If you're looking for the funniest stuff, I suggest starting with the Steve, Don't Eat It Homage and then the travel category. You're on your own with the older posts that have yet to be categorized.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Neptune Is Not A Planet

No. That is no typo. I said Neptune. According to the story in USA Today

under the new rules for 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."

Pluto is automatically disqualified because its oblong orbit overlaps with Neptune's.

So, Neptune has not cleared the neighborhood around its orbit. The planet formerly known as Pluto (wait a second, scratch that, reverse it) overlaps it. Now on to the jokes...

Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who oversaw the proceedings cracked this one:
"It could be argued that we are creating an umbrella called 'planet' under which the dwarf planets exist," she said, drawing laughter by waving a stuffed Pluto of Walt Disney fame beneath a real umbrella.
That might have been funny if the Pluto was named Sneezy or Dopey or even Doc. Please Jocelyn, leave the jokes to us engineers.

But all of this is moot. Aside from these so-called "astronomers" the only people that care about this are the people that create mnemonics (mnemonimers?) and boys ages 5-13 who can now show up their uncles in more than just dinosaur name knowledge.


amoose said...

Did you notice that the clear the orbit criteria was qualified: "...meaning it is not surrounded by objects of similar size and characteristics." Neptune:4x the size of the Earth; Pluto: smaller than Earth's moon.

talljay said...

Apparently USA Today changed the article. (Notice that Jocelyn's "joke" is gone.)

They may as well said that the definition of a planet is it is either Mercury, Venus, Earth, blah, blah, blah. To pretend that this was some kind of scientific endeavor is a joke.

Anonymous said...

Wow! They have changed it twice. When I pulled the quote yesterday, her joke was definitely still in it. Now, I see it is not. That is really bizarre.

talljay said...

I don't think that is a good precedent. I could see them correcting errors but they've completely changed the article.