Friday, August 25, 2006
Now that Pluto has been demoted to a "dwarf planet", it may be necessary to come up with a new mnemonic device for naming the planets. I've heard "My Very Excellent Mother Just Sent Us Nachos" suggested, but it doesn't work as well, since nachos, unlike pizzas, are not usually delivered.
Pluto's demotion surely illustrates an important difference between scientists and lawyers. Lawyers would have come up with a way to define "planet" that would grandfather in Pluto and yet avoid the possibility of having to recognize 3,000 oddball planets. Maybe the lawyerly solution would not have been as neat and elegant as the scientific solution and maybe it would have caused problems somewhere down the road, but in the grand tradition of Edmund Burke it would have avoided distressing an elderly widow lady.
Pluto was my favorite planet. I guess now it's my favorite dwarf planet.