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Pluto Might Be Bigger Than Eris

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the but-does-disney-have-a-trademark dept.

Space 257

astroengine writes "Look out, the battle of the dwarf planets is about to re-ignite! During last weekend's rare occultation of a star by Eris, astronomers managed to gain one of the most accurate measurements of Eris' physical size. When three Chilean telescopes watched the star blink out of sight, astronomers were shocked to find that Eris is actually a lot smaller than originally thought. So small that it might be smaller than Pluto. On speaking with Discovery News, Eris' discoverer Mike Brown said, 'While everyone is more interested in the "mine is bigger than yours" aspect, the real science is the shockingly large density of Eris.' The mass of Eris is well known, so this means the object is more dense than Pluto. Does this mean the two mini-worlds have different compositions? Did they evolve differently? In light of this finding, is the underlying argument for Pluto being demoted from the planetary club on wobbly ground?"

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257 comments

Hey you guys (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34210764)

Mine is bigger than yours! Ha!

Requisite (2, Funny)

Enderandrew (866215) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210770)

Re:Requisite (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211112)

Bluto Blutarski was bigger than that.

Re:Requisite (1)

danlip (737336) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211144)

also: not a planet, neener neener http://xkcd.com/482/ [xkcd.com]

Re:Requisite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34211530)

best xkcd ever!

Cue (0)

Haedrian (1676506) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210774)

[Insert Ur-anus size joke here]

Re:Cue (3, Funny)

EyelessFade (618151) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211042)

Professor: "I'm sorry, Fry, but astronomers renamed Uranus in 2620 to end that stupid joke once and for all."
Fry: "Oh. What's it called now?"
Professor: "Urectum. Here, let me locate it for you."

No. (0, Flamebait)

bigspring (1791856) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210810)

The argument for calling Pluto a Dwarf planet is on perfectly firm ground. It had nothing to do with size. Do some research before you ask stupid questions, please.

Re:No. (3, Interesting)

Sique (173459) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210946)

The argument was as arbitrary as any others. It was basicly "which property is common to both Pluto and Eris, but not found in the other objects traditionally considered planets?".

Pluto always was a weird object to be called a planet, with his density somewhere in the nowhere between the earthlike planets and the gas giants, and being pretty similar to the large moons of the gas giants.

But only when Eris was found, there was a second objekt thought to be similar enough to Pluto to define a new class of "plutolike objects", which allowed Pluto to be demoted from planet status.

So yes, the classification of Pluto in the class of "plutolike objects" (pardon, "Dwarf planets") seems to be on pretty firm ground, considering there are now more objects known in that class (Makemake for instance), though Eris now seems to be a weirdo within this class.

Re:No. (2, Insightful)

bigspring (1791856) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211040)

I wasn't arguing how arbitrary it was. I was arguing that the people who created the definition were smart enough to define it in such a way that the classification can be determined on a case-by-case basis. A basis that won't be substantively changed by comparative measurements. Discovering anything about any new planetary body will not change Pluto's classification because the discoveries will not be about Pluto.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34211468)

Eris a weirdo? No fnord way!

Re:No. (0, Troll)

lgw (121541) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210994)

It's perfectly simple: Pluto is not a Dwarf Planet, Pluto is a Fucking Planet. Ask just about anyone geeky and my age,, and they'll telll you so: "yes, Pluto is a Fucking Planet, now stop trying to change things".

What does being old have to do with it? (5, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211096)

Ask just about anyone geeky and my age,, and they'll telll you so: "yes, Pluto is a Fucking Planet, now stop trying to change things".

What does being geeky have to do with being old and too set in your ways to listen to reason?

Give us an argument why the IAU's definitions of a planet and of a dwarf planet are unreasonable. Please avoid any Appeal to Tradition. Also, can you craft a definition of a planet that covers Pluto but not Eris and Ceres other than "just what we used to arbitrarily call a planet?"

Re:What does being old have to do with it? (1)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211310)

How about that the IAU definition excludes "extrasolar planets" from being planets, on account of them not orbiting the sun.

Also, saying that "dwarf planets" are not a subcategory of the general category "planets" is just fucking stupid.

Re:What does being old have to do with it? (3, Insightful)

GlassHeart (579618) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211396)

I fear you fail to understand the reason behind the "demotion." What we call it has never made any real difference in what Pluto does or does not do. The only use of these names is to help us understand them better. As such, the terrestrial planets share much in common, the gas giants share much in common, and Pluto shares little with either group. Thus, if you're saying that all Pluto-like objects should be called "planets", it would make some sense except that there are lots of them. If you're saying that Pluto alone should be a planet while similar objects are not, then that's a far less defensible position.

Re:What does being old have to do with it? (1)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211470)

How about that the IAU definition excludes "extrasolar planets" from being planets, on account of them not orbiting the sun.

Technically, the IAU definition only covers the distinction between bodies in our solar system and says absolutely nothing about bodies outside of it. This is because there is currently no way for us to determine whether or not any extrasolar planet clears its neighborhood (though we can probably guess for most of the Jupiter-sized ones).

It doesn't say that these bodies aren't planets. If just says that when defining bodies within our Solar System, "planets," "dwarf planets," and "small Solar system bodies" mean X, Y, and Z. It seems a practical compromise to avoid quibbling over questions we largely can't answer.

Also, saying that "dwarf planets" are not a subcategory of the general category "planets" is just fucking stupid.

Well, I would have preferred a different term to draw a greater distinction, but it does capture the fact that dwarf planets have part of the qualifications to be a planet: being large enough for their own gravity to keep them rounded.

Really it's the other way around in my mind since planets are just dwarf planets that are big enough to do something extra.

Re:What does being old have to do with it? (1)

Jiro (131519) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211542)

My definition for a planet would be "big enough that scientifically interesting things happen on it that only happen on big objects".

So if it's got an atmosphere, different types of surface, weather, tectonic activity, etc. it's more planetlike. It's a sliding scale rather than a yes or no idea, and you'll probably need to come up with some size threshhold that roughly approximates this (since it's hard to tell if some newly discovered object, that you don't know anything about yet, has anything interesting on it), but I can't imagine Pluto failing this definition.

Re:What does being old have to do with it? (1)

CODiNE (27417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211340)

The reason that Pluto should be a planet is that

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizza pies.

Re:What does being old have to do with it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34211346)

Roundness should be the criteria.

If it is reasonably round then it has sufficient mass for gravitational collapse to 'pull it together' so; if it's round it should be a planet.

Also, I wish they had stuck with Xena instead of Eris, that’s what the discoverer originally called it and the bunch of "I'm an astronomer" snobs just did not like it.

Alas, everything is run by committee these days...

Re:What does being old have to do with it? (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211352)

My definition is musical:

If it's not in the Holst suite, it's not a planet.

Re:What does being old have to do with it? (1)

res1216 (1785928) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211452)

Earth?

Re:What does being old have to do with it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34211374)

... Also, can you craft a definition of a planet that covers Pluto but not Eris and Ceres other than "just what we used to arbitrarily call a planet?"

Why should we exclude Ceres and Eris? They be round, they be planets. Makes far more sense than current definition. Current definition is as arbitrary as "A planet is any Solar System body that can be resolved into a clear disk when viewing it through a cheap department store refractor."

Re:No. (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211122)

It's perfectly simple: Humans are not animals, Humans are fucking special. Ask just about anyone religious and my age, they'll tell you so: "No, humans aren't animals, now stop trying to change things".

See how ridiculous your non-argument sounds?

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34211460)

Pot, kettle. Kettle, pot.

Re:No. (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211268)

Fuck you... allow me to elaborate.

Science progress, and you geezers* can stuff yourselves. For the record, I'm probably older then you. You can gave geeky, I'll stick with nerdy, because I actually know shit.

I'm sure there where people like you when the Greeks figured out the world was round, and there were people like you when the write brothers flew, and there where people like you when phones went cordless, and there will be people like you when we send people to actually walk on Pluto.

We don't need you're attitude, we will never need your attitude. You are an achor around the ankle of progress. But we are stronger then you, and science will continue no matter how much you want it to freeze in place.

*By Geezer I mean: unchanging, 'in my day', 'get off my lawn' wastes of space.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34211412)

Fuck you... allow me to elaborate.

Science progresses, and you geezers* can stuff yourselves. For the record, I'm probably older than you. You can have geeky, I'll stick with nerdy, because I actually know jack shit.

I'm sure there were people like you when the Greeks figured out the world was round, and there were people like you when the Wright brothers flew, and there were people like you when phones went cordless, and there will be people like you when we send people to actually walk on Pluto.

We don't need yyour attitude, we will never need your attitude. You are an anchor around the ankle of progress. But we are stronger then you, and science will continue no matter how much you want it to freeze in place.

*By Geezer I mean: unchanging, 'in my day', 'get off my lawn' wastes of space.

You almost made a decent argument, although it was mostly emotional and not rational. Too bad you write like a fucking 3rd grader.

Re:No. (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211518)

Fuck you... allow me to elaborate.

Science progresses, and you geezers* can stuff yourselves. For the record, I'm probably older than you. You can have geeky, I'll stick with nerdy, because I actually know jack shit.

I'm sure there were people like you when the Greeks figured out the world was round, and there were people like you when the Wright brothers flew, and there were people like you when phones went cordless, and there will be people like you when we send people to actually walk on Pluto.

We don't need your attitude, we will never need your attitude. You are an anchor around the ankle of progress. But we are stronger than you, and science will continue no matter how much you want it to freeze in place.

*By Geezer I mean: unchanging, 'in my day', 'get off my lawn' wastes of space.

You almost made a decent argument, although it was mostly emotional and not rational. Too bad you write like a fucking third grader.

Re:No. (1)

by (1706743) (1706744) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211454)

At the end of the day, the whole "planet/not a planet" distinction isn't even particularly illuminating. It's much more useful, IMHO, to just look at the parameters and make up your own mind. How massive is it? What's its distance from the sun? What's its eccentricity? What's its inclination (please, no jokes about Uranus' inclination...)? What's its origin?

A binary planet/not planet distinction just doesn't tell you that much.

Re:No. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34211476)

Do I qualify? I remember watching the moon landing, and got my first personal computer in 78. Sorry, but Pluto /was/ a planet, and those kids aren't on /your/ lawn.

Re:No. (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211540)

>Ask just about anyone geeky and my age,, and they'll telll you so: "yes, Pluto is a Fucking Planet, now stop trying to change things".

And ask anyone my grandmother's age and they'll tell you that they're not really convinced Pluto is a planet because when they were in school in the 1920's, it wasn't a planet, it was just a chunk of rock that nobody had ever seen.

Sounds about right (2, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210826)

This sounds about right; the Eris is a fairly tiny phone.

Oh wait...

Pluto controversy (3, Interesting)

falldeaf (968657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210832)

I remember being so confused about the Pluto controversy. Maybe it's just because I'm not an astronomy nerd but I don't understand the uproar about correcting a miss-classification of a heavenly body... I remember Neil Desgrasse Tyson on the Colbert Report chiming in that it was just a simple fact. Any of you astronomy nerds reading that could explain the emotional reaction? (Not to assume, was it astronomy nerds that were upset? Maybe it was Astrology people that were upset.)

Re:Pluto controversy (3, Insightful)

just_another_sean (919159) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210892)

I also seem to remember Neil blaming most of the uproar on Disney. Paraphrasing - "if they hadn't named that darned dog Pluto nobody would have cared".

It's hard to tell with Neil how serious he was on that one. :-)

Re:Pluto controversy (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34210912)

I figured it was the parents who were upset that their children were learning something different from what they learned.

Re:Pluto controversy (1)

falldeaf (968657) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210948)

Hey that's a pretty good guess.

Re:Pluto controversy (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210944)

I think that it has a lot to do with the fact that a shockingly large number of people confuse nomenclature with knowledge. Because of that, a fairly fiddly technical discussion over how best to handle astronomical nomenclature hit the popular press as "zOMG pointy-headed scientists don't even know if Pluto is a planet!!!!!"

Naming is not a trivial thing, good nomenclature makes the world a much easier place, crap nomenclature makes it a mess wholly without reason; but either way it seduces people into forgetting that names are simply constructs, assigned for our convenience to bundles of real things. Sometimes, you have to revise the constructs to make the nomenclature better, simpler, more expressive, whatever; but that is very different from changing the bundle of real things and attributes.

Re:Pluto controversy (5, Informative)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211034)

At least we can be certain it will pass - I don't see any people lamenting that Ceres, Pallas, Juno and Vesta have lost their planetary status.

Status which they had, for half a century after their discovery. Similar to Pluto.

(for that matter, the same applies to the Sun - it was also classified as a planet at some point)

Re:Pluto controversy (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211336)

The problem is that nobody was taught a planetary mnemonic that included Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta. As far as people are concerned if it's in the mnemonic, it's a planet. If it's not, then it's not. Their understanding doesn't go any further than that. To them, saying "pluto isn't a planet anymore" is very much like saying "Q isn't a letter anymore".

Re:Pluto controversy (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34211076)

(Maybe it was Astrology people that were upset.)

Nope just Sailor Moon fans.

Re:Pluto controversy (0)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211318)

It's because there wasn't a real clear definition of 'planet' and years of science education turned out to be wrong*. People, in general, aren't taught to understand that things change and new data can change scientific understand and labels.

You can see this type of emotional attachment as people talk about changes classifications on animals to reflect the science.

Plus the media told people like it was some shocking and wildly controversial opinion; which it is not. It's a fact.

*well, not wrong per se, just not clearly defined.

Re:Pluto controversy (2, Insightful)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211440)

> It's a fact.

No it isn't. It's a definition, and an arbitrary one since the class "planet" as currently defined has no particular physical significance. "Member of the list of planets of Sol" is no less (and no more) "factual".

Re:Pluto controversy (1)

Jiro (131519) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211564)

It's not a misclassification. It's not as if they had a definition of a planet and then suddenly figured out that Pluto didn't fit it--that would be a misclassification. Pluto is no longer classified as a planet because they wrote the definition just now specifically to exclude it.

still not a planet per the IAU (5, Informative)

heptapod (243146) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210834)

Size does not matter. Clearing its path matters. Per the IAU Pluto has not cleared its orbital path and can not be considered a planet by the current definition.

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (2, Informative)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210860)

Size does not matter. Clearing its path matters. Per the IAU Pluto has not cleared its orbital path and can not be considered a planet by the current definition.

Of course, the problem with this is - neither has Neptune.

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34210896)

Or Earth, for that matter.

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210954)

Satellites, like the Moon (or the ISS, even) count as "cleared".

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (2, Interesting)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211324)

Apophis would like to have a word with you.

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211462)

Pluto is not a satellite of Neptune and yet it crosses Neptune's path.

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (2, Informative)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211008)

And as long as the other planets are still there, Jupiter is not a planet.

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (2, Interesting)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210978)

The definition is not about vacuuming the neighborhood - bodies there (including Pluto) are completely dominated by the gravity of Neptune, that's what this is about.

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (5, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211150)

Don't forget the real reason that they wanted to change the definition in the first place: current theory predicts that there are probably hundreds, if not thousands of bodies in the outer solar system with basically the same composition and orbit as pluto, and only slightly smaller. There would be no logical reason to exclude those hundreds of bodies from the list of planets without also excluding Pluto, since there is little qualitative difference between them.

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34211244)

Except that they don't orbit around the fucking sun!

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (1, Funny)

The_mad_linguist (1019680) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211262)

The real reason is because Bush was in office, and Pluto's the only planet discovered by someone from the USA.

The vote was held at the last day of the Europe-based conference, after most of the American astronomers went home from the location.

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211500)

+5 Funny.

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211278)

I was just addressing the mentioned "issue" - but yes, exciting times (*) ahead, with many new discoveries almost certainly awaiting. My personal favorite at this point is Sedna, and not only because the timing (relative to its orbit) of the discovery hints at many such bodies - there's also some slight possibility it formed in another star system.

(*)Also because IMHO, if we will ever reach the stars, gradual spreading towards and across our Oort cloud (and eventually, after thousands of years, some groups hitching a ride in the clouds of passing star) seems like the way to go (though embryo colonization also looks practical)

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (1)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211378)

(*)Also because IMHO, if we will ever reach the stars, gradual spreading towards and across our Oort cloud (and eventually, after thousands of years, some groups hitching a ride in the clouds of passing star) seems like the way to go (though embryo colonization also looks practical)

The sky calls to us -- and if we do not destroy ourselves, we will, one day, venture to the stars.

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (1, Informative)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211344)

actually, that was the reason they wanted a clear definition of 'Planet'. Pluto not being a planet is the results of those discussion, not the cause.

There would be nothing wrong if the definition included Pluto and all those other similar objects.

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (1)

Mindcontrolled (1388007) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211004)

It's obviously not about complete clearing of the path, but rather of, well, dynamic dominance in his part of space. The planets do that, even if some orbit crossing or near orbit asteroids are left. Pluto and Eris are in a whole crowd of crap and have not in any way achieved a dominant position in that crowd of crap. In the end, it's just nomenclature

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (1)

niado (1650369) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211036)

But Neptune (as well as Earth, and Jupiter) is clearly the dominant object in it's orbital area, dwarfing and gravitationally affecting everything else in the 'neighborhood'. Most planetary scientists are okay with this definition of 'clearing the neighborhood'.

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (5, Insightful)

molo (94384) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211052)

Please compare the total mass of all Neptune-crossing bodies to those gravitationally bound to Neptune. You will clearly find that Neptune has cleared the neighborhood. Neptune has a planetary discriminant of 2.4 x 10^4. A body with discriminant >= 1 is considered a planet.

-molo

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34211192)

Neptune has a planetary discriminant of 2.4 x 10^4. A body with discriminant >= 1 is considered a planet.

Your argument is ridiculous. You have countered an emotionally driven fact-free whine with pertinent scientific information. The correct response in this situation is either "Nuh uh!" or "Your mom!"

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34211314)

Your mom has a planetary discriminant of 2.4 x 10^4.

Will that do?

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (2, Informative)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211390)

A body with discriminant >= 1 is considered a planet.

Not by the IAU. As has been repeatedly mentioned before, the definition of "cleared the neighborhood" has not been defined by the IAU.

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (1)

Anne_Nonymous (313852) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210958)

>> Size does not matter. Clearing its path matters.

That's what she said.

Or something...

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (1)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211130)

So, as long as Pluto gives us pleasure, then it's size .....

Never mind.

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (3, Insightful)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211134)

Yes, let's come up with a definition that excludes Pluto - that way we can exclude Pluto. Makes sense.

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (2)

butalearner (1235200) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211400)

Draw a dot, and eight concentric circles. The circles represent the orbits of the planets. Then draw an oval that touches the outermost circle on one end and goes out 2/3rds further on the other end. That's Pluto.

Below that, draw a straight line corresponding to the width of the circles. Those are the planets viewed edge on. Now draw a straight line tilted 17 degrees. That's Pluto.

Which of these is not like the other?

Re:still not a planet per the IAU (1)

slashdot_commentator (444053) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211586)

And then there are other (non-IAU?) considerations, like:
Its not on the same ecliptic plane as the planets.
Pluto is not the central mass of its orbital plane. Charon does not directly orbit around Pluto; they both circle around the same point in space (along the orbit around the Sun).
Pluto has less mass than many planetary satellites (ex. Moon, Ganymede, Titan, Triton).
Pluto has no traits which differentiates it from the asteroids or KBOs.

Leave Pluto alone (0)

0racle (667029) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210840)

It will always be a planet to me!

Re:Leave Pluto alone (1, Flamebait)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211350)

Is the world flat for you? does heavier then air flight exists in your tiny, stupid world?

Judgment Day? (-1, Offtopic)

Smidge207 (1278042) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210854)

You were created in love to respond to the love your Father in Heaven proved He has for you. He is perfectly holy, pure and just. He must punish all sin, otherwise He would be unjust. He also provided the only way your sins can be forgiven by accepting Jesus’ sufferings on the cross for the punishment your sins deserve. When you confess your sins to Him and ask His forgiveness, He will! Then turn from them proving your repentance is real. Trust Jesus took the punishment your sins deserved, on His cross (aka “believing in Jesus”). I have done this, so can you.
Read how the Bible says to be right with God, Matthew 4:17; Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19; Romans 2:4-5; Romans 3:23-24; James 2:10; Hebrews 9:27; 1 John 1:8-9; Romans 5:8; Romans 10:9-10; Romans 10:13; Ephesians 2:8-9; 2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Peter 3:18; John 3:36; 1 John 5:11-13

Re:Judgment Day? (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210898)

Sorry, I cannot find anything about the relative size of Pluto and Eris at any of those places. Indeed, it seems the Bible doesn't mention either at all.

Re:Judgment Day? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210916)

I have done this, so can you read how the Bible says to be right with God

Is it just my observation, or is eldavojohn an idiot?

Uh...something doesn't seem right here...

Re:Judgment Day? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210930)

Messed up quoting you, sorry about that. Still, I don't think quoting the bible and then shitting all over someone is going to help your cause...

Re:Judgment Day? (2, Insightful)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211356)

It seems perfectly acceptable for a religion that advocates the murder by magical bears of 42 children for the sin of pointing at a man, laughing and calling him bald.

Re:Judgment Day? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34211364)

Do you respond to such obvious trolls purely for the sake of getting more hits on your sig? Smidge207's posts are hardly interesting enough to merit 2 replies.

To rephrase it... (0)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210878)

While everyone is more interested in the "mine is bigger than yours" aspect, the real science is the shockingly large density of Eris.

So, in other words, the question is not which one is bigger - Eris or Pluto, but which one is denser - Eris or the astronomers?

Re:To rephrase it... (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34210966)

Well, as soon as you figure out a simple, reliable and accurate method to figure out something's radius from 14 billion kilometers away, tell the astronomers.

Re:To rephrase it... (1)

nelsonal (549144) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211050)

1. Fly 14 billion km measure, radio results back.




2. Continue flying for a few hundred years, then return in giant ship whose communications wreak havoc across your homeworld.

Re:To rephrase it... (1)

fnj (64210) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211248)

There is this thing called a MAGNIFYING LENS (usually used as a collective system of same) which makes a distant object's apparent size large enough to measure its arc. Put a big enough one of those in orbit and your three qualifications are easily met. The one you don't mention - cost - might be a little problem.

Re:To rephrase it... (1)

gman003 (1693318) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211490)

Not really. There's not enough light that far away from Sol to see much of anything. I tried to do the math, but it kept rounding to 0.

The other solution, waiting for it to transit another light source, is what just happened, and is not exactly an "on-demand" occurrence.

Re:To rephrase it... (2, Insightful)

Valdrax (32670) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211178)

So, in other words, the question is not which one is bigger - Eris or Pluto, but which one is denser - Eris or the astronomers?

Why the insults? Why are people so emotionally attached to the old order in which the term "planet" didn't have a solid, scientific definition which included Pluto (but in which kids didn't learn about similar bodies like Ceres) that they are willing to lash out at astronomers for attempting to put some kind of reason and order into the system?

I honestly can't think of any better demonstration of why humans should never achieve immortality. Look at how attached people are as minor of a belief that they were taught in childhood as whether or not Pluto is a planet. It's like the whole "debate" is a microcosm of how irrationally attached some people become to resisting change in their understanding of the world.

And people wonder why politics is so entrenched and partisan. If people can't adapt over Pluto just think of how stuck they are on the things that actually matter.

Eris? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34210904)

Its not been ten years since my astronomy studies... but Eris?
Thank god for wikipedia ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eris_(dwarf_planet) )

Rupert! (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211104)

Rupert [wikipedia.org] :

A planet in Earth's solar system beyond the orbit of Pluto. Rupert was named Persephone, but nicknamed Rupert after "some astronomer's parrot." It was eventually settled by the Grebulons.
In 2005, an actual tenth planet fitting Rupert's description was discovered beyond Pluto (which was considered a planet then, as opposed to a dwarf planet now). In a poll of the public conducted by New Scientist magazine to search out potential names for the object, "Rupert" ranked #5, and "Persephone" was the top choice. The planet was, however, ultimately named Eris.

Re:Eris? (1)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211172)

I liked Xenia a lot better, and don't understand the sort of pedantry that disallowed it. Now it resides with the Brontosaurus in the land of cool, but abandoned, names.

If you want an odd body, look at Sedna, which may be a world from an alien solar system.

Is a TURD in the cosmos!! Who cares !! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34210960)

If you think this is nerd news, you are not the nerd I thought you to be.

[Insert definition of planet] (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34211002)

In my personal world, I've decided that a planet is something that's big enough to turn round due to its own gravity and isn't a star. Yes, including: moons, things not orbiting stars, Pluto and your mother.

All I want to know is... (1)

Bryan3000000 (1356999) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211028)

Have they found the Black Lion, and is Princess Allura okay?

Oh, wait, that's Arus.

obligatory (0)

groslyunderpaid (950152) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211116)

the BIG YELLOW one is the SUN!!

Re:obligatory (1, Offtopic)

Tumbleweed (3706) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211154)

the BIG YELLOW one is the SUN!!

It's not yellow.

Sick of this argument. (1)

TheRedDuke (1734262) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211152)

I thought the matter was settled when we learned it was a Mass Relay encased in ice.

Eris is more massive and may still be bigger (4, Insightful)

mbone (558574) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211160)

Don't give Eris out yet. There was a lot of discussion on the MPML about this.

First, Eris is definitely more massive, by about 28%. They both have satellites with good orbits, so their masses are pretty well determined.

Second, it is not really that clear that Pluto is really larger than Eris. There have been a number of estimates of Puto's size; by the most recent one presented by Angela Zalucha at the DPS meeting (a radius fit to occultation measurements with a new atmospheric model), Pluto and Eris have roughly the same radius within the respective error bars (1146 +-20 km in diameter for Pluto versus 1170 km for Eris).

What is more interesting to me is that Eris is dense and very bright - could something as rare as Deuterium snow be covering its surface ?

What I first thought it said (1)

david.emery (127135) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211182)

I glanced at my RSS feeds and thought the story title was "Pluto might be bigger than Elvis". Now that would be really big!

Who decides what the definition of "planet" is? (0)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211190)

Who decides what the definition of "planet" is?

The IAU, not Walmart-denizes with a microphone shoved into their face, nor IT workers who read something on Wikipedia once. There is no "wobbly ground", and the IAU doesn't answer to the general public.

Besides. If Pluto fits the definition of "dwarf planet", how does the size, existence, density, or any other property of Eris change whether Pluto fits the definition?

Re:Who decides what the definition of "planet" is? (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211372)

cause they get more hits by bringing up the manufacturversy.

Re:Who decides what the definition of "planet" is? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34211458)

Who decides what the definition of "planet" is?

The IAU, not Walmart-denizes with a microphone shoved into their face, nor IT workers who read something on Wikipedia once. There is no "wobbly ground", and the IAU doesn't answer to the general public.

Sez who? The IAU? Last time I looked the use of a word was defined by how it is used. If the entire world except for a handful of astronomers calls Pluto a "planet", guess what - it's a planet.

Re:Who decides what the definition of "planet" is? (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211560)

> Who decides what the definition of "planet" is?

Everybody. We argue about it, use various conflicting definitions for a while, and eventually converge on a consensus. That's how natural language works.

> The IAU... ...determines what definition will be used in IAU publications. Their definition is influential but not necessarily dispositive.

MVEMJSUNP (0)

AgentPhunk (571249) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211246)

Many
Very
Educated
wo(M)en
Just
Saved
Unfortunate
Ninth
Planet

The Definition of Planet Will Change Yet Again... (1)

Philomage (1851668) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211328)

...Once we conquer gravity and develop some sort of gravity drive that doesn't require half a universe's worth of energy to lift off out of a gravity well.

A planet then will be something we can land on, and walk around upon, that is the most significant gravity well in easy distance.

This significantly matches the science fiction (fantasy fiction?) concept of what a planet is...

Re:The Definition of Planet Will Change Yet Again. (1)

raodin (708903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34211558)

I'm sorry, but your definition of planets has gaping hole. Unless you believe that gas giants shouldn't be classified as planets?

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