Archive for August, 2006

Pluto = Not Even a Plutonian Object!

Thursday, August 24th, 2006

Pluto in Color 

By a 183-186 vote, the IAU failed to classify the dwarf planetary object, Pluto, a Plutonian Object.  What is clear is that, despite the struggles to find it, Pluto is no longer a planet.  So there are 8 planets and a new dwarf for Snow White.

Snow White and the 8 Dwarfs

Twin Planets Toppled = Will Pluto be Punted?

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006

News about Pluto

The UK’s Astronomy Blog reports that the final draft proposal for the definition of planet not only doesn’t create the twin planets Pluto and Charon, but actually demotes Pluto to a dwarf planet (= not a planet) because it hasn’t cleared the neighborhood around it’s orbit.  Pluto actually shares part of its orbit with Neptune.  By symmetry doesn’t that disqualify Neptune as a planet? 

{Above} Lia and Alan get the news.  Alan expresses pffffft!  Lia is just stunninged.  They jump in the car heading back to Prague to vote down the draft proposal.  You can watch the vote online starting at 9:00 AM EDT.

Twin Planets Denominated = Now there are 12!

Thursday, August 17th, 2006

Lia & Alan

As first reported by Bad Astronomer Phil Plait, the IAU will (a week from today) vote on a new definition of planet which will denominate 12 planets in our Solar System instead of 9, with many more – perhaps millions – waiting to be discovered!

Lia and Alan discuss the proposals before the IAU on the swings.  Checking the mail, they happily report that it looks like Pluto and Charon will be designated as the first twin planets! 

Why Pluto-Charon when our own Moon is larger than both Pluto and Charon?  Because the barycenter of the Pluto-Charon system is outside Pluto, while, for the Earth-Moon system it is 1700 km below the surface of the Earth.  Phil points out that, with the Moon receding from Earth at 4 cm per year, in about 40 million years [correction: make that about 3 billion years] the Earth-Moon barycenter will be outside the Earth and the Moon will then be designated a planet (that is, if the IAU doesn’t redefine planet before then). 

Pluto-Charon system     Earth-Moon system

Below are the 3 new planets, and some planet candidates.

New planets   Planet Candidates 

Later Lia and Alan prepare for travel to Prague for the conclusion of this planet-shattering IAU meeting.

“Most-Read” Scientists’ Blogs = 50+ Brilliant Minds

Friday, August 4th, 2006

a scientist looks at a computer 

From a Nature article (based on Technorati ranks):

0 Pharyngula
1 The Panda’s thumb
2 RealClimate 1884
3 Cosmic Variance 2174
4 The Scientific Activist 3429
5 Respectful Insolence 3639
6 Aetiology 4989
7 Cognitive Daily 5820
8 Effect Measure 6186
9 Adventures in Ethics and Science 7844
10 Deltoid 8635
11 Uncertain Principles 8635
12 Thoughts from Kansas 9143
13 John Hawks Anthropology Weblog 10234
14 11423
15 In the pipeline 12353
16 Savage Minds: Notes and Queries in Anthropology A Group Blog 12729
17 Stranger Fruit 12729
18 The Disgruntled Chemist 14551
19 A Blog Around the Clock 14858
20 Evolutionblog 14858
21 Gene Expression 15102
22 Mike the Mad Biologist 15258
23 Mixing Memory 16383
24 Archives of The Cheerful Oncologist Volume 2 16383
25 The Questionable Authority Archive 17403
26 Biosingularity 19236
27 Evolgen 22859
28 bootstrap analysis 24095
29 Evolving Thoughts 24405
30 Terra Sigillata 25174
31 Prometheus (Roger Pielke Jnr) 26411
32 A Few Things Ill Considered 27774
33 75 Degrees South 29544
34 Discovering biology in a digital world 33296
35 A Concerned Scientist 35121
36 Invasive Species Weblog 39698
37 Developing Intelligence 40444
38 The Daily Transcript 40444
39 Biopeer 40444
40 Stayin’ Alive 41239
41 On being a scientist and a woman 42065
42 Flags and Lollipops – Bioinformatics Blog 43778
43 The Quantum Pontiff 44796
44 Good Math, Bad Math 45603
45 – A bioinformatics weblog 46627
46 Climate Science 50909
47 The Lancelet 50909
48 Afarensis 50909
49 Three-Toed Sloth 51100