Friday, September 01, 2006

So, a bit more on Pluto's demotion

It is appropriate that their are already scientists that are rebuffing the recent supposed demotion of Pluto as a planet. I mentioned there would be embarrassment on this decision within 20 years. Well, one week is certainly within 20 years. lol

Reuters reports:

"The IAU can say the sky is green all day long and that doesn't make it so," said Stern, a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado. "The IAU created a definition which is technically flawed, linguistically flawed and scientifically embarrassing," Stern said in a phone interview.

This is pretty funny and pretty much matches the point I made previously. These people don't own our solar system and they don't own the English language.

Fact of the matter is, the new definitions of "planet" actually are poorly worded to specifically exclude both Ceres and Pluto as planets.

A "planet" [1] is a celestial body that: (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.

Furthermore, these rules fail to recognize the differences between the accepted planets. Gas Giants like Jupiter or Saturn have very little in common with Terrestrials like Earth or Venus. Instead of playing political games with how words are used, these scientist should be working to create meaningful classifications of planets that describe their general make-up and origins.

Once we start exploring other solar systems, I think we will find the familiar order of our own solar system is quite rare, and that our current understanding of what a planet is not resemble its future definition. There will be planets that share orbits in one fashion or another. There will be protoplanets larger than Earth, but residing within an Asteroid field. There will be double planets that are similar in size and that orbit either other. There will smashed planets, rogue planets, comet tail planets, double Gas Giants, heavy element planets, obround planets the size of Mars, empty planets, planets that look like the Virgin Mary or Abraham Lincoln, hard surface planets bigger than Neptune, and planets where it really is easy being green. All of this makes the current politically motivated discussion, of what deserves to be called a planet, all very silly.

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