Dwarf Galaxies Orbiting The Milky Way Overturn Newton

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It turns out that we don't know everything about the universe.  Shocking, we know, but you'd be surprised how often science writers, politicians, or intelligent design idiots confuse "non-omniscience" with "everything is WRONG!"   Now some are saying that Newton screwed up, but at least their evidence is awesome: dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way! The dwarf galaxies resemble systems cannibalized by the Milky Way billions of years ago to build up its stellar halo and thick disk, characterized as "crumbs from the galactic feast."


First off, Newton was never "wrong" – he was "right as far as it was humanly possible to be in the seventeenth century."  You have to remember that he defined all the motion he ever saw with a pencil, and when he discovered the math didn't exist he just spent a chunk of his life inventing it – meanwhile, you use a supercomputer system to watch cats falling out of trees.

There wasn't a lot of near-light-speed motion at the time, nor any neutrinos, and it's important to remember that the people who build bridges don't go with general relativity or quantum mechanics – it's all the three laws of force, baby.  You only find you need further theorios when you look outside, and Professor Pavel Kroupa of the University of Bonn and colleagues have looked as outside as you can reasonably get:  analyzing the motions of dwarf galaxies, thousands of starts orbiting the entire Milky Way.  There they've found some fascinating contradictions.

Instead of being uniformly distributed around the Milky Way, the dwarf galaxies orbit in a plane – almost like a set of planets.  The group's calculations show that these galaxettes can't contain any dark matter – but then, observations of the orbital speed of the same shows that they MUST contain dark matter, as the extant material isn't enough to explain their velocities.

Clearly, something is wrong.  There's always a chance that the human calculations are the problem – after all, you can't accuse the universe of being "wrong" when it's already there, doing things, and doing them a quadrillion times bigger than you can even imagine.  Basing calculations on something you've never seen is always going to be tricky (try "divide by a unicorn"), but that's the entire point.

In any other field, highlighting how wrong you are is the worst thing you can do – in science, it's all about helping us find out new things.  And if you know something you thought you knew is wrong, that's even better – there's something new in a place we already looked!

The Daily Galaxy via spaceref.com

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