Thursday, August 24, 2006

Pluto -- You're Fired!

How can they just get rid of a planet?  Especially one with such a friendly, Disneyesque name?  For those of us who took pride in learning the names of the nine orbs spinning around the sun during our formative years, reading that Pluto has been demoted to a planetary putz is a great disappointment.

Apparently Pluto never even deserved to have a name like the REAL planets, because it was just a big ball of ice and mud. Even worse, it didn't have a good orbit. Well, excuuuuse me.

That means Pluto is no longer worthy of having astronauts land a probe on its surface or drive a rover up and down its hills.  What an ignominious end.

It's like finding out your favorite teacher was robbing 7-11s at night. But Pluto didn't do anything wrong actually. We were the ones that said -- Hey, you're a planet, come on down!!! 

Pluto was just spinning around trying not to hit anything and we were the ones that gave it the big idea that it was something special. It's not like Pluto came knocking at our door trying to pass itself off as something it wasn't.

So, if there's any blame to go around for this huge mistake, it belongs to the astrophysicists who think they know everything and we don't.

The problem began because Pluto was so far away you had to squint to see it, which probably contributed to the confusion.  At least we were finally able to send the Hubble out there along with all those other cosmic dohinkies that give us a more up close and personal view. 

Turns out what we thought was there wasn't what we thought was there.

I, for one, am happy that other balls of ice and mud won't suffer the same fate. When I first saw how planets were discovered I wondered why more mistakes hadn't been made.

Basically, you take pictures of all the stars in the sky at night. Do this every ten minutes for years. Afterward you get to look at huge black and white photos of thousands and thousands of white dots.  Then, specially trained people who got their degrees in counting white dots compare the distances between all the dots until they notice that one of them has moved a couple of millimeters to the left or right. Next, this movement has to be confirmed by brilliant scientists.

Finally after years of waiting, one of them decides, "That's a planet."  Like I said, because this important work is done by astrophysicists, nobody dares to ask, "Are you sure?"  Since they'd just laugh in our faces.

So this poor, unassuming ball of mud and ice named Pluto was thrust into the spotlight, where it enjoyed planetary fame for over seventy-five years. And never abused the privilege I might add.

Then at this last meeting of the Interplantary Nerds and Geeks, they voted to impeach it. Not for any infractions. But, because, like most bureaucracies, they've changed the rules about what can and what cannot be a planet.

What do they say when they dump a planet? 

"Okay, all you planets revolving around the sun -- step forward.  Uh, not so fast, Pluto."

The tiny little planet I loved from childhood is gone.

So long my friend.


psychfun said...

Ok, so now can all of us who got Pluto wrong on a test because we did not name it as a planet go back & get credit??? I think it is only fair! :-)

How do they know it was not a planet & something happened to it that sent it out to there & that is all that is left or some meteor hit it and this is what is left? They better watch out Pluto may seek revenge & show us all. How about if we just send some select politicans there anyways & let them check it out and make sure? So what do we call it now?

gaboatman said...

They waited until our planetary explorer was half way to Pluto and then voted to cast it out of the family of planets?  And these are the bright ones amongst us?  What happens when the explorer actually gets there?  Uhh, gee, take no pictures, sample no soil or air, just come on home!  Yolu were supposed to be visiting a planet!  This after billions spent!  Must have been a govnerment project!

screaminremo303 said...

My favorite teacher didn't rob banks, but I got to arrest his son four times over the last fifteen years. Does that count?

Damn. I'm still not funny.

swibirun said...

This was classic Mrs. L!  This should be an article in the paper, seriously!  

Teacher robbing the 7-11's, too funny!

The geeks changed the rules about space because they could re-write the rules about not being able to get laid if you wear a pocket protector to the singles bar.


mavarin said...

They just couldn't handle letting planet Xena into the club, so poor old Pluto got the boot by association. - Karen