Thursday, January 29, 2009

The hell with Pluto (the dwarf planet AND the minor Disney character)

I was recently reminded that I simply do not understand the emotional attachment that people had to Pluto as a planet. It's another dinky ball of ice in the Kuiper Belt! I don't want to get caught up in semantics, but we should at least lump it in with similar objects in terms of composition and formation.

But I have a serious question here: is the attachment to Pluto a symptom of bad science education in this country? Have we failed at conveying that science is a system of inquiry, and not just a list of facts?


sarah said...

Take a look at the title of the next departmental colloquium:

NASA's Pluto-Kuiper Belt Mission: The First Mission to the Ninth Planet And the Solar System's Third Zone

Seems NASA can't quite let go of the "planet" status either.

Eli said...

But Pluto was a planet when the New Horizons probe was launched! And to be fair, NASA now refers to plutoids: