South Coast Cosmology Meeting, 9th June 2017

I gave the first presentation of the Universe 4.0 model at the inaugural South Coast Cosmology Meeting, hosted by the University of Sussex.  To say that it didn’t go down too well would be something of an understatement.  Leaving aside the fact that I was trying to cram far too many new concepts into a 15 minute speaking slot, the nature of this topic was not really a good fit with the aims of the meeting, which, I believe, was to give PhD students the chance to share their current research with colleagues from other institutions.

However, the main surprise from my point of view was the fact that about 2/3 of those present at the meeting were broadly happy with the existing Lambd-CDM model. I don’t think my brief review of the problems associated with Lambda-CDM did anything to change their opinions, so that when it came to presenting conceptual alternative cosmological models, I was not speaking to a very receptive audience.

Having recently attended the Euclid meeting discussing the history and future of Lambda, and having heard the astronomers’ pleas for new thinking from the cosmology community, this leaves me very concerned that there is a major disconnect between the two communities and that cosmologists are just not taking up the challenge thrown down to them by the astronomers.  That does not bode well for a speedy resolution to the crisis in cosmology that so may scientist do believe exists today.


Cosmology Beyond the Centenary of Lambda

This public discussion meeting was held in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Euclid consortium, at University College, London. The title reflects the fact that this year marks the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s paper in which he first introduced the concept of a cosmological constant (actually published on on 8th February 1917).  The discussion was led by  Profs George Efstathiou (Cambridge) and Ofer Lahav (UCL).

Of particular interest was Ofer’s opening talk on the historical background to Einstein’s paper, and the fact that it Lambda was initially introduced to solve a boundary condition problem associated with Einstein’s formulation of GR, rather than to achieve a static universe, as is commonly assumed.

George’s talk  explored some of the possible explanations for Lambda, and the reasons why it might have the currently observed value.  The ensuing discussion covered a wide range of possibilities, including the contentious employment of the anthropic principle.  George’s concluding remarks contained a plaintive exhortation for theoretical physicists and the cosmology community to come up with new theoretical models that could explain Lambda.  In his view, unless there was a paradigm shift in our cosmological model, the astronomy community was doomed to measuring the properties of a mythical substance, Lambda, to ever greater degrees of precision.