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Milton J. Madison - An American Refugee Now Living in China, Where Liberty is Ascending

Federalism, Free Markets and the Liberty To Let One's Mind Wander. I Am Very Worried About the Fate of Liberty in the USA, Where Government is Taking people's Lives ____________________________________________________________________________________________ "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice. Tolerance in the face of tyranny is no virtue." -Barry Goldwater-

Monday, September 04, 2006

Battle Over Pluto Raging....

After Pluto loses its status as a planet last week, protests erupt over the reassignment...
Friends and colleagues of the late Clyde Tombaugh, the astronomer who discovered Pluto, gathered on the New Mexico State University campus to protest the International Astronomical Union's recent decision to strip Pluto of its status as a planet.
More protests on campuses in the US over the status of Pluto than over the Iraq war!

The decision over Pluto's status was driven by the discovery of several other objects, mostly smaller, that also orbit the Sun but also have trans-Neptune elliptical orbits-in other words- the orbit of Pluto and these other object pass inside the orbit of Neptune. But the former planet does not meet several critical conditions...
There are three main conditions for an object to be called a 'planet', according to the IAU resolution passed August 24, 2006.

[1.]The object must be in orbit around the Sun.
[2.]The object must be massive enough to be a sphere by its own gravitational force. More specifically, its own gravity should pull it into a shape of hydrostatic equilibrium.
[3.]It must have cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.

Pluto fails to meet the third condition.

The IAU further resolved that Pluto be classified in the simultaneously created dwarf planet category, and that it act as prototype for a yet-to-be-named category of trans-Neptunian objects, in which it would be separately, but concurrently, classified.

The news of Pluto's reclassification by the IAU was met with a mixture of bemusement in the press alongside stories of an astronomer backlash against the decision. Multiple petitions exist online asking the IAU for reinstatement.

Dr. Alan Stern (leader of the NASA "New Horizons" mission to Pluto) has derided the IAU decision, stating "the definition stinks, for technical reasons." Stern's contention is that the new definition should also exclude Earth, Mars, Jupiter and Neptune, all of which share their orbits with asteroids. A number of astronomers have announced that they will not use the new definition of planet and will continue to refer to Pluto as the ninth planet.
The battles rages! I blame Bush and the Israelis.

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