The Bogdanov affair is an academic dispute regarding the legitimacy of a series of theoretical physics papers written by French twins Igor and Grichka Bogdanov (alternately spelt Bogdanoff). These papers were published in reputable scientific journals, and were alleged by their authors to culminate in a proposed theory for describing what occurred at the Big Bang. The controversy began in 2002 when Max Niedermeier, a physicist at the University of Tours, emailed Ted Newman, a physicist at the University of Pittsburgh, alleging that the twins—who had previously had celebrity status for a science fiction television program in France—had spoofed their PhD theses. Rumors spread on Usenet newsgroups that the work was a deliberate hoax intended to target weaknesses in the peer review system employed by the physics community to select papers for publication in academic journals. The story spread like wildfire in public media, prompting Niedermier to offer an apology to the Bogdanovs, admitting that he had not read the papers firsthand. While the Bogdanov brothers continued to defend the veracity of their work, a Centre national de la recherche scientifique (CNRS) internal report was conducted in private. The conclusions of their reports are confidential and only released to the parties involved. Some physicists have also treated this as evidence of the fallibility inherent within the peer review system. The debate over whether the work represented a contribution to physics, or instead was meaningless, spread from Usenet to many other Internet forums, including the blogs of notable physicists. The ensuing dispute received considerable coverage in the mainstream media.The authors have Ph.D. degrees from the University of Burgundy; Grichka Bogdanov received his degree in mathematics, and Igor Bogdanov received his in theoretical physics (in 1999 and 2002 respectively). Both were given the low, unusual, but passing grade of ""honorable""; Igor initially failed and was required to publish three papers in peer-reviewed journals before being given a degree. When later challenges to the legitimacy of the papers submitted by the Bogdanov brothers arose, the debate spread to the question of whether the substitution of a ""publication requirement"" by university professors when they do not understand students' work is a valid means of determining the veracity of a paper. However, the intrinsic complexity of topics like quantum groups and topological field theory—in addition to the extensive use of jargon by those who study these areas—makes it difficult to avoid such delegation, since often specific expertise is necessary in order to fully understand and evaluate the claims made in papers on these topics. The validity of their work was supported after independent reviews by several physicists such as Jac Verbaarschot of Stony Brook, Roman Jackiw of MIT, and Robert Coquereaux. Columbia University mathematician Peter Woit has said, ""The Bogdanoffs' work is significantly more incoherent than just about anything else being published. But the increasingly low standard of coherence in the whole field is what allowed them to think they were doing something sensible and publish it.""Since 1979, Igor and Grichka Bogdanov have been widely known in France as television-show hosts. Their shows like Temps X (and more recently Rayons X) deal with topics in popular science and science fiction, and have attracted a large number of viewers.