Pluto IS a Planet Protest March and Rally

Comments

1
If we don't support Pluto the Plutonians will be angered and destroy the Earthlings!!
2
Oh, please. Pluto doesn't meet the definition of a planet - it's not even spherical! Don't let weird sentiment get in the way of science.
3
They didn't do anything like this to Uranus did they? That would be bad.
4
Even "dwarf planet" is an upgrade from Pluto's original reclassification, "Kuiper belt object".

I like the definitional requirement that planets have to clear their orbits of space junk (which Pluto does not). The "Star Trek" rejoinder, that no one visiting a planet could be sure it was a planet until they'd mapped its orbit, is inane.

@3: According to the all-Pluto Nova episode that ran last week, it is spherical.

http://www.wgbh.org/programs/ProgramDeta…
5
Seriously, people are still up in arms about this? I'm a total science nerd, and even I don't see the big deal. A planet by any other name would smell as sweet, ya know?
6
I still think we need to grant the "asteroid belt" historical rights as a planet.

After all, it was a lot bigger than Mercury or Pluto.
7
YAWN!
8
Do we have the public option yet? Wait, what are we protesting about?
9
I'd totally go counter-protest this, but for the fact that I can't be bothered.
Ceres used to be considered a planet. Then we discovered a lot more asteroids and decided that it wasn't special except in being big and discovered early.
Pluto used to be considered a planet. Now we're discovering a whole lot more ice balls in the Kupier belt. Pluto was a big and early discovered one of these. This will pass.
10
This is the role of liberal journalists in capitalist society: distract people from real issues while defending the status quo. Thanks, Stranger for your continued irrelevance. If things actually changed, you guys might lose your jobs, eh?
11
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2R-wolOn…

Dr. Tyson talks about Pluto.
12
Did you know that if you stretched a line of Libertarian Tea Baggers from here to Pluto, they'd all die due to lack of oxygen or burning up in the atmosphere?

That would be a Good Thing.
13
This is for shits 'n' giggles, all. The Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. is zany and wacky, a ploy to get kids interested in 826 Seattle's writing programs.
14
Totally a Kuiper belt object...

Related to @11, did y'all check out the 3rd grader hate mail that Tyson got?
http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/pluto/mail.…
15
Dang, the humor-challenged are out in force today...
16
I actually left the slog happy early last year to see Dr. Tyson give his Pluto speech. Way better than the recent Nova, simply because he dropped a MF bomb during the lecture.
17
if you make pluto a planet (again) then you've got include of his kuiper belt friends too. that would be a lot to memorize in elementary school.
18
It's not a planet. Deal.
19
There's scientific terminology, and there's cultural terminology. The two don't always match up, and they don't need to. For example, in scientific, botanical terms a tomato is a fruit, but in most cultural situations such as the culinary world, it's generally considered a vegetable. That's OK, and no one feels the need to march in the streets to make science conform to popular culture.

Particularly with the discovery of exoplanets as well as many more rocky bodies in orbit around the sun, the scientific community needed to firm up its taxonomy. These things happen sometimes. And the truth is that Pluto has always been an oddball among the planets, and similar bodies are being discovered with regularity in recent years. Any rigorous definition of "planet" that includes pluto would have to also include dozens of more recently discovered worlds, and would almost make the term meaningless in any taxonomic sense.

The only things that distinguises Pluto from these other nuggets of rock that hubble has picked up in the last few years are that it does happen to be the largest discovered so far (although not by much) and that it was discovered much earlier than the others, largely by accident. Because of some miscalculations about the orbits of Uranus and Neptune, some astronomers thought that there was another gas giant out there exerting gravitational pull on those planets. After a couple decades of intense searching, they happened to spot this random rocky nugget, and called it a planet.

But if you want to call Pluto a planet, then knock yourselves out, kids. It's a cultural use of the term, and that's all.
20
Neil deGrasse Tyson will put his foot right up your ass for this kind of shenanigans.

The fact that it is certainly tongue-in-cheek only means I roll my eyes at it in a slightly different manner.
21
The ultimate in Nerd-ish experiences!!!

Protest sign ideas:

Pluto isn't just another Disney character!

What's next- YorAnus?!!

It's about the planet stupid!

OMG I am such a geek!

22
I'm much more annoyed about Dwarf Planet Xena getting a much lamer official name.
23
Pluto's a planet? Sheesh. I thought he was a dog<.
24
@20 I don't know, I think he'd have a great time at the protest, happy with all the people that care about the subject. Of course, he'd love to tell him at length why they're wrong, but he'd be smiling the whole time!
I think he's my favorite living scientist.
25
@14

Hate mail from third-graders is sort of adorable. It's more like puzzled-consternation mail, anyway. What baffles me is the adults who got really butthurt about it.
26
@24

Okay, okay, so it's a figurative ass-kicking, with a smile and a witticism and boundless passion for the subject. Sagan-fu.
27
@ 23: OK, if Pluto's a dog, then what's Goofy? Huh? Huh? Answer me that, whydoncha?
28
Some day, Pluto will extract its vengeance upon us for this affront. Tugged out of orbit by its companion planetoid, it will hurtle to the bottom of our gravity well, and smash the planet Earth to pieces. Who then will be the planet?
29
You can't fool me, @27 - I've been to Disneyland. Goofy's a guy in a dog costume.
30
@28 -- that Nova episode also explained that Pluto's diameter would only reach from about California to Kansas. Sure, it would be an extinction-level event with orders of magnitude to spare, but the earth is not getting smashed to pieces. Not by Pluto. And on its way here it would probably wind up ignominiously lodged in Jupiter anyway. Where's your precious planet then?
31
I love you Greenhood!
32
Oh, and here I'd thought these fucking morons had finally shut up about this. I also hope that a bunch of Earth-centrists protest the teaching that earth revolves around the sun as well. This is why most people are little more than cattle; even science, which is ever-changing, becomes ossified doctrine to them.
33
Yeah, @13 nailed it. One of the components of Saturday is a workshop for kids on writing argumentative essays either for or against "planetary status." We come for the writing, we stay for the tongue-in-cheek protest! www.826seattle.org.
34
I do like 826, and this is a great publicity stunt for science, but Pluto didn't get demoted, just clarified. It is still called a planet, just with the adjective "dwarf". The gas giants also need an adjective to be precise: they are "giant planets". Are they not planets because of that? Also are red dwarf stars not stars? They are starts, "red dwarf" just tells more about what type of star (and provides a name for great TV).

Pluto is spherical, but so is the asteroid Ceres.

And Xena (officially renamed Eris) is in fact more massive than Pluto.
35
Wow, it sounds as if there are some hard-core dwarf-planet haters out there. I hope Saturday's event doesn't turn ugly. ;-) Planetary science is just now hitting its prime, with the European COROT mission and NASA's Kepler mission. Lots more discoveries (and paradigm shifts) are on the way. If you ever get the chance, ask Neil Tyson how many planets there are in the solar system and see what he says. I did: http://cosmiclog.msnbc.msn.com/archive/2…
36
This is ALL IN FUN. JEEZ! Lighten up - it's so 826 can teach some kids how to formulate arguments, and everyone can have a laugh. Look up the definition of fun to all the people who had to leave scientific comments, criticisms or plain rude statements. You're sucking the spirit out of the thing. Don't hate.
37
How 'bout this for a protest sign;

I was promised donuts...

R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what Pluto means to me...
38
Pluto most certainly IS spherical, and that, along with the fact that it orbits the Sun, is why it is a planet. This is what distinguishes it from the majority of the other "nuggets of rock" in the Kuiper Belt. It turns out the demotion of Ceres was wrong; it was done because 19th century telescopes could not resolve Ceres into a disk. No one knew it was spherical until Hubble photographed it. Only four percent of the IAU voted on the controversial demotion, and most are not planetary scientists. Their decision was immediately opposed by hundreds of professional astronomers in a formal petition led by New Horizons Principal Investigator Dr. Alan Stern. Anyone who saw the recent NOVA production can vouch for the fact that even Dr. Neil de Grasse Tyson recognizes there is NO consensus among astronomers on Pluto's status.

Many planetary scientists favor a much broader planet definition in which a planet is any non-self-luminous spheroidal body orbiting a star. The spheroidal part is important because it means an object is large enough for its gravity to pull it into a round shape, a state known as hydrostatic equilibrium and characteristic of planets and not shapeless asteroids. Objects in hydrostatic equilibrium have geology and weather, and many are differentiated into core, mantle, and crust just like the Earth is.

Pluto is both a Kuiper Belt Object and a planet. The same is true for Haumea, Makemake, and Eris. Ceres, being spherical, is the smallest planet. The IAU definition doesn't even make sense in that it states dwarf planets are not planets at all and in that it defines objects solely by where they are while ignoring what they are. If Earth were in Pluto's orbit, it would not clear that orbit either.

Pluto's being different from terrestrials and gas giants does not preclude it from being a planet; it just makes it a different kind of planet. There are three, not two, subclasses of planets. These are terrestrials, jovians, and dwarf planets. The latter are objects orbiting the Sun that are large enough to be in hydrostatic equilbrium but not large enough to gravitationally dominate their orbits. Interestingly, this would make the term "dwarf planet" consistent with similar terms in astronomy, as dwarf stars are still stars, and dwarf galaxies are still galaxies.

No one should accept a poor, political decision masquerading as science. The IAU can decree the sky is green, but that does not make it so. I commend all who continue to work hard to get this decision overturned and wish I could have joined the protest. Unfortunately, Seattle is a long way from New Jersey.
39
i want to be a member