Thursday, August 24, 2006

Official: Many rhymes now obsolete

Astronomers have decided that Pluto is not in fact a planet, reducing the number of planets in the solar system to 8 and rendering several "sequence of planet" rhymes obsolete. Oh yes, and thousands of science and school books are now out of date.

The scientist have agreed that for an object to be classified a planet it must satisfy the following conditions:

  • It must be in orbit around the Sun
  • it must be large enough that it takes on a nearly round shape
  • it has cleared its orbit of other objects
Although Pluto satisfies the first two conditions it fails the third as its eliptical orbit overlaps with that of Neptune and hence it hasn't cleared its orbit of other objects. Thus it is now classed as a "dwarf planet"

This is just another example of the small guy getting stepped on! It's blatantly discriminatory. Why hasn't Neptune been declassified under these new rules? After all if Plutos orbit overlaps Neptune then, if we get technical, surely both have failed to clear their orbits of other objects?

Damn elitist scientists!

4 comments:

simon said...

Size matters

My very eager mother just served us nine

Still works

sciencegeek said...

Hi Tuathal and Simon,

Pluto isn't really getting picked on for being the little guy. It's the way Pluto was formed that caused it to be rejected.

The newly accepted theory is based on formation mechanism - it's now been accepted that planets are formed in a disk. The planets 'gobble up' all the matter around them and in this way 'clear their orbit'. Pluto hasn't done this, even though it's the right shape and orbits the host star. It's been relegated to a disk by-product.

Sorry for the blathering - I was at meetings leading up to this decision and my colleague was at this last one (and was allowed to vote in it).

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