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Pluto Decision Meets with Frustration

Zonk posted more than 7 years ago | from the tiny-grey-different dept.

464

fuzzybunny writes "The BBC reports that the IAU's controversial Prague vote on demoting Pluto from planet status was irregular. 'There were 2,700 astronomers in Prague during that 10-day period. But only 10% of them voted this afternoon.'" On a less serious note, lx writes "Nonplussed by Pluto's recent downgrade from Planet Status, Fox News's own John Gibson does an incredible Stephen Colbert impersonation to correct the 'revisionist history' of the IAU's decision. Exemplifying 'truthiness,' from the article: 'Long ago I learned it was a planet and I see no reason to unlearn it. Why should I?' "

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464 comments

No reason to unlearn it? (5, Funny)

Snarfangel (203258) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982326)

He must have a hard time when we elect a new President.

Re:No reason to unlearn it? (4, Insightful)

jdray (645332) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982453)

The only thing "incredible" about that "Stephen Colbert impersonation" is how bad it was.

Re:No reason to unlearn it? (4, Insightful)

IdahoEv (195056) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982456)

'Long ago I learned it was a planet and I see no reason to unlearn it. Why should I?' "

Oh yes dear me, because information never changes and people should not EVAR be required to use their brains after their youthful indoctrination.

Re:No reason to unlearn it? (2, Insightful)

PureCreditor (300490) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982590)

>
>Oh yes dear me, because information never changes and people should not EVAR be required to >use their brains after their youthful indoctrination.

isn't that what religion is all about - that the "almighty" is absolute and no debate is allowed ?

thank goodness i dont belong to brain-washing propaganda-spewing groups, frequently known as "bible study"

Re:No reason to unlearn it? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982644)

...people should not EVAR be required to use their brains after their youthful indoctrination.

You just described the essence of religion.

Re:No reason to unlearn it? (5, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982477)

> He must have a hard time when we elect a new President.

Pluto downgraded. President still fucking Goofy.

Re:No reason to unlearn it? (1)

nsayer (86181) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982562)

I'd like to see pictures of that. Do they do it doggy style?

...wait... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982333)

So wait.. let me get this straight. Fox News is trying to copy a show that is a direct parody of the Fox News network? There's got to be some irony in there somewhere.

Re:...wait... (2, Funny)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982346)

So wait.. let me get this straight. Fox News is trying to copy a show that is a direct parody of the Fox News network? There's got to be some irony in there somewhere.

There's probably a patent being violated somewhere...

summon the army o' lawyers!

Re:...wait... (1)

legoburner (702695) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982371)

oh crap, they created a perfect paradox. There goes the universe.

Re:...wait... (4, Funny)

yali (209015) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982532)

Actually I don't know why Pluto got itself unmade as a planet. I didn't even read the rest of the story, frankly. The headline was all I needed...

Wait, I'm confused. Is this guy copying Colbert or slashdot?

In Other News... (2, Interesting)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982335)

After the ambush by the Dwarf Planet camp, on the last day, the IAU appears ready to fragment into smaller sub-unions, or dwarf unions.

Meanwhile, astrologers going out of their minds over the contentious issue of what constitutes a planet, how many of them there are and how it will impact births, weddings and divining portents, have finally had enough. This evening Seoul, Mumbai and San Francisco are in flames as astrologers and their clients rampage.

today's lesson: if you don't like the result of the last vote, wait until your opposition has left and then call another vote.

And what's this 472 of 2,700 being 10% stuff?

Stern said like-minded astronomers had begun a petition to get Pluto reinstated. Car bumper stickers compelling motorists to "Honk if Pluto is still a planet" have gone on sale over the internet and e-mails circulating about the decision have been describing the IAU as the "Irrelevant Astronomical Union".

I want one of those bumper stickers. I mean, how geek!

Ah, here's more info on merchandising the Pluto debate [businessweek.com] and a place [cafepress.com] you can vote with your $.

Re:In Other News... javicrespo6@hotmail.com (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982367)

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Re:In Other News... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982481)

And what's this 472 of 2,700 being 10% stuff?


They are astronomers. Any two numbers within an order of magnitude are equal (on an astronomical scale). Thus 472 = 270 = 2,700/10 ...

Pluto (5, Insightful)

WizADSL (839896) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982337)

Why are people so frustrated with this? I typically resist change, but I'm ok with this. If the definition of planet has been refined (that's my understanding) and pluto no longer fits the criteria, then this is fine.

Re:Pluto (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982407)

It MAY have something to do with how that decision was made. 424 delegates, out of an expected number of 2600, (sorry, haven't found any number regarding actual anttendées) made that decision. That's 16% of the nominal number of people who had a say in it.

A whopping majority, don't you think? If it had been in an American election that is - which it BTW wasn't, for you who haven't rtfn. ;-)

OMG WTFC (-1, Troll)

Bryan Ischo (893) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982338)

OMG who the fuck cares. Seriously. This whole Pluto thing has got to be the most ridiculous "news" event of my entire life. The only redeeming quality of it all is that it gives Stephen Colbert something to make fun of.

Re:OMG WTFC (1)

s20451 (410424) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982414)

OMG who the fuck cares. Seriously. This whole Pluto thing has got to be the most ridiculous "news" event of my entire life. The only redeeming quality of it all is that it gives Stephen Colbert something to make fun of.

"Most ridiculous", eh? I would point out that CNN's "Latest News" banner carries links to the following stories, any one of which will make you stupider than reading about a meeting of astronomers:

# JonBenet suspect to face court Monday
# Former President Ford undergoes angioplasty
# DNA shows woman held in 'dungeon' is missing girl
# Oprah's school opens in S. Africa
# Lost fishermen: No drugs, no cannibalism
# Cat goes for a walk ... on front paws only
# It's real life CSI for dinosaur detectives

Look on the bright side, at least the Pluto story has the public thinking about planetary science. There's something about spaceflight that galvanizes public attention -- no need to be a curmudgeon about it.

Re:OMG WTFC (0)

Simon Garlick (104721) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982457)

"Most ridiculous", eh? I would point out that CNN's "Latest News" banner carries links to the following stories, any one of which will make you stupider than reading about a meeting of astronomers

That's the bed you made, America. Lie in it.

Re:OMG WTFC (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982485)

yes, and that bed is coming to your country soon.

sadly.

MOD UP (plus my own two cents) (2, Insightful)

GuyMannDude (574364) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982582)

As s20451 points out, this has been a week full of idiotic bullshit. In a week where the JonBenet thing dominates the news, I think griping out Pluto getting a few minutes of coverage on the nightly news is really that much of a disaster.

But unlike the JonBenet crap, this Pluto case actually touches on something that *is* interesting. I didn't RTFA (c'mon, this is slashdot!) but the summary sounds pretty familiar. As stated above, conservatives see this as one more example of how the pinko-commie-liberals are revising history. Conservatives believe strongly in tradition and the status quo and their belief is that change has to be justified. That is, there has to be a damn good reason to change things. This touches on some timely political issues in an indirect and hidden way.

What concerns me, however, is that people consider this some sort of big chore to adjust their thinking that Pluto is no longer a planet. The quote from the summary is a prime example of this. The pundit complains "Hey, I've already done all that learning stuff. You mean I still have to continue to think and learn and possibily be open to new ideas once I'm an adult?" Yeah, I'm paraphrasing but I'm troubled by the idea that so many adults seem to have that learning ends once you're out of school. Think about it: it's really trivial to get it through your skull that Pluto isn't considered a planet anymore. But even this absolutely simple example of relearning draws groans from people who have a national stage to pontificate. What kind of example is this setting for our nation's youth? That it sucks to learn new stuff? That changing your mind in the face of new evidence is a chore that should be resisted and even hotly contested?

Don't think about this news story as the simple redefinition of a celestial body. Look at this story as one more facit in the anti-learning, anti-intellectual course that our country is going down. Then it becomes a lot more "news for nerds, stuff that matters." Does it really matter that Pluto has been downgraded. No, probably not for most of us. But it does matter a hell of a lot that there seems to be this outcry to keep things the way they are simply for the sake of tradition.

GMD

Re:OMG WTFC (1)

hackstraw (262471) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982516)

This whole Pluto thing has got to be the most ridiculous "news" event of my entire life.

At least in my life, it was the Terri Schiavo "story".

As Manson said, "I was crazy when crazy meant something". Well, I remember when controversy was controversial.

Re:OMG WTFC (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982570)

Well, I have to rethink my teenage stoned idea that maybe the solar system was a neon atom in a beer sign. Now it's a flourine atom... It's just not as cool.

How about this? (4, Insightful)

dtfinch (661405) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982343)

We keep the new definitions, but still call Pluto a planet, just as an honorary title.

Pluto: Neptune's Canada (4, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982361)

We keep the new definitions, but still call Pluto a planet, just as an honorary title.

Much like how the United States still refers to Canada as a soveriegn nation, instead of a 51st state.

Re:Pluto: Neptune's Canada (1)

Threni (635302) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982423)

> Much like how the United States still refers to Canada as a soveriegn nation, instead of a 51st
> state.

I thought England was the 51st state?

Re:Pluto: Neptune's Canada (4, Funny)

agent_no.82 (935754) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982520)

I thought Israel was the 51st state?

Re:Pluto: Neptune's Canada (1)

GungaDan (195739) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982472)

Everyone knows the 51st state is Saudi Israelia. ;-)

Re:Pluto: Neptune's Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982592)

A "state" with a bigger landmass than the U.S., and that's been voted the better place to live?

If only they would be so lucky.

Re:How about this? (1)

Surt (22457) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982464)

Indeed, or the rather obvious alternative that no one ever seems to bring up:

Define a planet as 'one of the nine classical planets, or any body meeting the following definition' ....

Problem solved already.

Re:How about this? (4, Funny)

s20451 (410424) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982480)

To: Pluto "luto@planets.org"
From: Punctual D. Industrious "fastdegrees@spam.net"
Subject: PLANETARY STATUS FAST based on your LIFE EXPERIENCE

Are you being held back because you don't have STATUS? Is NASA ignoring you? Not getting name recognition you deserve from grade schoolers?

You may already qualify for PLANETARY STATUS based on your LIFE EXPERIENCE. Prestigious non-accredited astronomy associations want to give you the life you deserve.

Gas Giant or Terrestrial Body status available. Acceptance guaranteed. No exams or essays. Fast delivery of official certificate worldwide.

Re:How about this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982521)

We keep the new definitions, but still call Pluto a planet, just as an honorary title.

The Pluton formerly known as Planet?

Re:How about this? (1, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982523)

Look, this is about *facts*, and it's a fact that Pluto is quite clearly not a member of the class of objects occupied by the other 8 planets. The fact is that our previous classification was wrong, and that it should now be changed to reflect our new understanding of the universe. This is the way science works, and ridiculous publicity stunts like what you suggest do nothing but compromise scientific objectivity, lowering it to simple public opinion.

Re:How about this? (4, Insightful)

Rancidlunchmeat (897597) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982622)

FACTS? If this were actually about facts, there wouldn't be anything to VOTE on, would there?

Re:How about this? (2, Informative)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982537)

Then why not Ceres and co?

They were called planets for quite a bit of time. There's a number of precedents for such demotion.

How about that? (1)

ackthpt (218170) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982550)

We keep the new definitions, but still call Pluto a planet, just as an honorary title.

I suggest the same thing and get verbally tarred and feathered.

This exercise has certainly explosed a great rift in the community. Now they've also seen that there are those within the community willing to "hijack" a decision.

Personnally I'm surprised the UN hasn't weighed in on this.

bad diet? (2, Funny)

User 956 (568564) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982345)

The BBC reports that the IAU's controversial Prague vote on demoting Pluto from planet status was irregular.

Well then, it sounds like they need more fiber.

I learned everything I need to know on Fox News (5, Funny)

klenwell (960296) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982351)

'Long ago I learned it was a planet and I see no reason to unlearn it. Why should I?'

Don't fret it. Long ago Romans learned it was a god. They didn't have to unlearn it. Their empire simply collapsed.

Re:I learned everything I need to know on Fox News (1)

TrevorB (57780) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982615)

There are those instances where a comment deserves a Score of 6.

Damn, I'm going to have to use this somewhere...

PLUTO IS STILL A PLANET (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982353)

Correct me if I'm wrog.. but are they not also cosidering other "random" orbit rocks past pluto for planet status???

So if you still considering... Pluto is still a planet...

And its "My Very Eliagant Mother sent us nine pizzas" not "My very excellent mother sent us nachos".

Posted Anyono for no reason whatsoever....

Re:PLUTO IS STILL A PLANET (1)

Kesch (943326) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982564)

I feel pedantic enough to point out that your solar system is missing Jupiter. Now considering that Jupiter is the second largest body in this solar system, I find it hard to forget.

My Very Energetic Mother Just Served Us Nachos. (or Nine Pizzas for the Pluto fanatics).

Re:PLUTO IS STILL A PLANET (1)

Fordiman (689627) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982573)

*sigh*

The other random rocks had to be included (for consistency) if pluto was to be declared a planet. I don't believe any of them had regular orbits, nor wre they properly spherical. Meanwhile, they were as big or bigger than pluto.

So yeah. Lose Pluto, or accept Xena. Your choice.

We got it wrong (5, Insightful)

Mwongozi (176765) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982366)

Long ago I learned it was a planet and I see no reason to unlearn it. Why should I?

Because we were wrong. It's orbit is incredibly un-circular, it wildly off the plane of the solar system, and it's smaller than the moon! It never belonged in the pigeon-hole we've labelled "planet".

Part of science is accurate classification. We can't label something just because we want to.

Re:We got it wrong (4, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982466)

Because we were wrong.

Exactly! It's like saying "I learned the earth is the center of the universe and I see no reason to unlearn it." It's plain and simply factually *wrong*, and people who react this way betray an alarming inability to accept new facts, instead clinging onto their pre-existing notions with near *religious* ferver.

Yes, that last bit was flamebait. ;)

Yes, we can label something b/c we want to (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982487)

A strong case can be made that these designations are arbitrary. There's plenty of stuff that revolve around the Sun.

You can place any set of criteria you want. At some point, there will be an arbitrary cut off.

Is something one mile around a planet? No.

25,000? Yes.

Any cutoff point could have something that is just under the cutoff point. So the Fox News guy has a point.

Sorry, you and the IAU are wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982488)

Because we were wrong. It's orbit is incredibly un-circular, it wildly off the plane of the solar system, and it's smaller than the moon! It never belonged in the pigeon-hole we've labelled "planet".

So you're saying tradition doesn't matter? 300 members of an internationalist labor organization can just tell the rest of us we've been wrong about the number of planets in the solar system and we should listen? I don't think so, chief. There are nine planets. Everybody knows that.

There were nine planets two days ago and there will continue to be nine planets, regardless of any sort of po-mo revisionism.

We can't label something just because we want to.

Of course we can. That's what language is. A planet is a planet because we call it a planet. We're humans. Things have names because we give them names. That's our god-given right. I'm not about to let these leftists in Czechoslovakia or anywhere else tell me my American schooling is wrong.

(Posting anonymously so I won't get raped by one of the socialist moderators around here.)

Re:Sorry, you and the IAU are wrong (1)

Mwongozi (176765) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982542)

So you're saying tradition doesn't matter?

Yes, I am. Tradition has no place in science. We can't keep believing that the Earth is flat just because it's traditional.

This is a change in definition, not in knowledge (4, Informative)

alienmole (15522) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982609)

We stopped believing that the Earth is flat because better observations and measurements of the Earth contradicted the definition of "flat". However, what they're doing with Pluto is changing the definition of "planet". This is an entirely arbitrary process, and the definition they've come up with is entirely arbitrary. It has much less to do with science than with human psychology.

The people who want to stick with Pluto as a planet are at least as rational and justified in their belief as the people who want to change it.

It's got nothing to do with "science" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982620)

Let's see what a real American scientist [badastronomy.com] has to say about this debacle:

Ignoring for the moment, once again, that it's silly to try to scientifically define a class of objects that are really only defined culturally, these definitions are still unsatisfying to me.


So now, tell me what the IAU decalaration is if not an out-and-out attack on American culture. There is nothing "scientific" about the radical leftist politics of the IAU.

Re:Sorry, you, the parent, and the IAU are wrong (0)

jpatters (883) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982567)

There are not nine planets, there are probably hundreds. The voters at the IAU obviously had an emotional problem with there being more than a small number of planets, so they decided to dispense with science and permanently and arbitrarily cap the number of planets at eight. I say we ignore them.

Re:We got it wrong (1)

Dasher42 (514179) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982511)

Yes, but I don't know that anyone has clearly resolved why Pluto's orbit is so ecliptic (I realize good theories exist), and our study of extrasolar planets has shown that highly ecliptic orbits are nothing unusual. Also, Saturn's moon Titan is bigger than the planet Mercury, so size is proving a purely arbitrary thing in this argument.

I firmly believe that geological features and activity should define the lower bound of what we call planets. Pluto has a atmosphere during parts of its year, and most likely has or has had a crust, mantle, and core. I might be wrong, but that knocks Ceres out of the running, which I wouldn't call a planet.

Fact is, the word "planet" belongs to much simpler times.

Re:We got it wrong (1)

Dasher42 (514179) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982559)

Turns out my information is out of date. Ceres most likely has differentiated layers, and is generally more interesting than previously thought [planetary.org] .

Re:We got it wrong (2, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982566)

Yes, but I don't know that anyone has clearly resolved why Pluto's orbit is so ecliptic (I realize good theories exist), and our study of extrasolar planets has shown that highly ecliptic orbits are nothing unusual.

Yes, but *no other planetary object* has such a highly elliptic, inclined orbit. Pluto is the only one. I think that's sufficient reason to believe that it belongs to another class of objects (Kuiper belt objects, to be precise).

Also, Saturn's moon Titan is bigger than the planet Mercury, so size is proving a purely arbitrary thing in this argument.

If Titan were orbiting the sun instead of Saturn, it would probably be classified as a planet. It's not, so it's a moon.

Pluto has a atmosphere during parts of its year, and most likely has or has had a crust, mantle, and core. I might be wrong, but that knocks Ceres out of the running, which I wouldn't call a planet.

Sure, but it puts planets like Titan back in. Moreover, comets are certainly "active", and have an atmosphere of sorts. So it appears your definition doesn't work either.

I think a combination of size, and orbital plane and center are sufficient. If the object is >= mercury (there may be a more scientific way to select a size limit) and orbits the sun in a roughly circular fashion on the same plane as the other planets, it's a planet. What's so hard about this?

Re:We got it wrong (1)

Derekloffin (741455) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982554)

Because we were wrong.

It's difficult to be wrong about a definition especially when we lacked one. As well, although it's nice to classify things, those classes really have to have some good basis on them which so far this definition is showing lack of.

Re:We got it wrong (1)

Mwongozi (176765) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982569)

It's difficult to be wrong about a definition especially when we lacked one.

It is possible to be wrong, however, in statements like: "Pluto is so similar to the eight planets that it deserves the same name." - because it isn't really similar at all, and so therefore it doesn't.

Considering... (2, Interesting)

Nom du Keyboard (633989) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982380)

Considering that Pluto orbits both inside and outside of Neptune's more circular orbit, even if on a slant to the ecliptic, what are the chances they could collide someday? Is there a common point both celestial bodies (note how cleverly I've avoided the use of the now obsolete term 'planet') have both passed through at some 4th dimensional offset (time for those of you in Rio Linda) from each other?

Re:Considering... (5, Informative)

tygt (792974) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982422)

They're apparently in a fairly stable orbital situation such that ne'er will their paths cross.

As such:

Pluto is locked in a 3:2 resonance with Neptune; i.e. Pluto's orbital period is exactly 1.5 times longer than Neptune's. Its orbital inclination is also much higher than the other planets'. Thus though it appears that Pluto's orbit crosses Neptune's, it really doesn't and they will never collide.
See this [nineplanets.org] for more.

Re:Considering... (1)

Kylere (846597) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982638)

"See this [nineplanets.org] for more."

I bet right now they are sitting around saying, "Now who exactly was it that picked this lousy domain name?"

Re:Considering... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982429)

google it. I'm not even going to bother posting the link here you lazy ass

Re:Considering... (1)

tool462 (677306) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982443)

Nope. Despite how the 2-d projections in science textbooks look, Pluto and Neptunes orbits never cross. And unless there's some tiny precession or a major event like a giant asteroid knocking them out of their orbit, they never will.

Re:Considering... (1)

imemyself (757318) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982455)

No they won't collide.

Re:Considering... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982471)

the paths never actually cross the idea of an impact without an intervening force (a really depressed pluto deciding to end it all) is zero.
if you consider a co-ordinate system where north is the universal up pluto is far above neptune when inside neptunes orbit. Or so I've been told, haven't driven there to check it out myself.

Check it yourself! (2, Informative)

mangu (126918) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982631)

Look in the 'dead tree file' "Astrophysics with a PC", by Paul Hellings. [willbell.com]

Item 4.7.3. "The case of Pluto and Neptune" explains why they will never collide, and gives the source code for implementing the simulation. Sorry, it's in BASIC, but you can easily reimplement it in Perl or Python, or whatever your favourite langage is, it's just one page of code.

Compromise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982390)

I don't understand the need to cut Pluto out as a planet. Why can't the 'rule' have just this one exception? You can still say that any given object that does not meet certain requirements, cannot be defined as a planet, with the only exception of Pluto that, for historical reasons (or backwards compatibility ;) is still named so.

Does it really matter? (0, Troll)

dindi (78034) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982404)

Wow, frustration. Upset people.

Pluto is sooo damn far from here, you barely know it is there. If you are an astronomer, you probably know what Pluto is and do not really care if they call it a planet, a dwarf, a dwarf planet, a moon, or a damn piece of ruck orbiting that fireball some call the SUN.

And for the rest non astronomers: even if you care about that distant little ball of rock at the very edge of our solar system, does it really matter if you call it a planet?

I mean it was a planet for who knows how long, so why start messing with it now?

Besides: you should have already learned, that Planet Earth is flat and is orbited by the Sun.
Oh well, maybe it is wise sometimes to revise astronomy..... but that much dust around Pluto.

Not to mention the fact (1, Interesting)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982420)

That it destroys a major plotline of Heinlien's clasic teen novel Have Spacesuit Will Travel

Re:Not to mention the fact (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982505)

and an episode of "Starblazers"

Recount (5, Funny)

kirun (658684) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982448)

Don't worry, Diebold has just announced the results of the recount, and 3,134 of the 2,700 delegates voted to make Pluto stay as a planet.

For an actually funny commentary on Pluto (0, Troll)

The Pim (140414) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982458)

(not to mention a laudable use of unicode), check out Tim Kreider [nytimes.com] . It's rather moving, actually: "Pluto has rented a tuxedo."

Scientists with too much time on their hands (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982462)

The Ballistic Equations remain unsolved.
Why don't they do something useful like work on these,
instead of arguing if a planet is a planet.

Losers.

Reclassifying Astronomers (1)

joe_n_bloe (244407) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982482)

While they're at it they should create a category of "minor astronomers." In their spare time these same busybody pinheads probably wander around their suburban neighborhoods measuring grass with rulers and checking their watches to see if anyone's leaving a trash can out on the sidewalk too long.

Personally I think Pluto makes a fine 9th planet.

Re:Reclassifying Astronomers (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982517)

The problem is, there was no real classification of planet. At the time of it's discovery we were more ignorant of it, and other star systems.

Persoanlly, I think the whole planet category idea is flawed.

I'm glad to see another sane person posting here (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982568)

Another thing I'd add: why is everybody even listening to a socialist astronomer's union meeting in a former Soviet republic? Next thing, the UAW will be telling us a pickup truck isn't a truck anymore. Personally, I'll listen to American astronomers, who are good enough at their profession they don't need to join a substandard organization like the IAU.

orly (5, Insightful)

sam.thorogood (979334) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982484)

Long ago I learned it was a planet and I see no reason to unlearn it. Why should I?

Before five hundred years ago [wikipedia.org] I learned that the Earth was flat and I see no reason to unlearn it. Why should I?

Re:orly (1)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982541)

I call Shens! You were not alive 500 years ago. Besides, this is a classification that we made up. It's not like we suddenly understand more about Pluto then we did two days ago.

Re:orly (1)

joe_n_bloe (244407) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982553)

The ancient Greeks, among others, believed the Earth to be round. That's not five hundred years ago; it's more like 2300.

It took over 50 years to locate Pluto. I think that calling Pluto a "planet" is, among other things, fitting recognition of the countless thousands of astronomer-hours that eventually led to its discovery.

Anyway, I don't care if we wind up with 100 planets in the Solar System. I like planets.

A question of fairness and integrity (5, Interesting)

meburke (736645) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982492)

Whether Pluto is or is not considered a planet is not as important to me as the integrity of high-level guidance among senior scientists. When the arguments for or against a decision depend on popular vote rather than rational consensus, scientists reduce themselves to the level of lawyers. When the objectivity of scientific thought is bypassed by special interest groups and politics, science is no longer Science. This whole process has been a shameful exhibition of politics.

Re:A question of fairness and integrity (1)

Kesch (943326) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982581)

I fail to see how Pluto's planetary status benefits any special intrest groups or political parties. The two groups making money off this are the media and the T-shirt vendors. Astrologers might care, but they make up their own rules anyways so it doesn't matter.

Re:A question of fairness and integrity (3, Insightful)

antares256 (659113) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982595)

I couldn't agree more. The IAU has the authority to make this decision, but if the OP is correct, and only 10% of the IAU voted, that isn't even a quorum.

Two things really bothered me about this decision, and neither of them are the decision that Pluto is not a planet, but have to do with the way the decision was made.

1) When asked about applying this definition to other stars and their potential planets, the committee that proposed this definition said that the definition on the table only applies to our solar system.

2) One of the delegates said, "We would really look like idiots if we came out of this meeting without some type of decision." (I don't know who to attribute this to, but I heard the scientist's voice on NPR).

Another interesting tidbit is that the original defintion, as suggested by the committee, had the unintended consequence of removeing Neptune from the definition of a planet (it hasn't fully cleared its neighborhood, i.e. Pluto), so they added an addendum to the definition.

My thought is the IAU does look like idiots, for doing 1, and making statement 2. All they have done is muddy the waters again. They haven't come up with a definition that will be applicable to all bodies orbiting any star (even though there are bound to be exceptions). The addendum to make Neptune a planet under this new definition again shows that they really didn't think this through like they should have before submitting the definition.

If they were to act more like scientists than media-coverage hungry people (the "we would look like idiots" comment), they might have actually come up with a definition that didn't need an addendum to include a large gas giant, and one that would be applicable to extra-solar planet hunters...

Another interesting tidbit is that most of the scientists in the "Pluto shouldn't be a planet" camp also had competing missions for which they wanted funding that might instead go toward a Pluto mission of some sort.

Re:A question of fairness and integrity (1)

Rancidlunchmeat (897597) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982601)

Exactly. Anybody who doesn't see there's something fundamentally wrong with using the terms 'science' and 'vote' together, has already missed the bus.

John Gibson == dumbass (5, Interesting)

daddyrief (910385) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982493)

I usually don't comment much, but when a nationally-recognized news anchor makes stupid comments, I feel obliged.

He says, "All of a sudden Ringo isn't a Beatle? All of a sudden somebody changes a standard and Curly isn't a stooge, or Zeppo isn't a Marx, or Ari isn't one of the "Entourage"? Actually I don't know why Pluto got itself unmade as a planet. I didn't even read the rest of the story, frankly."

My god. Yeah, because Ringo Starr's status as a Beatle hinges on statistics and his orbital ellipse, just like Pluto's. Look out for that 'Two Stooges' DVD also. John Gibson sounds like a prick -- if our understanding of the universe evolved John Gibson's way, we might still be afraid to fall off the edge of the world, or the Sun might still rotate around the Earth. The changing of 'standards' is inevitable as a better understanding of the universe becomes available. The more technologically advanced we become, you can bet laws, theories, and yes, even TEXTBOOK PRINT may become outdated.

(Note: this rant directed toward John Gibson's stupid 'rebuttal,' regardless of the IAU decision whether Pluto should be considered a planet or not.

Re:John Gibson == dumbass (0, Flamebait)

Bryansix (761547) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982565)

Why is it that if this were printed it would be considered Libel and a Lawsuit would be had but we think it is alright to post on Slashdot?

Why? (3, Interesting)

Kaenneth (82978) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982497)

I'll tell you why.

Ever look at the price tag on a Textbook?, those things are expensive.

To pay for the textbook publishers political action committee.

Think of the money that will need to be spent by schools for new science textbooks; just after they got done replacing them to give equal space to 'Intelligent Design'.

You might think it's unimportant, but when the federally mandated standardised test asks how many planets are in the Solar System...

Re:Why? (1)

Radish03 (248960) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982623)

Forget the hassle this is going to cause with rewriting the text books. On the front page of the Wall Street Journal today, I saw a headline that emphasizes the real problem with reclassifying pluto: "Pluto's Demotion Divides Astrologers." There are serious problems if changing the scientific foundations of fortune telling are meeting with such fisticuffs.

UNITE PLUTOCRATS!! (1)

happy_place (632005) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982498)

In the grand tradition of choosing words like, "pluton," forever more, those of us who refuse to demote Pluto from planetary status shall forever be known as "Plutocrats!"

Unite Plutocrats!

--Ray

What he doesn't get (0, Offtopic)

LordSnooty (853791) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982512)

He just has to learn that a planet must fit a rather more specific set of criteria. There's no "unlearning" needed. What the hell is that word, anyway?

since when did fox news become such a joke (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982528)

I thought complaining about other station's news stories was mainly limited to comedy central. If fox news had any decency they'd start calling this guy a comedian or 'entertainer' (used loosley) instead of a journalist.

Dear Stephen Colbert... (4, Funny)

Vellmont (569020) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982535)

Here's a copy of a letter I sent off to myword@foxnews.com. I wonder if anyone there will get it:

That article about Pluto not being a planet has to
be one of the funniest things I've seen you produce yet.
I couldn't stop laughing! The notion of having to
"unlearn" something just kills me. What a perfect
example of Truthiness, and how appropriate that it
appears on your print version of "The Word".

I also have a question for you. How long have you
been writing under the pen name "John Gibson"? Or
is John Gibson your real name, and Stephen Colbert
is your stage name? Just curious.

Keep up the good work, and I'll be sure to catch
you on The Report.

Revisionists! (1)

Mentorix (620009) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982536)

I wouldn't expect anything else from this guy. He admits just glancing at a headline too.

The prague convention reclassified it, they didn't "invent" anything, he just conjures up his own version of what happened and denounces it as a revisionist act based on no authority whatsoever. It's actually precisely the reaction I'd expect from a person like Gibson and he shows his superficial apreciation of the scientific process by publishing it. I bet he was pissed when the french standardised the meter too.

Oh, and the people at the convention in prague got the authority to reclassiy pluto (and others!) because they worked hard to gain real understanding of our solar system and the processes within it, they did something useful and noble with their lives instead of becoming a tool in the media like ... Gibson.

The council of Nicea is probably something Gibson can identify with, I mean, who were those guys and who gave them any authority to change things!?

Damn revisionists!

10% voted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982546)

So the 10% who cared about the issue voted, and those who thought it was more important to go out and drink a beer didn't vote. Doesn't that kind of voting actually *increase* reliability?

NASA's new mission: to set foot on a planet (4, Insightful)

Dr. Zowie (109983) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982557)

The exact wording of Resolution 5(a) is:
(1) A "planet"1 is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

(2) A "dwarf planet" is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape2 , (c) has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit, and (d) is not a satellite.

There are several problems with (1). In particular:
  • Extrasolar planets are no longer "planets" since they don't orbit the Sun.
  • Jupiter is not a planet, because it has not cleared the neighborhood around its orbit - it has asteroids at the Trojan points.
  • Earth is not a planet, because it has not cleared the neighborhood around its orbit -- there exist Near-Earth asteroids and Earth-crossing asteroids. (One might argue that this is getting worse, what with all the space debris we keep flinging into near-Earth solar orbit).

(2) looks OK, but the IAU folks have taken the (IMHO) insane view that a "dwarf planet" is not a subtype of "planet" at all (contrast "dwarf pine tree" or "dwarf sunflower" or "dwarf hippopotamus", all of which are subtypes of their source nown). That destroys a potential way to finesse the Pluto issue -- by calling it a dwarf planet, they could have let everyone have their semantic cake, and eat it too.

On a different note, another scientist friend of mine just told me his six-year-old daughter burst into tears when she found out Pluto isn't to be considered a planet anymore. :-(

Re:NASA's new mission: to set foot on a planet (1)

Kesch (943326) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982594)

To clear your orbit means that you are magnitudes of size larger than other bodies in your orbit. The Earth and Jupiter are. Pluto is not.

Oh yeah -- makes the Moon a dwarf planet... (1)

Dr. Zowie (109983) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982643)

Almost forgot: Earth's Moon probably qualifies as a "dwarf planet" by definition (2). That is to say, it is (by many measures) in orbit about the Sun rather than the Earth, and it has not cleared its orbital vicinity (the Earth is nearby).

The Moon is in orbit about the Sun in the sense that the Sun exerts more force on the Moon than does the Earth. Viewed from above the solar system, the Moon's orbit is never concave out (away from the Sun), it is always concave in. The Earth just happens to be perturbing the orbit some.

I just care about one of them (1)

Carlbunn (817714) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982560)

Ha! As long as they don't demote Uranus.

Only 10%? (1)

Relic of the Future (118669) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982561)

Only 10% voted? Mabye because most astronomers just don't care as much as the summer-starved media is hyping this?

In other news (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982580)

A later vote downgraded the Earth, Mars, Venus and Mercury to asteriod status due to insufficent mass to be considered a planet. A final vote at the end of the day declared that the gas giants can't be considered planets due to their lack of a solid surface. At the end of the conference it was found our solar system in fact had no planets. All members were pleased with the final result since we now have a firm definition of what consitutes a planet. We still have high hopes of finding a planet somewhere in the Universe. Next we plan to attack the question of what constitues life. All are anxcious to find if there is infact life in our solar system but the lack of planets leaves that in doubt.

Change in status means what, exactly? (1)

MECC (8478) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982598)

Will pluto be studied differently as a result of the status change? Will it physical properties change? What's the big deal?

Poor Mom (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982600)

My Very Eager Mother Just Served Us Nothing

Back in the day (4, Interesting)

ndansmith (582590) | more than 7 years ago | (#15982604)

Gibson would've said the converse when they added Pluto:

"I grew up with eight planets. Now some know-nothing radicle tells me there are nine? This 'planet' Pluto is nothing but a rock of ice in space."

Shazbot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#15982633)

Silly humans and your "Earth definitions".

~ Anonymous Alien
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