Virtual reality can take you to some far-out places — mountaintops, distant cities and even fantastical game worlds. A team of artists and mathematicians is now adding to that list: universes where the usual rules of geometry and physics don’t apply.
Vi Hart, who founded the research group eleVR, led a team that built a virtual landscape that looks like a set of endlessly repeating chambers. This virtual landscape follows the rules of a type of non-Euclidean geometry called hyperbolic geometry (also called H-space). It operates in a different way than the normal world, which abides by so-called Euclidean geometry. In this VR universe, the floor can fall away from your feet as you walk forward and distances aren’t what they seem, all because lines and angles don’t behave the way they do in the ordinary world.