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Indian astrophysicist Thanu Padmanabhan wins challenge on dark energy after ten years

Thanu Padmanabhan an Indian physicist has won a 10-year-old bet with a physicist from New Zealand who had challenged his ideas in 2006, while delivering a lecture on the phenomenon of dark energy at the 23rd Texas Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics in Melbourne.


By   |  Updated On : December 06, 2016 12:29 PM
 Thanu Padmanabhan an Indian astrophysicist wins challenge on dark energy (LinkedIn)

Thanu Padmanabhan an Indian astrophysicist wins challenge on dark energy (LinkedIn)

New Delhi :  

David Wiltshire at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, on Thursday announced that he had conceded the wager to India's Thanu Padmanabhan on the nature of the so-called "dark energy" and - under the written terms of the wager - gifted an "objet d'art" to Padmanabhan.

Thanu Padmanabhan an Indian physicist has won a 10-year-old bet with a physicist from New Zealand who had challenged his ideas in 2006, while delivering a lecture on the phenomenon of dark energy at the 23rd Texas Symposium on Relativistic Astrophysics in Melbourne. During the time, not all cosmologists were convinced about the role of the cosmological constant, and professor David Wiltshire of the University of Canterbury, New Zealand, took up a wager Padmanabhan offered to the astrophysics audience at the event.

The object is a $200 decorative lamp that Padmanabhan, a professor at the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics (IUCAA), Pune, has now placed in his living room.

The terms and conditions of the wager were that if Wiltshire won, he would be given a clock of his choice to help him keep better track of the lack of constancy of cosmological ideas. And, if Padmanabhan did, he would buy a lamp of his choice to help him better illuminate his calculations of the darkness of the universe.

If the observationally verified model of cosmology corresponded to a solution of Einstein’s equations in the next 10 years, that person would be the winner. The value of the prize object would not exceed $200 or be less than 10 per cent of the loser’s monthly salary, whichever is lower.

At the end of his plenary talk on December 15, 2006 at the 23rd Texas Symposium, Padmanabhan offered a bet to the audience that in the next ten years there will be no evidence to contradict the theory that dark energy (cosmological constant) is the root cause of accelerated expansion of the universe.The challenge was taken up by Wiltshire, professor in the department of physics and astronomy, University of Canterbury, New Zealand. "Mathematics shows that dark energy behaves like a fluid and it has negative pressure," Padmanabhan told an English daily.

Four years ago, while working on a deeper paradigm of Einstein's theory, Padmanabhan along with his daughter Hamsa Padmanabhan, co-authored a paper where they derived the numerical value of the cosmological constant.

First Published: Friday, December 02, 2016 09:56 AM

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