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  1. #1
    canopus56's Avatar
    canopus56 Guest

    Default IAU updates scientific definition of planet to match current knowledge



    I posted this because I had to see at least one thread header in this
    newsgroup that states what the IAU did in the positive light that it
    intended, instead of the negative media spin of the "IAU dumped Pluto."
    That postive light was, to quote the preamble of the resolution
    (appended): "Contemporary observations are changing our understanding
    of planetary systems, and it is important that our nomenclature for
    objects reflect our current understanding."

    Among the things that science should do is (1) accrue new knowledge and
    advance our understanding of the natural world, and (2) husband the
    general public's conventional wisdom about the natural world.

    The story is not the "IAU made the general public and school children
    feel uncomfortable by changing the definition of planet and demoting
    Pluto as a planet." The story is: "members of the IAU advanced our
    knowledge and understanding of the structure of the solar system. Based
    on more observations with new satellites and better telescopes over the
    last 70 years, scientific terminology to describe our better
    understanding of solar system structure is being improved to match this
    improved understanding."

    Science should not bow to popular linguistic whims of the general
    public. What will be next? Something like: "We need to keep the
    definition of 'evolution' within 'safe' boundaries, so we don't upset
    the children and inconvenience textbook manufacturers."

    The best gift that we can give to subsequent generations is an expanded
    view of the natural world with an improved depth of understanding of
    how the natural world works. To do otherwise is a disservice to the
    next generation, regardless of whatever transient inconvenience it may
    cause to them, to textbook manufacturers, to the builders of
    planetarium displays, or to our own natural human desire to feel secure
    in an familiar and stable view of the world around us.

    Clyde Tombaugh is probably spinning in his grave on this, but not
    because Pluto was demoted. He would be spinning in his grave because
    retaining Pluto as a planet is - based on our improvements in our
    understanding the solar system's structure over the last 70 years - bad
    science. Tombaugh spent all those hours at the blink comparator in
    order to advance our knowledge of the solar system. 70 years later his
    efforts bore significant fruit, no doubt in part through the many
    future astronomers that he inspired while teaching at New Mexico State
    University from the 1950s to the 1970s.

    I never met him or heard him lecture, but if alive today, he would
    probably be dismayed at an attempt to cling to an outdated model of our
    solar system. If alive today, rather than hand-wringing over the loss
    of "his planet," Tombaugh would probably be expending his engergies to
    get a peak into the eyepiece that Mike Brown (co-discover of 2003UB313)
    is looking through.

    Science marches on and I, for one, gladly will march with it.

    - Canopus56

    -----------------------

    http://www.iau2006.org/mirror/www.ia...603/index.html

    RESOLUTIONS

    Resolution 5A is the principal definition for the IAU usage of "planet"
    and related terms.

    Resolution 6A creates for IAU usage a new class of objects, for which
    Pluto is the prototype. The IAU will set up a process to name these
    objects.

    IAU Resolution: Definition of a Planet in the Solar System
    Contemporary observations are changing our understanding of planetary
    systems, and it is important that our nomenclature for objects reflect
    our current understanding. This applies, in particular, to the
    designation 'planets'. The word 'planet' originally described
    'wanderers' that were known only as moving lights in the sky. Recent
    discoveries lead us to create a new definition, which we can make using
    currently available scientific information.

    RESOLUTION 5A
    The IAU therefore resolves that "planets" and other bodies in our Solar
    System be defined into three distinct categories in the following way:

    (1) A "planet"1 is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the
    Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid
    body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round)
    shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

    (2) A "dwarf planet" is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around
    the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid
    body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round)
    shape2 , (c) has not cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit, and
    (d) is not a satellite.

    (3) All other objects3 except satellites orbiting the Sun shall be
    referred to collectively as "Small Solar-System Bodies".

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------*-----



    1 The eight planets are: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn,
    Uranus, and Neptune.

    2 An IAU process will be established to assign borderline objects into
    either dwarf planet and other categories.

    3 These currently include most of the Solar System asteroids, most
    Trans-Neptunian Objects (TNOs), comets, and other small bodies.

    ---------------------------------------------------------------------------*-----


    IAU Resolution: Pluto

    RESOLUTION 6A
    The IAU further resolves:

    Pluto is a "dwarf planet" by the above definition and is recognized as
    the prototype of a new category of trans-Neptunian objects.1


  2. #2
    atasselli@hotmail.com's Avatar
    atasselli@hotmail.com Guest

    Default IAU updates scientific definition of planet to match current knowledge


    canopus56 wrote:
    <snipped>

    I, for one, am perfectly happily they "dumped" Pluto from the "major"
    planets list on some sensible self-consistent ground. What I find
    amusing is the amount of people posting nonsense when outright BS or
    feel offended by what the IAU did. At any rate they have
    zilch/zero/null influence on the outcome of IAU comitee and thank
    goodness it is the way it is.

    Andrea T.


  3. #3
    oriel36's Avatar
    oriel36 Guest

    Default IAU updates scientific definition of planet to match current knowledge

    The Earth's deviation from a perfect sphere is due to rotational
    dynamics of the molten/flexible interior,it means that it is a
    continuing dynamic influencing planetary structure and especially the
    motion of the surface fractured crust.


    The sudden meaningless fuss over definitions is fine,perhaps they
    should define an 'astronomer ' first before they tackle celestial
    structures.It is the presence of the rare type of astronomer that is
    needed to restore a balance when the discipline is dominated by silly
    cosmologists and astrophotographers -

    "To set down in books the apparent paths of the planets [viasplanetarum
    apparentes] and the record of their motions is especially the task of
    the practical and mechanical part of astronomy; to discover their true
    and genuine path [vias vero veras et genuinas] is . . .the task of
    contemplative astronomy; while to say by what circle and lines correct
    images of those true motions may be depicted on paper is the concern of
    the inferior tribunal of geometers" Kepler

    When Kepler wrote that there were no celestial sphere geometers
    justifying the Ra/Dec system so things are presently at a nadir.



    canopus56 wrote:



  4. #4
    Ed's Avatar
    Ed Guest

    Default IAU updates scientific definition of planet to match current knowledge


    Not so fast....

    You mean you didn't get the memo?

    This isn't finished yet by a long shot.

    There are about 10,000 or so professional astronomers
    and only 370 voted on the resolution (according to Phil Plait aka "The
    Bad Astronomer"
    187 for to 183 against.

    So you are telling me that 5 people have the right to demote Pluto or
    to decide any other thing for the rest of humanity? Egads, girl, please
    get a life. How would you like 5 strangers to tell you what to do? I
    sure wouldn't.

    This is not over according to Dr. Alan Stern, chief scientist of the
    New Horizon's Pluto Mission. He is already working on a petition to
    overturn the ruling. And as a Co-Coordinator of the JPL/NASA Night Sky
    Network for BMAA., Inc. I have already asked if
    Night Sky wants to circulate a petition of support for this effort
    among other Night Sky members.

    Touche!


  5. #5
    Greg Crinklaw's Avatar
    Greg Crinklaw Guest

    Default IAU updates scientific definition of planet to match currentknowledge

    Ed wrote:

    I thought what he wrote was positive and inspiring. Your continued
    diatribes seem rather petty in comparison. Why not let it rest?

    Talk about minorities making decisions... it is your point of view that
    is the real minority, no matter how loudly you proclaim otherwise.

    --
    Greg Crinklaw
    Astronomical Software Developer
    Cloudcroft, New Mexico, USA (33N, 106W, 2700m)

    SkyTools: http://www.skyhound.com/cs.html
    Observing: http://www.skyhound.com/sh/skyhound.html
    Comets: http://www.skyhound.com/sh/comets.html

    To reply take out your eye

  6. #6
    Don't Be Evil's Avatar
    Don't Be Evil Guest

    Default IAU updates scientific definition of planet to match current knowledge


    canopus56 wrote:

    Very well put. Mike Brown happily gave up 15 potential planets with
    the rejection of last week's proposal.

    I'd respond to "They took Pluto away!" with "No they didn't, they added
    the rest of the Kuiper Belt."


  7. #7
    Brian Tung's Avatar
    Brian Tung Guest

    Default IAU updates scientific definition of planet to match current knowledge

    Don't Be Evil wrote:

    Sounds like a wedding blessing. "You're not losing a planet, you're
    gaining a plutino (or several dozen)."

    --
    Brian Tung <brian@isi.edu>
    The Astronomy Corner at http://astro.isi.edu/
    Unofficial C5+ Home Page at http://astro.isi.edu/c5plus/
    The PleiadAtlas Home Page at http://astro.isi.edu/pleiadatlas/
    My Own Personal FAQ (SAA) at http://astro.isi.edu/reference/faq.html

  8. #8
    Ed's Avatar
    Ed Guest

    Default IAU updates scientific definition of planet to match current knowledge

    Oh, I forgot you are always right and never wrong!


  9. #9
    Ed's Avatar
    Ed Guest

    Default IAU updates scientific definition of planet to match current knowledge

    Tyranny of the Minority at the IAU meeting.


  10. #10
    Terry B's Avatar
    Terry B Guest

    Default IAU updates scientific definition of planet to match current knowledge


    "Ed" <ed1ward2@verizon.net> wrote in message
    news:1156537582.743455.143680@m73g2000cwd.googlegr oups.com...
    Isn't this the democratic system that the US is fighting for?
    How many more people voted for your president than against him?

    Terry B



 

 
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