Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Eight is enough

(Sorry, but this is no celebration of the acting chops of one Dick Van Patten.) It's old news now, but the astronomers have spoken. Pluto is out of the bunch.

But what does that mean for us? What are the repercussions of this?

And it could have been this:

12 planets. I think it was the possibility of 12 that pushed the scientists to go the other way. I think they were worried that if they let in the likes of Ceres, Charon, and whoever the hell 2003 UB313 is, then . . . there goes the neighborhood. Soon Titan, Io, Europa, and even the Moon are going to be demanding planetary recognition.

Don't think that it is a coincidence that this official vote came pretty closely on the heels of another presidential reaffirmation that manned space flight was to remain a priority at NASA. Why is that important, you ask? Well, along with going to Mars, another main goal of manned space flight is returning to the Moon. The only reason to return to the Moon is to start the colonization process. And so the astronomers saw that in the future, unless the definition of planet was nailed down air-tight, those uppity Moon-landers would start petitioning for planethood, eventually attempt to secede, then we'd all be facing Solar Civil War.

(And with regards to 2003 UB313, I can't say I disagree with the idea of keeping it out. I mean, if you can't even come up with a decent name, it doesn't belong with the big boys. Try sounding like a mythical god rather than an atomic weight and then we'll talk, okay?)

But whether you prefer the "classic nine" the "Accepted Eight" or the "Terrible Twelve," I think there will be problems going into the future. And the reason is rocketing away from the edge of our solar system into the depths of space, carrying its false advertising with it.

The Voyager spacecraft carries on its side a golden record that contains the sounds of Earth. But etched on the record itself is images that explain how to build a record-playing device and a graphic representation of the solar system. The Pioneer spacecraft that were launched prior to the Voyager program also carry a plaque depicting friendly homo sapiens standing beside the same solar system and above another image of the solar system that depicts the relative path of the Pioneer probe.

This is false advertising and is going to cause a problem someday. When aliens come to call, wanting to talk to the welcoming (if naked) creators, they will notice that planet number 9 is no longer there. This will cause them to wonder what else we might have lied to them about.

Perhaps we're not as friendly (and naked) as we would appear to be?

1 comment:

lulu said...

And not as white as we appear to be either. So, so white.