Well, well, well. After being the subject of a few years’ debate, the planet Pluto’s been demoted to a “dwarf planet” asteroid-thingy.
Henceforth, “Pluto” is now forbidden from using that name as its legal moniker and has been assigned the ultra-sexy NEW name of 134340. In the past, Pluto has caused much consternation and scratching of heads among the scientific community. What does it look like exactly? What’s it made of? Why the hell is its orbit all wonky? 134340 is now being joined by rookie Eris (formerly 2003 UB313), a slightly larger mysterious space rock a little further out, in the dwarf planet class. Thus spake the International Astronomical Union!
Yeah, I can’t really say that with a straight face. Look, Pluto is still the same weird-ass space rock it was a week ago. Its still going to float out there and get inside Uranus’ orbit every now and then. Big rocks don’t care what they’re called. Or maybe they do, and when word of this reaches its orbit, Pluto’s going to be so pissed off that its going to let Jupiter’s gravitational pull upset its orbit and the former planet’s going to come screaming out of the heavens towards Earth, looking for vengeance!
Look, I appreciate Science’s continuing tweaking of the things it considers to be valid information, and humans are by nature a classifying species, but really, 134340? We’re still going to call it Pluto since its easier to remember and spell. As for the new kid, Eris, well, we (and by “we” I mean “Science”) know its bigger than Pluto, its got a “moon” and that’s about it. The real silly thing about it is our tendency to make big dramatic stories out of new scientific discoveries that aren’t necessarily “action packed.” The discovery of Eris was a big deal, since finding something further out and bigger than Pluto raises questions of a tenth planet and/or if it really is a planet. The name change is really just semantics at this point. Again, Pluto’s going to keep on doing what its doing, regardless what a thus-far lucky group of apes has to say about it. We’re not the boss of Pluto.
Incidentally, I’ve always wondered why Walt Disney went and named Mickey’s dog after the Roman god of the underworld. A god I might add, who forcibly kidnapped his future wife Penelope (Persephone) and dragged her to said underworld because he wanted to “get some.” Pluto wasn’t exactly evil, but he was kind of a dick. Here’s a challenge to make you feel uncomfortable watching those old cartoons. Every time they say “Pluto,” replace it with “Hades.” Or for added mythological comedy value, “Cerberus.” Now, I foresee this having two possible outcomes. 1) your sensibilities are shaken by the possibility that “Uncle Walt” was up to something sinister in naming a loveable cartoon dog after a god of the dead or 2) it’s a bit of absolutely hilarious unintentional humor.