Universe, Geometry Of - Research Article from Macmillan Science Library: Mathematics

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Curved Space and General Relativity

For a long time curved geometries remained in the realm of pure mathematics. However, in 1915 Albert Einstein proposed the theory of general relativity, which stated that our universe is actually curved, at least in some places. Any large amount of matter tends to impart a positive curvature to the space around it. The force that we call gravity is a result of the curvature of space.*

*An oft-repeated aphorism is: "Matter tells space how to curve, and space tells matter how to move."

In general relativity, rays of light play the role of lines. Because space is positively curved near the Sun, Einstein predicted that rays of light from a distant star that just grazed the surface of the Sun would bend towards the Sun. (See figure below.) To observers on Earth, such stars would appear displaced from where they really were...

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This section contains 2,044 words
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Macmillan Science Library: Mathematics
Universe, Geometry Of from Macmillan Science Library: Mathematics. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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