OO[R]T: Did Pluto's Performance Justify Re-eval Of Its Elite Status?

Submitted by superstringer on July 15th, 2015 at 9:16 AM

TO TRANSLATE FOR NON-SCIENTIFICALLY INCLINED SPORTS FANS:  There was this player.  He was for a while thought to be among the ELITE, one of the very very best.  But then some folks were like, ehhh, he doesn't look like all the other Elites, he doesn't play in nearly the same league, his game is different.  But the scales decidedly tipped when we found this other guy in his same league, who we thought was just as good or a bit better, and so we don't want to open the floodgates to everyone being elite, so we'll reclassifiy [read: demote] this guy as "dwarf elite.".  Take a star away, right, you were just a four-star all along.

That's Pluto, right.  Just a dwarf planet.  Not one of the big boys.  Not a planet.  Orbit is way out of the planetary plane, shape of orbit is unnatural (dips inside Neptune's orbit), and then we discovered Eres in the Kuiper Belt which appeared to be bigger than Pluto, and we are sure there are lots more of them in the KB, so either we have dozens of planets or we just say Pluto and Eres aren't planets.  We make up a new definition of dwarf planet, and it turns out not only are Pluto and Eres dwarf planets, but the largest asteroid Ceres (not a KBO) also meets that definition.  And now we have only 8 planets and we're all set.

BUT:  Then we saw the guy in a game up close, and we should all be like, dude, he's elite.

Did seeing that photo of Pluto from a couple days ago change anyone's mind?  It did mine.  It's a planet.  I'm not sure how to define it, but I know one when I see one, and Pluto looks like a planet.  Compare how it looks to Ceres (one of the other three dwarf planets). Ceres looks like a big asteroid, a huge rock, which it is.  Pluto looks like a planet.  Period.

Who's with me?

[And yes, I know the title is in error, it's in the Kuiper Belt, not the Oort cloud, but I was typing OOT and just couldn't resist.]

Comments

Schembo

July 15th, 2015 at 9:22 AM ^

I read somewhere where tectonic plate shifting was probable, so how could it not be a planet at this point.   Welcome back Pluto.

rob f

July 15th, 2015 at 9:26 AM ^

That's what the nuns taught me, who am I to argue with them?

/s

Besides, it would be un-American to deny planetary status---after all, its the only one discovered by an American.

bacon

July 15th, 2015 at 9:30 AM ^

Pluto also lacks elite speed. His 40 maybe out of this world, but he doesn't have SEC speed. He could try to walk on somewhere, but scouts agree he's too small to get a scholarship offer.

Profwoot

July 15th, 2015 at 9:53 AM ^

As a veteran of biological nomenclature battles, I can tell you that the organizational category of a specimen is the least interesting question one can ask unless it reflects something real about its origin. The Pluto debate almost never does this. Whether it has interesting geology or whether its diameter is very slightly larger than Eris' has no bearing on whether Pluto is a planet.

On the other hand, taxonomic nomenclature has been almost completely revamped as biologists have learned more and more about the diversity of extant and extinct life -- it now seeks to describe the phylogeny of life (patterns of evolutionary descent), rather than simple similarity. Astronomical nomenclature could definitely use a similar update so that it reflects something real.

The Pluto-planet debate can't be interesting until the IAU creates a useful definition of a planet. Until then, the whole debate is just emotional baggage on both sides, with one side uncomfortable that their nursery rhymes need updating and the other side uncomfortable at the prospect of having only explored a tiny fraction of the worlds in our solar system and needing to bring all the KBOs like Pluto down a notch.

Michigan Arrogance

July 15th, 2015 at 11:38 AM ^

On the other hand, taxonomic nomenclature has been almost completely revamped as biologists have learned more and more about the diversity of extant and extinct life -- it now seeks to describe the phylogeny of life (patterns of evolutionary descent), rather than simple similarity. Astronomical nomenclature could definitely use a similar update so that it reflects something real.

 
This is true. But that's what they essentially did by reclassifying Pluto- it's not just looks and size, it's about how it evolved to it's current state. The orbit (and a few other things) suggests it did not form like/with the rest of the solar system. Size, volcanic activity and current satellites are similarity classifications. Evidence of formation mechanisms describe Pluto's evolution to it's current state.

LSAClassOf2000

July 15th, 2015 at 9:47 AM ^

Here's NASA"s writeup about the size debate too - LINK

Mission scientists have found Pluto to be 1,473 miles (2,370 kilometers) in diameter, somewhat larger than many prior estimates. Images acquired with the Long Range Reconnaissance Imager (LORRI) were used to make this determination. This result confirms what was already suspected: Pluto is larger than all other known solar system objects beyond the orbit of Neptune.

They also mention that Pluto's density is lower than previously thought, but the amount of ice in its interior is higher than once believed as well. 

Wolvie3758

July 15th, 2015 at 9:59 AM ^

that some parts of Pluto only see sunlight once every one hundred years..Think about that for a second......Columbus Oh came immediately to mind

oriental andrew

July 15th, 2015 at 10:05 AM ^

An oldie but goodie (and you may recognize the very first commenter to that post)

http://heyjennyslater.blogspot.com/2006/08/interplanetary-social-chat-4…

 

MARS_BITCHES: hey jupter, hows your red spot, any better?
JuPiTeR: nope, still hurts
JuPiTeR: it suxx
MARS_BITCHES: sorry man
*** ADMIN: pluto has entered the chat room ***
pluto: hey guys whats up
SaturnRulz: ???
pluto: ???
JuPiTeR: umm i thought this was for planets only
youranus: ya rly
pluto: what r u talking abuot?
SaturnRulz: dude your not a planet, your orbits all fucked up
Earth4578: Yeah, it's called a circle, look it up
youranus: lol
MARS_BITCHES: pwn3d
pluto: it's not fucked up, it's eccentric
Earth4578: whatev
youranus: lol eccentric = fucked up