Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Should Pluto be a Planet, Janet?

My three year old got a new Dr. Seuss book the other day entitled “There’s No Place Like Space”, which teaches kids all about the different celestial objects in our solar system. In a rhyming fashion, of course. As I was reading it to him I got to the part where all the planets are described and suddenly noticed that Pluto was left out.

Duh. Not this Pluto.

I practically did a spit take with my scotch. I know that “scientists” have only recently (circa 2006) decided that Pluto isn’t really a planet - more on that in a bit - but I thought that not only did Dr. Seuss stop writing books in the 1980’s but I thought the main reason for this was because he was dead.

I don’t know what kind of degree Dr. Seuss’ doctorate is in but how did he know Pluto wasn’t a planet? Turns out his book was updated after “scientists” declared Pluto not to be a planet so really Dr. Seuss isn’t to blame here.

But I do blame the “scientists” for deciding Pluto is not a planet since they are the ones that uh... decided it. I did some research and here’s how it went down:

As technology advanced so did our space looking glasses (I think the scientific term is “telescopes”) which allowed “scientists” to discover many more Pluto sized objects in that area of my our solar system. This area has been dubbed the Kuiper Belt, and up until 2005, while close in size to Pluto, none of these objects had been found to be bigger. But then someone went ahead and found one bigger and screwed it all up.  

Since scientist types have to be so hung up on rules, it was decided to have all the space people meet in 2006 to determine what should be done with Pluto. Their choices were to either change the definition of a planet so that Pluto could stay in the club but this would also bring in others and increase the total number of planets to 12, and who hell are these other three objects that think they are planets all of sudden?, or have Pluto no longer be classified as a planet, totally screwing Pluto over.

And as we all know, they decided to screw Pluto. They created a new celestial object classification called “dwarf planets”, and forced all the history books, such as Dr. Seuss’ “There’s No Place Like Space”, to be re-written.

Duh. Not this kind of dwarf.

Side Note: Pluto was discovered in 1930 and while it was named by an 11 year old girl-- it was NOT named after the Disney character. Like most planets, it was named after a Roman god of the underworld.

Duh. Not this Roman god of the underworld.

Pat, as a person in the education field, what is your opinion on the de-classification of Pluto?

Pat: I’m good with Pluto being a “planetoid”. Kind of like Iceland not really being a country, but more of a really cool idea. I bet Pluto could take the criticism.

How many Roman underworld gods are there? Do you really need more than one? I’m not crazy about the idea of the underworld being so big and expansive that more than one god is needed. Kinda’ increases the likelihood that I end up there, and I wasn’t really banking on that. Cool roommates, I suppose, but kinda’ damning in the end.

Christian: But what about having to rewrite all those books that mention Pluto being a planet? Won’t that be spendy? Also, what about all of us who memorized the ordering of the planets using the mnemonic device:

My Voices Entice Me Join Satan? Urgently Now Phaseout  
Mercury Venus Earth Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune Pluto

Not only did it help me remember the ordering and names of the planets but it was also a helpful reminder to not listen to the voices in my head to join the lord of the nether regions.

It took me over three years to memorize that and now I’m supposed to just throw all that hard work away? Not to mention if Pluto isn’t a planet anymore the mnemonic device is basically telling me to listen to the voices in my head and join Satan as soon as possible. This is the kind of thing that happens when you start getting rid of planets all willy-nilly like.

Pat:  I don’t see a problem with the mnemonic above. You simply don’t “phaseout”, right? If you find yourself phasing out, just remind yourself of the new classification and rewind and erase that word from the phrase you just said. Piece of cake!

The books I’m not worried about either. Been far too long since we’ve had a good book burning in this country, so “light ‘em up” I say! And printing new one’s ought to be a nice boost for our ailing economy. I know that we were probably hoping for more jobs in services and manufacturing, but I think publishing and bookbinding might just be the means to get us out of this recession!

It worked for these fellas!  It just might work for us!

I’m worried about how much this is troubling you. Would it be easier if, instead of Pluto, we talked about how gravity is really only a theory, or the fact that there was a neutrino that went faster than the speed of light? Or are you done with paradigm shifts for the day?

Christian: All I know is that if that neutrino was moving faster than light then you wouldn’t have been able to see it. And if you can’t see something then how do you know it’s moving? QED

As for Pluto, it’s more that I just don’t like change. I like things to stay the same so that you can count on them. Remember how disastrous it was when they changed the flavor of Coke? I don’t want these scientist changing their minds in a few years and bring back a planet called “Classic Pluto”.

Duh. Not this classic Pluto.


  1. The only thing about this that worries me is the word mnemonic. Why does it have an m in it? I know I could google it, but I'm busy interneting.

  2. @Megiweg - I know. I use the mnemonic device "Not Excluding 'M' On Nemonic Is Crucial" to help me remember there is an 'm' at the beginning.

  3. ITS A FISCAL CONSPIRACY! Think about all of the planet-themed stuff that had Pluto on it before they Survivor-ed Pluto out of the Solar System! All that stuff is 'vintage' now and 5-times more expensive! People just haven't caught on yet. You just wait.

  4. @Anna - Oh man. I just threw away all my Pluto planet baseball cards.

  5. Stupid science. Dr. Suess should never be screwed with. Ever.

    Also, they better keep their dirty hands of Uranus.

  6. @Tumbleweed - Yes! And I made the mistake of taking a sip of water while reading your Uranus comment and did a bit of a spit take. My three year old was next to me and asked me what was so funny. I thought about trying to explain it to him but that was probably not going to turn out well.