Burb Rocking
Sunday, August 27, 2006
  Pluto is Madeleine Albright's cousin! (now get out the vote)


The pic and captions to the left appear here courtesy of Mista Hall. She teaches earth science and astronomy at the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics, and she was paying very close attention to the Lamont-Lieberman race awhile back.

Okay, no, she wasn't paying much attention to the primary vote. Or maybe she was. Who knows? A veteran of politics like Madeleine Albright might have been paying attention instead.

Poor Pluto. Stranded way out at the dim frozen verge of our system, where the planets end and the icy trans-Neptunian Kuiper Belt begins. If our sun and its planets were a dog, this forgotten world, tiny, overlooked by all spacecraft (so far), even forced to share its orbit with Neptune, would be its ridiculous tail. And now someone has bobbed that tail.

Plenty of irony here. When it was given planetary status back in 1930, there were a few astronomers who were unsure if that rank was really deserved. It wasn't so long ago that Charon, Pluto's principal moon, was discovered: 1978. Only last year we learned that Pluto also has two smaller moon's: Nix and Hydra. And lately, with refined data about the relative masses and sizes of Pluto and Charon, the two have become recognized as a double-planet. (Charon has just over half the diameter of Pluto, and, more importantly, the center of gravity between the two bodies lies somewhere in the space between their surfaces.) Now, having gained ground to become a double-planet with two recently discovered moons, with, finally, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft on its way to pay it a visit in 2015 and, as Sagan envisioned, "complete the preliminary reconnaissance of the solar system" - Pluto gets voted out of the planet club.




(~from FlyingSinger —>)

Yes, voting irregularities again. Only this time, not in Ohio or Florida, but in the Czech Republic. A dedicated core of hardliners at the International Astronomical Union conference in Prague worked tirelessly to oust Pluto, and prevailed. At a site I frequent, a gentleman called "Doc" and I discussed the fiasco:

<>-<>-<>

Doc: OK....who runs the crack concession at the IAU conferences?

Me: Actually, it was quite a nice, clean little crystal meth lab. Run by a respected Czech chemist.

You may wish to have a look at Astronomers Behaving Badly (actual title 'On to Rio!') by Steve Maran. Where you'll find this paragraph:

Less than a third of IAU’s members actually came to Prague -just 2500 give or take- and by the end of the meeting when the Pluto decisions were taken, only a fraction of those were present and voting. By all accounts, a tough gang of solar system experts prevailed to dump Pluto from the planetary ranks. But, as the media report, other astronomers say that they have just begun to fight.

The author adds: 'So when the IAU next meets, in Rio in August 2009, I will be there. Ready to wheel and deal and to vote.'

Doc: Methinks it was augmented :P

Me: Word on the ulička is Jindřich Šilhán showed up with some Pervitin and the place went crazy. But that rumor is unconfirmed (my guess is it was Jiří Dušek, a known party animal).

<>-<>-<>

The connection to Albright and Lamont? Like a certain distant diminutive world, tiny little Connecticut has become a pivotal battleground for the coming mid-term election. The GOP's mistakes are catching up with the party-in-power, in spite of the mainstream media propaganda machine working overtime to make it otherwise. The Jewish vote may prove critical to any victory Lieberman garners; win or lose, right now Lieberman is on the ropes as Lamont continues to gain ground against him. The edge at this moment, though, belongs to Lieberman.

Should it come to light, however, that, like Madeleine Albright, Lamont has until now been unaware of forgotten Jewish ancestors, what then?

(Albright, by the way, was born Marie Jana Korbelová. In Prague.)

So, I think, before the attempt in Rio to appeal the IAU's decision to demote Pluto, our underdog world needs to discover its heretofore unknown kinship with Ms. Albright. I mean, come on, it's the minority of hard-core kill-joys in the IAU against Disney's Seven Dwarfs. Whose side do you really want to be on?

 
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