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Illinois Declares Pluto a Planet 512

Posted by timothy
from the after-ruling-out-pebble-and-mailing-tube dept.
The Bad Astronomer writes "The legislators in Illinois, always on the lookout for more places to find voters, have passed a resolution declaring Pluto is a planet. I'm not sure what else can be said here, except that — besides overstepping their jurisdiction just a wee bit — they make a couple of scientific howlers in the resolution itself."
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Illinois Declares Pluto a Planet

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  • by Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) on Friday March 06, 2009 @08:46AM (#27090005)

    Everybody knows Pluto is a dog.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06, 2009 @08:47AM (#27090017)

    Slashdot declares Illinois retarded

  • by mc1138 (718275) on Friday March 06, 2009 @08:49AM (#27090023) Homepage
    Why no one trusts them to get things done anymore... We're in the biggest financial crisis in years and they spent the time to declare Pluto a planet. It means nothing, is non binding, and shows a huge disconnect between the political scene and the general populace.
    • by Notquitecajun (1073646) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:12AM (#27090209)
      Frankly, the more time they spend doing silly crap like this, the less time the spend screwing something important up. It's too bad it wastes tax dollars to do it, though...
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by dotancohen (1015143)

        Frankly, the more time they spend doing silly crap like this, the less time the spend screwing something important up. It's too bad it wastes tax dollars to do it, though...

        Would you rather that they go after hookers on craigslist?

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      But -- they did it for the children! We wouldn't want children to become confused with Pluto being listed as a planet in their old, out-of-date text books while the general consensus in the scientific community is that Pluto is a big snowball. Declare legislatively that Pluto is a planet and -- poof -- there you go! No more confused children!
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by tompaulco (629533)
      As a former resident of Illinois, the politicians of Illinois are vastly more corrupt and dangerous than politicians from any other state I have lived in, with the notable exception of Mayor Roger C. Claar of Bolingbrook, every single Mayor, Judge, Governor, Senator and Secretary of State that I have met or knew of has been dangerously corrupt. Most notably, Mayor Richard Daley, who under cover of darkness, used the people's money to carve huge trenches in the people's runway at the people's airport of Meig
    • I live in Illinois, and just took some time from work to make two calls expressing my displeasure at the silliness.

      I got a hold of a live person at Represeative "Bob" Ritas office and left a message for State Senator Emil Jones. Anyone else in Illinois should do the same with their representatives.

      As an "Illinoisan," I apologize for the circus that is our state government. I am officially fed up.

  • they thought they were doling out justice, but they got confused because Pluto is just ice.

    Although they can measure in different ways I wouldn't act like such a jackass unless you've actually been to the planet.

    Also who cares what it's called. I see it as refreshing that they're at least not trying to deny its existence like the ID crowd do with evolution.

    • by MosesJones (55544)

      I've been there it sucks. I was hoping to get some decent snowboarding in but there wasn't any powder and the ice was just shredded into pieces more like rocks than ice if you ask me. In the end we just gave up and went to Titan where the conditions are always reliable.

      Now you might see it at refreshing that politicians think they can legislate on scientific issues but this is really just a less idiotic case of people legislating PI to be 3. Those folks didn't deny the existence of PI but they did think

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by LingNoi (1066278)

        This is nothing like say PI is 3. One state declaring it a planet has no effect on the rest of the world or even the people in the state.

        Before you get so strung up on "politicians think they can legislate on scientific issues" I'd just like to remind you it was a bunch on elitist assholes in the first place that declared it wasn't in fact a planet anymore.

  • by roman_mir (125474) on Friday March 06, 2009 @08:54AM (#27090061) Homepage Journal

    and I declare Illinois a corn field.

  • Check the track record of leaders. Less than squeaky-clean past governors and other politicians with criminal records (mostly corruption-related)... what's that place called... Crook County?

    I was personally shaken down in Champaign just this past week. (I'll spell it out some other time, when pending legal action I am taking is concluded.)

    I went out of my way not to drink any of the water in Illinois, so as not to become personally corrupted by whatever may be in it.

  • Reminds me of story by Woddy Allen where two university professors had an argument about whether the bell marked the ending of a lesson or the beginning of a new one.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by dargaud (518470)
      Easy to solve, does the first lesson in the morning start with a bell ? Does the last one in the evening end with a bell ? And if it's like Europe where church bells ring every hour (including the damn night), all bets are off.
  • Press: "When will we send a man to our new planet Pluto?

    Illinois legislature: "As soon as Rod Blagojevich has his bags packed."

  • In other news... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dachannien (617929) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:09AM (#27090181)

    In other news, a giant robotic Neil deGrasse Tyson was seen bursting through the walls of the Illinois Capitol Building, saying, "Pluto is a Plutoid. You have 30 seconds to comply."

  • by teslar (706653) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:15AM (#27090233)
    People of Illinois,

    we have duly noted your recent reconsideration of Pluto and its classification. We appreciate this sign of good-will and will take it into account in our upcoming invasion of Earth.
    Although I can make no promises at this point, I am able to inform you that sparing your lives is currently viewed favourably amongst our population.

    Yours sincerely,
    Gral Rex,
    Minister of Earth Affairs, Government of Pluto

    p.s. to the rest of mankind: You are all still toast.
  • by rlp (11898) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:16AM (#27090239)

    Being a planet is a valuable thing. So, how much did it cost Pluto?

  • You can't legislate a fact. The Catholic church couldn't make the world flat, no matter how hard they tried. This is no different.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:27AM (#27090315)

    If Pluto isn't a planet, it will cost a bunch of money to replace all the fifty year old science texts.

    If Pluto is a planet, they can keep using the fifty year old science texts.

    What, you think I'm kidding! You obviously aren't a teacher.

  • My grandfather taught me when I was 8 that there are four inner (solid) planets, and four outer (gaseous) planets, separated by the asteroid belt. Anything else is not a planet, and Pluto certainly should not be.

    But oh, if Illinois says it's true then it must be!

  • I can see the revised textbooks now:

    "Pluto is the second largest dwarf planet* in the Solar System's Kuiper Belt.

    * Except in the State of Illinois."

  • ...Uranus is Blagojevich what do you expect.
  • by Stoutlimb (143245) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:42AM (#27090477)

    The law is written thusly: "that as Pluto passes overhead through Illinois night skies, that it be reestablished with full planetary status"

    Because Illinois is a northerly state... does Pluto ever actually pass "overhead"? Ever? Pluto's orbital inclination to the sun is about 11 degrees at maximum. The latitude of Illinois is much higher than that, at about 36 degrees. So Pluto may never pass through their air space, even if the borders of Illinois are extended upwards to infinity.

    But since Pluto can never truly be "overhead", does that mean the law never actually goes into effect?

    Comments? Suggestions?

    • by the_other_chewey (1119125) on Friday March 06, 2009 @10:30AM (#27091027)

      Because Illinois is a northerly state... does Pluto ever actually pass "overhead"? Ever?

      Yes.

      Pluto's orbital inclination to the sun is about 11 degrees at maximum. The latitude of Illinois is much higher than that, at about 36 degrees. So Pluto may never pass through their air space, even if the borders of Illinois are extended upwards to infinity.

      You are thinking about the inclination relative to the sun's equator - however, Pluto's orbital inclination to the Earth's plane is more than that: A bit over 17 degrees.
      Earth's own axis is tilted 23.5 degrees, and as there's no obvious integer resonance between their orbital periods, Pluto will at some time be visible overhead at as
      high as +/- ~40.5 degrees (17+23.5) - which is surprisingly close to Chicago's latitude of ~41 degrees. So either they got lucky, or someone actually thought about that.

      However, Pluto right now is at 17.5 degrees south, so it will never be in zenith north of 6 degrees north (23.5-17.5) or - very roughly - Panama. And due to Pluto's loooooong orbital period of
      about 250 Earth years, this will not change significantly for a very long time.

      On an unrelated note: WhyTF is slashdot eating my degree signs - and not allowing the ampersand HTML entity?

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Bob Hearn (61879)

        You are thinking about the inclination relative to the sun's equator - however, Pluto's orbital inclination to the Earth's plane is more than that: A bit over 17 degrees.

        Earth's own axis is tilted 23.5 degrees, and as there's no obvious integer resonance between their orbital periods, Pluto will at some time be visible overhead at as

        high as +/- ~40.5 degrees (17+23.5) - which is surprisingly close to Chicago's latitude of ~41 degrees. So either they got lucky, or someone actually thought about that.

        No, not quite. You're assuming that the ascending node of Pluto lines up perfectly with the current axis of the Earth, so that when Pluto is 17 degrees above the ecliptic, it's also at its most northerly. But that isn't actually the case.

        Pluto's highest declination (angle above the plane of the Earth's equator) is actually only about 24 degrees. So, in fact Pluto does *not* ever pass directly overhead in Illinois.

        Unless you want to wait for the Earth's axis to precess to the right alignment. That cycle take

  • Never gonna happen (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AlpineR (32307) <wagnerr@umich.edu> on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:55AM (#27090607) Homepage

    This resolution will never kick in, will it? The text says:

    RESOLVED [...] that as Pluto passes overhead through Illinois' night skies, that it be reestablished with full planetary status....

    But Pluto will never be directly overhead in Illinois. The state is too far from the equator to ever get pointed straight at the ecliptic. Or does the tilt of Earth's axis and the inclination of Pluto's orbit really put it overhead of Illinois once in a while? Any astronomy nerds care to calculate when that will happen?

    • by iris-n (1276146) on Friday March 06, 2009 @10:25AM (#27090959)

      Well, Pluto's orbit is about 16Â farther from the plane than Earth's. Illinois' latitude is about 37Â, and Earth's axial tilt is about 23.5Â. So, we can have a minimum of 13.5Â of Illinois' "overhead" to the earth's plane, and a maximum of 60.5Â. So the orbit of Pluto is indeed overhead Illinois many times in the american summer. The odds that Pluto itself is in the spot are astronomically (literally) low.

      PS: Fuck slashdot and it's lack of unicode support. And while we're at it, inline TeX would be nice to.

  • by vmxeo (173325) on Friday March 06, 2009 @10:02AM (#27090693) Homepage Journal
    CHICAGO - Federal authorities have indicted several Illinios Senators on corruption charges after an undercover investigation. According to tapes released, Senators called a number of planetoids asking "what they could get" for the title of planet. Rod Blagojevich was unavailable for comment.
  • by Povno (1460131) on Friday March 06, 2009 @12:04PM (#27092169)
    Pluto: "I'm being what?"

    Astrological society: "Demoted... you're being demoted."

    Pluto: "I don't understand... why?"

    Astrological society: "Honestly, your just not up to code, you know? Most planets have certain criteria they must follow, criteria that you just don't meet. You understand right?"

    Pluto: "I sure as hell do not!"

    Astrological society: "Well, it's like this... realistically... well, your an ice cube, basically and well... we mistook for a real planet. But we do apologize for the confusion."

    Pluto: "OMG. This is so embarrassing."

    Illinois: "It's okay Pluto we understand. Hey... how would like to be governor? Seriously, we have a spot open all the time? Tell you what, if you agree to govern us then we'll let you be a planet."

    Pluto: "Uhm... you do realize that in all reality, I am a giant ice cube right?"

    Illinois: "That is neither her nor there... look, when the time is right... it'll happen. You seem like a smart fellow, and together I think we can get a lot accomplished. Just remember though, when things go bad, you have to go back to being an ice cube. We don't need you parading your mistakes around for the whole galaxy to see like that last guy."
  • by mopomi (696055) on Friday March 06, 2009 @12:56PM (#27092843)
    Why is it that the people of Slashdot always seem to get their panties in a twist over things they don't even bother to read?

    The actual resolution is:

    RESOLVED, BY THE SENATE OF THE NINETY-SIXTH GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, that as Pluto passes overhead through Illinois' night skies, that it be reestablished with full planetary status, and that March 13, 2009 be declared "Pluto Day" in the State of Illinois in honor of the date its discovery was announced in 1930.

    So, all this really says is that 1) the Illinois State Senate would like to see Pluto reestablished, in name, as a planet, and 2) that March 13, 2009 is declared "Pluto Day". There's nothing here about requiring the science books to be changed in Illinois, nothing about legislating the value of Pi, nothing important. Did anyone bother to go through the other resolutions that the 96th general assembly pass? Are they meddling in peoples' ages by passing a resolution that citizens over the age of 49 should be, in their opinion, considered wise and be treated with respect?

    Here's why this is important. If this silly overreaction to unimportant issues continues, when it is finally important, your voices are ignored because you all sound like a bunch of whining losers who don't understand the difference between a law and a resolution so your opinion is unimportant.

    • With Blago, Burris, Todd Stroger's extreme Cook county sales taxes (Chicago for the rest of you), Sheriff Tom Dart suing craigslist...

      I'm embarrassed to live here. Passing a "Pluto is a planet" resolution is over the top for this legislature compared with all the other fun stuff going on. It furthers Illinois as a laughing stock, tarnishing the reputation of the state, it's people and businesses.

      That is reason enough to get my goat, straw that bropke the camels back per se and make some phone calls and try and remind my representatives to get the bleep on track.

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