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September 07, 2006


Ed Peters

Yeah. It's funny. And Pluto is not a planet.


Be on your guard, Ed; the Opus Pluto monks will be hunting you. Be on the lookout for black UFOs and albino ETs. Be nervous. Be very, very nervous.


There is a silver-lining: Pluto is god of the underworld! The scientific community made a big mistake when they tried to mess with the one planet in our solar system that cannot stay dead. Pluto will come back, like Jesus, but unlike Jesus, there won't be any of this "Love your neighbor" stuff. Pluto's mad as Hades, and he's not going to take it anymore.

Picture never loaded. Can anyone tell me what it is. Thanks.

Mary Kay

LOL at bil912.


I just realized my comment above is anonymous again. I don't understand why periodically, I have to reenter my name. Every couple of months it disappears.


At least California isn't standing for this!


Ed Peters

Plutonis delenda est.

Tim J.

Don't worry Pluto... to me, you'll always be a planet.

And an animated dog.

The one that doesn't talk.

Goofy gets his own show, while you play sidekick to The Mouse.

Either way, Pluto gets no respect.

Ken Crawford

Pssh. That link to the CA legislative bill is pathetic.

I'm glad, now that the California Legislature has solved all of California's NUMEROUS problems, they're going to put their emphasis on something that has nothing to do with them. I guess San Francisco has managed to get some of their city council members in the Legislature.

Ed Peters

Ken is right. I can see the SF nuts sponsoring this, but all of Calif? Golly, it's worse than I remember. Plutonis delenda est.

Brother Cadfael

Personally, I'd rather have the California legislature spending their time trying to save Pluto. Keeps them from screwing up something else.

Can someone figure out how to get the 9th Circuit involved -- maybe they can rule on the constitutionality of the resolution?

Randolph Carter

Just because scientists no longer choose to classify Pluto as a planet, are we all supposed to stop calling it a planet? Scientists also disapprove of calling centipedes "bugs" and they absolutely disdain the term "starfish".

So what? Scientific terminology and vernacular terminology are always different. I personally consider any object with enough mass to maintain a roughly spherical shape to be a planet. As far as I'm concerned, Pluto is still a planet, and if accepting Pluto means that we have to add more planets to the lexicon, then so be it.

These scientists need something more important to do with their time. I still think that all astronomers should be researching ways to blow up giant, humanity-erradicating asteroids, ala Deep Impact, or at least coming up with better names for planets than "Xena" ("Erebus" would sound nice . . . ). That would make them useful, at least, to our society. Instead they have to go off and pick on poor, poor Pluto :(

Lousy nerds.

Ed Peters

RC, you only started calling Pluto a planet cuz other people were calling it a planet after scientists told them to call it a planet. So, what's left of that argument. Plutonis delenda est.

Tim M.

Ed - that doesn't hold much water... that is like saying that you only call Jesus "God" after evangelists / priests / theologians / apostles told us to call Him "God".

since no one knew Pluto existed before good telescopes how could we call it a planet or anything except the god of the underworld?

I am with you RC!

the group of scientists sitting around a big room and voting on whether Pluto is really a planet or not is like the "Jesus Seminar"... hey raise your hand if you think Pluto is a planet.. ok, raise you hand if you think Jesus said those two words in that verse...

again, I think of today's reading from Mass - those in this world that consider themselves wise are fools... and should consider themselves foolish that they may be wise.

God made it and he knows exactly what Pluo is regardless of what it is called. Deus veritas est.

Ed Peters

Bro C: Beaut.
Tim M, I see, has gone native on us. One of the strongest arguments urging the de-classifing of Pluto as a plant is origin-analysis. Pluto should have been a gas giant, or nothing (planetary). Since it is not a gas giant, it must not be a planet. Et Plutonis delenda est.

J.R. Stoodley

Pluto the god took himself too seriously, being god of the dead and all. That I suppose is why he is now this kinda sorta planet-ish dwarf thing and a cartoon dog. It's justice folks, don't fight it.

Randolph Carter

Actually, my understanding of the situation is that the only reason Pluto is not now considered a planet is because "it doesn't clear its orbit". This has nothing to do with it being or not being a gas giant. It is true that a scientist discovered Pluto, and called it a planet, but a planet is what we've all been calling it since long before I was born, and the definition of a planet is arbitrary. It seems that our scientists either no longer wished to consider Pluto a planet, or simply did not want to have to add any more names to this list of planets, and thus chose a definition of a planet that would exclude pluto.

Furthermore, if Pluto is not a planet because it "doesn't clear its orbit" then what about Neptune, whose own orbit intersects with that of Pluto's? What about the Earth, whose orbit, I am certain, must intersect that of at least one other space-rock, no matter how large or small? Is Earth now not a planet?

This entire situation is ludicrous, in my summation. Just fudge the definition of planet to include Pluto, because I do believe most everyone wants Pluto to remain a planet aside from a few snotty scientists with *way* too much time on their hands.

Also, Mr. Peters, the whole "Plutonis delenda est" *is* getting kind of annoying . . . ;)

Ken Crawford

Brother Cadfael, that's funny, I had the same thought midway through writing that comment: "Although, considering the crud they normally try to push through, maybe I should be thankful they're wasting their time on this."

Better Pluto issues than whether all textbooks must say glowing things about homosexuals.

Dr. Jenny

Even though the orbit of Pluto intersects that of Neptune, Neptune should be considered as having cleared it's orbit. Pluto, like most Kuiper Belt objects, is in a 3:2 orbital resonance with Neptune. The gravitational field of Neptune dominates the orbital mechanics of most of the Kuiper Belt.

The more we learn about the Kuiper Belt and asteroids in general, the clearer it became that there was nothing special about Pluto other than that it was the largest Kuiper Belt object found thus far. Ceres (the largest asteroid in the Asteroid Belt) was never considered a planet, because it was immediately seen to be part of a larger structure. It just took us longer to develop telescope technology to the point where other Kuiper Belt objects could be seen.

This was not a sudden decision on the part of astronomers. I'm still a young scientist, but I know it's been at least 10 years that I've heard that Pluto was not really a planet. I've been shocked at how interested laymen seem to be in this topic and the level of emotion involved.

Ed Peters

RC: It worked with Carthage, eh? PDE!

Ed Peters

Dr. J, just saw your post. I recall my "Pluto is not a planet" bumpersticker on the car I owned 10 years ago. This discussion has, as you say, been going on long time, before the internet made everyone an published expert on everything, and has recently attracted a lot of folks who find thinking through issues to be an uncommon exercise. Some of the debate fun, I suspect, though, has to do with a change of pace from the pressing importance of most other issues we find ourselves discussing in this blog. I for one, have to nuance the daylights out of most positions on other topics as an exercise in professionalism. It's nice to have one topic where we can let our haid down a bit. Plutonis delenda est.


Jimmy, you're making me lazy. I've used you twice this week for some darn good blog fodder. Thanks to you and 'Dan', my week is easier, but my mind has atrophied.

Michael Sullivan

Ed Peters,

though you don't care about my two cents, I'm sure, I'm also getting pretty sick already of "Plutonis delenda est." Not because of the sentiment, about which I couldn't care less either way, but because of the unacceptable latin grammar. Why on earth (ha ha) do you persist in putting the name in the genetive case? Once would be a simple mistake, but you've done it like twenty times.


Pluto delendus est . . . armis nuclearibus!


Plutonis delenda est, Mundis finita est, et Universalis condemnatus mundum.
(Is this correct?)
Sorry, Ed Peters. Couldn't resist.

Ed Peters

MS: I was wondering how long before someone smart asked that! I fudged not on case (so much) as on gender, wanting to hang on to something that more resembled the feminine (as in planet), though the metaphorical genitive "of things having to do with the planet Pluto" - a stretch I quite admit - would have worked. The ancients did not have a planet named (actually, we didn't either, it just took us a while to figure it out) so I crafted a compromise. a thinkg which pleases no one of course! PDE!

Michael Sullivan


Yes, I grasp your line of thought, although it made things rather confusing. But I see from your website that you teach latin, so it stands to reason it wasn't simply a gaff.

Ed Peters

I do teach Latin, MS, but more often, Latin teaches me.

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