Hamilton, Madison, and Jay

This blog is devoted to a variety of topics including politics, current events, legal issues, and we even take the time to have some occasional fun. After all, blogging is about having a little fun, right?

Location: Mesa, Arizona, United States

Who are we? We're a married couple who has a passion for politics and current events. That's what this site is about. If you read us, you know what we stand for.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

IL legislature set to tackle toughest issue of their new session

Like the headline at Ace's place reads "Illinois Legislature Takes A Break From Impeaching Governors And Investigating Senators To Do Something Important..."

What's so important? What matter of great state gravity needs their attention at this very moment? What trumps Roland Burris's alleged perjury during his testimony before the state House?

Reversing the scientific community's declaration that Pluto isn't an planet, and designating it as, well, a planet. HT to Double-Plus Undead for this act of legislative @$$-hattery.

Like some sort of rulers of the universe, state lawmakers are considering restoring little Pluto's planetary status, casting aside the scientific community's 2006 decision downgrading the distant ice ball.

An Illinois Senate committee on Thursday unanimously supported planet Pluto and declaring March 13 "Pluto Day." The idea now moves to the full Senate for a vote.

(There's the first snort of this piece. Anyone know what day 13 March falls on? Yes, it's another Friday the 13th.)

The push for a state decree on Pluto comes from state Sen. Gary Dahl, a Republican whose downstate district includes Streator, birthplace of Pluto discoverer Clyde Tombaugh. Dahl told colleagues Pluto is important to the local community, which considers the vote to downgrade Pluto to "dwarf" planet was unfair as it involved only 4 percent of the International Astronomical Union's 10,000 scientists.

Dahl noted that Tombaugh is the only American ever to discover a planet. Tombaugh first detected Pluto in 1930 at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona.

Dahl called Thursday's committee vote a key step forward, not only for Pluto and Streator, but also for bipartisan cooperation in the Senate. He said previous Democratic leadership sat on the proposal last year but new Senate President John Cullerton let it advance.

Cullerton cast a humorous light on the vote in view of the recent partisan turmoil over political appointments and special elections in the state.

"I supported Senator Dahl's effort even though I was kind of surprised that apparently Pluto was decommissioned as a planet by a vote of scientists. But he claimed the vote was a very small percentage of the scientists," Cullerton said. "So he ... chose to have us basically appoint Pluto to be a planet rather than have a special election among the scientists."

(SNORT!!!) Folks, you can't make comedy like this up. So here's the Illinois legislature taking up this most important issue because one guy felt that the scientific community disrespected the discoverer of Pluto -- an Illinois resident, and the only American to ever discover a planet -- and took away his claim to fame. OK. I can do that. I mean, that would be like all the enviro-wackos out there voting that Thomas Edison didn't make the first light bulb. They did. Those retarded and highly hazardous compact fluorescent bulbs. (Frankly, I think the enviro-wackos are all a bunch of dim bulbs.)

But seriously, does the legislature have nothing better to do than this? Don't they have a budget to balance, or some investigations to run? Have they figured out how they're going to spend their cut of the Pork-A-Palooza yet, or did Mayor Daley already claim it all for himself? Sheesh, these guys are pathetic.

(For the record, both Marcie and I were taught Pluto was a planet. We believe Pluto is a planet. Pluto will always be a planet in our solar system. And we don't really give a rat's rear end what a bunch of revisionist scientists have to say on the matter.)

Publius II


Blogger Laurel Kornfeld said...

The Illinois Senate has way more sense than the International Astronomical Union has shown in two-and-a-half years. It's the IAU who have acted like idiots, with one tiny group forcing a nonsensical planet definition on everyone. The truth is there is NO scientific consensus that Pluto is not a planet. The criterion requiring that a planet "clear the neighborhood of its orbit" is not only controversial; it's so vague as to be meaningless. Only four percent of the IAU even voted on this, and the vote was driven by internal politics. A small group, most of whom are not planetary scientists, wanted to arbitrarily limit the number of planets to only the largest bodies in the solar system. They held their vote on the last day of a two-week conference with no absentee voting allowed. Their decision was immediately opposed by hundreds of professional astronomers in a formal petition led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto.

Stern and like-minded scientists favor a broader definition of planet that includes any non-self-luminous spheroidal body orbiting a star. The spherical part is key because when objects become large enough, they are shaped by gravity, which pulls them into a round shape, rather than by chemical bonds. This is true of planets and not of shapeless asteroids and comets. And yes, it does make Ceres, Eris, Haumea, and Makemake planets as well, for a total of 13 planets in our solar system.

Even now, many astronomers and lay people are working to overturn the IAU demotion or are ignoring it altogether. Kudos to the Illinois Senate for standing up to this closed, out of touch organization whose leadership thinks they can just issue a decree and change reality.

February 24, 2009 at 5:20 PM  

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