The shape of the universe is subject to conjecture. However, to quote the BBC: Scientists have produced the best evidence yet to show that the Universe is "flat".

So what? And what does this mean?

Flat, in this sense, is a rather abstruse mathematical term describing the topography of the universe.

There, I bet that's crystal clear now.

Okay, it means if you head off into space, being very careful to travel in a straight line, you really will be travelling in a straight line, rather than simply straight relative to what you're measuring by.

Somehow, I feel I'm not making much headway. Maybe it really makes no difference?

Well, maybe. However, cosmologists feel happier about a flat universe because it fits their theories. Given how well these theories are starting to hold together, they'd be desperately upset if something disagreed.

Actually, I bet they'd be secretly happy as they'd be able to justify even more grants for more research.

Apparently, the reason it's flat is because it got inflated so much you cannot notice the curvature... Hmm... They used to say the world was flat because it was so big they couldn't notice the curvature. Let's hope we've not making that mistake again...

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