Is the universe everywhere the same?

Maybe not. According to some recent research it is shaped like a funnel or a medieval horn. The link offers a useful picture. This would be big news indeed:

This model would force scientists to abandon the “cosmological principle”, the idea that all parts of the cosmos are roughly the same. “If one happens to find oneself a long way up the narrow end of the horn, things indeed look very strange, with two very small dimensions,” says Holger Then, a member of the team.

At an extreme enough point, you would be able to see the back of your own head. It would be an interesting place to explore – but we are probably too far from the narrow end of the horn to examine it with telescopes.

Ponder that if you want some distraction from your taxes. The universe would be finite as well. This might eliminate the paradoxical notion that I have a near-double out there somewhere, writing a blog called MarginalCounterRevolution.

But are we sure of the result? Of course not:

Both of the crucial observations are still ambiguous, however, and may be statistical flukes. Over the next year or so, WMAP and other experiments will test whether large blobs really are lacking and whether small ones really are elliptical.

The bottom line: When I hear more on this, I’ll let you know.