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Illinois Declares Pluto a Planet 512

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 Jeff DeMaagd ( 2015 ) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:04AM (#27090131) Homepage Journal

    There are now 8 planets in the UNIVERSE because they defined a planet as a body orbiting the sun. The definition sucks so I have no problem if states are defining a planet as something else than a small club of grey men(IAU).

    You can say that it's "just a definition", but I don't see where it's the place of a legislature to make scientific definitions to scientists. Legislatures supposedly have better things to do. If they don't, they should recess until that changes.

    The IAU definition of a planet is more extensive than that. Also, while I haven't read the IAU text, I doubt their definition means that there are only eight planets in the universe. The only thing I don't like about their definition is that their use of "dwarf" in "dwarf planet" basically means "not a planet", and I think that's inconsistent and improper use of the word.

  • Re:Woody Allen (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dargaud ( 518470 ) <> on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:12AM (#27090207) Homepage
    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.
  • Re:This just in (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dwandy ( 907337 ) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:39AM (#27090441) Homepage Journal
    At least Indiana [] came to it's senses before legislating the value of pi.
  • by ggraham412 ( 1492023 ) on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:41AM (#27090461)
    One could make the argument that the concept of "nine planets" is ingrained in popular culture. The scientific reasons why Pluto is not a planet are fairly technical, and scientists who try to explain this come off a bit like the annoying guy at a cocktail party who corrects your pronunciation. The natural inclination is to put that guy back in his place. It is a little ridiculous and unnecessary; when kicking out Pluto, the IAU could have at the same time declared that there are nine "historical planets" and left the technical discourse to people who are actually interested in that.
  • by hansamurai ( 907719 ) <> on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:50AM (#27090549) Homepage Journal

    But don't publishers try to sell "new editions" to the districts every six months, or is that only a college problem?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 06, 2009 @09:52AM (#27090585)

    Neptune will never "suck up" Pluto. They are in a 3:2 mean motion resonance, so although their orbits cross, they will never collide. [] []

  • by tompaulco ( 629533 ) on Friday March 06, 2009 @10:14AM (#27090837) Homepage Journal
    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 Meigs Field, stranding several aircraft owners and putting the airport's FBO out of business. However, there was also the Secratary of state George Ryan, who it was found was willing to just hand out CDL licenses, resulting in the death of 6 people in a crash in Wisconsin. His punishment was that they made him governor. Of course, he committed more crimes as governor and is now in jail. Then there is Senator Barack Obama, who only voted "present" on about 90% of the items brought before congress, and seems to have some kind of business relationship with a guest in our federal prisons buy the name of Tony Rezko. Apparently, Tony assisted in raising some funds for Barack's campaign and arranged for Barack to get a home at well under market price. Of course, there is the recent arrest of Governor Blagojevich. Of course, there's also Daniel Walker, Gus Savage, Jack Ryan, Lennington Small, and Otto Kerner.
    The dumbest thing the people of the U.S. could ever do is elect someone from Illinois to the highest position of power in the world. Congratulations citizens, my recommendation is that you invest in KY Jelly. It will help ease the pain.
  • 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 amentajo ( 1199437 ) on Friday March 06, 2009 @10:45AM (#27091199)

    There are now 8 planets in the UNIVERSE because they defined a planet as a body orbiting the sun. The definition sucks so I have no problem if states are defining a planet as something else than a small club of grey men(IAU).

    This statement is incorrect. The resolution in 2006 solely applied to bodies in the Solar system. Extrasolar bodies' planetary status were sorted out back in 2003:

    1. Objects with true masses below the limiting mass for thermonuclear fusion of deuterium (currently calculated to be 13 Jupiter masses for objects of solar metallicity) that orbit stars or stellar remnants are "planets" (no matter how they formed). The minimum mass required for an extrasolar object to be considered a planet should be the same as that used in our Solar System.

    2. Substellar objects with true masses above the limiting mass for thermonuclear fusion of deuterium are "brown dwarfs", no matter how they formed nor where they are located.

    3. Free-floating objects in young star clusters with masses below the limiting mass for thermonuclear fusion of deuterium are not "planets", but are "sub-brown dwarfs" (or whatever name is most appropriate). []

  • Re:Too right! (Score:3, Interesting)

    by wastedlife ( 1319259 ) on Friday March 06, 2009 @10:48AM (#27091241) Homepage Journal
    Where the hell did he get that definition then? Anywhere I've seen "planet" defined it mentions that it is bound by the gravity of a star. Where does it state that it has to orbit Sol?
  • by ScaledLizard ( 1430209 ) on Friday March 06, 2009 @11:57AM (#27092063)

    Neptune will never "suck up" Pluto. They are in a 3:2 mean motion resonance, so although their orbits cross, they will never collide.

    Doesn't that mean that Neptune isn't a planet, because it will never be able to "clear up other objects in its orbit"?

  • Re:Too right! (Score:5, Interesting)

    by canajin56 ( 660655 ) on Friday March 06, 2009 @12:00PM (#27092101)
    Isn't that how politicians do everything? No Child Left Behind tripled the amount of fresh veggies children were eating in cafeterias, by defining ketchup, relish, and French...sorry, FREEDOM fries as fresh vegetables, since they are all plant matter, and all WERE fresh before being cooked. Awesome work, children are eating healthier and they didn't even have to spend money on giving them different food than before! They also drastically reduced animal testing within the US by defining rodents and birds as non-animal vermin. For a grand finale, they redefined the poverty line, thus reducing the number of low income families! Then for an encore they changed the definition of what it means to be "unemployed" and drastically reduced unemployment! Truly amazing what you can to dramatically improve the country without doing anything other than changing the definitions of words!
  • 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.

  • by ameyer17 ( 935373 ) <> on Friday March 06, 2009 @02:15PM (#27093993) Homepage

    Not to mention that the legislature still hasn't passed a special elections law, even though Blagojevich was arrested almost three fucking months ago.
    Hell, they could pass a law declaring Roland Burris's appointment/senate seat purchase temporary and calling for a special election to replace his corrupt senate seat purchasing ass.
    Or they could spend their time trying to fix the state budget.
    But they have to waste their time on stupid shit like this.

If you want to put yourself on the map, publish your own map.