This article on CNN. com,
"Pluto on the Chopping Block," excites me. We've been hearing for a
while about the debate over whether or not Pluto is legitimately a
planet, but I wasn't aware that a decision was on the horizon.
astronomers from 75 countries gathered in Prague Monday to come up with
a universal definition of what qualifies as a planet and possibly
decide whether Pluto should keep its planet status . . . . Among the possibilities at the 12-day meeting of the International
Astronomical Union in the Czech Republic capital: Subtract Pluto or
christen one more planet, and possibly dozens more.
you realize what an impact this decision will have on our world? It's
huge! And, lest you think I'm exaggerating, I've compiled a list of the
people and things that stand to reap everything from major devastation
to great windfall from this decision.
AFFECTED PARTY: Anyone who has completed school
POTENTIAL IMPACT: Negative, Mild
someone who recently completed college and is already sensitive to
things that make me feel old, I can't imagine how much of a fogey I
will feel like some day when my kids are learning about the solar
system and the planets are completely different. Can you imagine if
there are 53 planets by then (the article says it's possible), and
you're coming at your kid with, "When I was your age, there were only
nine of them!" I mean, come on. How old are you gonna seem when
you've been part of the public consciousness longer than certain celestial bodies
have? I'm telling you now: you're gonna feel super old. At the very
least, if they cut Pluto and we're down to eight, they're still gonna
think you are old for being alive back when people were dumb enough to
think Pluto was a planet. They'll probably assume you thought the
world was flat too.
AFFECTED PARTY: My very elegant mother
POTENTIAL IMPACT: Negative, Major
far as mnemonic devices go, "My Very Elegant Mother Just Served Us
Nine Pizzas" has been a benchmark, but if Pluto is cut, it's going to
take a big hit--'Pizzas' will be gone! It's still salvageable, I guess
(My Very Elegant Mother Just Served Us Nothing? Nuggets? Nachos?), but
there's no denying that an era will have ended.
And that's the best-case scenario. If a bunch of other
planets get named, we're gonna need to rethink things completely. A
simple mnemonic may not even suffice anymore; we might be looking at a
whole new monster to rival the Periodic Table of Elements! The
universe will no longer be one of those friendly neighborhoods where
you know the name of everyone on your street; no, it will be one of
those gigantic hyper-planned urban mega-communities where you have to
look at the directory to know the name of the person in 408 whose mail
you keep getting.
But it's even worse, because in this case their name is, like, Planet X4-HG59 Omega.
AFFECTED PARTY: TEXTBOOK COMPANIES
POTENTIAL IMPACT: Positive, Major
all know who the real winner's gonna be on this one: the textbook
companies. In fact, I wouldn't be surprised to find out that Houghton
and Mifflin are paying the scientific community a little bit of money
under the table to keep this upheaval coming. After all, schools
aren't going to be able to use their science books from the '80s
anymore. Pluto will become the new USSR (as in "that encyclopedia's so
old, it's still got the USSR in it!") as the new laughingstock of the
textbook and reference book world. Well I got news for you, book
companies: I wasn't done with making fun of the USSR yet. I'm not too
pleased about my time being cut short.
AFFECTED PARTY: SCHOOLS
POTENTIAL IMPACT: Negative, Major
the Scholastic Press corporate offices are using their windfall to
build a new extension with a gym, pool, and cafeteria for their staff,
schools everywhere are going to be suffering even more financial
setbacks as they must spend even more money on updating textbooks.
Even science books bought at the beginning of this year will be
rendered obsolete, and that just ain't fair.
Of course, that's not to say that every school will be
updating its books. You can bet that a lot of them will get creative,
crossing out certain sections with black hi-liter, or ripping pages out
and Scotch-taping in entire new chapters. That's probably actually
their wisest bet, because how can they insure that as soon as they buy
new books, even more planets won't be
named. However, that doesn't make it OK. Kids already have enough
things to make fun of at school, and this would just be handing them
even more ammo. Can you imagine all the new spin-offs on age-old
complaints this will generate?
- "I don't see why we're learning about the planets if they might just change again anyway."
- "This isn't important! When my mom was in school, they were teaching them
lies about outer space, but she still got a job!"
- My brother only had to learn 9 planets, and I have to learn 30? It's not FAIIRRRrrrrrrrrRRRRRRRRRrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr! We shouldn't have to do more work because we were born later."
AFFECTED PARTY: Pluto (the planet)
POTENTIAL IMPACT: Ranges from catastrophic excommunication to a mild case of middle child syndrome.
know how hard rejection can be, and Pluto's facing a big one. If it
gets canned, it'll be lucky if it can muster up as much respect in the
future as Puerto Rico or Guam. I wouldn't count on it though--the
little planet that couldn't seems to be up for an eternity of
loneliness and isolation with its lame moon Charon.
if Pluto does manage to get saved, it's not going to be all gravy. At
the very least, from what I understand, by updating the definition of
"planet" to permanently incorporate Pluto, scientists may also have to
at least add young upstart planet candidate Xena as well:
Some argue that if Pluto kept its crown, Xena should be the 10th planet
by default -- it is, after all, bigger. Purists maintain that there are
only eight traditional planets, and insist Pluto and Xena are poseurs.
we'd be keeping Pluto in the family, sure, but with all the commotion
surrounding baby Xena, Pluto's going to feel neglected, and sometimes
that can be an even bigger bitch than rejection.
AFFECTED PARTY: Pluto (the dog)
POTENTIAL IMPACT: Unknown
say the big wild card in all this is the Disney character Pluto. It's
likely that he'll just keep his name and nothing exciting will happen,
but you know how reactionary and weird Disney can be. After all, when
people are dying on your rides you can't really afford to be associated
with anything out-of-date and old. Maybe they'll change his name, or
maybe he will end up getting "accidentally" run over by a parade float,
silently sucked underground by one of those fabled trash chutes, and
then cheerfully eulogized by a mind washed PR rep with a story about his
being on a farm somewhere in Iowa. I don't know for sure. We'll have
to wait and see.