Monday, August 01, 2005


9th Planet Discovered

The headline actually says: 10th planet discovered, but as any astronomy nerd aficionado knows, Pluto has been recently discredited as a complete fraud of a planet. Despite being nothing more than a glorifies asteroid, Pluto has been given the same privledges that would generally only be afforded to such titans as Jupiter or Saturn. Pluto even has a loveable Disney character named after it while such notable asteroids such as Ceres, the largest known asteroid, orbit above our heads in relate obscurity.

Recently however, there has been a great deal of infighting in the astronomical community as to whether Pluto should retain it's planetary status given mounting evidence against it. Pro-Plutonians argue that the entire foundation on which 7th grade Science Fair projects are based would be compromised and we would face a breakdown in the educational system. The opponents gently pointed out that the majority of middle school science is complete crap and has to be unlearned at the high school level anyway.

My opinion? I feel that nothing smaller than Earth should be considered a Planet. I am also of the opinion that, in the interest of the children, Uranus should be renamed something more innocent - like, say, Shmagina. For years teachers have had to deal with giggling school children upon reaching the 8th planet in the solar system, and really, isn't teaching hard enough already.

My plan calls for a 5 planet solar system, which would alleviate many of the problems facing school children as they attempt early astronomy. Firstly, the planets could be ticked off on one hand as the child tries to remember all the planets and their orbits. Secondly, the new solar system would be smaller and easier to model, thus creating a more level playing field where to put this...dumb kids can more easily compete with the irritating little brown-nosers in the Science Fair.

Under my proposal, the planetary system would be as follows:

(starting closest to the sun and moving outward)

  • Earth
  • Jupiter
  • Saturn
  • Neptune
  • Shmagina

While it is true that Neptune and Shmagina generally change order on occasion, I personally find it hard to remember which comes first and find it a lot easier to pick an order and stick with it.

And lest you fear that we might have forgotten some of our old friends, don't worry. The new asteroid Mercury, Venus, Earth, Pluto, as well as the yet un-named newbie, will most certainly be covered at the collegiate level where they introduce things like the asteroid belt and moons and all that.

Getting the new system rolling will be difficult, I won't lie to you. But as long as we are facing changes in the system, we might as well go ahead and attempt a wholesale overhaul in the interest of future simplicity. Astronomers have has their way long enough; it's time to think of the children for once.

Well, if we keep Shrub (and his ilk) in the White House much longer, we won't have to worry about teaching our kids about ANY planets, because from what I remember in Sunday School, other planets aren't mentioned in the Bible and therefore will pass out of general curriculum.
This will also save much time in history class (both natural history and human history), as everything that happened prior to about 4,000 years ago can be written off as a hoax by "scientists".
Having been on many a 'planet walk' your proposal will not aleviate the scaling problem. There is a really big gap between earth and jupiter...maybe just stick with the inner planets for scaling and call the gas giants clouds.

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