Is Pluto a Planet?

It seems to me that question of “Is Pluto a Planet” is not science. Yes, a single definition needs to be found and yes this definition needs to be applied to all future astronomical bodies we encounter going forward in order to know if we can call them a planet, but isn’t this is all really a question of semantics rather than, strictly speaking, science? It all seems a bit like arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Changing what we call something does not change what it intrinsically is. Pluto will not suddenly disappear in a puff of logic if it is demoted from planet-hood. Having said that, if a definition is reached for which Pluto does not qualify, I say grandfather it in. Make Pluto the historical exception to the rule — a quirky footnote of history. Not because ‘Pluto deserves to be a Planet” but because designating Pluto as such tells an important story about the history of astronomy and how humans’ classification of the world around them evolved. Is that so wrong?

Posted in Science
5 comments on “Is Pluto a Planet?
  1. Anonymous says:

    Besides, if Pluto was not a Planet any more, how would I remember them?
    “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” wouldn’t make any sense…

  2. Anonymous says:

    I heard in newspapers that Pluto is going to disappear very soon. without saying the reason for that, you are talking about other things which I do not want to know at all.

  3. Uh huh… Thanks for sharing that. I think it’s time for your electro-shock treatment now, so hurry along!

  4. Bridg says:

    hey Dan…awesome website!! I’m really disapointed that Pluto is no longer considered a planet. I think that “they” (the scientists who debated on the subject) should not re-define the solar system. I think that since there has always been nine planets there always should be!!!

  5. David says:

    I agree with your assessment that we tend to dwell so much on words and definitions whether or not it can be classed as science. However, where else would we place a topic on the definition of planets and what they are in our solar system? I do like your grandfathering exception idea. That would preserve historical teaching and prior printed books. I will pick on one item though – in another blog entry, you talk about “dwarf planet” to which I agree with respect to political correctness. So, if we don’t care about language/words/defintions, should we care about political correctness? [I think we will always have discussions around language/words/definitions/classification. It is what we do!]

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Who is Daniel K. Appelquist?

I'm an American Ex-Pat living in London. I'm a father of two and husband of one. I am the Open Web Advocate for Telefónica Digital, focusing on the Open Web Device. I founded Mobile Monday London, Over the Air and the Mobile 2.0 conference series.

The opinions expressed here are my own, however, and neither Telefónica nor any other party necessarily agrees with them.

My books:
Mobile Internet for Dummies
XML and SQL

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