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Asteroid Lutetia Revealed As a Protoplanet

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the planetary-life-begins-at-accretion dept.

Space 102

astroengine writes "Asteroids visited by spacecraft have all turned out to be piles of rubble or chunks broken off of larger bodies, but that's not the case with 21 Lutetia, a 75-mile long, 47-mile wide body orbiting in the main belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter. Europe's comet-bound Rosetta probe flew by Lutetia last year and gave scientists a big surprise. With its dense body and an interior that seems to have survived intact, the large asteroid appears more like a protoplanet — a leftover building block from the formation of the solar system."

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102 comments

Soon to be ... (2)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871080)

Demoted to "Dwarf-Protoplanet" by a minority of IAU in a meeting held after all the sensible people have left the conference ...

Re:Soon to be ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37871238)

Still bitter about Pluto, huh?

Re:Soon to be ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37873506)

Americans lose the distinction of having discovered a planet. Anger and resentment follows. Pictures at 11.

You nailed it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37875930)

All this whining about the status of a tiny frozen lump of space rock as a result of patriotic pride.

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 2 years ago | (#37874500)

Bring Back Firefly!

Re:Soon to be ... (2)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871246)

There is always a group of people willing to re-classify everything in the hopes that the mere act of doing this either a) causes some real science to fall out, like loose change from the pockets of people being shaken on fairground rides or b) causes some other people to think that what they are doing is actually important. Coming from the medical field, I really don't give a damn if you call it (non-politically acceptable) mental retardation or (politically acceptable, current) chronic non progressive encephalopathy, and I'm sure the patient doesn't either.

Re:Soon to be ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37871298)

Because we would never want, you know, concrete definitions of scientific terms.

Re:Soon to be ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37871458)

Planet was never a scientific term in the first place. That's why there was such a stink about Pluto.

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37873348)

Planet was never a scientific term in the first place. That's why there was such a stink about Pluto.

Only because Mickey failed to paper-train him properly ... oh, wait you mean Pluto The Planet, well, that was still an astounding act of skullduggery and cowardice, for a minority of the IAU to define terms. Shabby. Very shabby.

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

Brucelet (1857158) | more than 2 years ago | (#37875678)

The IAU generated a terrible definition of planet in 2006. That doesn't mean Pluto belongs to the club.

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 2 years ago | (#37874520)

I thought it was too cold for methane.

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

treeves (963993) | more than 2 years ago | (#37876062)

Methane is odorless. Methane can exist at absolute zero. Your joke was not funny in any case.

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#37876058)

That's BS. A rose by any other name is still a rose. This is just pretend work by useless people who have nothing else to contribute, and they share a special place in Hell right next to all the people who spend countless hours thinking up catchy name-acronyms for scientific studies - or government bills, for that matter.

Re:Soon to be ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37871364)

Coming from the medical field, I really don't give a damn if you call it (non-politically acceptable) mental retardation or (politically acceptable, current) chronic non progressive encephalopathy, and I'm sure the patient doesn't either.

Where I come from, they call it "smart."

Re:Soon to be ... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37871446)

See, if you actually worked in the medical field and weren't just full of shit, you would care. Politically correct or not, what we used to refer to as "mental retardation" actually encompassed of a wide variety of distinct medical conditions. Chronic non progressive encephalopathy is absolutely not the politically correct modern equivalent (that would be developmentally disabled) but in fact a specific term for a specific medical condition. It's pretty fucking important for a doctor to distinguish between these in order to prescribe the correct treatment, much like it's pretty important for scientists to agree on specific meaningful definitions of scientific terms in order to compare data from independent studies.

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

justthinkit (954982) | more than 2 years ago | (#37872634)

...that would be developmentally disabled...

I prefer "developmentally delayed", in part because I think it is more accurate.

Re:Soon to be ... (2)

bhartman34 (886109) | more than 2 years ago | (#37873590)

"Developmentally disabled" isn't the same thing as "mentally retarded". You can have a developmental disability and not be intellectually impaired. Developmental disabilities can also be phyiscal, and they need not involve intellectual impairment. (They could involve cognitive or perceptual impairment.)

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37872702)

"mental retardation" used to be the politically-correct term. over time, the association catches up with it, and it becomes the pejorative term.

same deal with racial terms. only a matter of time before abuse by people who simply have a bad attitude towards other colors of skin make any words assocaited with it sound like slurs.

the solution is to stop changing the name of it and start changing the attitude of those who observe it.

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37872968)

"mental retardation" used to be the politically-correct term. over time, the association catches up with it, and it becomes the pejorative term.

same deal with racial terms. only a matter of time before abuse by people who simply have a bad attitude towards other colors of skin make any words assocaited with it sound like slurs.

the solution is to stop changing the name of it and start changing the attitude of those who observe it.

Political Correctness seeks to validate Orwell, thinking that the words you use shape your thinking. But in a freer world, the road runs both ways.

Often, however, it isn't the words you say, it's the way you say them that make the difference.

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

turing_m (1030530) | more than 2 years ago | (#37876156)

It is the same deal with racial terms - and it's not bad attitude on the part of the observer so much as it's that the association with other non-skin color aspects of the phenotype that catches up with whatever word you choose to call the rose. Propensity for criminality, for example.

We've had half a century or more of increased attempts to change the attitude of those who observe it. In 2011 it's impossible to turn on a television or open a newspaper without being hit with an attempt to modify the viewer's attitude in the way that you suggest. Fortunately, the unchecked immigration in our countries has brought the diversity experience to everyone. Now we are forced to ask who we believe - the media or our own lying eyes?

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871248)

Since dwarf is already used, wouldn't the IAU use "pixie" to denigrate it further?

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871334)

Then that opens up the whole field to "faerie" planets, and I have no idea what that would be. (But I bet it sparkles.)

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871394)

Then that opens up the whole field to "faerie" planets, and I have no idea what that would be. (But I bet it sparkles.)

"... we announce the faerie planet Tinkerbell."

Ummmm.

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 2 years ago | (#37872488)

We know that gold arrived on Earth via asteroids and that dead white dwarf stars form diamond planets, so sparkly faery planets seems reasonable to me.

I hereby name the diamond planet that was announced recently on Slashdot "Tinkerbell" in honour of ackthpt's suggestion.

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37873312)

We know that gold arrived on Earth via asteroids and that dead white dwarf stars form diamond planets, so sparkly faery planets seems reasonable to me.

I hereby name the diamond planet that was announced recently on Slashdot "Tinkerbell" in honour of ackthpt's suggestion.

As theorized by Ironequatorialmount Stronginthearm in his paper "Gold gold gold gold gold ... (246 pages later) ... gold gold gold." And yes, that was only the title.

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

pugugly (152978) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871284)

Actually promoted when it's found there's nothing else near it's orbital path.

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871418)

Actually promoted when it's found there's nothing else near it's orbital path.

Elf planet?

This is making my head spin...

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

Gilmoure (18428) | more than 2 years ago | (#37874530)

Depends. Is it tossable?

Let the Pluto wars begin (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871822)

Pluto shouldn't be classified a planet, as it doesn't share a lot of properties with them. First it's not a celestial body but 2. Second, its orbit is elliptical, as opposed to the circular orbit of the planets, and not in the ecliptic. Also, it's very small, smaller than the Moon.

Re:Let the Pluto wars begin (2)

rgbatduke (1231380) | more than 2 years ago | (#37872110)

You're making fourth graders everywhere very sad with your hatin'.

Renaming it a dwarf doesn't change the actual object that "The Planet Pluto" refers to, and somehow astronomers managed not to be confused about that latter point for a rather long time. Even now, if I call Pluto a planet, I'll bet you understand perfectly well what object I'm referring to. I think that is what was being sardonically observed in one of the comments earlier about the renaming not, actually, being science any more than renaming Brontosaurus Apatosaurus was. All it did was make lots of movies and cultural reference obsolete.

It's not like there are so very many objects out there orbiting our sun that we actually NEED more adjectives or taxonomic categories. We could refer just to "Pluto" and leave off the word planet altogether and zero information would be lost.

rgb

Re:Let the Pluto wars begin (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37872150)

You're making fourth graders everywhere very sad with your hatin'.

I happen to have a fourth grader at home who has learned that there are 8 planets. Pluto is just another iceball out past Neptune as far as she is concerned.

Re:Let the Pluto wars begin (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37872244)

It's not like there are so very many objects out there orbiting our sun that we actually NEED more adjectives or taxonomic categories.

What about other stars? With all the exoplanets being discovered, we know of significantly more planets now and the number is increasing.

Re:Let the Pluto wars begin (1)

rgbatduke (1231380) | more than 2 years ago | (#37872764)

And hence, one day, we may need COMPLETELY DIFFERENT classifications than we now have, and the designation "Dwarf Planet" may turn out not to be one of them. Besides which, I'm half kidding. Heck, I've even mastered Apatosaurus, I can cope with the cognitive dissonance I feel when I read Heinlein and read about the "Nine Planets Symphony" and my mind cringes with the knowledge that there are only eight planets because Pluto got reclassified. Of course next they'll take Mercury away, or they'll add Ceres, or....

No, it's just too horrible to face. There are at least nine Big Rocks -- well, ten, or maybe eleven -- orbiting Mr. Sun. They are all just plain PLANETS. PLANETS I say. We don't call Jupiter a "Giant Planet", we just call it a Gas Giant that happens to be a planet. Why can't Pluto just be a planet that happens to be size-challenged, somewhat, errrr, Dwarfish? It just isn't fair.

rgb

Re:Let the Pluto wars begin (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37873242)

You, sir, are a worthy opponent. But there are, in fact, nine planets, as predicted by the Titus-Bode law [wikipedia.org] , it's just that the one between Mars and Jupiter is a bit scattered. Also, if we are talking about Big Rocks, then there are only four.

Re:Let the Pluto wars begin (1)

Jeff DeMaagd (2015) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878380)

Big rocks? What is at the core of the gas giants isn't well-understood, but they probably have rocky cores larger than the inner planets.

Besides, the chart in Titus-Bode article shows ten planets, you can't reasonably leave out Ceres if you want to call Pluto a planet. A few problems with calling Pluto a planet is it fits better as a TNO, KBO, or both. It crosses Neptune's orbit and its orbital plate is at an extreme angle to the planetary disc. If you want to keep Pluto, then we'd need to also count larger KBOs that have been discovered, so nine just isn't a tenable number. Those KBOs are the reason why the IAU eventually had to make more formal definitions for these objects, because there were only informal definitions.

Re:Let the Pluto wars begin (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878700)

A few problems with calling Pluto a planet is it fits better as a TNO, KBO, or both.

That's what I was saying, read back.

Besides, the chart in Titus-Bode article shows ten planets, you can't reasonably leave out Ceres if you want to call Pluto a planet.

Yes, the "ninth planet" predicted by the law is not Pluto but the asteroid belt.

It crosses Neptune's orbit and its orbital plate is at an extreme angle to the planetary disc.

It does not cross Neptune's orbit exactly because of the angle to the ecliptic. It does get sometimes closer to the Sun though.

Re:Let the Pluto wars begin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37875684)

You could also probably refer to "The Planet Ceres," or "The Planet Ganymede," or "The Planet Hollywood" and someone would likely know what they are referring to, even if they don't agree with how you refer to it or your choice of eating establishments. Although there may be some confusion if you try to talk about planets in aggregate, to know what you are including. As we start finding more TNOs, we can either continue designating them on an arbitrary basis case by case, or at least make some system up front, even if still a bit arbitrary, to group the objects and possibly saving some amount of qualifying words when discussing them as a group.

Re:Let the Pluto wars begin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37872690)

Second, its orbit is elliptical, as opposed to the circular orbit of the planets, and not in the ecliptic.

All planets orbit the sun in an elliptic orbit; Kepler's 1st law.

Re:Let the Pluto wars begin (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#37880654)

Pluto shouldn't be classified a planet, as it doesn't share a lot of properties with them.

Well, that's a viable form for an argument. Let's examine your claims then.

First it's not a celestial body but 2.

Two bodies? Not four?

Let's try your criterion elsewhere :

  • "Mars is not a planet, because it's not the one body that it's discoverer (Ugh, unpublished work carved on a cave wall, 238532 BP) thought, but three (Phobos and Deimos, discovered about 80BP by some dude with a telescope)."
  • "Neptune is not a planet because it has several satellites which were not seen when it was first discovered by some guy with erroneous calculations of the orbit of Uranus - not that the errors mattered because they cancelled out, more or less."

Nope, I don't think this criterion is a valid one for rejecting Pluto as a planet.

Second, its orbit is elliptical, as opposed to the circular orbit of the planets, and not in the ecliptic.

Well, what is your line in the sand for Pluto being "too eccentric" (e=0.249)? If you draw the line at e>0.2 (in base 10 ; why do you choose base 10?), then you exclude Mercury (e=0.206) ; if you draw the line at e>0.05 then you exclude Mars and Saturn too. Choose a line to draw, then (this is the hard bit) justify it and persuade other people that your justification is good.
We can examine the inclination argument too. Here the order of increasing inclination is Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars, Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus, Earth, Ceres, Pluto, which would make the Earth the next of the planets to be discounted in a countdown.
I don't accept this as a valid criterion for rejecting Pluto as a planet.

Also, it's very small, smaller than the Moon.

Same form of argument, let's reject Mercury as a planet because it's smaller than Ganymede.
I don't accept this as a valid criterion for rejecting Pluto as a planet.

TBH, the main criterion I argued for (informally, because I'm not an astronomer and haven't "done my chops" on the telescope to get a vote) was a fundamentally a compositional one : if it's stable (not losing mass, and not likely to collide with anything on a foreseeable orbital timescale) and it's sufficiently massive to have compacted it's material into a more-or-less spherical shape, then I'd count it as a planet. Which would include all the gas giants (the large amount of gas hides spherical rocky cores ; they were just "lucky" enough to reach this size in a region where water ice, hydrogen and helium were still significant components of the solar nebula), the terrestrial planets, a small (slightly arguable) number of asteroids (Ceres, Vesta, arguably a couple of others), the Pluto-Charon double planet, and probably a few dozen other Kuiper Belt objects and/or Oort Cloud objects. Which would give us a class of dozens, but not more than a few hundreds. That's a manageable number of class members, IMHO. And it's a determination that can be made within a couple of orbits of the planet (the stability criterion) and with only a fairly crude light (or occultation) curve, so in principle it could be applied reasonably consistently to extra-solar planets too. Not that we're in a position to detect anything that's even remotely likely to not be a planet, except for a brown dwarf.

What is my criterion for a "more-or-less spherical shape"? Well, I guess that I'd look at Saturn, which is a compact body rotating rapidly but maintaining it's structural coherence against that spin. But there are also (small) asteroids which are very irregular and maintain their structure against their spin. But if you knocked a lump off Saturn with an impactor, the majority of the material would fall back onto Saturn ; try hitting 243 Ida with an impactor and it's likely to fragment completely. Somewhere between those two is a "more-or-less spherical shape" limit. (Clearly my proposed criterion needs a bit of firming up ; but it's not a formal proposal.)

Re:Let the Pluto wars begin (1)

Hentes (2461350) | more than 2 years ago | (#37881456)

Two bodies? Not four?

On a side note, I think there is also a fifth unnamed object, but that doesn't matter. The difference between Charon and a moon is that Charon is not much smaller than Pluto, in fact it doesn't orbit Pluto. Rather, the two bodies orbit their common centre of mass outside of Pluto.

Well, what is your line in the sand for Pluto being "too eccentric" (e=0.249)? If you draw the line at e>0.2 (in base 10 ; why do you choose base 10?), then you exclude Mercury (e=0.206) ; if you draw the line at e>0.05 then you exclude Mars and Saturn too. Choose a line to draw, then (this is the hard bit) justify it and persuade other people that your justification is good.

You got me here, I forgot about Mercury. But Pluto's orbit is such that there are times when it gets closer to the Sun then Neptune, which would make it hard to class it as the "ninth" planet.

We can examine the inclination argument too. Here the order of increasing inclination is Mercury, Venus, Saturn, Mars, Jupiter, Neptune, Uranus, Earth, Ceres, Pluto, which would make the Earth the next of the planets to be discounted in a countdown.
I don't accept this as a valid criterion for rejecting Pluto as a planet.

You make a qualitative argument not a quantitative one. Earth's inclination is very close to the gas giants' (about 7 and 6 degrees), and very far from Pluto's (12 degrees).

Same form of argument, let's reject Mercury as a planet because it's smaller than Ganymede.

True, it's very hard to define what counts as big enough, that's why the IAU required a planet to "clean its orbit".

Your definition proposal is interesting, but I wish you have detailed the stability part instead of the spherical part. The n-body problem is not an easy one, how do you guarantee that a planet will stay in orbit for a long time? Also, a couple of orbits of the candidate is not an easy thing to wait for with Pluto.

The ability to extend it to extrasolar celestial bodies is a huge advantage. I admit most of my arguments are based on the Solar system. With the discovery of exoplanets we will likely have to redefine 'planet' more than once. But I think we shouldn't do it in advance, we only now few exoplanets now heacily biased toward big ones. I think we should wait with including them in a definition until we get the full picture.

Re:Let the Pluto wars begin (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#37885266)

Two bodies? Not four?

On a side note, I think there is also a fifth unnamed object, but that doesn't matter. The difference between Charon and a moon is that Charon is not much smaller than Pluto, in fact it doesn't orbit Pluto. Rather, the two bodies orbit their common centre of mass outside of Pluto.

That the barycentre of the system lays outside either body is a fair point, but begs the next question : when you have 2 stars (say Alpha Centauri and it's secondary) which orbit their system's barycentre outside either star, do they cease to be stars? If they don't, what is your reason for considering the location of the barycentre to be of fundamental importance? If it's not of fundamental importance to a star, is it of fundamental importance to a brown dwarf? To a gas giant? By introducing that criterion, you've introduced the need for another arbitrary line in the sand.

A fifth body in the Pluto-Charon-Nix-Hydra system? Rings a bell ; doesn't change anything much. (Doesn't seem to have been formally published? ... Found it [harvard.edu] !)

I forgot about Mercury. But Pluto's orbit is such that there are times when it gets closer to the Sun then Neptune, which would make it hard to class it as the "ninth" planet.

When was Pluto the ninth planet? Oh yes, before the discovery of 2060 Chiron in 1977. So, in 1976 it was the ninth planet, in 1977 it was the tenth planet, then in February 1979 it became the ninth planet again until 1999 when it again became the tenth planet. It's difficult defining a planet when the definition includes other things that may or may not be planets.

That "clears it's orbit" criterion is really logically dirty, because for so long you're not going to have any real confidence that a particular system has "cleared it's orbit" for planet "X".

You make a qualitative argument not a quantitative one.

All of these at the moment are qualitative arguments, not quantitative ones.

Your definition proposal is interesting, but I wish you have detailed the stability part instead of the spherical part. The n-body problem is not an easy one, how do you guarantee that a planet will stay in orbit for a long time?

You don't. Ever. For any planet.

There is nothing fundamentally impossible about some neutron star coming barrelling through the Solar system tomorrow, smacking into and swallowing Jupiter (bar a few meteorite candidates), and barrelling out the other side leaving the rest of the Solar system to sort it's dynamical stuff out without Jupiter.

Equally, there is around a 1% probability of one of the terrestrial planets being ejected form the Solar system in the next couple of billion years, just through interactions with Jupiter, then mutual interactions.

But odds are, that if it's been around for a billion years, it's unlikely to not be here in another billion. So getting a lower bound on the age of the star is an important point.

Because the 3-body problem itself (let alone 'n'-body problems for large 'n') is insoluble analytically, no general 'n'-body situation can be considered stable in the mathematical sense. (Lagrangian points being the exception, but they have a constraint that at most two of the particles in the system have significant mass. Which isn't very general.)

Sphericity, on the other hand, is assessable, and if it's gravitationally-induced, then it is permanent outside large collisions.

Also, a couple of orbits of the candidate is not an easy thing to wait for with Pluto.

So? Get on with the waiting!

The ability to extend it to extrasolar celestial bodies is a huge advantage. I admit most of my arguments are based on the Solar system. With the discovery of exoplanets we will likely have to redefine 'planet' more than once.

A situation to be avoided, if possible. Which is why I think that making the definition at least theoretically testable next year, at a kiloparsec range, is important. There are things more annoying than changing definitions in mid-course, but they're really aNNNOYING things. (Like placing the CapsLock next to the 3rd or 4th most-often struck key!)

But I think we shouldn't do it in advance, we only now few exoplanets now heacily biased toward big ones. I think we should wait with including them in a definition until we get the full picture.

The bias is real. But at the top end of the planet range we've got a fairly clear dividing line ad brown dwarfs : if it's burned it's primordial helium, but isn't burning hydrogen, it's a brown dwarf, not a planet. This upper bound does have issues - something with a wildly non-Solar composition might have a noticeably different thermal history to something with a Solar composition.

But that's a question for the astrophysicists. I'm a geologist - I'm in my element (ho, ho!) at the bottom end of the classification.

Much of my havering about the definition was over the issue of small objects with high strengths, such as fragments from a planet-busting collision. If the parent body(-ies) had been large enough to internally differentiate, then you could (we have) end up with significant chunks of rigid, non-spherical rock and metal. However a dirty snowball of the same mass is likely to have sunk to sphericity to a significant degree during our billions of years. So, while I'd like to get away completely from caring about the composition, I can't. Completely.

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

EvilBudMan (588716) | more than 2 years ago | (#37873644)

Asteroids can hurt. I say we can get rid of them with Prep H.

Re:Soon to be ... (1)

arisvega (1414195) | more than 2 years ago | (#37875798)

To my understanding, proto-planet is a clump of matter that hasn't been locked into being a planet yet, but it is about to.

As in proto-star: a blob of gas that is still contracting.

To the best of my knowledge, calling this a proto-planet is wrong.

Like Legos... (1)

chill (34294) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871232)

You go stumbling around in the dark and end up stepping on a few. The damned things get everywhere.

Re:Like Legos... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37871302)

FYI: It's just "Lego"

Re:Like Legos... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37871652)

No, sorry, you're wrong.

We don't care how people pluralize "Lego" in other languages and we don't care if you choose to always say "Lego Bricks" or "Lego Pieces" when referring to indivdual plastic components sold in containers marked "Lego".

We just say "Legos" and that's right for us. Deal with it.

Re:Like Legos... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37872472)

We don't care how people pluralize "Lego" in other languages

I don't know who you mean me "We", you hillbilly, but Lego is a mass noun just like "grass". Your ignorance doesn't change that.

Now go on outside and walk along your grasses down to the creek and catch yourself some fishes.

Re:Like Legos... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37873142)

I don't know who you mean me "We", you hillbilly, but Lego is a mass noun just like "grass". Your ignorance doesn't change that.

The fact that you are wrong changes that. Don't feel bad just because you don't speak standard English.

Re:Like Legos... (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 2 years ago | (#37874396)

I don't know who you mean me "We", you hillbilly, but Lego is a mass noun just like "grass".

Might be, might not be. That's not something a company gets to decide; it's decided over time by the mass of English speakers. I suspect the vote is not swinging your way, though.

Re:Like Legos... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37874548)

Baloney. Lego is a mass noun only among a very very small hardcore subculture.
In standard American English, it's a count noun.

Dimensions? (2)

camperdave (969942) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871314)

21 Lutetia, a 75-mile long, 47-mile wide body orbiting in the main belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter.

This is a science article on a science website. Why is there only two dimensions listed for a three dimensional object, and why are those dimensions measured in miles?

Re:Dimensions? (1)

RustyShackleford007 (2485098) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871404)

This is a science article on a science website. Why is there only two dimensions listed for a three dimensional object, and why are those dimensions measured in miles?

It's an "educational" article.

Re:Dimensions? (2)

NoisySplatter (847631) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871474)

Obviously based on the information given in the problem the thickness is negligible so the body can be reasonably aproximated to a planar figure.

Re:Dimensions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37873144)

Damn it. I hate it when my asteroids get stuck in Flatland. Although, in reality there is generally only one dimension given for most planets (the radius) since they are close to round. Maybe this one is a cylinder and we they gave us the height and diameter? Actually the dimensions make it sound like a huge potato anyway. What do you get when you cross an a-hole with a potato? A dick-tater.

Re:Dimensions? (4, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871490)

21 Lutetia, a 75-mile long, 47-mile wide body orbiting in the main belt of asteroids between Mars and Jupiter.

This is a science article on a science website. Why is there only two dimensions listed for a three dimensional object, and why are those dimensions measured in miles?

It's flat ... and carried on the backs of four enormous hippopotami (there were five, but one slipped and impacted into the surface of Lutetia) on the back of a giant newt.

Re:Dimensions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37871826)

What's the newt standing on?

Re:Dimensions? (3, Funny)

RoverDaddy (869116) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871938)

It's newts all the way down.

Re:Dimensions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37875776)

An infinite stack of newts is preposterous. Everyone knows it is a giant emu, on top of a giant caterpillar, on top of a giant newt, on top of a giant stegosaurus, and so on, continuing in that fashion all the way down.

Re:Dimensions? (1)

sabt-pestnu (967671) | more than 2 years ago | (#37875430)

So you're saying it has fat mines [wikipedia.org] vs fat ranches [wikia.com] ?

Re:Dimensions? (1)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 2 years ago | (#37872402)

That means there is an implied symmetry that was not mentioned. If you knew that all such objects were oval in shape then a third dimension would be redundant.

Re:Dimensions? (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37872628)

If you knew that an oval is a plane figure, then the third dimension would be nonexistent, not redundant.

I think you mean ovoid or ellipsoid or prolate or cylindrical or bonelike.

Which is what 99% of scientific and non-scientific minds would assume.

The other 1% would be smartasses who would try to slip oblate, flattened, or disclike past us, but we ain't buying any of that weak sauce today.

Re:Dimensions? (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 2 years ago | (#37874454)

Why is ovoid (potato) shaped more likely than oblate (squashed)? Is it more likely that 1 dimension is longer than the other two, than that one dimension is shorter than the other two?

It seems like that breaks symmetry, but I don't recall ever seeing an asteroid shaped like a flattened beachball.

Re:Dimensions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37872500)

Why is there only two dimensions listed for a three dimensional object,

Going to go out on a limb and say it's oblong, roughly cylindrical. Were you expecting a rectangular prism, Dave?

and why are those dimensions measured in miles?

Would you rather earth radii? Or maybe light-nanoseconds? Are those more "scientific" for you?

Re:Dimensions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37872518)

Google or the GNU "units" will help you with that "miles" problem your having. Are you a geek or not?

POSIX RULES!!!

Re:Dimensions? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37873502)

Google or the GNU "units" will help you with that "miles" problem your having. Are you a geek or not?

POSIX RULES!!!

It's the US that has the miles problem, not the rest of us.

@Editor (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37871440)

Take note stupid editors : if you see ridiculous imperial units, you blew it.
95% of the world population does not know what the heck a mile is.

SI units for the win (and sanity).

Re:@Editor (2)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871702)

Most of the world population doesn't read Slashdot.
The majority of Slashdot readers know what miles are.

Re:@Editor (4, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871782)

Most of the world population doesn't read Slashdot.

The majority of Slashdot readers know what miles are.

Yes.

We are even familiar with Miles Statute, Miles Nautical and Miles Standish.

Re:@Editor (1)

need4mospd (1146215) | more than 2 years ago | (#37872444)

And Miles Davis.

Re:@Editor (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37872560)

And Miles Cowperthwaite.

Re:@Editor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37873248)

Some of us are familiar with Miles Davis as well.

Re:@Editor (1)

Daetrin (576516) | more than 2 years ago | (#37873374)

I'm afraid i don't know Miles Standish. I am familiar with Miles Vorkosigan however.

Re:@Editor (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37871916)

Take note pedantic twats : if you see ridiculous metric or imperial units, just do the conversion in your head to rods and hogsheads like everyone else does and get the fark over yourself.

Re:@Editor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37872062)

blah blah blah American site blah blah blah FAQ blah blah blah Nothing in reality is a multiple of 10 blah blah blah with two heads of cabbage blah blah blah

Re:@Editor (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 2 years ago | (#37873774)

as Slashdot is a US based site you will find that things are done using the US conventions

oh btw if you are all that smart then you have access to a convertor to metric units (or can do it in your head ) hint 1 mile = 1.609344 kilometers

Re:@Editor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37875070)

It's irrelevant of /. is US based or not.

Proper science is ALWAYS based upon SI units, not imperial units. Otherwise this happens : http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msp98/news/mco990930.html
Apparently even NASA Engineers are unable to convert imperial units to SI units. Hell, you can't even convert imperial to imperial easily. How many inches are in 3754.3 miles? Come on. Do it in your head. Please convert 88947.432 lbs to oz. In your head. Too difficult? LOL.

AND : bullshit is bullshit. And imperial units are just that : bullshit and crap.

Re:@Editor (1)

jschen (1249578) | more than 2 years ago | (#37875898)

Proper science is ALWAYS based upon SI units, not imperial units.

Interesting. I just learned tonight from reading /. that I have not been doing proper science this whole time. My notebook of organic reactions is full of measurements in minutes, hours, and days. In over a decade of organic chemistry research, measurements recorded in seconds account for under 1% of my time measurements. Indeed, my raw time data usually takes the form of hours and minutes from a clock. Quick... how many seconds into the day am I at the exact moment when the second hand reaches 12 o'clock (when I usually do something if I want high precision in my timing) at 15:47? Equally importantly, why should I care?

Re:@Editor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37876952)

Nice distraction. Nice try.

Minutes, hours and days are not imperial units, but are based upon SI units.

Why you should care? Perhaps to make results easily comparable? And readable for the scientific community? Perhaps because it's the convention?
Perhaps because imperial units are totally illogical and outdated? Perhaps because the US is completely isolated with it's imperial units? (granted that the UK (and some other commonwealth countries) still uses it partially)

The metric system is the ONLY way to go.

BTW: 15:47 = 56820 s (out of 86400 s) ;-)
(which is completely irrelevant for the discussion imperial vs metric.)

Re:@Editor (1)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37877028)

Nice distraction. Nice try.

Minutes, hours and days are not imperial units, but are based upon SI units.

Inches, feet and miles are also based upon SI units.

There's nothing wrong with doing science using American units of measurement, as long as you don't expect to have to interact with crazy ferriners. Sure it's harder to do calculations in your head, but why do we need to be doing calculations in our heads anyway? Isn't that what phones are for?

Re:@Editor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37877224)

Inches, feet and miles are NOT based upon on SI units. You can convert them. That doesn't mean they are based upon them.

An inch was the 1/12th of a foot. Which foot? Why that foot? All feet are different.
Even if you assume that 12 inches define a foot (and not the other way round), you still end up with varying and imprecise thumb sizes.
It's simply ridiculous.

Once and for all :imperial units are crap from the beginning.

Compare that to the SI unit :

A meter/metre is based upon the distance light travels in one second. And as we all know : c is a constant in a vacuum.

THAT'S a definition. That's exact. And logical.
Not the thumb of some random grumpy old man. (BTW : why a man?)

And yes : the metric system is MUCH easier to convert. Even in your head. I am surprised that nerds and geeks in the US do not appreciate and comprehend that.

Re:@Editor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37878450)

I am surprised that nerds and geeks in the US do not appreciate and comprehend that.

According to Google, it's 47 degrees in Silicon Valley right now. No wonder they have trouble thinking straight.

Re:@Editor (1)

jschen (1249578) | more than 2 years ago | (#37878604)

An inch is defined as exactly 2.54 centimeters. I don't know how much more based on SI units it could be. It's not really any different from how we define minutes, hours, days, and years. Those aren't all factors of 10, either.

Re:@Editor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37880758)

Wrong. An inch happens to be 2.54 centimeters. This is a coincidence. It's not the definition.
The definition was historically indeed based upon the thumb of some random guys!
If the thumb would have been different, an inch could be 2.39 cm.

Re:@Editor (1)

jschen (1249578) | more than 2 years ago | (#37880996)

Historical definitions and modern definitions have little in common. The historical definition of the meter was 1/10,000,000th of the distance from the equator to the north pole along a certain longitude line. The modern definition of the meter is based on the distance a certain wavelength of light travels in a perfect vacuum in a measured amount of time. That's (indirectly, through the meter) the modern definition of an inch, too. It just happens to be a different measured amount of time. See http://www.npl.co.uk/reference/faqs/on-what-basis-is-one-inch-exactly-equal-to-25.4-mm-has-the-imperial-inch-been-adjusted-to-give-this-exact-fit-and-if-so-when-(faq-length) [npl.co.uk]

Re:@Editor (1)

wsxyz (543068) | more than 2 years ago | (#37884086)

As already said, you are ignorant and wrong about the inch.

Furthermore, the kilogram happens to be the mass of a lump of metal in France. If the lump of metal would have been different, a kilogram would have been a different mass. In fact, the kilogram is a different mass than it used to be. Oops.

Molten core (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37871640)

Many of the articles I've read seem to claim that Lutetia has a molten core [msn.com] . I don't see how that could possibly be the case. It may have once had a molten core, but it would have solidified billions of years ago.

Re:Molten core (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37873906)

Actually its "molten core" is a small series of caves filled with all kinds of bizarre, even monstrous, creatures. It's just large enough to allow up to 40 people to explore it freely.

Mine it. (1)

riverat1 (1048260) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871698)

It sounds like a prime candidate for asteroid mining.

Re:Mine it. (1)

GNious (953874) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871786)

Note description - is miles long and wide, but seeming very thin. Not practical for mining.

Re:Mine it. (1)

Bardwick (696376) | more than 2 years ago | (#37872394)

Unless you start on one end,, then you could drill 75 miles..

Re:Mine it. (1)

gmuslera (3436) | more than 2 years ago | (#37872528)

Could be too far for mining, so probably will end being a good candidate to become our second moon (while supplies last) in a century or so.

Great, more protomatter! (2)

Maintenance Goof (1487053) | more than 2 years ago | (#37871750)

Bad enough that Kirk's son messed with the stuff, now we have a bunch of it orbiting our sun. Seriously even Klingon scientists have denounced the use of protomatter.

Standard Slashdottian Quip (1)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#37872022)

Heh. We're not sure what a planet-planet is yet.

REINSTATE PLUTO! (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37872548)

If this thing got smaller, it's not nearly Pluto, so Pluto isn't nearly it (the reflexive property is how I roll), so those who campaigned to demote Pluto are full of retroactive spacecrap.

I want Pluto back where it belongs.

Re:REINSTATE PLUTO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37876994)

I want Pluto back where it belongs.

Well then, you can include Pluto if you like. I'm sure we'll all agree. You will agree, of course, that Eris must be included, given that its diameter is 10 kilometers larger than Pluto. What about the others, though? They're all within a few hundred Ks. At what point does it stop being a dwarf planet, and start being a planet? Is it 1000 kilometers? Or is 1010 kilometers? How about 700 kilometers?

Perhaps it's not size, perhaps it's density? Or could it be composition? What about albedo? How about a chunk of diamond floating along, that happens to be larger than Pluto - would that be a planet?

You seem to have all the answers, so let's start hearing them.

Re:REINSTATE PLUTO! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37877376)

Ceres used to be a planet, and got demoted to planetoid, and now upgraded to dwarf planet. So why your bickering for Pluto? Or are you an American and can't cope with the fact that NASA used pluto as a planet as a PR thing and can no longer do that?

Leftovers (1)

ISoldat53 (977164) | more than 2 years ago | (#37873730)

Why do they keep saying "left over from the formation of the solar system? Who's to say it isn't still forming? Give the proto planet a few more eons and maybe it'll make something of it's self.

Re:Leftovers (1)

RockDoctor (15477) | more than 2 years ago | (#37880688)

Give the proto planet a few more eons and maybe it'll make something of it's self.

It's got between a half an eon and five eons more, then the lights go out and it's going to have to find it's way around in the dark.

Heated by cold fusion and neutron ejection? (1)

Paul Fernhout (109597) | more than 2 years ago | (#37876638)

I had an idea, posted to Andrea Rossi's Journal site related to LENR cold fusion, that the core of the Sun is iron/nickel (as suggested in the "Iron Sun Theory" which says the sun only has hydrogen at the surface, like the Earth has water and oxygen at the surface but if hard underneath) just like the core of the Earth has a lot of nickel and iron, and the nickel is constantly ejecting neutrons at the boundary from quantum tunneling effects, which in turn then fuse back with the nickel via the Rossi/Focardi effect to produce heat and copper and neutrons that produce other elements. Oil and methane may comes from that layer too, from escaping hydrogen interacting with other decay components like carbon and oxygen.

So perhaps the same is happening in that asteroid -- that it has a nickel core where cold fusion is happening at the boundary? Which suggests to me there may likely be hydrocarbons being emitted too from Lutetia, which should be easy to check?

Basically, in this conception, the universe may have formed as nickel and iron (essentially, from neutrons), not hydrogen, and what we see in the universe is mostly the decay of masses of neutron from quantum effects, not the fusion of hydrogen (even as hydrogen does fuse, especially at the hot surface of stars powered by nickel-hydrogen cold fusion).

/. has gone weak (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37877392)

I can not understand that /. uses the Imperial system instead of the far more scientific Metric system for indication the protoplanets dimensions.

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