<p>In mathematics, the Whitehead manifold is an open 3-manifold that is contractible, but not homeomorphic to R. Whitehead (1935) discovered this puzzling object while he was trying to prove the Poincaré conjecture, correcting an error in an earlier paper Whitehead (1934, theorem 3) where he incorrectly claimed that no such manifold exists.
A contractible manifold is one that can continuously be shrunk to a point inside the manifold itself. For example, an open ball is a contractible manifold. All manifolds homeomorphic to the ball are contractible, too. One can ask whether all contractible manifolds are homeomorphic to a ball. For dimensions 1 and 2, the answer is classical and it is "yes". In dimension 2, it follows, for example, from the Riemann mapping theorem. Dimension 3 presents the first counterexample: the Whitehead manifold.
Take a copy of S, the three-dimensional sphere. Now find a compact unknotted solid torus T1 inside the sphere. (A solid torus is an ordinary three-dimensional doughnut, i.e. a filled-in torus, which is topologically a circle times a disk.) The closed complement of the solid torus inside S is another solid torus.
Now take a second solid torus T2 inside T1</p>