What shape is the universe? Is it curved and closed in on itself? Is it expanding? Where is it headed? Could space be wrapped around itself, such that it produces ghost images of faraway galaxies? Such are the questions posed by Jean-Pierre Luminet in The Wraparound Universe, which he then addresses in clear and accessible language. An expert in black holes and the big bang, he leads us on a voyage through the surprising byways of space-time, where possible topologies of the universe, explorations of the infinite, and cosmic mirages combine their mysterious traits and unlock the imagination. The Wraparound Universe is a general-audience book about the overall topology or shape of the universe. The central question addressed is whether it is possible that the universe is wrapped around in an interesting way, and what impact this would have on astronomical observations and our understanding of cosmology. Along the way many of the general features and much of the history of the modern picture of cosmology are discussed.
beautiful book on the possibility that our universe is a huge optical illusion will change the way you look at the sky ... Sophisticated and beautifully written, the book is a thorough and enjoyable introduction to cosmic topology, the study of the global structure of space.
—New Scientist, February 2008
Luminet has done his best to explain everything in a simple but never simplistic way. ... [T]he book is well within the reach of the general public but still offers valuable insights to more expert people. It raises a number of questions and tries to provide a few answers in one of the most fascinating subjects of modern research.
—Diego Casadei, New York Univeristy and Cern, Cern Courier, September 2008
These are indeed exciting times for those interested in the interface between physics and geometry. The author is to be thanked for providing a timely update of the first 2001 French edition, translated into English. The material, which is treated intuitively, is very well presented at a popular level, with many fascinating historical and sociological asides … and should appeal to any mathematically literate person in search of the 'Big Picture.
—G.W. Gibbon, CMS Notes, November 2008
Jean-Pierre Luminet is one of those who has been studying the way the different possible spatial topologies may be observationally investigated. … This well-written book is a comprehensive introduction to [one specific proposal] for the lay reader … It gives a sound introduction to the relevant cosmological theory and data and discusses in detail the possibilities of complex topologies in a universe where … we have seen right around the universe since the time the universe became transparent.
—George F.R. Ellis, Notices of the American Mathematical Society, December 2008
One of the most vexing but fundamental questions in astrophysics regards the nature of the universe's overall geometry, particularly whether space is infinite. Luminet … proposes a remarkable solution in The Wraparound Universe, a nonmathematical overview of the new field of cosmic topology.
—R.L Mutel, CHOICE, November 2008
The book is very well written and nicely illustrated; the author uses a simple graphical representation to solve and explain complex problems. The author combines his understanding of history, scientific knowledge, and expository skill to produce the book, which can be recommended to all readers interested in mathematical and astronomical ideas and cosmology, as well as the topology of the universe.
—European Mathematical Society Newsletter, December 2008
The book is thick with novel insights and beautiful elementary presentations of advanced mathematical ideas. The presentation of the basic ideas . . . are marvels of exposition.
—Mathematical Reviews, January 2009