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A special place

Researchers suggest experiments to test the Copernican principle

By
10:06am, May 9, 2008

For all the hand wringing among physicists about the nature of dark energy, the invisible stuff that appears to be revving up the rate of cosmic expansion, a nagging possibility remains. Dark energy could be a cosmic mirage — if humans live in a special place in the universe with a peculiar distribution of matter.

If Earth and its environs are centered in a vast, billion-light-year-long bubble, relatively free of matter, in turn surrounded by a massive, dense shell of material, then gravity’s tug would cause galaxies inside the void to hurtle toward the spherical concentration of mass, say theorists Robert Caldwell of Dartmouth College

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