Thursday, August 17, 2006

Planet Earth Is Blue And There's Nothing I Can Do

Our solar system would have 12 planets instead of nine under a proposed ''Big Bang'' expansion by leading astronomers, changing what billions of schoolchildren are taught.
Scientists have determined that there may be up to three additional planets in our solar system. But then they also can't seem to agree on what a planet actually. That's why over 2,000 astronomers are meeting in Prague to hold brainstorming sessions before they agree and vote on a universal definition of a "planet."

And theTribune explains that
The new definition, which will be up for a vote at the convention in Prague next week, states that a planet would be any star-orbiting object massive enough that its own gravity shapes it into a sphere, more or less.

Are they going to squint at some PowerPoint slides over coffee and Czech pastries? Speaking of coffee, isn't this all sounding a bit like a celestial Folger's commercial? "We've secretly replaced the fine nine-planet Solar System with twelve star-orbiting objects massive enough to shape itself into a sphere!"

So yeah, they are saying that if an "object" in space is round, then it's a planet. Objects that would qualify as new planets are the asteroid Ceres (obviously getting a helluva upgrade); 2003 UB313, the farthest-known object in the solar system that's nicknamed Xena (obviously discovered by a nerd or a lesbian, or both); and Pluto's moon, Charon. But wait a minute, hasn't Pluto's own identity as a planet been in question since--well, since we studied the Solar System in 5th grade and I made that planet Jupiter diorama by painting a styrofoam ball orange (with a spot of black) and hanging it by an unbent paperclip and fishing line inside a Kinney's shoebox painted?

What's next? More Gas Giants?

You know what? I'm just going to go on what Jack Horkheimer (thank God you're still alive!) has to say:

''The solar system is a middle-aged star, and like all middle-aged things, its
waistline is expanding."

Thanks, Stargazer!

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