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The Nature of the Universe
Great Debate in 1998

In April 1920, Harlow Shapley and Heber D. Curtis debated The Scale of the Universe in the main auditorium of Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. In October 1998, P. James E. Peebles and Michael S. Turner debated "The Nature of the Universe" in the same auditorium. The 1998 debate subtitle was "Cosmology Solved?." The debate centered on recent controversies surrounding the determinations of Omega and Lambda, the mass density of the universe, and the corresponding geometry of the universe. Interpreting recent observational results from space borne and ground based telescopes, unexpected claims began emerging that the only acceptable cosmology remaining had a significant amount of "dark energy": Lambda. The astronomical community was perhaps intrigued but skeptical. At the 1998 debate, Peebles and Turner argued opposing points of view on whether recent measurements have solved the long standing quest for the determination of the major cosmological parameters and the large-scale geometry of our Universe.

Debate Proceedings: Six published papers from the 1998 debate appeared in the 1999 March issue of the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. The proceedings include an opening commemoration of David N. Schramm by the moderator, two introductory talks, papers based on the talks given at the 1998 debate, and a closing by the debate organizers.
Is Cosmology Solved? A Tribute to David N. Schramm by Margaret J. Geller
A Brief History of Our View of the Universe by Owen Gingerich
The Fundamental Parameters of Cosmology by Joseph Silk
Cosmology Solved? Quite Possibly! by Michael S. Turner
Is Cosmology Solved? An Astrophysical Cosmologist's Viewpoint by P. J. E. Peebles
The Nature of the Universe Debate in 1998 by Robert J. Nemiroff & Jerry T. Bonnell

About the 1998 Debate: Background information about the 1998 debate is given below.
The Program distributed at the 1998 Nature of the Universe Debate. The program includes an introduction, the schedule of events, and a brief profile of all the program participants.
Images from the debate.
Comments about the debate. Comments from people who attended.

Scientific Background: Below find links and lists intended for students, educators, and the generally inquisitive.
An astronomical glossary from SEDS
Cosmology FAQ by Ned Wright
Cosmology Tutorial by Ned Wright
180 Questions Answered about Big Bang Cosmology by Sten Odenwald
Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation FAQ by Doug Scott
The Astronomical Perspective by Owen Gingerich and David Latham
What is Theoretical Cosmology? from UIUC
The Evolution of the Universe, A Scientific American article by Peebles, Schramm, E. Turner, and Kron
The Standard Cosmological Model by P. James E. Peebles
Ten Things Everyone Should Know About Inflation by Michael S. Turner
The Century Survey: A Deeper Slice of the Universe by Margaret Geller et al.

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