back to article Universe has more hydrogen than we thought

A re-analysis of radio telescope observations from three countries has yielded a surprising result: nearby galaxies harbour one-third more hydrogen than had previously been estimated. While nothing like enough matter to solve physics’ “dark matter” problem, the work by CSIRO astronomer Dr Robert Braun (chief scientist at the …

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  1. VeganVegan
    Happy

    New weight unit!

    the echidna

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: New weight unit!

      Hmm, I wonder what the echidna to large kangaroo conversion factor is?

      1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge
        Boffin

        Re: New weight unit!

        From a quick scan of t'internet, an average short-beaked echidna can be about 3kg, whereas an adult male red kangaroo can have a mass up to around 90kg (although i thought this would be higher), so I'd say the echidna to kangaroo conversion factor is around the 1:30 mark.

  2. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

    @new weight unit

    I'm all for bizarre units, and this one is even better than most in being "small, but massive"(*) all at the same time.

    I for one welcome our small and very far away overlords, etc.

    (*) refer to article, obv.

    1. Tom 7 Silver badge

      Re: @new weight unit

      I think we need some new icons here - a brown pint for when a comment really deserves a beer to complement the yellow largery (fosters?) one when a comment is good enough for you to get one for yourself.

      Or we could ask all foreign articles like this to be passed through Google Unit Converter before printing. Though a lot of countries don’t have real words for real pints poor sods.

      1. Code Monkey
        Pint

        Re: @new weight unit

        Much as I love brown session ale (it's my favourite kind) I'd always assumed it was a nice light ale like Enville or HPA.

        1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
          Coat

          We just have to know now

          What is the speed of a kangaroo in vacuum?

          Mine is the one with the roo-leather Barmah hat

          1. Bush_rat
            Trollface

            Re: We just have to know now

            Well, is it an African or European swallow, err kangaroo.

  3. Sarev

    So he could've compared a horse to a dog or cat or something, but no, he has to pick an animal 95% of the population haven't heard of - hence even El Reg feeling the need for a link. That's a really helpful analogy.

    1. LaeMing
      Happy

      If his audience where he made the quoted comparison was mostly Australian...

      ...we understood him perfectly well.

      The rest of the world is too insignificant to cater to anyway.

    2. Magani
      Linux

      @sarev

      If you're unfamiliar with echidnas, just think of it as the same as 1.25 bilbies.

      Hope that makes it clearer.

      Penguin, 'cos everyone knows what they're like.

      1. bazza Silver badge

        Re: @sarev

        "Penguin, 'cos everyone knows what they're like."

        Not as tasty as ducks?

        1. Steve Knox

          Re: @sarev

          "Penguin, 'cos everyone knows what they're like."

          Not as tasty as ducks?

          Depends how you cook 'em.

          1. bazza Silver badge

            Re: @sarev

            "Depends how you cook 'em."

            Peking Penguin? Hmmmmm, I'd try it... Penguin a la orange doesn't sound so tasty though.

            1. John I'm only dancing

              Re: @sarev

              or how about Bombay Penguin, I know, they haven't found a Penguin fish to curry, yet.

          2. El Zorro

            Re: @sarev

            or if you can get the damned wrappers off

            1. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart

              Re: @sarev

              @El Zorro

              or if you can get the damned wrappers off

              That's why polar bears can't eat penguins.

      2. Scott 19
        Devil

        Re: @sarev

        Penguin, 'cos everyone knows what they're like.

        There called Tim-Tams (Well they where '99-'00) ar*e end of the world. Nice when used as a straw with a nice cuppa.

    3. M Gale

      "an animal 95% of the population haven't heard of"

      Some of us played Sonic the Hedgehog.

      Okay, so Knuckles is a bit cartoony, but then Sonic does look like a spiky Felix The Cat.

    4. FutureShock999
      Mushroom

      Ozzie units...

      See, the author was using Aussie Units of Measure, because the article really speaks to the fantastic science that is being done here in Australia (I'm writing this from Melbourne today). Now, IF the US was doing really cool things, then the units would be either robins to deer, or bibles to obese children. You know, things that are common in that country. However, as the majority of the US seems bent on thinking that the world is only 600,000 years old, and that evolution didn't really occur, and that you didn't _need_ a Superconducting Supercollider, and that most public schools should have their budgets slashed for teaching science (expensive subject compared to Home Economics or Gang Looting)...well then, I guess we should get used to more stories with weird, non-American units of comparison. Up next, El Reg will use the silkworm to panda ratio when they discuss just how badly China is out-researching the US...

  4. Martin Budden Bronze badge

    What about the gaps between galaxies?

    If we also take into account self-absorption for the stuff in the gaps between galaxies, how much previously-unaccounted for matter will that reveal? Enough for a diprotodon?

    1. Code Monkey
      Thumb Up

      Re: What about the gaps between galaxies?

      Maybe a wallaby

    2. Dr Andrew A. Adams
      Thumb Up

      Re: What about the gaps between galaxies?

      And what about relative absorption of other, heavier free elements? While there are less of them around, they're heavier. Again, it may not solve the dark matter problem in the calcualtions, but it could provide another echidna or three'2 worth of those 30 echidnas in the Large Kangaroo-sized hole in the equations.

  5. Big-nosed Pengie

    Echidnas?

    Makes a damn site more sense than "football pitches". At least there's only one kind of echidna, as against how many hundred brands of football.

    1. bazza Silver badge

      Re: Echidnas?

      Oh I dunno, doesn't it depend on how well fed the echidna is?

      Great piece of work I thought, well done them!

    2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

      Re: Echidnas?

      Not according to the reg wiki link - there is more than one type.

      1. TheOtherHobbes
        Paris Hilton

        Re: Echidnas?

        It'll be the SI echidna.

        The one that's kept in a special protective atmosphere at a fixed temperature at an underground location.

        Probably in Paris.

    3. hplasm
      Boffin

      Re: Echidnas?

      But what is the mass of a football pitch, in Kangaroos?

      1. James Micallef Silver badge
        Happy

        Re: Echidnas?

        European or African football pitch?

        1. The First Dave
          Angel

          Re: Echidnas?

          Laden or un-Laden?

          1. BlueGreen
            Linux

            Q: what's the difference between yoghurt and Australia

            A: culture

            An old one but it wears it well.

            (an Auk, for variety. Unladen)

  6. Mussie (Ed)
    Thumb Down

    WTF

    Dr Braun notes that “Although there’s more atomic hydrogen than we thought, it’s not big enough to solve the Dark Matter problem. If what we are missing had the weight of a large kangaroo, what we have found would have the weight of a small echidna.”

    /Sign this is getting older than "I for one welcome or weigth of kangaroo overlords"

  7. Winkypop Silver badge
    Joke

    It's confirmed by the money as well - !!

    The kangaroo appears on our $1 bit. A medium sized, gold coloured coin.

    The echidna appears on our 5c bit. Which is a very small silver coloured coin.

    So it must be true!!

    1. frank ly

      Re: It's confirmed by the money as well - !!

      I can understand the reasoning behind this idea, but what do you do if a coin of value greater than $1 is needed. Do you have one and do you have a native animal to match it?

      1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: It's confirmed by the money as well - !!

        Easy, just put 2 kangas on the $2, 5 of them on the $5...

        1. Some Beggar

          Re: It's confirmed by the money as well - !!

          $10 - put the kangaroo in a ute.

  8. Gordon 10 Silver badge

    What's fascinating about this

    Is that the way it reduces the dark matter problem. Ok it only reduces it by 2-5% (or whatever the kangaroo/echidna mass ratio is) but is shows that there are still opportunities for visible matter explanations instead of dark matter - that are within an order of magnitude of the dark matter estimate itself.

    Put it another way 19 more echidna sized breakthroughs and the need for dark matter goes away.

    1. Beau
      Megaphone

      Re: What's fascinating about this

      (and the need for dark matter goes away.)

      About bloody time too, the sooner we get rid of this magical dark matter, that can't be detected what soever, the better.

      Except to balance our accepted theory of the universe, nothing else in astronomy or sub atomic theory, supports it's existence. Either the missing mass is out there in good old fashioned mass somewhere, or our theory of the universe is wrong!

      1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: What's fascinating about this

        Yep, every time I hear "dark matter" or "dark energy", I'm thinking "phlogiston" and "epicycles".

        1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

          Re: What's fascinating about this

          Phlogiston? I always preferred aether as an analogy for dark matter.

        2. Ron 6
          Thumb Up

          Re: What's fascinating about this

          I think Finagle's constant...

          http://c2.com/cgi/wiki?FinaglesVariableConstant

      2. Psyx

        Re: What's fascinating about this

        "nothing else in astronomy or sub atomic theory, supports it's existence."

        No: Nothing in theory. Only our actual empirical evidence and observations.

        Of course we could happily pretend to ignore visible evidence just to have a nice tidy theory as you suggest...

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: What's fascinating about this

          Dont forget empirical evidence also supported "bad humours" supporting the spread of disease. ie Bad Smell = cause not symptom of illness. Until the microscope was invented it was a perfectly good theory that matched established facts.

          Im sure Dark Matter and Dark energy were only created as terms because some stuffy old physicists voted down "Stuff", "Magic" and the "Reversible Sedgewick particle"

        2. Graham Bartlett

          Re: What's fascinating about this

          There was empirical evidence for phlogiston too. There was also empirical evidence for another planet existing inside the orbit of Mercury to cause its orbit to behave non-Newtonianly. The former was explained by better experiments and a better understanding of the reaction of elements; the latter was explained by Einstein's General Theory of Relativity.

          So the step from "we have observed this happening" to "some strange stuff must exist which has these properties" is bogus. Dark matter (and its even less explained counterpart, dark energy) may exist, but equally the fact that observations don't match theory may just need a different theory.

          1. Some Beggar
            Thumb Down

            Re: What's fascinating about this

            So the step from "we have observed this happening" to "some strange stuff must exist which has these properties" is bogus.

            Fortunately, no scientist has ever made this step so you can stop worrying about it.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: What's fascinating about this

              "Fortunately, no scientist has ever made this step so you can stop worrying about it."

              Sadly though, many make this step, then pretend to be scientists!

    2. strangefish

      Re: What's fascinating about this

      much what I was thinking...a third more atomic hydrogen than previously thought? That's a hell of a margin of error then in the original estimates. Dark matter, schmark matter.

      1. Some Beggar
        FAIL

        Re: What's fascinating about this

        I love it when half-informed amateurs wave their magical internet schlongs about and dismiss problems that have been troubling professionals for decades.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What's fascinating about this

      Maybe. The solar neutrino problem did work itself out in the end, although the fix didn't require any marsupials, penguins, sheep, football pitches or Bulgarian airbags.

  9. Sir Runcible Spoon Silver badge

    Sir

    If they can't detect dark matter, how do they make those 'dark matter maps' that look like the honeycombe understructure of the Universe?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sir

      There are lots of things that we can't detect straight off the bat; but we can clearly see the effects of.

      The effects of dark matter are visible via the gravitational effects on nearby matter.

    2. Amonynous
      Boffin

      Re: Sir

      "If they can't detect dark matter, how do they make those 'dark matter maps' that look like the honeycombe understructure of the Universe?"

      Simplistically, by measuring where the visible (non-dark) matter is.

      The existence of "Dark Matter" was deduced from measuring the speed of rotation of galaxies and their mass.

      Speed of rotation is measured by looking at the shift in the spectrum of the visible light emitted from a galaxy. Assuming a galaxy is 'edge on' relative to us, one side will be moving towards us, and thus the spectrum is shifted towards the blue end, and the opposite side moving away from us, and shifted towards the red. By measuring the relative difference in shift between the two sides, it is possible to work out how fast the galaxy is rotating.

      Mass is estimated from observations of what we can see - visible light for the stars, comparing visible and infrared observations to identify the dust (blocks the former but not the latter), radio observations for hydrogen, etc.

      Turns out that galaxies rotate too fast compared to the gravitational force generated by the matter we can observe. If the only matter they contain is what we can see, they would fly apart, flinging their starts, dust and gas off in all directions.

      The fact that they don't leads to one of two conclusions:

      1. Our current theories of gravity are incorrect. Serious consideration has been given to the idea that gravity may act differently over long distances than short ones. This is not currently a theory that holds much sway.

      2. That the universe contains a whole lot more mass than we have been able to observe, i.e. "Dark Matter". The trouble is that weird/exotic types of unknown particle or other bogeyman make better headlines than forgetting to look under the bed for the missing mass.

      To be fair, lots of 'boring' things like undetected gas or shedloads of brown dwarfs or similar objects that are to dim to detect have and are being pursued, as this story proves. The problem is that the discrepancy between what we can observe and the missing mass is so large that it seems entirely reasonable that there is a whole class of 'stuff' out there that we simply have no idea about and thus no (current) means of detecting.

      Anyway, back to the original question. The large scale structure of the universe has been mapped (in a few directions) by measuring the distribution of galaxies. These do form a sort of 'honeycomb' structure with filaments and walls and great gulfs of empty space between them. The Dark Matter that holds galaxies together is also thought to be responsible for the formation of these larger scale structures.

      Basically, current theories suggest that the dark matter is in the same places as the stuff we can already see because the latter is held together by the gravitational force generated by the former. As with all scientific theories, something may come up in the future that proves we were barking up completely the wrong tree all along.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  10. JDX Gold badge

    helps explain why the rate of star formation has slowed down

    When I were a lad there were new stars nearly every day.

  11. Alan Brown Silver badge

    How many

    kangaroos to the bunyip?

  12. PyLETS
    Joke

    Hydrogen emissions too self absobed

    Maybe they need to get out a bit more.

  13. IronSteve

    When he said Echidna, I instantly thought of Knuckles...he was badass

  14. Graham Wilson

    Hum.

    Does the LHC now require a firmware upgrade? ;-)

  15. Jerry 8

    How many kangaroos to the Olympic swimming pool?

    ??

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