I've heard it speculated that the spatial dimensions of the universe is a 3-sphere. Or a 3-torus. But usually, I guess, it's assumed that the "time" dimension just has its own geometry, like a line, in Cartesian product with the geometry of the spatial dimensions.

I don't know much about topology, nor the constraints on topology placed by geometry. So I don't know if the shape of the manifold "cares" that the geometry treats one of those dimensions differently (particularly because the dimensions are symmetric in a sphere). Basically, can a manifold whose metric has the Lorentz signature $-+++$ be a 4-sphere? Or more generally, can a manifold with a $(1,n-1)$ signature metric be an $n$-sphere?

Also, let me know if I'm using imprecise, bad language here.


No, Lorentzian manifolds can be spheres only in odd dimensions. This is because the Euler characteristic of compact Lorentzian manifolds must vanish, which it doesn't for $S^n$ for even $n$, cf. e.g. this MathOverflow question.

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you. I trust the conclusion, even though I don't understand the explanation in the linked answer. $\endgroup$ – Bridgeburners Oct 9 '19 at 16:29

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.