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Claim 13Gy - Universe older than 13 Gyears

Category: Science & Technology:Physics JUDGED at 100
Owner:0, Bank
Judge:163, jim
created:1995/09/07
due date:TBD

The Claim

The Claim

The universe is older than 13 Giga years. YES coupons pay $1 if and when it is judged that measurements of cosmological and astrophysical parameters lead to a calculated age for the universe greater that 13.0 billion years at the 95% confidence level. NO coupons will likewise pay $1 if and when a calculation gives an age of less than 13.0 billion years at 95% confidence. If any measurement essential to the calculation remains controversial the judge must wait for independent confirmation. If some other calculation contradicts the result then judgement cannot be made until the discrepancy has been resolved to the satisfaction of the majority of professional astronomers. The judge will base his decision on published papers and preprints, and on acceptance of the results by a majority of cosmologists and astrophysicists.

Clarification

The age of the universe is defined as the largest possible value of proper time integrated along a timelike geodesic from the Earth at the present epoch back to the big bang.

In performing the calculation of the universe's age it is acceptable to assume that general relativity and other well established physical theories are correct and that the universe is effectively homogeneous and isotropic at large scales (unless there is significant evidence to the contrary). Uncertainty due to effects of quantum gravity can be assumed to be insignificant.

It is not acceptable to assume that the cosmological constant is zero or make any other assumptions about cosmological parameters, such as matter density, without taking into account uncertainty in their measured value or limits. It is not acceptable to make unsupportable extrapolations or to rely on fine tuning arguments. It is not acceptable to make assumptions based on theories which are not well established such as the cosmological inflation theory (unless they become well established by time the claim is judged).

If the theory that the big bang never happened becomes widely accepted by professional astronomers and the universe is thereby shown to be infinitely old then YES coupons pay. However, in a theory of a cyclic universe in which each cycle begins with a big bang, or a universe in which the big bang was a local incident in an older universe the age of the universe will still be taken as its age since the big bang. If it is shown that the universe is exactly cyclic with no big bang and the cycle time is less than 13 Gy or if any other accepted theory makes the meaning of the claim ambiguous then pay-out is split 50/50 between YES and NO.

Background

Controversy surrounds two contradictory indications of the age of the universe. On the one hand, many measurements of the Hubble constant (most notably that based on observations by the Hubble Space Telescope on the galaxy M100 in the Virgo Cluster) suggest an age of the universe of between 8 and 12 Gy. On the other, astrophysicists compute the age of stars in globular clusters to be about 14 to 16 Gy. The claim will not be settled until this controversy has been resolved.

Further Information

Hubbles Constant and the Age of the Universe at http://www.mathsoft.com/astronomy/hubble.html

Judge's Statement

Standard ambiguity clause: If the wording is found to be ambiguous I will judge on the basis of the obvious intent. If the intent is ambiguous I will judge on the basis of precise wording. If both are ambiguous or if both are clear but conflict, I will look for a solution that causes the least damage to FX as a market and game.

The Market

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Current ask price: 100
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Players participating: 53
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