Thursday, August 24, 2006

"My very eager mom just served us nothing"

It just doesn't work as mnemomic device, does it?

The old saying, "My very eager mom just served us nine pizzas" was a great way to remember the names of the planets of our solar system. The number of pizzas also helped you remember the number of planets.

But no more, of course.

I wonder when the last time was that a group of scientists voted democratically against a planet?

It's a bit like a reality TV show, isn't it? "Pluto, you have been voted out of the solar system."

But now that scientists have said that Pluto isn't a galactic playah, I hope that some august body can address another important question: How is it that Pluto is a dog--and the pet of a large rodent, at that--while Goofy is evidently, a person?

And how is it possible for a mouse to have a dog smaller than it is? Oh, wait a minute...he is a dwarf planet, isn't he?


Icepick said...

It's not that Pluto is a very small dog, Mickey is just a very LARGE mouse.

Mark Daniels said...

Hmmm. Not the sort of mouse I'd want to meet in a dark alley.


Falter Ego said...

Hi Mark! I had the pleasure of conversing with a friend who is an astronomer at Boston University. He wasn't very moved by this in either direction but that is not so surprising considering he is writing his thesis on measuring x-rays emitted by distant galaxy clusters.

His take was that the planetary status of Pluto is about as irrelevant as it gets...which is ironic in contrast to the considerable attention it garners. I think it has a tendency to spark our imagination.

He did say to watch out for the probe they are going to send to Europa, Jupiter's oceanic moon. HE believes there is liquid ice under a relatively thin crust of ice and could be life...

Mark Daniels said...

I am a scientific dolt, but I'm sure that your astronomer friend is right, both in terms of the insigificance that attaches to Pluto being busted down to the status of dwarf planet and the new insights that the probe to Europa may offer.

I would love to know more about what your friend shared with you on this. Although I find a lot of scientific theory difficult to understand, I'm fascinated by what is being learned about the universe from space exploration, of which I am a big fan.

Thanks for dropping by, Jake. God bless!


jimkinnison said...

I'm one of the team that launched the recent New Horizons mission to Pluto in January. We've been answering this issue for days...The definition of a planet is largely a political issue in the community rather than one of scientific concern. The IAU definition is still unsatifcactory to the community and will be revisted in the future.

I've also worked on defining a Europa mission. It's interesting because the radiation and gravitational environment near Jupiter means the Europa may be warm enough to have liquid water underneath the surface ice. Those conditions may be places where life may be present. Unfortunately, the things that make the moon warm also makes the mission very difficult to do from an engineering standpoint. I'll be interested to see how it goes when NASA really decides they're going to do it.

Mark Daniels said...

Thanks a lot for sharing your information and insight here. Please feel free to drop by and leave comments in the future. Jake's and your comments have heightened my interest in what might be learned from Europa.

Thanks again!