Looks Flat to Me

That leaves us with the flatness problem. Why (in terms of the Big Bang theory) should the universe be at or near critical density?

If a mass of external evidence didn't exist, it would be almost impossible to convince anyone that the earth is round. After all, it looks flat.

Once we accept that the earth is curved, however, we understand that it looks flat because the radius of the globe is very large and, therefore, the arc of the curve it describes is extremely gradual. Take a small portion of any arc, and it will look, for all practical purposes, flat. If the earth were very small—or we were very large, or very far away—the curvature of the earth's surface would be apparent on a routine basis.

The universe may have been very curved at the instant of its creation. But in expanding 1050 times during the epoch of inflation, it became—on the scale of the observable universe (and even beyond this)—flat.

Star Words

The inflationary epoch refers to a time soon after the Big Bang when the universe was puffed up suddenly, increasing its scale by a factor of 1050 in an instant. This inflation could account for the incredible sameness, or uniformity, of the universe, even inre-gions that (without inflation) could never have been in contact with one another.

Star Words

The inflationary epoch refers to a time soon after the Big Bang when the universe was puffed up suddenly, increasing its scale by a factor of 1050 in an instant. This inflation could account for the incredible sameness, or uniformity, of the universe, even inre-gions that (without inflation) could never have been in contact with one another.

A flat universe is consistent with a universe whose density is exactly critical. If the universe were more dense, it would be positively curved; if less dense, negatively curved. If the universe is truly flat, its density must be exactly critical.

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