User Input

User Input: Pink Slip for Planet Pluto

Plenty of things in astronomy are constant, permanent, immutable. We might go extinct during the lemur uprising of 2145, and even the sun will eventually exhaust its fuel supply and engulf the lemurs as it expands outward into a red giant in a few billion years. But gravity, magnetism, and the speed of light don’t change over time and won’t miss us when we’re gone. The strong and weak nuclear forces don’t care what we call them. And for all the importance we put on the “constancy” of Haley’s Comet, in astronomical terms it’s a snowball in hell, melting in the blink of an eye.

Try as I might to keep this perspective in mind, I was ticked off when Pluto was demoted to the somewhat unsatisfying “minor planet” designation. How we as humans classify things is almost totally irrelevant in the grand cosmic scheme, but it was a bloody travesty where I was concerned. Growing up thinking about those 9 planets circling a lonely sun, way out in the backwoods of a spiral galaxy, was comforting. The decision to reclassify Pluto makes sense from a scientific standpoint … but does it make sense from yours?

  • alewifecove


    If we called it aplanet, there are many many objects the should be called so.

    Neil deGrasse Tyson make a great case on laymen's terms here:

  • alewifecove


    If we called it aplanet, there are many many objects the should be called so.

    Neil deGrasse Tyson make a great case on laymen's terms here:

  • Deartháir

    I don't care if there are other celestial bodies that are bigger than Pluto. Pluto was classified as a planet, and goddammit it should stay that way! Tradition dictates that we ignore the scientific evidence, all data to the contrary, and any contrary viewpoints, as well as any new theories and classifications they may present us, and stick with the evidence that is in text-books from when our grandparents went to school.

    After all, if it's good enough for the pupils of "Intelligent Design", it should be good enough for Pluto!

    /been watching Faux News again, haven't I?

  • I agree with Sheldon.

    [youtube H3DfwFZZXDQ youtube]

    • tiberiusẅisë

      I agree. Some people just aren't worth it. At least that's what I hear people say as they walk away from me.

  • tiberiuswise

    My grandmother was a NYC schoolteacher. Born the same year as the MoCo that is Fo, she saw a lot over the years. Saved a lot of stuff too.

    Books were kinda big for her and this apple didn't fall that far from the tree. I never tired of hearing tales about what had changed since she was a wee lass. I believed every word but seeing it in print, bonus. When she told me that Pluto was a fairly recent discovery and showed me books describing the 8 planets I was convinced that I was truely in the modern age. One of the lucky ones to discover a new planet. Just like that guy that flew around for three years on a five year mission.

    Now, I feel robbed. My birthright taken. For what? Scientific accuracy? Like it would kill them to give poor Pluto a pass? Think of the fans!

  • tonyola

    First the moon men vanished.
    Then the moon ended up being rock and dust instead of cheese.
    Venus was found to be too hot and utterly inhospitable.
    There was no such thing as Martians.
    The Eugenics Wars of the 1990s as predicted by Star Trek didn't happen.
    There were no moon bases or Pan-Am space planes in 2001 and no-one found a big black monolith.
    No manned Jupiter missions in 2010. No new suns either.
    It's almost 2015 and we don't have flying cars, hoverboards, or Black & Decker pizza hydrators.
    Now Pluto isn't a planet anymore.
    (sigh) – Who ever though that the future would be so dull?

    • skitter

      When Pluto was a planet, I was a burned out engineer with no girlfriend.
      When Pluto ceased to be a planet, I was a burned out engineer with no girlfriend.
      If tomorrow we discover intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, my odds become even worse.

      • Alff

        Stay positive. Maybe one of them will be your girlfriend.

    • But they did find some alien bacteria today, so that's cool, right?
      All the planets that have been discovered is cool, right?
      Um… 2015 is still a little ways away, so there is always hope, right?

      Sorry, I got nothing. This is just depressing.

  • The astronomer who discovered Pluto, Clyde Tombaugh did so at New Mexico State University, a college that I attended. I also attended San Juan Junior College, and they had a planetarium dedicated to Tombaugh. I took several astronomy courses at both schools, and discovering Pluto was the big "claim to fame." It really enraged me when they took that away.

    • coupeZ600

      Love ya' buddy, but Clyde discovered Pluto up here in Flagstaff AZ, at the observatory on the hill up above town that Crazy Uncle Percy (Lowell) built while obsessed by the canals made by the people on Mars. Strangely enough the story never got much traction here, what with the powerful astronomers lobby (who in the heck lives in a town with an astronomy lobby at all?) generally agreeing that while a great discovery, it really didn't rate as a planet. The Chamber of Commerce was livid.

      • I said I took astronomy classes, not pass them. Ah, Pluto has always been the ugly duckling.

  • Sarah Lee frozen cake. Wild, wild times.

  • Mr_Biggles

    Once again, please excuse my broughtupness, but who was the drunkard on the focus knob when those pics of Pluto were taken?

    • highmileage_v1

      Zaphod Beeblebrox, after one too many Pan Galactic Gargle blasters.

      Personally I think Pluto is probably like some tourist destinations. Everybody raves about it, but when you arrive you realize the food is bad, the locals are rude and the Hotel has bedbugs. Plus the booze is expensive. I'll cross Pluto off my travel list for now.

      • Alff

        IIRC, one is one too many Pan-Gallactic Gargle Blasters. I may recall incorrectly, however. A lot transpired in the year that the IRS required me to be dead.

  • Pluto Schmuto! Here is a REAL planet!

  • kah

    I thought Pluto was a dog