Milky Way = Faster, Heavier. Like me.

When Woody Allen was little, and his mother told him to clean his room, he countered that he had no room to put his stuff. So he was waiting for the universe to expand for a while, then it would be possible to clean his room.

Since then, cosmologists have admonished that expansion of the universe does not really work that way. Of course, it DOES work that way, and Woody Allen was partly correct. But other factors we need not discuss here would come into play and ruin his plans.

Anyway, I’ve been going to the gym a lot lately, and I noticed yesterday that my weight had gone UP instead of DOWN. To cheer my self up, I simply attributed the increase to the huge muscles I’m building. (De nile is not just a river in Africa any more.) But then I found out that there might be another explanation for the scale giving obviously erroneous results:

The Milky Way… has 50 per cent more mass than previously believed, increasing the chance of a collision with another galaxy, say astronomers.

That would explain a lot of things. If the entire Milky Way has gotten heavier, then everything IN the Milky way has gotten heavier.

They are also saying that the Milky way is spinning faster. I wonder if that means I don’t have to spend as much time on the treadmill….???

OK, but seriously…

An international team of researchers have used ten telescopes spread out between Hawaii, the Caribbean and the northeastern United States to determine that the Milky Way is rotating at a speed of 161,000 km/h faster than previously thought.

That increase in speed boosts the Milky Way’s mass by 50 per cent, said Mark Reid, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, in research presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting this week in Long Beach, California.

“No longer will we think of the Milky Way as the little sister of the Andromeda Galaxy,” he said.

The larger mass, however, also means that the galaxy has a greater gravitational pull, which heightens the likelihood of collisions with the Andromeda galaxy or smaller nearby galaxies, Reid said.

Personally, I’m going to wait until this result is verified independently. How could we have been wrong by 50%?

Read about it here.

Comments

  1. #1 Lilian Nattel
    January 6, 2009

    I’ll just add that to my list of worries. Let’s see, 1. economic collapse, 2. environmental degradation, 3. collision with Andromeda, 4…

  2. #2 iRobot
    January 7, 2009

    I know how you feel. I gained about 5 pounds when I started working out regularly. I started losing weight at a steady pace, I was so happy, then they fixed the scale and I was back to where I started. ha ha ha!

  3. #3 Doug Alder
    January 7, 2009

    Yes – good idea BUT can it also explain the sudden “inexplicable” weight gain during the Xmas season? Could there be pockets of dark matter that are more massive than others and that the earth passes through them during this period each year? Is this unknown matter “sticky” – that is, once it has attached itself to something it is hard to dislodge? I think you’re on to something here Greg – sounds like grant material for a long study ;)

  4. #4 Julie Stahlhut
    January 7, 2009

    I’ve been working out pretty seriously for a year. My diet has hardly changed during that time, but I dropped 10 pounds in the first two months, then put them back on, then lost four or five. However, the change in my girth has been completely unidirectional; at one point I was putting on weight at the same time that my clothes were getting baggy and needing to be taken in.

    For what it’s worth, a male friend about 10 years younger than me has had exactly the same experience since he started getting regular, strenuous exercise. As for me, I’m not going to worry about it.

  5. #5 Greg Laden
    January 7, 2009

    Try this: Toss an old bone from some steak you ate, a wadge of Crisco, and some lean hamburger in a pot of water. Watch which one floats.

    Then heat, simmer for a few hours, and you’ve got some interesting stock.

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