Thanu Padmanabhan
Thanu PadmanabhanWikipedia

On Thursday, Professor David Wiltshire of the Department of Physics and Astronomy, University of Canterbury, announced that well-known Indian theoretical physicist Thanu Padmanabhan has won the challenge on dark energy. Padmanabhan is from the Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics, Pune, India.

The challenge was issued 10 years ago in Melbourne by Padmanabhan to prove his ideas on dark matter wrong by 2016. According to The Times of India, he stated "there would be no evidence to contradict the theory that dark energy (cosmological constant) is the root cause of accelerated expansion of the universe." David Wiltshire took up the challenge and failed.

Padmanabhan had said in 2006: "The universe is expanding with an acceleration and the energy that drives this expansion, called the dark energy, is the cosmological constant." The Indian astrophysicist's interpreted Einstein's theory of gravity, which states that you cannot give a fixed value to the cosmological constant. But he did derive this value for the cosmological constant - 1divided by 1followed by 123 zeroes. He also related this 'value to the number of atoms of space that can be counted in the universe' and proved it four years ago.

Reportedly, the terms and conditions of this bet were that if Wiltshire won the challenge, he would get a clock (which he could choose). This would 'help him keep better track of the lack of constancy of cosmological ideas'. Wiltshire conceded defeat last week and sent Padmanabhan money. "He transferred the amount and I bought the lamp last week. At the symposium in Australia, Wiltshire publicly admitted that he was beaten, while showing my photograph with the lamp," Padmanabhan told Pune Mirror.

Padmanabhan's official website page (http://www.iucaa.ernet.in/~paddy/) has an interesting section called 'The Answer'. In that he states with a statutory warning:

'Nearly 99.9 percent of the people I know belong to one of these four categories:

  1. They believe philosophical discussions are bullshit and people indulging in them are at best misguided and at worst idiots.
  2. They pretend interest in philosophy since it offers an easy route to act profound at dinners (sipping a drink and stroking a beard, if available) - and eventually appearance of profoundness can be encashed for more practical goodies in life.
  3. They are occasionally curious but by and large happy with the locally available gods to answer their prayers.
  4. They think they know-it-all and do not require any further inputs in this subject.
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