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Re: Lessons from it all, was Re: {MPML} RE: viewing totality

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  • dfischer@astro.uni-bonn.de
    ... One *last* attempt (really got to so some real astronomy now) ... see how for how many steps you are willing to follow me, where you will not - and then
    Message 1 of 35 , Aug 16, 2010
      > And it is a straw man to repeatedly cite "raw emotion" as the
      > prime motivator in this debate. You may disagree with them, but there are
      > genuinely scientific reasons for classifying Pluto in a subcategory of
      > planets.

      One *last* attempt (really got to so some real astronomy now) ... see how
      for how many steps you are willing to follow me, where you will not - and
      then ask yourself, why:

      1) There is a continuum of stuff circling around the Sun (and other
      stars), from tiny dust grains - making themselves known as zodiacal light
      - to rocky things to mighty gas giants. Borders can be blurry, categories
      not always obvious.

      2) From antiquity people have regarded the individual bodies - they saw
      moving among the stars - as something quite important, calling them
      planets and holding them in great esteem. The term "planet", at least in
      western culture, has been loaded with importance: These were special
      things, each treated as an individual.

      3) Part of the importance was that there were only 5 of them, or 7
      including Moon and Sun: They were given attributes and made part of
      mythology and so on. Therefore "planet" was something of which you would
      prefer to have a specific - and rather small - number.

      4) So it was only natural that, when the number of individual (but small)
      bodies found between Mars and Jupiter exploded, they would all
      collectively be reclassified as something 'less', namely 'minor planets'.
      This never implied that these are a subclass of the real planets but
      rather little things that once were a real planet that broke apart (old
      thinking) or were never allowed to congregate into one in the first place
      (new thinking).

      5) The introduction of the minor planet category didn't cause an uproar
      because it was generally understood, even in the mid-19th century, that
      they were of an entirely different nature than the planets. It also didn't
      help their status that their disks were unresolvable, which led to the
      still-popular (in some languages) term asteroids.

      6) The importance of 'planet' vs. smaller stuff in orbit also became
      evident when the first discoveries of circumstellar dust of other stars
      came in the early 1980's (IRAS' IR excess in 1983, Beta Pic's disk image
      in 1984) and the first extrasolar planets were found later that decade and
      esp. from the mid-1990's onwards: The latter had a vastly greater impact
      on the public's mind (and even on the time-allocation at major telescopes
      eventually).

      7) So we see: While there is a continuum of bodies known that orbits
      stars, the term 'planet' has always been reserved objects that are large
      and important per se. The importance criteria may have changed over time
      (from naked-eye visibility to gravitational dominance in their
      neighborhood) but one thing never did - only when you are referred to as a
      planet, you are truly important, much more so than just being part of a
      belt of numerous small things, let also a dusty disk.

      And this, my friends, is the simple explanation why so many - especially
      in the broader (largely U.S.) public - felt a real loss when Pluto was
      regrouped. (And became the 2nd-largest of its class instead of being the
      smallest, by the way - for me that was an *upgrade*.) If they really had
      cared about geophysical arguments as many now claim, they should have
      called for Ceres' transfer back to planethood for the last 50 years when
      its sphericity was established. And they would have called for at least
      some of the Galilean moons and esp. Titan to be declared planets. Didn't
      happen, so science was not the true reason the reclassification of Pluto
      was decried.

      Now I hear that some might be happy to keep the the "dwarf planets"
      category but still turn it into a sub-category of planets somehow. Which
      wouldn't change anything about what that mattered in the original
      decision, namely get clear rules for bookkeeping: The only reason would be
      to soften their emotional loss. Alas, such a move would actually have the
      opposite effect, they would notice after while: The big KBOs would then
      become lesser brethren of the big planets (which would automatically
      become a sub-class of their own under a planets umbrella term), instead of
      being the separately classed - and highly interesting - beings their are
      now.

      Case closed - see, it can be done even without writing a whole book ...
    • laurelkornfeld@netzero.net
      Cutting off debate is never a good thing, and it is inconsistent with academia s ethic of free inquiry. Some people who know better? This sounds somewhat
      Message 35 of 35 , Aug 16, 2010
        Cutting off debate is never a good thing, and it is inconsistent with academia's ethic of free inquiry.

        "Some people who know better?" This sounds somewhat authoritarian. Do we just follow the dictates of someone because of who he or she is? How is that science?

        Obviously, it is not true that "anybody with a clear idea about things in the solar system see it (Pluto) as a large asteroid, in a very large asteroid zone. Even the IAU definition never claims Pluto is an asteroid. You explain your interpretation of the vote in Prague, but how do we know it is anything but an interpretation? Maybe the GA just ran out of time and wanted to push something through (it seemed this way on the video).

        Again, it's just my opinion, but I see no reason why we cannot agree to disagree on this issue.

        Laurel

        ---------- Original Message ----------
        From: "Alain" <alain@...>
        To: <dfischer@...-bonn.de>, <mpml@yahoogroups.com>
        Subject: {MPML} Small Pluto Asteroid Mess (S.P.A.M. in short)
        Date: Mon, 16 Aug 2010 18:53:23 -0400

        their orbit" parameter), and the asteroids are in large groups, with a lot
        of variety of inclination too (belts). The two classes are not related. If
        you had something like Pluto orbiting alone in the solar system, it would be
        called a planet, this is why it was called a planet in the past. Now anybody
        with a clear idea about things in the solar system see it as a large
        asteroid, in a very large asteroid zone. A large, interesting asteroid, but
        asteroid. The asteroids, for at least two separate reasons have never formed
        a planet. The dwarf planet term is bound to dissapear as new generation of
        astronomers appear, it is not even precisely defined, as I explained it is
        the result of a compromise in Prague in 2006. It has no physical reason to
        exist.
        Alain

        -----Message d'origine-----
        De : mpml@yahoogroups.com [mailto:mpml@yahoogroups.com] De la part de
        dfischer@...-bonn.de
        Envoy� lundi 16 ao�10 15:05
        �: mpml@yahoogroups.com
        Objet : Re: Lessons from it all, was Re: {MPML} RE: viewing totality

        > And it is a straw man to repeatedly cite "raw emotion" as the prime
        > motivator in this debate. You may disagree with them, but there are
        > genuinely scientific reasons for classifying Pluto in a subcategory of
        > planets.

        One *last* attempt (really got to so some real astronomy now) ... see how
        for how many steps you are willing to follow me, where you will not - and
        then ask yourself, why:

        1) There is a continuum of stuff circling around the Sun (and other stars),
        from tiny dust grains - making themselves known as zodiacal light
        - to rocky things to mighty gas giants. Borders can be blurry, categories
        not always obvious.

        2) From antiquity people have regarded the individual bodies - they saw
        moving among the stars - as something quite important, calling them planets
        and holding them in great esteem. The term "planet", at least in western
        culture, has been loaded with importance: These were special things, each
        treated as an individual.

        3) Part of the importance was that there were only 5 of them, or 7 including
        Moon and Sun: They were given attributes and made part of mythology and so
        on. Therefore "planet" was something of which you would prefer to have a
        specific - and rather small - number.

        4) So it was only natural that, when the number of individual (but small)
        bodies found between Mars and Jupiter exploded, they would all collectively
        be reclassified as something 'less', namely 'minor planets'.
        This never implied that these are a subclass of the real planets but rather
        little things that once were a real planet that broke apart (old
        thinking) or were never allowed to congregate into one in the first place
        (new thinking).

        5) The introduction of the minor planet category didn't cause an uproar
        because it was generally understood, even in the mid-19th century, that they
        were of an entirely different nature than the planets. It also didn't help
        their status that their disks were unresolvable, which led to the
        still-popular (in some languages) term asteroids.

        6) The importance of 'planet' vs. smaller stuff in orbit also became evident
        when the first discoveries of circumstellar dust of other stars came in the
        early 1980's (IRAS' IR excess in 1983, Beta Pic's disk image in 1984) and
        the first extrasolar planets were found later that decade and esp. from the
        mid-1990's onwards: The latter had a vastly greater impact on the public's
        mind (and even on the time-allocation at major telescopes eventually).

        7) So we see: While there is a continuum of bodies known that orbits stars,
        the term 'planet' has always been reserved objects that are large and
        important per se. The importance criteria may have changed over time (from
        naked-eye visibility to gravitational dominance in their
        neighborhood) but one thing never did - only when you are referred to as a
        planet, you are truly important, much more so than just being part of a belt
        of numerous small things, let also a dusty disk.

        And this, my friends, is the simple explanation why so many - especially in
        the broader (largely U.S.) public - felt a real loss when Pluto was
        regrouped. (And became the 2nd-largest of its class instead of being the
        smallest, by the way - for me that was an *upgrade*.) If they really had
        cared about geophysical arguments as many now claim, they should have called
        for Ceres' transfer back to planethood for the last 50 years when its
        sphericity was established. And they would have called for at least some of
        the Galilean moons and esp. Titan to be declared planets. Didn't happen, so
        science was not the true reason the reclassification of Pluto was decried.

        Now I hear that some might be happy to keep the the "dwarf planets"
        category but still turn it into a sub-category of planets somehow. Which
        wouldn't change anything about what that mattered in the original decision,
        namely get clear rules for bookkeeping: The only reason would be to soften
        their emotional loss. Alas, such a move would actually have the opposite
        effect, they would notice after while: The big KBOs would then become lesser
        brethren of the big planets (which would automatically become a sub-class of
        their own under a planets umbrella term), instead of being the separately
        classed - and highly interesting - beings their are now.

        Case closed - see, it can be done even without writing a whole book ...

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

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