Alas, poor Pluto…

As of this morning [tag]Pluto[/tag] is no longer a planet. The [tag]International Astronomical Union[/tag] has voted to demote Pluto from planet to dwarf planet, a new classification that was developed by the IAU earlier this month. Pluto lost its designation as a full-fledged planet because its orbit is extremely elliptical and takes it across the path of Neptune’s orbit.

Now if I were an evangelical, fundamentalist Christian I’d probably be using this as a reason to cast into doubt the existence of planets altogether. Much in the same way those folks argue that because evolutionary scientists disagree and changes their minds about the exact mechanisms of evolution that they don’t really know what they’re talking about and therefore evolution must not really exist.

Sad as I am to see Pluto demoted – what with having lived my entire life so far in a solar system with 9 instead of 8 planets – reading up on the debates and discussions at this year’s IAU meeting in Prague has been a wonderful window into the way that science works. It’s great to see the collaborative nature of scientific inquiry out in the open like this.

Unfortunately I’m quite sure some nitwit school district in Kansas or Georgia will rebel and insist on retaining Pluto as a planet in their textbooks out of some misplaced, moronic notion of tradition. I can just hear it now:

Cletus: Didja hear about how Pluto ain’t a planet no more?

Billy-Jack: What in tarnation?

Cletus: That’s right. Some Yooropein’ science guys say Pluto ain’t a planet no more.

Billy-Jack: Was there French scientists there?

Cletus: I es’pec there were.

Billy-Jack: Damn those cheese-eating surrender monkeys. Well we ain’t gonna stand fer no Yooro queers messin’ up our solar system.

And so on. Mark my words, Dubya will speak out against this “travesty” soon. America – each scientific step forward is an opportunity to show how stupid we really are.

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