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Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.
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Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

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What is the shape of space?

4 minutes

Why the apparent flatness of space is an enduring cosmological mystery

Empty space isn’t ‘nothing’. Since Albert Einstein, scientists have known that space has distinct physical properties, giving it the ability to bend, ripple and expand. One of its most mysterious characteristics, however, is its apparent flatness, allowing objects travelling on parallel paths to continue on parallel paths unless acted upon by the gravitational force of another object – a feature of the Universe that appears to be ‘a gigantic, cosmic-level coincidence’. This brief animation probes our evolving understanding of space, brushing up against the edges of current human understanding.

Video by MinutePhysics and PHD Comics 

Support Aeon

Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

Essay/Earth Science
Life goes deeper

The Earth is not a solid mass of rock: its hot, dark, fractured subsurface is home to weird and wonderful life forms

Gaetan Borgonie & Maggie Lau

Essay/History of Science
Against citizen science

It might style itself as a grassroots movement but citizen science is little more than a cheap land-grab by big business

Philip Mirowski