Thursday, August 17, 2006

Is Pluto a Planet?

Whether or not Pluto is labeled a planet (the big debate this week at the annual meeting of the General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union ) has more to do with politics than astronomy. Pluto is a cold spherical rock that has been orbiting the sun for billions of years and what the blood-sucking devils who rule this planet call it is insignificant. However, Pluto is the only planet to have been "discovered" and named by a U.S. scientist (Clyde Tombaugh in 1930). What's at stake is the position of the U.S. as a global power, not only militarily, but culturally. Science has little to do with it. Labeling Pluto as a planet will force the inclusion of potentially hundreds of solar system objects into the planet category and unnecessarily complicate the taxonomy of astronomy. But, considering that the U.S. is willing to murder hundreds of thousands of Iraqi women and children to exert its military might, it makes sense that it would fuck up astronomy to exert its cultural hegemony.

Interestingly enough, like the "discovery" of the Americas, the "discovery" of Pluto was an accident that resulted from a faulty hypothesis. Tombaugh believed that only the existence of a ninth planet could explain the anomalies he was observing in the orbits of Neptune and Uranus. However, in fact, Pluto has no role in the anomalies he observed.

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