Friday, August 25, 2006

Astronomers Lose a Planet

I have lost my keys. I have lost my way. Many say I have even lost my mind. However, losing a planet seems excessive.

PRAGUE (Reuters) - Pluto was stripped of its status as a planet on Thursday when astronomers from around the world redefined it as a "dwarf planet," leaving just eight major planets in the solar system.

With one vote, toys and models of the solar system became instantly obsolete, forcing teachers and publishers to scramble to update textbooks and lessons used in classrooms for decades.

"Pluto is dead," Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology bluntly told reporters on a teleconference.
Dead? First lost. Now killed. It hardly seems fair. A celestial giant becomes a midget with the stroke of a pen. This is going to drive the astrologers crazy.
Clyde Tombaugh, the icy rock of Pluto has traditionally been considered the ninth planet, farthest from the sun in the solar system.

However, the definition of a planet, approved after a heated debate among 2,500 scientists from the International Astronomical Union (IAU) meeting in Prague, drew a clear distinction between Pluto and the other eight planets.

The need to define what is a planet was driven by technological advances enabling astronomers to look further into space and measure more precisely the size of celestial bodies.

"This is all about the advancement of science changing our thinking as we get more information," said Richard Binzel, professor of Planetary Sciences at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a member of the planet definition committee.
That is the essence of science. Knowledge changes thinking. Now about Intelligent Design.

1 comment:

linearthinker said...

Please pardon my French, but, "What a bunch of asshats!"

For some perverse reason, this pops to mind:

"In some ways it was like the debate of a group of savages as to how to extract a screw from a piece of wood. Accustomed only to nails, they had made one effort to pull out the screw by main force, and now that it had failed they were devising methods of applying more force still, of obtaining more efficient pincers, of using levers and fulcrum so that more men could bring their strength to bear. They could hardly be blamed for not guessing that by rotating the screw it would come out after the exertion of far less effort; it would be so different that they would laugh at the man who suggested it."