories accepted so far by the world astronomical society.
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# Artificial intelligence and the cosmic microwave background
The comparison between human beings and space is very cruel, when based on mutual dimensions: so small the first, so wide the second. But fortunately the human mind is able to develop theories and create mathematical tools that can compensate this gap. In this specific case Shirasaki’s team applied artificial intelligence to clean up the astronomical data detected by the observation of the cosmic microwave background, that is the residual radiation of the Big Bang that radiates from every direction towards our planet.
The observation of this radiation, in fact, is now a matter of capture and read images, translated in a sort of complicated data. Through the eye of a gravitational lens is now possible to identify groups of galaxies in the foreground, but the data are distorted by continuous overlapping of other galaxies and bodies in the background: in practice the detection of the cosmic microwave background is continually disturbed by a “noise”, which makes it difficult for the human capabilities only to advance in the research.
#Supercomputer & Big Data
That’s why the artificial intelligence of a super computer is deployed to study these data, that would be unintellegible even to some members of the scientific community. «This research shows the benefits of combining different types of research: observations, simulations, and AI data analysis. In this era of big data, we need to step across traditional boundaries between specialties and use all available tools to understand the data. If we can do this, it will open new fields in astronomy and other sciences».
# But what is the shape of the universe? The most plausible answer is that it is flat
We are still in the field of theories. The debate between astronomers and astrophysicists is developed on three mathematical models: the universe could be “open”, with low density and a negative curvature, similar to a star behaviour; it could be “closed”, where the density of the universe is large enough to win the infinite expansion, and so make the shape of the universe similar to a sphere.
The third theory tells us that the universe could be “flat”: space could be explored forever, without ever reaching a limit. Imagining it to human experience, it is like saying that on Earth we can walk forever, without ever finding the end, always arriving in a new place. Mathematical differences between life on Earth, in which are valid two dimensions, and the flat universe theory, is that you have to imagine the flat surface but in three dimensions, a mental experiment not always easy.
Believe it or not, at the moment this third model is the one that mathematically is the most plausible from AI and big data combination. The history of human kind has shown us that our planet is not flat. Science, which is used to explore every possibility before discarding unfounded theories, is bringing us a flat horizon? We don’t know yet. The only thing certain is that physicists and astronomers will find the solution and a new subject will be born in school: “universal geometry”.
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