In fact Pluto is under attack! At this very moment, by a band of hostile earthlings 3,000 strong, based in Prague, The Czech Republic.
Is the planet about to be overrun by a platoon of guerilla fighters? Have long-range nuclear missiles been targeted on the Ninth Planet to bring about its utter destruction?
No, but Pluto is fighting for its planetary life nonetheless! By the time these nefarious schemers have their way, Pluto may be reduced to nothing more than a ball of ice and rock. Forever relegated to the anonymity of the Kuiper Belt. And that's the honest truth!
For the next two weeks a group of mad scientists will be meeting in Prague. Their goal: to define just exactly what constitutes the legal definition of a planet. Like a denizen of congressional staffers, cloistered away deep within the bowels of the capitol building, these mad scientists may well legislate poor Pluto out of existence!
Here are some excerpts of news dispatches from this loathsome lot:
"The International Astronomical Union (IAU) has gathered in Prague to finally settle a matter of galactic import: whether Pluto is in fact a planet or should be relegated to the second division of Kuiper Belt Objects and similar detritus (space junk). . . "And then there's this:
"Astronomers have to date failed dismally to agree what exactly constitutes a planet . . "
"In defining for the first time what exactly a planet is, the International Astronomers Union (IAU) may be forced to downgrade Pluto's status, or add as many as 14 others. . .Pluto has a moon, Charon, that is more than half the size of Pluto itself. Scientists tsk-tsk this fact: " Oh, the heresy! No self-respecting planet would have a moon that big in relative size to itself!" Unless, of course, you consider that the next largest moon relative to its planet -- earth and our moon!
Such a decision would send shockwaves through the scientific community, instantly outdate textbooks, and cause educators to re-teach the basics of our solar system. . .
Debate has raged within the scientific community over the status of Pluto for decades after the planet was found to be only one four-hundredths of the mass of the earth. . . Astronomers thought it was the same size as Earth, but later found it was smaller than Earth's moon."
The spectre of international politics has raised its ugly head at the IAU convention too. Pluto was originally discovered in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, an American. (Pluto is the only planet to be discovered by an American.) Current anti-American feelings among these snooty Euro scientists (because of the Iraq war, among other things), may play a role in Pluto's chances to remain a planet. I suppose if Pluto is demoted from planet to a mere Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) or "ice dwarf" -- it will George W. Bush's fault (of course!)
If Pluto is demoted, there will be heck to pay from American schoolchildren:
"Indeed, the US has a soft spot for Pluto, and any attempt to downgrade its status will certainly upset large numbers of fanatical schoolkids such as those who in 2000 bombarded the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York with "hate mail" after it omitted the planet from a solar system exhibit."Yes, Pluto is on trial for its life. It faces excommunication from our solar system. It is not politically correct, and its out of date! We should know the decision of the IAU on August 25, 2006.
It may take the schoolchildren of America to save the solar system as we know it!
Robert Williams, a vice president of the International Astronomical Union who's "deeply involved in the deliberations on Pluto", admitted:
"My niece said to me, 'Are you going to demote Pluto?'. "Williams did, nonetheless, show his icy scientific cool with: "If that's the way it is, that's what we do. It's not written in stone anywhere there's got to be a numerable number of planets. If it upsets schoolchildren, I regret that."
See, I told you they were snooty!