35 thoughts on “To Ward Off Further Linkage

  1. I believe that the International Astronomical Union should change its name to the International We Hate Pluto Society.

    Just sayin’.

  2. A few hundred men decided an object shouldn’t be a planet. I don’t agree and I don’t buy it. The definition was arbitrary and primarily used to keep the number of planets in the solar system low.

  3. Steve, I think it has something to do with a physics conundrum – will a plane on a treadmill take off. Something like that. I think there may have been a previous XKCD on the topic.

  4. 1) Agreed. He deserved what he got.
    2) Doesn’t alter the fact he was right. Being Right has little to do with whether or not you deserve getting what you get.
    3) Pluto was a cat before he was a dog. A black cat. No, make that The Black Cat

    http://www.poedecoder.com/essays/blackcat/

    4) Of course, he was a god before that.
    5) But he should never have been a planet.
    6) Yes, I deserve whatever I get.

  5. I don’t care what a group of grumpy old men say, we have NINE planets in our solar system, not eight and a planetoid/dwarf planet.

  6. Pluto: The question isn’t whether you want eight planets or nine, it’s whether you want eight planets or hundreds, because there are hundreds of bodies with characteristics similar to Pluto’s. Pluto was the first of these hundreds to be discovered, and it’s the brightest (hence its visibility from Earth), but I don’t think it’s even the largest (astronomers correct me if that’s not right).

    Scientists have to have a consistent set of criteria for their classifications, so they either have to exclude Pluto or include all those other objects. As long as you’re not doing science, you can use the word ‘planet’ to include Pluto if you like, just as the term ‘vegetable’ includes tomatos and bell peppers in common speech. (Don’t say “traditional planets,” though; that not only excludes Pluto, but Neptune as well!)

    (I generally avoid the whole argument by saying “ecliptic planets” whenever there’s a Pluto fan in the room. Pluto isn’t in the ecliptic, so they can’t object to my counting eight of those.)

    The Airplane Thing: I’m hoping I can spoil that sufficiently to keep it from becoming a black hole of conversation by pointing out that the treadmill is irrelevant to the forward motion of the plane, which is not driven by the wheels, but by the propellers or turbines. If the treadmill is moving as fast as the plane, the wheels spin twice as fast as normal. Makes no difference, as long as they turn freely.

    The plane’s lift is due to its speed relative to the air, not the ground. That’s why they take off into the wind, and why sudden changes in wind speed and direction (wind shear) make planes fall out of the sky (right after takeoff).

    The wheels just keep the plane’s belly off the ground. They do that equally effectively whether they’re sitting on a solid runway or on a moving treadmill.

  7. I’m still getting over the discovery that Mercury doesn’t have one side that always faces the sun. I learned that in hign school science and college astronomy too…

    Seriously, I thought the demotion of Pluto was really just a conspiracy by those who sell text books and museum exhibits to make some extra money.

  8. Scalzi on Pluto: wronger than a Kuiper belt of bacon-flavoured jelly beans.

    No, I have nothing substantive to add.

  9. Pluto is a planet, dammit. So is Eris. Them Euro-astronomers just couldn’t handle the idea that Ammuricans were finding all the new ones. So they dissed the ones found by Ammuricans.

    I still think Eris should have been named “Mickey” instead. Or “Goofy.” :-)

  10. Planet, planetoid or hemeroid issue aside, the schmuck in xkcd made one fatal error:

    If a man is standing all alone in the woods and his wife is not there to hear him and he speaks–he is still wrong!

    Twenty-three years of married life–and that is the only thing I know for sure.

    AND Pluto is SO a planet: it is listed as one on my 1968 Wham-O Frisbee!

  11. Xofer @ 16 -

    There aren’t hundreds of other bodies which we’re aware of which are spherical due to self-gravitation. Generally agreed planets, and a bunch of their larger moons, and Pluto, and presumably the largest of the KBO (though we really haven’t seen them close enough to tell for sure).

    The gravitationally dominating its orbit zone criterion or not most recent IAU criteria is new. And the decision to categorize as planet by that versus spherical is arbitrary…

  12. *note to self: Speak of ‘ecliptic planets’ in Georgewilliamherbert’s presence.*

    *note to Georgewilliamherbert: You misspelled my name.*

    *Further note to Georgewilliamherbert: I wasn’t really looking to reopen the yesitisnoitisn’t on Pluto here; just trying to explain why the astronomers decided what they did. Me, I think ‘orbiting in the plane of the ecliptic’ and ‘spherical due to self-gravitation’ should both be required criteria for planethood, but no one’s asking me.*

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