Pluto in the doghouse

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I find myself unmoved by Pluto's demotion in planetary status, except to be glad. Schoolchildren may be mourning, or so we are told, but science is not a process of codifying public sentiment. If it were, science would still be propounding the "natural theology" of the early 19th century, and evolution would be a fringe theory.

Science is a process of modifying and refining our model of how the universe works, through repeated observation, theorizing, and experimentation. If calling Pluto a dwarf planet offers a better model of our solar system than the one it's replacing—and if you read much astronomy, this can't come as a surprise, since Pluto's planetary status has long been considered suspect—then huzzah. Science works, and I for one have a hard time crediting how anyone, let alone a little kid, could lose sleep over how we categorize a distant ball of ice.

[ original post:  http://shunn.livejournal.com/329750.html ]

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This page contains a single entry by William Shunn published on August 30, 2006 10:49 AM.

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