Friday, March 9, 2007

Is Pluto a planet? Is Menudo? Who cares?

Please, somebody, explain to me why people care so much about Pluto!

(triggered by Julianne's likewise bafflement over at Cosmic Variance.)

Is it Disney?

Is it because "My Violet Eyed Monkey..." is the only astrofact people know? (In which case, we have work to do!) Wouldn't you rather know that the universe is flying apart, or is 13.7 billion years old, or began with a Big Bang? Or even, if we must talk about the outer solar system, that there are THOUSANDS of rocks tumbling around near Pluto's orbit, all frozen relics from the formation of our solar system?

Are they pissed b/c the only thing they thought they knew about Astronomy, is wrong? (Which is a great thing to learn about science!! -- that new data can show that old paradigms were utter, utter crap. I think Sagan called this "built-in error checking".)

Or is it just plain rooting for the underdog? Please, somebody, explain!


Anonymous said...

I think that it's just an example of how people hate to change. They've been told since childhood that Pluto is a planet. They've memorized little ditties to help them remember and it includes a "P" on the end. Dated books that they pick up still refer to it as a planet. They are thinking culturally and not scientifically about it.

Karen said...

Pluto always was my favorite.

(it's so little! and so cute!)

Anonymous said...


--Jackie M.

Anonymous said...

As someone once said

"Any club that includes a Jupiter or a Saturn shouldn't greant membership to a little piece of ice garbage smaller than our moon."

Chuck said...

Pluto has an atmosphere. It has as many moons as all the terrestrial planets combined. It has surface heterogeneities that cannot be explained using earth-orbit-based telescopes. Its assumed-closest-relative, the moon Triton, is one of th emost interesting moons in th solar system. And yet, it got the boot before the spacecraft designed to study it even got a chance to gather data for its defense. It isn't just about pluto, it is about due process an fair representation.

As for the jupiter club argument, that planetary club should include exactly 2 plaanets- Jupiter and Saturn, as everything else orbiting the sun only exists as a consequence of the orbital resonance between those two planets.