Critical Dialogues in Cosmology
N.B. The following pages make heavy use of Tables and HTML 3.0
features, thus they may not look their best under older viewers!
At the Princeton meeting "Critical Dialogues in Cosmology" there was a session
in which models for structure formation were rated.
The session was chaired by Jim Peebles, with
Carlos Frenk acting as Devil's Advocate.
Here are the results.
There seemed to be general consensus that this was the first meeting in
which the two sets of error bars overlapped!
The first speaker presented the case for the short and young universe,
while the second speaker presented the case for the long and old universe.
- Wendy Freedman - H0 = 70 ± 10
- Gustav Tammann - H0 = 55 ± 10
These quotes are verbatim accurate (not!).
- "Cosmology is the grandest of the environmental sciences" - Martin Rees
- "Inflation comes in several variants: old, new, baroque, decadent and
eternal" - Martin Rees.
- "Is the question going to be decided on the quality of the scientific
argument or the quality of the transparencies?" - George Efstathiou
- Dave Schramm pointed out that Bishop Usher measured the age of the Universe
to 9 significant figures, thereby demonstrating the difference between accuracy
- "That's a boring question" - Gustav Tammann
- "H0=70 is pre-Copernican" - Gustav Tammann
- "I've got one of those too, but I left it at home" - Bob Kirshner
- "Brilliant!" - Dick Bond after dropping all his transparencies at the
beginning of his talk
- Speaking about the similarity between flat earth and flat Universe
arguments: "the earth could have been the size of a pea, so if it's flat
over all of New Jersey it's unlikely to get curved in the next couple of
miles" - J. Richard Gott III
- "You still need to predict why the radius of curvature over the CMB
wavelength is 10^67, noting that 67 is roughly 137/2" - J. Richard Gott III
- "It's not the job of the theorist to defend his model at all costs" -
- "By 1998-2002 Omega_0 will reach 1 in open universe papers" - David
- "Most people work on topological defects because they're more
interesting" - Albert Stebbins
- "The lovely green models are the best" - Michael Turner
- "The Standard Model wasn't the end of Particle Physics" - Frank Wilczek
- Speaking about Cold Dark Matter "The King is dead, long live the King"
- Jerry Ostriker
- "No observational problem will not be solved by more data" - Vera Rubin
- Bill Unruh showing the inflation video from Interstellar Media,
and Alan Guth responding with the inflationary paper production rate.
- Joe Silk showing the comic-book cover from "Turok, dinosaur hunter"
- The birthday cake catching fire!
History of Beliefs
Martin Rees gave the introduction to the meeting, in which he showed
plots of how strongly cosmologists have held
various beliefs over the course of the last 35 years.
Omega vs Time
David Spergel showed a plot giving the value of Omega preferred by
cosmologists as a function of time. Here
is a loose interpretation of this plot, where we plot the redshift at
which curvature domination sets in, as a function of year
(specifically z_curv is 1/Omega - 1).
Douglas Scott & Martin White
Last revised: 11th July 1996