August 14, 2006

Good Thing Quine Didn't Say "The number of the planets is greater than 8"

They're thinking of kicking Pluto out of the planet club. Bastards. I somewhat sympathize with this:

Some have appealed to Gingerich's group not to downgrade Pluto, saying it would disappoint children and throw our understanding of the universe into chaos.

Think of the children!

But it also seems to me that this should be a teachable moment about the progress of science and the notion of conceptual change. We didn't have a rigorous notion of planet before, or the one we had was clearly inadequate, and when we come up with one we may discover or decide that Pluto isn't a planet after all.

Posted by Matt Weiner at August 14, 2006 08:52 AM

Oh, please. They've been threatening to do this since I was in gradeschool.

Posted by: Becks at August 14, 2006 09:12 AM

How does it throw our understanding of the universe into chaos if Pluto is downgraded and we have eight planets, but not if the newly discovered planetoids are upgraded and we have ten or twelve planets? Is "chaos" a euphemism for "different from what I learned in grade school"?

Perhaps we can agree that the planets should be limited so that there are only as many as a fourth-grader could be reasonably expected to memorize.

Posted by: Ben at August 16, 2006 03:45 PM

Crow? Eaten.

Posted by: Becks at August 24, 2006 09:17 PM

Pluto delenda est!

Posted by: Ben at August 30, 2006 08:42 PM