Monday, August 14, 2006

Pluto may no longer be a planet...

The Boston Globe has an article on Pluto's status as a planet.
Some 3,000 astronomers and scientists from around the world will meet in Prague this week to decide whether Pluto, discovered in 1930, measures up to the definition of a planet.

The question arises from the fact that there are a number of celestial bodies of Pluto's size in our solar system that have been found since its discovery. This is expected given the improved instruments that give us a greater ability to study the Solar System. In 2003 astronomers at the California Institute of Technology discovered Xena, a ? (not planet) a little large than Pluto in diameter.

Some have expressed concern that if we downgrade Pluto from planet to asteroid? "it would disappoint children and throw our understanding of the universe into chaos". Oh my gosh - maybe my children will suddenly develop anxiety attacks, have nightmares and start wetting their beds. Or maybe they'll wonder if they too will be downgraded from human to chimp and suffer from resulting self-esteem issues. How incredibly fearful and small-minded! Call a spade and spade, I say - if that shakes things up than so be it. Publishers are waiting with bated breath to find out if schools will be ordering reprints of science textbooks$$$ so we know someone will benefit – hey, I wonder who organized this thing, anyway? Although I have to admit to liking a shake-up of the status quo...

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