August 24, 2006

They are not going to be happy about this on Cardassia Prime

180px-CardassiaPrime2375.jpg I believe in keeping science separate from sentimentality. You don't base decisions on whether one particular age group (or religion for that matter) really, really wants something to be true. So I'm pretty happy to see Pluto kicked to the curb today.

I am concerned, however, about one element of the new definition of a planet: "a celestial body that is in orbit around the sun, has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a ... nearly round shape, and has cleared the neighborhood around its orbit."

The sun? Shouldn't that be a sun (or, more rationally, a star)? I'm hoping this is some kind of misunderstanding on either my part or the AP's. Surely the IAU isn't trying to say that there are no planets outside the Solar System.

Update: Here's the full text of the IAU resolution. Since it names "the eight planets," some have read it to mean exactly what I feared. But I think this part of the preamble, while slightly confusing, ultimately mitigates my concern: "The IAU therefore resolves that 'planets' and other bodies, except satellites, in our Solar System be defined into three distinct categories in the following way..."

The resolution does not say that planets must be in our Solar System to meet the definition; rather, it is only defining those planets that happen to be in our Solar System, leaving open the possiblity not just of other planetary systems but also of other defintions for planets in those systems.

Posted by Daniel Radosh


No, they meant the Sun. You forgot the rest of the definition, which includes "as created by the Lord in a union-free workplace in the United States of America."

The sun, indeed. They go so far as to define, by name, what the 8 planets are. I guess there are no planets elsewhere. It's a lonely world out there.

Thanks for the link, Hal, but I read it differently. See my update.

What the fuck are the Cardassians going to do about it again? Rape the shit out of the Bajorans again? Because we know how well that turned out for them the first time.

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