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Tenth Unnecessary Planet

   [For comic relief, today's Rough Draft column.]

   There was a time when the solar system, like life itself, was simple and orderly. There were nine planets, one asteroid belt and a reasonable number of well-behaving moons. The planets orbited the sun in a predictable fashion. Everything seemed not only neat and tidy, but rather bourgeois.

   That solar system has been destroyed by the latest generation of astronomers. You may have heard that there's now a 10th planet. No one needed a 10th planet, no one really wanted a 10th planet, but it's there, and now there's not a dang thing anyone can do about it.

    [Click here to read the entire column.]

By Joel Achenbach  |  September 4, 2005; 11:23 AM ET
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I think Pluto should stay a planet. The thing has been one for about a century. Downgrading it might give it such a shock to it's sence of self that it might reap revenge by bending an incoming comet a little bit more than it normally would so that it lands straight on the International Astronomic Societies HQ instead of missing earth all together.

Is it planetudinals or is it Planetudeniales?

Posted by: Eurtrash | September 4, 2005 12:49 PM | Report abuse

SCC: "Bending the path of ..."

Posted by: Eurotrash | September 4, 2005 12:51 PM | Report abuse

Sorry I can't make a reasonable comment on today's column, Joel, but my mind has been focused on a different planet for the past week. Ours.

While I've tried to give them the benefit of the doubt, I'm now convinced that Chertoff and Brown "blew it" big time on Katrina. However, like their counterpart, George Tenent, who blew it on W.M.D., I expect they will receive Presidential Metal of Freedom awards in the Rose Garden in a few weeks.

Posted by: JAG | September 4, 2005 1:22 PM | Report abuse

Ah, a little break from the Katrina and the Aftermath.

The debate about the exact definition of "planet" has been going on for a long time, as there's been a lot of well-founded suspicion that there would be sizeable KBOs once there were tools to have a good look. IIRC, Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1932, and I seem to remember reading somewhere that he thought there would be more.

Is 10 enough? As soon as someone comes up with a defintition that everybody can agree on, I'm going to say: nope.

More later, need to go back to feeling depressed about Iraq, Katrina, Bush, and the fact that there are now two openings in the Supreme Court.

Wouldn't it be ironic if as the Supreme Court became more conservative, the country suddenly veered to the left?


Posted by: bc | September 4, 2005 4:42 PM | Report abuse

SCC entry, second to last sentence: "on the Supreme Court bench".


Posted by: bc | September 4, 2005 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Second SCC entry, replace "As soon as" with "Until". Ech.


Posted by: bc | September 4, 2005 4:45 PM | Report abuse

We should limit planet membership to the ones counted by Galileo - seven? We can call the rest pseudo-planets, or postmodern-planets.

I thought an Oort cloud is what you raise by turning over a sofa cushion.

Posted by: Videlicet | September 4, 2005 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Hey, we can get the planets on the decimal system now. Nothing wrong with that, is there?

Posted by: pj | September 4, 2005 7:09 PM | Report abuse

It's messy out there. We've gone from Music of the Spheres to something like Schnittke in his "polystylism" phase (I still can't believe the USSR Ministry of Culture actually sold CDs of his first symphony, which sort of borrowed everything from Beethoven to Hendrix).

Posted by: Dave | September 4, 2005 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Thank you for posting this--as you infer, we are in need of comic relief.

CyberPerson wishes to point out that last week's Rough Draft column is still not in the online magazine, even though it reportedly was in the physical, printed version. (It is also not in any archives.)

The excerpts that were posted by Achenfan failed to compensate for the lack of the column.

Could Achenbach possibly facilitate the online access to this column? Thanks again.

Posted by: CyberPerson | September 5, 2005 7:58 AM | Report abuse

I have squawked about the lack of an online version of the last two Rough Drafts. Officials from the Department of Homeland Security are taking action. Expect the column to be posted within two months.

Posted by: Achenbach | September 5, 2005 8:27 AM | Report abuse

pj: How do you know we shouldn't be counting the planets in hex?

Are there any Isaac Asimovs out there writing pop Astronomy books?

I was just reading Freakonomics, and in a paragraph about correlation vs. causation, the authors note that since it was shown that children whose parents keep books at home do better in school, the Illinois governor proposed a program to mail a book to every schoolkid every six months. The legistlature voted down the proposal, too bad, I wonder if it would've worked?

Posted by: Videlicet | September 5, 2005 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Maybe we need to inject a racial component into this planetary discussion to get more posts?

Posted by: Videlicet | September 5, 2005 7:09 PM | Report abuse

Maybe we will have to start counting them in hex, Videlicit. Get those telescopes out and start looking. The more planets, the merrier, I say.

Posted by: pj | September 6, 2005 10:26 AM | Report abuse

As far as science "always telling us things we don't really want to know," it comforts me to know that many Americans are able to use their religious beliefs as replacements for things that are too hard for them to understand (like the origins of the universe, when human life begins, evolution, and why Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans).

Posted by: byoolin | September 7, 2005 10:06 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Mac of all drez | September 1, 2006 1:00 PM | Report abuse

If you wanna live you gotta THIZZ!!!

Posted by: Mac of all drez | September 1, 2006 1:01 PM | Report abuse

If you wanna live you gotta THIZZ!!!

Posted by: Mac of all drez | September 1, 2006 1:01 PM | Report abuse

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