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Milky Way Heavier Than Thought, and Spinning Faster

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the bulking-up dept.

Space 285

An anonymous reader writes "The Milky Way is spinning much faster and has 50 per cent more mass than previously believed. This means the Milky Way is equivalent in size to our neighbor Andromeda — instead of being the little sister in the local galaxy group, as had been believed. One implication of this new finding is that we may collide with Andromeda sooner than we had thought, in 2 or 3 billion years instead of 5."

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The good news (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26338639)

At least now we don't have to worry about our sun going nova, we'll all die in an intergalactic traffic accident first.

Re:The good news (1)

conureman (748753) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338671)

A far more stimulating demise, IMHO.

Re:The good news (4, Funny)

NotQuiteReal (608241) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338689)

At least now we don't have to worry about our sun going nova, we'll all die in an intergalactic traffic accident first. Probably not. Even when galaxies collide, the odds of something hitting the solar system are remote.

But the night sky will look even prettier for the future cockroach decedents, if they have evolved enough to "look up" by then.

Personally, I plan on being dead in a time span that measures in decades, not billions of years.

Re:The good news (5, Informative)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338901)

the future cockroach decedents

They'll be the descendants. We'll be the decedents.

rj

Re:The good news (1)

AdamPee (1243018) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338925)

Personally, I plan on being dead in a time span that measures in decades, not billions of years.

Speak for yourself, humanoid.

Re:The good news (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26338955)

What type of creature are you?

And are you good to eat?

Re:The good news (1)

Gerzel (240421) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339175)

Not sure, crunchy for your first question, well speaking for it not myself.

As to the second question the answer is tasty with a slight aftertaste burn.

Re:The good news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26339345)

Bite my shiny metal ass.

Re:The good news (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338997)

Why plan on being dead at all? We may yet live to see the singularity...

Re:The good news (4, Funny)

click2005 (921437) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339279)

I was hoping to win a Darwin Award in a few billion years for 'collided with another galaxy'

Re:The good news (1)

poind3xt3r (890661) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339207)

I, for one, welcome our new decedent overlords!

Re:The good news (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26338705)

I know you're trying to be funny but when the two galaxies do meet, the odds are no stars will collide.

Re:The good news (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338755)

Theyll probably spin and span in really weird ways though.

Re:The good news (5, Funny)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338885)

I hope we're insured. Imagine if the other guy sues!

Re:The good news (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338909)

Except collapsing galaxies probably isn't as bad as it sound.

which thoughts (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26338647)

What about really, really heavy thoughts?

Heavy thoughts??? (3, Funny)

www.sorehands.com (142825) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339143)

Do you mean there is a problem with gravity in the future?

I'll be counting the days (4, Funny)

Kohath (38547) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338673)

..on my Zune

Re:I'll be counting the days (1)

LeadLine (1278328) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338695)

There's probably a bug in there when converting to intergalactic years.

Re:I'll be counting the days (2, Funny)

Kohath (38547) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339003)

Timeline revisions of 2-3 Billion years are now to be expected. A patch will be made available before this becomes an issue in the year 2012000000.

hello... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26338687)

Mass != weight

UID.. lets compare (-1, Troll)

somewhere in AU (628338) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338747)

heh.. our UID close and right next to each others.. how about that lol.. world record?

Re:UID.. lets compare (0, Troll)

bigblacknigger (1440657) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339113)

Yeah? Fuck you, dickshit. Nobody cares about the size of your e-peen, which is inversely proportional to the size of your real-life cock. On that note, suck my brown rope you faggot.

Re:UID.. lets compare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26339269)

i think someone forgot to post anonymously..

Re:UID.. lets compare (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26339303)

Nah, check his sig and his logon. He's retarded, not forgetful.

Re:hello... (1)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338837)

OK, so you want to maintain scientoideological purity and claim "heavy" only has to do with gravity...so what? Two kilograms is still heavier than one kilogram, no matter what gravity you apply to them.

rj

Re:hello... (2, Informative)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338899)

No, he's pointing out the pretty basic fact that mass and weight are measures of two different things.

Re:hello... (2, Insightful)

Deadstick (535032) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338973)

Of course they are. But "more mass" implies "heavier" just as much as "more weight" does!

rj

Re:hello... (2, Funny)

fm6 (162816) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339111)

That's some heavy thinking. You must have a massive intellect.

Re: technically (1)

Dare nMc (468959) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339171)

If that galaxy is more dense than ours, then it would also have higher gravity, correct? So it is possible for Sum of Mass to be nearly equal, yet our sum of weight would be much lower. I guess if all galaxies are orbiting some super distant super mass, and thus we had some weight related orbital decay, this discussion might matter?

Re:hello... (2, Informative)

TheRealMindChild (743925) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338889)

Mass may not equal weight, numerically, but the more mass, the more weight. So the idea is still relevent

Re:hello... (1)

Klootzak (824076) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338905)

I use the same argument when my mother says "You've gained Weight!".... "NO!!! I haven't! I've gained MASS!" ;)

Re:hello... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26339265)

could it not be she's been noticing you interacting with earth's gravity well as you attempt to separate from the couch?

Re:hello... (2, Funny)

Klootzak (824076) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339331)

Actually I think it was when I was playing catch with my Nephew... I missed the ball and it started orbiting ;)

Reassuring (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26338697)

For a while there I was worried it had dropped down to 1 billion years.

Re:Reassuring (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338839)

Please dup this article when it's less than 1000 years... I don't want to miss it.

Re:Reassuring (3, Insightful)

digitalunity (19107) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338895)

No can do.

However, we may be able to dupe this tomorrow and then again a few years from now when its on Digg.

Thanks for your understanding,
The Management

Re:Reassuring (2)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338915)

1000 years is no less irrelevant to you than 1 billion years.

Re:Reassuring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26338951)

My family line may very well be still "alive" in 1000 years, you insensitive clod!

Re:Reassuring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26339307)

..anonymously.

Good news everybody! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26338699)

Well that's good news and bad news all rolled into. The bad news is we'll be crashing into Andromeda sooner. The good news is that our galaxy has more mass therefore our galaxy will win, since the more massive object always wins in physics... Oh.

Re:Good news everybody! (5, Funny)

MrNaz (730548) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338921)

Tell that to the fat guy who got shot with a rifle round. He has a 600,000% weight advantage, yet he's still in ICU on a respirator.

Fat man 0, Remington 1.

Re:Good news everybody! (1)

UncleWilly (1128141) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339311)

Tell that to the fat guy who got shot with a rifle round. He has a 600,000% weight advantage, yet he's still in ICU on a respirator.

Well he did win. Fat guy in ICU (unless he dies from the gunshot) still beats a 65 gr slug in a evidence baggie.

because... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26338711)

> 50 per cent more mass than previously believed

They forgot to mention the cause. It is because the universe contains the USA, and we all know how large *they* are.

Science (5, Interesting)

maz2331 (1104901) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338715)

One thing that is great about science is that it does have a way of eventually finding errors and correcting them in the face of new evidence.

As far as galactic collisions are concerned, we are in no immediate danger. 2-3 Gy vs 5 is an academic exercise, as the Sun will most likely increase its output sufficiently by then to boil off the Earth's oceans anyway,

Besides, the density of a galaxy (outside of the core) is so low that the chance of a stellar or planetary collision is negligable anyway.

Or, by then, we would have the technology to detect it and either deflect it or GTFO of the way anyhow.

Still, it is nice to know we're not in the pipsqueak galaxy. Hoorah!?!?

Re:Science (4, Funny)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338781)

Still, it is nice to know we're not in the pipsqueak galaxy. Hoorah!?!?

The Miiilky Waaay... Fuck, yeah!

Re:Science (1)

eyecorporations (1401035) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339323)

Freedom is the only way yeah!
Andromeda your game is through,
Cause now you have to answer to
The Miiilky Waaay... Fuck, yeah!

Re:Science (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26338857)

Still, it is nice to know we're not in the pipsqueak galaxy. Hoorah!?!?

Let's go to the Magellanic Clouds and look for somebody to beat up!

Re:Science (1)

Klootzak (824076) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338933)

One thing that is great about science is that it does have a way of eventually finding errors and correcting them in the face of new evidence.

As opposed to Politics, where if you're proven wrong you just need to argue your point HARDER! ;)
Oh, and also try to trash your opponents reputation with some irrellevant nuance.

Re:Science (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339199)

Either that, or yell as loudly as you can that "the debate is over and we have a consensus," then ignore anybody who doesn't agree with you.

Re:Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26339219)

Either that, or yell as loudly as you can that "the debate is over and we have a consensus," then ignore anybody who doesn't agree with you.

It worked for global warming. Kind of.

Re:Science (1)

DreadPiratePizz (803402) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339089)

"As far as galactic collisions are concerned, we are in no immediate danger. 2-3 Gy vs 5 is an academic exercise, as the Sun will most likely increase its output sufficiently by then to boil off the Earth's oceans anyway,"

True. I've heard estimates that predict in about 900 million years, the oceans will have boiled due to the increased energy output from the sun. Between that, and whatever else we could do to doom ourselves, it kind of wants to make you get into space as quickly as possible, no?

Re:Science (1)

SupremoMan (912191) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339173)

Or, by then, we would have the technology to detect it and either deflect it or GTFO of the way anyhow.

If we had the technology to leave, I don't think we would wait for extinction level event to GTFO.

No assumptions... (0, Offtopic)

Timothy Brownawell (627747) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338717)

"These measurements use the traditional surveyor's method of triangulation and do not depend on any assumptions based on other properties, such as brightness," Menten said. The direct measurements "are revising our understanding of the structure and motions of our Galaxy."

...this is where we find out that space is convex in some directions and concave in others and not "flat" anywhere, right?

Declaration of inter-galactic hostilities (5, Funny)

dfsmith (960400) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338721)

Well, that'll show those Andromedans not to attack "smaller" galaxies. Now who's laughing! We will plunder their mass (while watching colateral ejected mass fly out).

Re:Declaration of inter-galactic hostilities (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26338991)

Two galaxies, one cup.

It's just water weight... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26338727)

Face it, everyone puts on a little more mass during the holidays. And with hydrogen being the most common element in the galaxy, it's no wonder she's a bit bloated. But she'll start on a program of jogging around the local supercluster, and get back into shape in no time.

last chance for backup! (5, Funny)

somewhere in AU (628338) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338735)

oh well.. still leaves plenty of time to debate which is the most robust backup method after all then?

Re:last chance for backup! (1)

Colourspace (563895) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339155)

VI! Emacs!!!! ummm... little help?

I for one... (4, Funny)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338739)

Thought I was drunk.

Good to know it was the milky way spinning all too fast.

From TFA (1)

snowtigger (204757) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338745)

The Earth's Solar System is located some 28,000 light years from the centre of the Milky Way. At that distance, the new measurements show that the galaxy is rotating at a speed of 965,600 km/h, compared to previous estimates of 804,672 km/h, the astronomers report.

965,600 km/h = 268 222.222 m/s or about 1/1117th of the speed of light...

Re:From TFA (4, Insightful)

thomasferraro (1445925) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338969)

"...the galaxy is rotating at a speed of 965,600 km/h, compared to previous estimates of 804,672 km/h, the astronomers report."

Anyone else think it odd that the previous estimate had six significant digits, yet was apparently off by ~20%?

Re:From TFA (4, Funny)

Quinapalus (1335067) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339015)

I think my chemistry teacher would have taken off points for that one.

Re:From TFA (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26339087)

Heard this once.

Astrophysicists: They're often wrong but never in doubt.

Re:From TFA (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26339105)

The odd thing is not the estimate (500,000 mph has one significant digit) but its conversion to km/h.

Re:From TFA (5, Informative)

thomasferraro (1445925) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339287)

Thank you, makes much more sense now. Agence France-Presse strikes again. They converted mph to km/hr VERY precisely.

965,600 km/h = 600,000 mph
804,672 km/h = 500,000 mph

Abstract of presentation (10aPT Tue Jan 6, if you are in Long Beach CA) is at http://tinyurl.com/9d5rec [tinyurl.com] .

From TFA: (1)

mathx314 (1365325) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338751)

At that distance, the new measurements show that the galaxy is rotating at a speed of 965,600 km/h, compared to previous estimates of 804,672 km/h, the astronomers report.

Forgive the possibly stupid question, but since km/h is a measure of linear speed, is that saying that we're traveling at that speed or is the edge of the Milky Way moving that fast?

Re:From TFA: (1)

glitch23 (557124) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339163)

Forgive the possibly stupid question, but since km/h is a measure of linear speed, is that saying that we're traveling at that speed or is the edge of the Milky Way moving that fast?

It means exactly what it says. Our Solar System is rotating at 965,600 km/h. We aren't at the edge of the Milky Way anyway as the artist's rendering on the article page shows so it isn't the latter. The "At that distance" phrase is referring to the Solar System's distance (28k light years) from the center of the galaxy. Since the Milky Way isn't being torn apart the outer edges of the galaxy are rotating faster than the inner core (outer edges have to move faster because they have more distance to travel) correspondingly to keep up with the inner core. This is similar to a CD in a CD drive. Since it is a solid material everything moves at the same time however the outer edges move at a rate that is faster than the inner edge. That is the angular velocity however that is being measured. You rotate it fast enough (as in an episode of Mythbusters) and the CD flies apart. I hope that makes sense.

Re:From TFA: (1)

mathx314 (1365325) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339195)

I understand the bit with angular momentum, I just missed the bit about "at that distance." Thanks!

Re:From TFA: (1)

Almost-Retired (637760) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339359)

In what universe are those rules true? Certainly not this one.

The closer we are to the galactic center of mass, as measured in terms of the centers attraction for us, the higher the gravitational pull toward the center, and the faster we have to go in order not to fall in in a few million years. The stars and other materiel 10x farther out, have required orbital speeds much lower to sustain a constant orbit. This is the reason that most galaxies are spiral shaped, and one can say with 100% certainty which way its spinning because the inward ends of the spirals always point in the direction of rotation.

Of course, if the density increases linearly until things are less than a light year apart near the center, conversely the majority of the gravitational mass is outside, and the orbital speeds can begin to fall.

That scenario is not for most galaxies, un-realizable due to most galaxies having a 50 to 2,000,000 sun mass black hole at the center, and for the Milky Way, we are no exception. I don't recall the mass estimates for the invisible Sag B, which 'Sag A' orbits at a good relativistic clip, but lets just say its a big one and let it go at that.

The article did not specify where in the galaxy that speed was measured, but it makes common sense that they were referring to our location 28k light years out from the center. Had they been referring to some location in an outer arm that was 10x farther out going that fast, then by the time it got inward to us, it would be a relativistic velocity indeed.

Showing My Ignorance (2, Insightful)

notseamus (1295248) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338753)

But how do you calculate the rate of rotation and mass of a galaxy that you're in? It's mind blowing that we can actually do that.

Re:Showing My Ignorance (1)

Rakishi (759894) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338785)

Depends, how much time do you have to make observations? It's probably rather easy if you got a couple million years to burn.

Re:Showing My Ignorance (1)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338823)

it seem they got it wrong at least once so far ...

Re:Showing My Ignorance (1)

mhall119 (1035984) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338845)

But how do you calculate the rate of rotation and mass of a galaxy that you're in? It's mind blowing that we can actually do that.

Science.
It works, Bitches [xkcd.com] .

Re:Showing My Ignorance (1)

psnyder (1326089) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339053)

As for rotation, I think it's something like this:
Find an object in the sky. Figure out it's position. A number of days/weeks/years later, look at it again. Figure out it's new position. See how far it traveled and how long it took. Repeat for as many objects in the galaxy as possible.

As for mass, I would guess it has something to do with using spectrometers to get good ideas about out how much of each element is out there. We already know the mass of these elements. Also looking at movement again, we can see how gravitational forces act on the galaxies around us.

Then of course, we build complex mathematical models that coincide with what we observe. This is why people suspect there's a thing called Dark Matter. We see the gravity of galaxies and galaxy clusters curving the light of galaxies behind them a lot more than they should be. We think we know what gravity they should have because of their observed masses. Where's all this extra curve coming from?! It's almost as if the galaxy is surrounded in a bubble of more mass! ZOMG Dark matter! Oh yeah, and the edges of galaxies spin a lot faster than they should. Why? Because they're in a sphere of Dark matter of course!! Yeah, it's pretty shaky, but some thing(s) or force(s) is/are adding more gravitational effect and keeping those edges speedy.

Way Heavier Than Thought, and Spinning Faster (4, Funny)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338813)

Ugh. Sounds like scientists just discovered my last blind date.

Re:Way Heavier Than Thought, and Spinning Faster (1)

n dot l (1099033) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338999)

Re:Way Heavier Than Thought, and Spinning Faster (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26339099)

The Milky Way would like to respond by noting that it is not, in fact heavier, it's just that these pants makes its butt look big.

Obama (-1, Offtopic)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338819)

I blame Obama's oversized and growing Ego!

(Lighten up Libs, it is a joke!)

Here is my results for Milky Way, etc (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26338825)

I did a study.
1. Three Musketeers is the most voluminous.
2. Snickers is the densest.
3. Milky Way resulted from collision between high energy caramel particles into a Three Musketeers bar. And a new sub layer formed under the chocolate strata. The caramel particles could not penetrate the nougat.
4. Milky Way Dark has the most dark matter.
5. Mars has the biggest nuts.

WhatMeWorry!!

I haven't read the paper, but... (1, Insightful)

phlegmofdiscontent (459470) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338833)

I think the article oversimplifies. The Milky Way doesn't rotate as one single piece. It's made up of billions of stars (duh!) which revolve around the center at different velocities. So, the question is, is the quoted speed the speed at which the Sun revolves around the galactic center or the average speed of the arms (which move much slower than the stars)? Maybe more later if I can find the paper on arxiv.org

Re:I haven't read the paper, but... (4, Interesting)

boot_img (610085) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338887)

Actually the orbital velocity is (surprisingly) close to constant, as in most spiral galaxies. In fact, it is these "flat" (i.e. constant as a function of galactocentric radius) rotation curves that were some of the earliest evidence for dark matter.

That having been said, my guess is that the velocities quoted in the press release refer to the Sun's (or more accurately the Local Standard of Rest's) velocity around the Galactic center.

Couldn't find the paper on arxiv.org ...

 

Damn... (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338867)

... should have used low fat milk...

Re:Damn... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26339067)

screw low fat milk. Milk was meant to be whole.

Oh no! (1)

dont_forget (71107) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338879)

Oh no! I better not forget to turn of the oven!

I thought something felt a little off... (1)

Narcocide (102829) | more than 5 years ago | (#26338919)

... or maybe I'd better just slow down on the brandy.

...in 2 or 3 billion years ?!? (2, Funny)

swell (195815) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339001)

Whoa, for a moment I thought you said _million_ years. No need to panic, people.

Headline (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26339011)

Is that Milky "Way Heavier" Than Thought or is it "Milky Way" Heavier Than Thought?

Implications? (0)

Fieryphoenix (1161565) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339059)

Does this mean we should also re-evaluate the Snickers galaxy? And will there be a price increase, or just a "Now With 50% More!" sticker?

Little sister? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26339083)

Rule 34 on the milky way!

Ahah! (4, Funny)

sleeponthemic (1253494) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339121)

Twice as heavy! Talk about getting it wrong.

It's only a matter of time before the earth's age is readjusted to 6000 years!

Re:Ahah! (1)

McNihil (612243) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339361)

Ah yeah yeah... and its not Milky Way any more but Cheesus Way... fatter and rhymes with that dude.

OMG this is a new low for me.

Obligatory... (0)

Samah (729132) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339125)

Hopefully we'll have Duke Nukem Forever by then...
Then again, probably not.

What is heavyer than thought? (1)

alexborges (313924) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339165)

The Milky Way!

BTW: you should see Luis Buñuel's movie of the same name:

Incontrollable Beauty

Milky is way heavier than thought..? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#26339169)

Whoa, dude, this Milky is way heavier than thought.

Dude, but how much does thought way?

So much for the snack food (1)

zymurgy_cat (627260) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339213)

Does this mean they'll take the candy out of the vending machines since it's obviously leading to obesity on a galactic scale?

CO2 (1)

timmarhy (659436) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339277)

some how i just know this is because of global warming!

angular velocity anyone? (1)

Ardipithecus (985280) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339285)

"the Milky Way is rotating at a speed of 161,000 km/h faster than previously thought."

Units converted from radians/mole

astronomers... (1)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#26339349)

You know an astronomer has found an unusually accurate measuring technique when the error bars get as low as 50%. Now that best value for the mass of the Milky Way has 1-sigma error bars of 50%, I'm glad to be able to say with 95% statistical confidence that its mass is greater than zero. On the other hand, for the "glass is half empty" folks, there's still a 5% chance that its mass is negative.
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