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A Calabi-Yau manifold (from German Kabeljau = codfish) is a shape in physics whose purpose has never been found. They are often used to illustrate sciencey articles and look vaguely technical and cool, whilst never actually having any practical application. For a while it was believed that they were actually pictures of tiny little houses that atoms and stuff lived in, but this was later shown to be complete nonsense. The majority of physicists are now resigned to the fact that no-one will ever know what Calabi-Yau spaces mean, where they come from, or how they got so damned twisty and cool-looking.
Calabi-Yau spaces were first invented in 1972 by the Polish inventor Helmut Cãäålabî de la Yaù, a Chilean Computer Science student studying at Warwick University. After a particularly hard night huffing kittens, Cãäålabî de la Yaù came to at his desk full of computers, with curious symbols painted on his face in charcoal and seminal fluid, and a number of things on his screen in MS Paint. Convinced that they must mean something, he printed them out and took them to Dĭnba Dean-Barr, a friend of his who studied physics or astronomy or something (Editors note: might have been scientology). Barr told him he would take them to his professor, and that he should probably cut back on the kittens and go and wash his face.
Dean-Barr’s lecturer, a prominent physics type, took one hard long look at the Calabi-Yau spaces and was awestruck at how utterly sciencey they seemed to be. He used his not inconsiderable influence in the science world to get a paper on the shapes published, drawing worldwide attention to the new phenomenon. Intense work began immediately all over the globe, in an intense effort to discover just what the fuck these shapes could be. However, after 60 years of research with no results, many now believe that the truth about Calabi-Yau spaces is so far beyond us that we might as well give up and just get high instead.
edit Conjectures of the ancients
There is much conjecture about what relation Calabi-Yau manifolds might have to the world of Science as a whole. While most scientists now believe that they are either too complicated and removed from proper science, some still cling to the hope that we will soon understand what they are, where they came from, what they want, and how to kill them, and have proposed a number of alternate scenarios. These range from the outlandish to the downright bat-fuck insane, and beyond. Below, in order of improbability, are the most popular theories:
edit The Spacecraft Scenario
The oldest, and most widely accepted suggestion, is that Calabi-Yau spaces are like spaceships that tiny fish, no bigger than half a spoon’s length, used to travel to Earth from a point halfway between Earth and the moon. These fish abandoned their ships on landing and took to the mountains, since it is the mountains that most closely resemble their natural environment. The Calabi-Yau ships now meander aimlessly across the globe, bashing into objects in their path and cursing loudly. This noise is out of the range of human ears, but possums can hear it just fine, and can often be seen looking around nervously for the source of these mysterious outbursts.
edit The Foetus Scenario
Professor Siri of the Amsterdam Traditional College of Kinetomatics (AmStradCoK) has put forward the theory that Calabi-Yau spaces are actually the young of a hitherto unknown lifeform. In this scenario, the tiny creatures are using our planet as an incubation area, before they reach maturity in a few decades’ time and destroy all life with their sexually frustrated adolescent moanings. It should be noted that Professor Siri’s credibility took a hit a few months ago when she attempted to recreate the conjectured moaning sound in front of a group of male science colleagues in a lecture hall by burping the Welsh National Anthem.
edit The ‘compact vanishing first Chern-class Ricci-flat complex Kähler manifold' Scenario.
Hahaha, bollocks. Just look at it! Read it! Fucking nonsense.
Look, basically, Calabi-Yau spaces are really sciencey-looking, very cool 3D shape things. They would make great posters or maybe be in a Soundgarden video. Or maybe in the end bit of the third Matrix film, although that sucked cock.