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Cosmologists convene to question accepted view of the universe

Some of the world’s top cosmologists are meeting at London’s Royal Society to scrutinise an accepted theory on the universe’s formation. The view, formed in 1922, suggests that the universe is a vast, even expanse with no notable features.

We’re floating on a rock in a vast cosmic expanse, that much is a given. Exactly what that expanse looks like when zoomed out beyond the range of planets, stars, and galaxies, however, is still greatly up for debate.

The principal view of cosmology, which was developed way back in 1922, suggests that the great beyond is evenly speckled with matter and no notable features. This assumption has underpinned a century’s worth of research into the formation and evolution of… well, everything.

In recent years, though, a backlog of astronomical observations has cast doubt on the accepted science and raised the question of whether humanity’s current cosmology model needs revising – or perhaps throwing out entirely.

‘The theoretical basis is past its sell-by date,’ declares Oxford University cosmologist Professor Subir Sakar, who is co-organising a crunch meeting including some of the field’s biggest brains at London’s Royal Society.

Many of the conference’s attendees are ready to posit alternative views with file-binders of evidence in-hand. ‘More and more people are saying the same thing and these are respected astronomers,’ Sakar clarified.

These anomalous findings include observations that suggest the universe is expanding quicker in certain regions than others, evidence of cosmic flows – huge celestial tracks where the universe should be smooth and featureless – and a ‘lopsided’ view of the cosmos that could undermine the basis for dark energy.

On the latter theory, Dr Nathan Secrest of the US Naval Observatory reportedly found that one hemisphere of the sky appeared to host around 0.5% more quasars (highly luminous objects linked to supermassive black holes) sources than the other.

If this study can be ratified, Sakar says that ‘two thirds of the universe has just disappeared’ under the assumption that dark matter is the dominant component of our universe.

These are a few of many examples that will be addressed at the roundtable, with Sakar ultimately willing ‘the religion’ like treatment of the standard cosmology model to be dropped in the name of unfettered discovery.

As in any healthy discussion, nonetheless, the flip side of the coin will also be strongly represented. Attendees sceptical of the theory’s challengers and undermining of accepted science will want to deep dive into the specifics of everything presented.

One such advocate, Professor George Efstathiou of Cambridge University, says that he has attempted to disprove the principal view for years but has found nothing significant enough to dissuade his belief.

‘People accuse me of defending the model, but what they don’t realise is how much time I’ve spent trying to disprove it,’ Efstathiou says. ‘I completely disagree that’s there’s some kind of groupthink.’

Whatever argument proves the more convincing, it will certainly be thrilling to hear the nature of the discussions taking place and forensic examination of all evidence. ‘I’m looking forward to a vigorous discussion,’ said Sarkar.

‘Let them come at it with everything they’ve got.’