For centuries people believed the Earth’s shape is a flat plane or disk. All the evidence that it might have a different shape was ignored or naturally integrated into the dominant world model. Today people who believe in the idea of flat-Earth are regarded as ignorant, yet we may be making almost the same mistake – not about our planet, but about the Universe we live in.
The belief that the universe is flat is still widely accepted among astronomers. However, new research by Mihran Vardanyan at the University of Oxford, and colleagues suggests that the model of a flat Universe could also be a myth.
In an article which has been published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (www.arxiv.org/abs/0901.3354), Mihran Vardanyan in collaboration with Roberto Trotta (Imperial College, London) and Joseph Silk, analyzed the data from Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, Hubble telescope and other powerful observatories . The study included latest data on Cosmic Microwave Background, Type Ia supernova, Baryon Acoustic Oscillations and revealed fascinating results. Using modern statistical techniques and Oxford University supercomputers they have demonstrated that certainty attached to a particular conclusion is affected by different starting assumptions.
Using modern astronomers’ assumptions, which favor a flat universe, they calculated the probability that the universe was in one of three geometries: flat, positively curved or negatively curved. This gave a 98 percent probability that the Universe is indeed flat. When they did the calculation starting from more relaxed initial assumptions, the probability changed to about 43 percent, making a flat universe far less probable than astronomers generally conclude.
The discovery has been featured in NewScientist magazine as well as presented at a number of conferences including “Rencontres de Blois : Windows on the Universe.” one of the most prestigious conferences in the field of physics.
BIO: In 2005 Mihran graduated from Yerevan State University physics department with Bachelors degree in theoretical physics and pedagogic. The same year he got enrolled into a Masters program in Bioinformatics. In 2006 Mihran was invited to continue his education at the University of Oxford as a PhD student, working on advanced statistical methods in cosmology. In 2007 Mihran co-funded Oxford University Armenian Society and currently he is the President of the society. During his time at Oxford Mihran has co-founded Get-Inspired.org project that aims to encourage talented students from disadvantaged regions, to realize their full potential and go study at the leading universities abroad.
He is also the leader and organizer of the Oxford University Expedition to Qarahunge, Armenia in 2010.