Dr. Sarah's Futurama Shape of the Universe Worksheet

To visualize a finite universe in three dimensions, you can watch the Futurama episode I, Roommate (Season 1 DVD):
[Fry and Bender are looking for housing. Leela, Fry, Bender and the manager enter into an apartment that resembles Escher's 1953 ``Relativity."]
Fry: I'm not sure we wanna pay for a dimension we're not gonna use.
[Bender, the robot, falls down the staircase and continues to fall "down" the other staircases in many different directions.]

Question 1: Here is a sequence of pictures (in the order shown in the episode) of Bender falling "down" (sometimes he falls up or sideways). Look for Bender in each of the pictures, and use his position to explain which openings are identified. Give gluing instructions.

Bender Falling Down 1 Bender Falling Down 2
Bender Falling Down 3 Bender Falling Down 4
Bender Falling Down 5 Bender Falling Down 6 Bender Falling Down 7

Next you can watch the Futurama episode I Dated a Robot (Season 3 DVD):
Fry: I wanna see the edge of the universe!
Amy: Ooo! That sounds cool.
Zoidberg: It's funny. You live in the universe, but you never do these things til someone comes to visit.
[The Planet Express spaceship approaches the edge of space and white nothingness is seen on the other side.]
Professor Farnsworth: There it is! The edge of the universe!
[The ship lands in a parking space on the edge, and Leela, Fry, and the Professor walk towards the boundary wall. A sign reads: Universal Forest Service - Edge of Universe Scenic View. Fry puts some money into a Coin-Operated Viewing Device and looks through it. A Planet Express crew in cowboy attire wave from the other side as his own ship's Planet Express crew wave back.]
Fry: Far Out...
Edge of Universe Scenic View
Question 2 What do these pictures and the related text transcript from above suggest about the edge and shape of the universe? Relate your answer to current theories on the shape of the universe.

Cowboy Planet Express crew waving
from the other side his own crew waves

Also see Klein's Beer: Futurama Comedy and Writers in the Classroom, PRIMUS, Volume XVII, Number 1, March 2007, pp. 52-66.

Dr. Sarah J. Greenwald, Appalachian State University
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