The real problem with people fussing over Pluto all the time is it represents the priorities of the public - preserving traditions rather than accepting facts. The pursuit of science is about building a sustainable catalog of truths, and there is no advantage in altering truths to appease nostalgia.
This will be a Live Hangout ON-Air. July 2, 9:00 AM PST
Mark Showalter (Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute), Alan Boyle (MSNBC), and Nadia Drake (WIRED) will talk about the new names given to Pluto’s smallest known moons. Moderated by Franck Marchis (Carl Sagan Center at the SETI Institute)
Exciting! Maybe if we give these moons names, some of you will forget about the whole planet thing for a while?
If Nadia does this from her desk at Wired, there’s a distinct chance that I will walk behind her and make faces at the camera.
After the Pluto’s demotion from planet-status, astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson received hate mail from thousands of elementary school children. Images via PBS
Well kids, I guess you can add me to the Pluto-hatin’ club. I’ve got your back Dr. Tyson!
If Pluto landed on Earth, it would only stretch from California to Kansas. It’s smaller than our own Moon and half ice. It orbits more like a comet than a planet. It has more in common with the members of the icy and distant Kuiper belt than the larger planets. In fact, it could take the cake as Kuiper king, Emperor of dwarf planets. Don’t hate me, folks. Science is an ever-evolving tapestry, and that tapestry has 8 planets :)
Fifth moon of Pluto discovered. Seems a bit greedy for something that’s not even a planet. More info here.
I agree, Carl. I mean, here we are, only known sentient beings in the entire universe, and we only have one stinking moon. And we have to stare at the same face of it ALL THE TIME, no less.
Perhaps with the exception of Kirk vs. Picard or Dr. Who vs. Sherlock, nothing gets the rabble roused on the ntrnts quite like the debate over Pluto’s planethood. We are oddly sensitive about its 2006 demotion to “minor planet-type thing”. It’s as if we feel cheated in childhood, tricked into expending valuable energy mnemonically memorizing the sequence of the nine planets. That was energy that we could have spent on things like Nintendo. How dare you trick us!
Oddly, we are not at all upset that equal energy was wasted in memorizing the Gettysburg Address and fashioning the accompanying construction-paper stovepipe hat.
But so it goes. Pluto is not a planet anymore, and that pain is part of our shared cultural fabric now (it was even noted by the inimitable Randy Newman in this song).
You have two options: (1) Get over it and learn why it isn’t a planet or (2) Assume the confrontational fetal position and continue to fight for Pluto’s respect.
This video is full of really awesome demonstrations of scale (Pluto isn’t even the biggest thing in its own neighborhood), terminology (why “planet” is a pretty annoying word), and the true state of planetary knowledge (and where it’s going), and it will help you do one of those things.
(via Brain Pickings, video by C.G.P. Gray)