I remember back in the 3rd or 4th grade learning about the planets in the Solar System. Some of them had cool names, like Mars (like the candy bar), and Mercury (like the car), and the name the older kids liked to make fun of, “Uranus.”
And then there was Pluto – what a cool planet. First of all, it was named after a Disney character, and it was so freakin’ small, we knew next to nothing about it. If you looked at those school science class posters of the Solar System, Pluto was like a period at the end of the Solar System sentence.
Well, those wacky science eggheads have gotten together, and decided that Pluto isn’t really a planet, and should no longer be referred to as one. It’s too small, and it’s lacking other planetary characteristics, which you can find out about by reading this article.
This decision has caused no small stir. In the scientific community, it’s a source of controversy. Some astronomers are applauding the decision (well, not literally applauding – that would be silly – but they’re supporting it enthusiastically), because they feel that Pluto, as cute as it is, is just too different than the other more standard sized planets. The believe that it’s now the right thing to refer to Pluto and other orbiting rocks like it as “Dwarf Planets.”
On the other hand, other scientists are throwing a wet blanket on the whole reclassification of Pluto (again, not literally an actual wet blanket, but simply a figure of speech meaning they’re being jerks about it). Some don’t like the term “Dwarf Planet,” perhaps preferring the more politically correct term “Little Planet.” The article doesn’t say that – I just made it up.
Anyway, the article has some statements that I have strong feelings about. Just to be clear – I have no strong feelings about Pluto itself – just certain statements in the article:
Strong feeling #1: I too, have a problem with the name “Dwarf Planet.” It brings up images of little guys with pointy hats and long beards, all sitting around under bridges, and it makes me wonder if guys like that are prevalent on Pluto.
Strong feeling #2: Some of the members of the International Astronomical Union are upset that only 424 out of 10,000 members showed up to vote for the reclassification of Pluto (it’s kind of like church business meetings). I, however, am shocked that there is actually a union of astronomers in the first place. I also wonder if anything serious would happen if the International Astronomical Union were to ever go on strike.
Strong feeling #3: The widow of the man who discovered Pluto, is apparently shaken up by this new turn of events. While she’s being nice about it and saying that she feels her husband (now dead) would have supported such a change, I’m thinking – is it really worth upsetting a 93-year-old woman over such a trivial matter? We’re talking about a round rock almost 4 billion miles away.
Strong feeling #4: According to Mike Brown, a Caltech astronomer, “The public is going to be very excited by the fact that Pluto has been kicked out.” I have news for Mike – No they’re not. Most people won’t care. Apparently, Mike Brown and 424 astronomy union guys are living on another planet than the rest of us. (HA)