mass squared, at least approximately. Supported by well-known data, the accuracy of this relationship is continually being refined by ongoing observations of galaxies. Peter Brosche, of the University of Bonn, has suggested that a closer approximation involves a power of 1.7 instead of 2. Jagellonian University researchers Wlodzimierz Godlowski and Marek Szydlowski, along with two colleagues from Poland’s Pedagogical University, have proposed a slightly more complex rule that includes an additional term. Regardless of the actual equation, all these researchers agree there is a connection between rotation and mass that could well have been set in the inaugural stages of the universe.

Extrapolating this relationship to larger and larger systems leads to the startling prediction that the universe as a whole might be rotating, though data from WMAP and other background radiation surveys place strict limits on this possibility. Nevertheless, as Godlowski and Szydlowski have recently suggested, perhaps a small (hitherto undetected) spinning of the universe may manifest itself as a component of its acceleration. As the rotor example shows, circular motion implies a centripetal force. Maybe rotation offers the universe at least part of the extra push detected in the supernova observations. Although Godlowski and Szydlowski assert that they’ve found data to support this hypothesis, it remains a highly speculative idea— disputed by many researchers.

The notion that the cosmos is one vast merry-go-round dates back to a 1946 proposal by Gamow, who wondered if “all matter in the visible universe is in a state of general rotation around some centre located far beyond the reach of our telescopes.” Three years later the renowned mathematician Kurt Gödel followed up with the first rotating cosmological solution of Einstein’s equations. Gödel was quite proud of his result and discussed it with Einstein during their walks together in Princeton.

One curious aspect of Gödel’s spinning universe model is that by circumnavigating its rotational axis an astronaut could travel back

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