Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Since they've solved all their other problems....

Illinois state legislators, figuring that there are no real problems in their state, have turned their eyes to the heavens in order to redress a real injustice - the status of Pluto.
An Illinois Senate committee on Thursday unanimously supported planet Pluto and declaring March 13 "Pluto Day." The idea now moves to the full Senate for a vote.

The push for a state decree on Pluto comes from state Sen. Gary Dahl, a Republican whose downstate district includes Streator, birthplace of Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh. Dahl told colleagues Pluto is important to the local community, which considers the vote to downgrade Pluto to "dwarf" planet was unfair as it involved only 4 percent of the International Astronomical Union's 10,000 scientists.

Dahl noted that Tombaugh is the only American ever to discover a planet. Tombaugh first detected Pluto in 1930 at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona.

Dahl called Thursday's committee vote a key step forward, not only for Pluto and Streator, but also for bipartisan cooperation in the Senate. He said previous Democratic leadership sat on the proposal last year but new Senate President John Cullerton let it advance.
OH, yes. I'm sure that state Senator Dahl has truly helped his constituents with this resolution. It's a platform that I'm sure will send him to the stratosphere in politics. Just what we need - more politicians who think that they can solve every question by political resolutions.

7 comments:

Pat Patterson said...

Not the planet, Mickey's dog! PETA put them up to it.

Laurel Kornfeld said...

The Illinois legislature has more sense than those four percent of the International Astronomical Union, most of whom interestingly are not planetary scientists. That vote was hijacked by a small group with its own agenda of excluding Pluto and artificially limiting the number of planets in our solar system. That is why it was opposed by hundreds of professional astronomers in a petition led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto, and it is why both scientists and lay people are working to get the demotion overturned. Pluto is a planet because it is spherical, meaning it is in a state of hydrostatic equilibrium, where its own gravity has pulled itself into a round shape. That is a hallmark of planets, not of asteroids and comets.

It is this tiny minority of the IAU who erroneously believe they are rulers of the world. They're not. They cannot change facts, and Pluto's planethood is a fact.

alexh32 said...

I thought once "the science is settled" mere mortals may not question it! How come that works for global warming, but not for planetary classification?

CW said...

This contretemps can probably be made into an earmark.

cw/chsw

Laurel Kornfeld said...

The science is clearly not "settled." The IAU is acting like a priesthood issuing religious edicts and expecting the whole world to follow them without question. That isn't going to happen. In the words of planetary scientist Dr. Mark Sykes, who refers to the IAU as "holy mother church," "we need more Protestants!"

g2loq said...

First Pluto, later Uranus.

Pat Patterson said...

Laurel-Thanks for adding a new voice however this site is well known for irony so beware!