“Planets rotate on love’s axes and apples fall to be near their beloveds.” ~ Kamand Kojouri
Pluto—ninth rock from the Sun. Discovered eighty-eight years ago today, (Feb. 18, 1930), Pluto was a planet when most of us were born. But then, in 2006, the Scientific Priesthood stripped Pluto of its planetary title! The astronomical world was shaken to its foundation—where once our solar system had nine planets, now we had only eight.
So, what is Pluto, if not a planet? A planetoid? Is it a candy or a gum? Well, mainstream scientists now call it a dwarf planet. But recently, many free-thinking scientists are fighting to reinstate Pluto’s status as full-fledged planet!
At first blush, our solar system appears to be uniformly ordered. The predictable pattern?—from the Sun outward, the first four worlds—the “inner” planets—are small and rocky, (Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars)—followed by a debris field with small chunks of rock and ice—and then the next four worlds—the “outer” planets—are large and gaseous, and also have rings, (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune)—followed by a another debris field with large chunks of rock and ice.
See the pattern?—nice ‘n neat—four small rocky worlds followed by four ginormous gaseous worlds. However, the ninth world out, Pluto, is small and rocky—which doesn’t fit the pattern, and this non-conformity is the main reason why the Scientific Priesthood stripped Pluto of its planetary status!
Another reason why Pluto lost its planetary status is because its orbit round the Sun is highly eccentric, i.e., irregular and whacky. The other eight worlds go round the Sun in nearly-perfect circular orbits—while Pluto circles wildly above and below the others—in an exaggerated oblong orbit—which makes Pluto just look bad!
Still another reason Pluto lost its planetary status is because its orbit round the Sun overlaps with the orbit of the second debris field—which contains large chunks of rock and ice that occupy essentially the same “lane of traffic” as Pluto. And because Pluto does not solely occupy its own traffic lane round the Sun, its significance is thus diminished in the eyes of science.
Pluto looks and behaves differently in comparison to the rest of the herd, and in reaction to non-conformity, science did what it all too often does—discriminate and excommunicate. In August 2006, the IAU (International Astronomical Union), a.k.a., the Scientific Priesthood, performed a solemn benediction, and white smoke heralded the revocation of Pluto’s planetary status. Pluto was unceremoniously demoted to dwarf planet and we were left with one less deity in the heavenly firmament.
Generally speaking, scientists always hope to find patterns—because if the math is elegant, scientists believe, then it tends to support their daring hypotheses! Right? Truth is, scientists are a superstitious lot—quasi-religious in their zest for the irrational!
Scientists feel a desperate need to impose order—with uniform rules that arise from predictable patterns. In fact, the scientist’s need to impose order is so urgent that they go to great lengths to find patterns—even where none exist—just so they can sleep well at night knowing their place in an “ordered” universe!
Has science morphed into religion? According to the world’s preeminent particle physicist, Dr. Nancy Swanson: “Science is as much of a religion as any religion has ever been. The scientific priesthood bestows their thoughts and ideas upon the peasantry as if they were just bringing it down off the mountain. And woe to one who dares to question! Scientists themselves hesitate to openly question for fear of retribution (not getting their papers published or their proposals funded). It’s a conspiracy of fraud. I had to quit my job just to think. Some of the things science asks us to believe, with little or no proof, are more fantastic than anything that religion has put forward.” (“The Religion of Science” by N. Lee Swanson)
Notably, when Pluto was demoted back in 2006, scientists believed that other solar systems would invariably have the same pattern as our solar system—with small, rocky worlds near the star, then gas giants farther out. But today, as astronomers discover new solar systems, they are learning that this pattern of rocky inner planets, followed by gaseous outer planets, is not the universal rule. Indeed, the myriad arrangements of rocky and gaseous planets—in a myriad of other solar systems—we have come to learn—follows no pattern at all. Needless to say, in light of these new discoveries, many now argue that the IAU should reinstate Pluto’s planetary status!
So what do I call it?—I still call Pluto a planet. Why?—well first, in terms of size, Pluto is composed of sufficient mass to be spherical—and second, it tracks its own independent orbit round the Sun. These two factors meet the classical definition for planet.
Moral of the story? All scientific labels are entirely random! It really doesn’t even matter whether we call it a planet or not. Regardless of what we call it, Pluto’s magic tantalizes! To quote Shakespeare: ”A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.”
Random chaos, I believe, is every bit as beautiful and romantic as ordered uniformity. No two snowflakes are alike―yet each is as beautiful as the next! Who cares if Pluto’s orbit is a bit eccentric or strange? It’s every bit as beautiful! “There is no exquisite beauty without some strangeness in the proportion.” – Edgar Allan Poe.
“It is sometimes said that scientists are unromantic, that their passion to figure-out robs the world of beauty and mystery. But is it not stirring to understand how the world actually works? It does no harm to the romance of the sunset to know a little bit about it.” – Dr. Carl Sagan
Through a telescope, Pluto is not much to see. But I’ve seen it! Blurry, non-descript and wondrous! And the recent images of Pluto―from the New Horizons spacecraft―are truly breathtaking―with stunning detail of the planet’s surface!
It boggles the mind to think that less than one percent of humanity have seen the planets through a telescope. (I’m a one-percenter! Yay!) Remember, those who wrote the Bible never peered through a telescope nor through a microscope—where the magic and mystery of science begin!
T H E E N D
by T. Matthew Phillips, Esq., © Feb. 18, 2018
On the 88th anniversary of Pluto’s discovery!
Dedicated to the World’s Greatest Poetess, Kamand Kojouri!