Permanent Human Settlement of the Earth, Space and Ocean Frontiers

Monday, August 14, 2006

Will They Decide This Week?

Starting today in Czech Republic capital of Prague, the International Astronomical Union will finally (hopefully) get together decide on the definition of a planet. This will certainly gratify millions of teachers around the world who presently cannot truthfully answer to a first grader how many planets there are in the solar system or even what a planet is!
While this may sound like pulp fiction – sadly it is not. The world’s crop of best planetary scientists have been arguing over this for years, but now that there are several new “objects” being discovered orbiting around our sun each year, someone has finally got to decide.
The meeting should be exciting (at least as exciting as any meeting of astronomers go). Here they will finally decide on the fate of poor Pluto who while having the honor of being a planet for nearly a century may well leave the meeting with that title stripped. Poor thing may be reduced to being tagged as a mere “orbiting ice ball” as some have threatened. Or, it may be “grandfathered” in as a planet to keep from confusing everybody, while all other Pluto type objects will hereafter be named the lesser category.
As far as I’m concerned, this all sounds like so much earth-like prejudice and big-guy pandering. So it seems that we earth-type planets are all big and bad and rocky - but it doesn’t mean that our lesser planets in the sol family are any less unique, all in their own style. Look at it this way, if the astronomers of the gas giants such as Jupiter, Pluto, Saturn and Uranus all met, I’m certain Earth’s own fate as a planet would be in some serious question. Then we’d all be sitting around trying to figure out what we could do to the place to make us more appealing and get our dignity and title back. Don’t laugh. The Plutonians are in that very fix right now.
But, you see Quantum Limit's team of investigative reporter (sic) has discovered the real root of the argument. The world's planetary scientists don't want to name every object discovered a "planet" because that would require as planetary professionals that they memorize them all - in correct order with distances and complete stats - or wind up look like bungling fools. They all look at a list of 54 planets with wide and fearful eyes and tremble in their tight sneakers. Now you know!
Of course, Quantum Limit will keep you appraised on what happens in Prague this week.