Spanish scientists have come up with a new hypothesis on to explain the rate of expansion of the universe: time is - literally - slowing down!
A decade ago, astronomers noticed that distant supernovae - exploding stars on the very fringes of the universe - seemed to be moving faster than those nearer to the centre, suggesting that they were accelerating as they shot through space.
Dark energy was suggested as a possible means of powering this acceleration of the expansion of the cosmos.
The problem is that no-one has any idea what dark energy is or where it comes from, and theoreticians around the world have been scrambling to find out what it is, or get rid of it.
The team's proposal, which will be published in the journal Physical Review D, does away altogether with dark energy. Instead, Prof Senovilla says, the appearance of acceleration is caused by time itself gradually slowing down, like a clock that needs winding.
"We do not say that the expansion of the universe itself is an illusion," he explains. "What we say it may be an illusion is the acceleration of this expansion - that is, the possibility that the expansion is, and has been, increasing its rate."
Instead, if time gradually slows "but we naively kept using our equations to derive the changes of the expansion with respect of 'a standard flow of time', then the simple models that we have constructed in our paper show that an "effective accelerated rate of the expansion" takes place."
As if that's not mind-boggling enough, another scientist had proposed that time is actually two-dimensional:
Time is no longer a simple line from the past to the future, in a four dimensional world consisting of three dimensions of space and one of time. Instead, the physicist envisages the passage of history as curves embedded in a six dimensions, with four of space and two of time.
"There isn't just one dimension of time," Itzhak Bars of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles tells New Scientist. "There are two. One whole dimension of time and another of space have until now gone entirely unnoticed by us."
Bars claims his theory of "two time physics", which he has developed over more than a decade, can help solve problems with current theories of the cosmos and, crucially, has true predictive power that can be tested in a forthcoming particle physics experiment.
If it is confirmed, it could point the way to a "theory of everything" that unites all the physical laws of the universe into one, notably general relativity that governs gravity and the large scale structure of the universe, and quantum theory that rules the subatomic world.
Very weird. It is more Quantum Mechanics weirdness in the real world.
Projecting forward and backward gives some very disturbing images and implications.
Time past approached much faster and arrived much sooner than it would seem possible in our timeframe reality, and time future expires much faster and runs out much sooner than we would think possible in this timeframe reality.
The only way I can picture it, is like someone being in a moving river of changing speeds. Your speed relative to the water you are in is seemingly constant but your speed relative to your surroundings is a very different thing.
It seems to describe a scenario where time will essentially and for all practical purposes eventually flatline and end. Who knew that the hourglass really looked a bit like reality?
It gives new meaning the the phrase, the time is short.