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"The great tragedy of science," as Victorian biologist Thomas Huxley observed, is "the slaying of a beautiful hypothesis by an ugly fact". He was talking about the origins of life, but scientists of all stripes would have agreed – perhaps more today than ever.

The beautiful idea at hand: the universe looks much the same no matter which direction you look in, and no matter where you are. The ugly fact: it doesn't. Our hope that the universe is symmetrical, or homogeneous, at very large scales just doesn't seem to be coming true (see "Embrace the lumpiverse: How mess kills dark energy").

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