QUESTION TYPE: Paradox
FACTS: Astronomers haven’t changed their estimates of the universe’s weight, even though we’ve discovered 40 billion more galaxies.
ANALYSIS: Shouldn’t more galaxies mean the universe is heavier? There are more stars, planets, etc.
Well, the right answer tells us that galaxies are only a small part of the universe. Sure makes you feel tiny.
- CORRECT. This would do it. If Galaxies were only 0.0001% of the universe, then even 40 billion more galaxies wouldn’t add much weight.
- We found four times the number of galaxies that we thought existed. That should let us make at least a rough estimate of their weight: they’re probably heavy, compared to the galaxies we knew about.
- This explains why we found more galaxies, but it tells us nothing about their weight.
- This goes the wrong way. We’re trying to figure out why theories about the universe’s weight weren’t affected by the discovery about the universe’s mass.
- One astronomer’s estimate might say the universe is twice as heavy as another astronomer’s estimate. But if both astronomers didn’t change their estimates, then we can say they agree that the new galaxies didn’t affect the weight of the universe, even if their estimates are different.
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