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Do you care if the universe is shaped like a saddle? Here's why you might.

By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
September 25th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

According to a team of researchers from Edinburgh, the universe may be shaped like a saddle. That may sound like a strange proclamation, but it matters because if true, then theories about how the universe formed and what could have become before, are called into question.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The current model that best describes the formation of the universe is the Big Bang Theory. First devised by a Jesuit priest and professor, Msgr. Georges Lemaitre, the Big Bang Theory suggests that the universe expanded outwards in all directions following the instant of creation. That expansion would have been equal in all directions, at least at first, much like a balloon filling a vacuum.

In general, observations made to date fit this theory perfectly making it the dominant explanation among scientists for the explanation of how the universe formed. The theory does not involve itself in the notion of divine creation, and does not address in any way the role of the Creator-God. Those who use it thus demonstrate their failure to understand the theory and its intent and limitations.

Some such as Stephen Hawking argue that the Big Bang Theory proves there is no God because the Big Bang simply sparked from an inherently unstable nothingness. In fact, there was no "time" before the Big Bang, just as there is no "edge" to the planet Earth.

In reality, it's impossible to dismiss anything, although some notions can be regarded as very statistically unlikely.

Recently, cosmologists have disputed this, suggesting that there could be something beyond our universe, and that our universe could be just one of many. Moreover, there could have been something physical from whence our universe sprang.

While these hypotheses are just that, imaginings based mostly on theoretical and mathematical data, there are some suggestive clues.

According to scientists working at the University of Edinburgh, they have detected anomalies in the cosmic microwave background radiation, which is the cooling radioactive glow of the Big Bang itself. The anomalies they detected can only be explained by a curvature of the universe different from the shape the Big Bang Theory says it should have.

They believe the universe could have more of a "slight saddle shape" to it.

If they are correct then it would call into question the Big Bang Theory and could open the debate for other competing theories of physical creation.

The researchers admit their ideas need more peer review. They hope to see further study next year when the Planck satellite, designed to measure the cosmic background radiation, will take data that will verify the integrity of their original data. It is possible the most recent data is contaminated by error as sometimes happens with initial findings in science.

Or, it could be that the researchers will be vindicated by the next pass and it will send cosmologists back to the lab to work out new theories on how the universe came to be. Whatever happens, it makes for interesting discussions in the lecture hall and possibly the church.

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