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No. 39: May-Jun 1985

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Exorcising The Hidden Mass

These days the astronomical publications are full of discussions of the "missing mass" problem. It seems that for galax-ies to move the way they do, there has to be some "dark matter" out there, assuming Newton's Laws of Gravitation and Motion are valid. Something unseen is tugging on galaxies and the stars that comprise them.

This is a sad situation, according to Moto Milgrom, an Israeli astrophysicist. Maybe there is nothing hidden and Newton's Law of Gravitation is wrong. After all, it was derived solely on the basis of solar-system observations. On a larger scale, it might be incorrect. Milgrom offers a startling alternative: for accelerations greater than a, let Newton's Law be; below that value, let the square of the acceleration be proportional to the mass of the attracting body and the inverse square of the distance.

This done and presto the need for missing mass disappears. Even more remarkable is the fact that a particle with the acceleration a just reaches the speed of light over the age of the universe.

(Milgrom, Moto; "Newtonian Gravity Falls Down," New Scientist, p. 45, March 7, 1985.)

Comment. It would be more than passing strange for cosmic laws to suddenly shift gears so radically at a specific value of acceleration.

Reference. The "missing mass" problem is covered in depth in AWB5 and other entries in Stars, Galaxies, Cosmos. For more on this Catalog volume, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #39, MAY-JUN 1985. 1985-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987