Skepticism

Afternoon Inquisition 10.25

Driving home the other day, listening to Aesop Rock’s lament of the IAU’s August 2006 decision to demote Pluto, (a fun and geeky song titled, fittingly, “Bring Back Pluto”) I wondered:

Are we over Pluto? Nobody talks about it anymore. Despite the cultural nostalgia associated with it, I pretty much understood and agreed with the decision from the beginning, but are there some of you out there secretly holding out hope that they will bring it back? Now’s your chance to exorcise your demons, kids.

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35 Comments

  1. Pluto, you will always be a planet as far as I’m concerned. I was raised to believe that Pluto was a planet and whatever I bought into as a child I will certainly not re-examine as an adult! Crazy scientists with their shifty sciency science.

  2. Changing Pluto’s definition back to a planet because of cultural nostalgia and public support, when there isn’t a compelling scientific reason is stupid and pointless.

    Also see ‘Traditional Marriage” or “Proposition 8”

  3. Amazing! Just before I read this blog entry I lined up Theo Travis’s The Relegation of Pluto to play on my jazz programme tomorrow.

    So it seems Carl Jung was right after all. All coincidences are meaningful, even the ones that aren’t.

  4. Pluto: I’m a what now?

    IAU: Dwarf planet.

    Pluto: You mean like Ceres and Xena and those others.

    IAU: Xena’s official name is Eris and yes, you are one of them.

    Pluto: Won’t Gabrielle be upset.

    IAU: Who cares? She’s a sidekick.

    Pluto: So I’m a dwarf planet?

    IAU: Yep.

    Pluto: Couldn’t I just be petite?

    IAU: Ah, no – dwarf it is.

    Pluto: It’s because I’m small, isn’t it?

    IAU: Partly, but it isn’t like you have cleared your neighborhood and have you seen your orbit?

    Pluto: What’s wrong with my orbit?

    IAU: If it were anymore eccentric, you’d be a comet.

    Pluto: No reason to get nasty.

    IAU: You asked.

    Pluto: So, are you still getting death threats? Because I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you. I mean just because maybe your replacement would reconsider my case and make me a planet again … I certainly try to dissuade anyone from anything crazy. By the way, I wouldn’t eat any tacos in the near future, it could be bad for your health … or was it pizza pockets … maybe just don’t eat anything.

    IAU: Okay, okay. You can be a planet.

    Pluto: Great.

    (And that is why you don’t mess with something named for the God of the Underworld …)

  5. Given the choice between 8 planets (known as of now) and the 20+ likely to happen if the rules count Pluto as one, my inner elementary school kid votes 8. The one thing we don’t need in our schools is making the rote memorization lists even longer!

  6. I love you Pluto, and there will always be a soft spot in my heart for you, but when it comes to planets, size does matter, and you just don’t measure up. It’s not you, it’s me. I’m the one with the problem and demands that you just can’t meet. I’m the one who can’t cope with the eccentricities of your orbit. You deserve someone better, someone who will love you for what you are, not someone who wants you to be a planet. I love you Pluto, but we just can’t make it work.

    …By the way, I’m seeing Jupiter now.

  7. pluto is still a planet. period. forget science and its pesky logic and observation and conferences. stick to your principles!

    haha, although the little girl in me does get nostalgic for pluto. poor little pluto, moping around and depressed about his demotion. but the realist in me realizes that there would then have to be like two dozen new planets if pluto was still considered a planet….haha, can you imagine trying to name all of those…and remember them?

  8. I’m amused that so many see Pluto’s ‘dwarf planet’ status as a demotion. It’s not as if there’s any empirical reason to believe a regular planet is somehow better than a dwarf planet.
    The alternative – that it’s a ‘Plutino’ is also not a demotion.

    I think the motive for changing Pluto’s status is sound, and I agree that Pluto should be a dwarf planet and a Plutino – not a normal planet. However – I think the definition of planet will take a few more tries to make it really useful. The current one has a number of problems which Phil has blogged about.

  9. I don’t like the current definition, though. If Earth was in Pluto’s orbit, it wouldn’t be a planet because of the large volume of space that needed clearing up. Besides, it doesn’t matter whether there would be too much planets to memorize. Having too much classification to record don’t make biologists exclude species.

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