Monday, June 16, 2008

Plutoids, Super Earths and Justin Trudeau

I have to say, I was happy that Dale posted on the Pluto thing. I'm with him completely (and not just because he's always been really nice to me in five years of blogging, neither).

A Traditionalist in all things, I'd like to say I'm an Old Solarist too. Pluto was a planet all the while I was in school doing class projects on the solar system; don't see why it isn't one now. (I'm sure there must be some way in which it is connected to the Vast Plot to Destroy Civilization. Some way.)

And "Plutoids"?! Puh-Leeeze!

I'm also heavily against any attempt to name any celestial bodies after non-Greek mythical persons. So, can we just hold the political correctness thing for a while? Can we just give a pass to names from the Inuit/Borneo/Pygmy legends? When you can show me that a society has established a system of thought, literature and governance that lasts five thousand years and forms the foundation of the greatest civilization the world has ever seen, you can name asteroids after their myths, m-kay? Or maybe just show me that they've mastered the intricacies of weaving cloth and making wheels.

I once remarked to one of my really smarty-smart math-friends (advanced degree in electrical engineering) that I have always been very frustrated not being a number person. "There's diferent kinds of smart, Hilary" he said (not at all smugly. Not at all). I said yeah, but I wished I had the kind that paid better. Math-smart pays. Words? Meh. Not so much.

When I was in school, and usually crying in math class, my mum was sailing effortlessly through an undergraduate degree in mathematics, from which she went on to egineering school. I've been traumatised ever since she tried to teach me algebra.

But astronomy was something I never aspired to. I just held astronomers in awe. I read a lot of Arthur C. Clarke when I was younger and I thought that astronomers just walked around all the time in a parallel universe, slightly out of phase with ours, in which we could see them, and they could see us, but no communication was possible.

I wish I could be like them. Living up there in their cloud-city, wearing their shimmery clothes, looking through their fabulous star-watching machines...Oh well...back to the Zenite mine.

But there's more interesting news from up in the sky:
European researchers said on Monday they discovered a batch of three "super-Earths" orbiting a nearby star, and two other solar systems with small planets as well.

They said their findings, presented at a conference in France, suggest that Earth-like planets may be very common.

"Does every single star harbour planets and, if yes, how many?" asked Michel Mayor of Switzerland's Geneva Observatory. "We may not yet know the answer but we are making huge progress towards it," Mayor said in a statement.


I'm probably way behind in my Cloud City Gazettes, but I thought that "recent findings" had it that there were actually very few planets, at least, planets like ours, in the galaxy. I remember that this was a big deal to the people who are still hoping to find someone else out there, that there just didn't seem all that many places where the little grey men could be hiding.

So, it looks as if Justin might have a chance, when he is annointed Ruler for Life of Trudeaupia, to extend his munificent largesse to extraterrestrials after all.

(Am I the only one who gets the screaming willies watching this guy? Actually, watching this video...mmmm...come to think of it, do we really need more proof that the little grey guys have "been here a very long time"? Look into Justin's eyes while he talks about...whatever it is he's talking about.)

(On second thoughts, don't. DON'T look into Justin's eyes at any time.)


Mark S. Abeln said...

"Math-smart pays."

Only until roughly the age of 40 or so, as I have found out by hard experience. Engineering, math, science, computers, and so forth, are young men's trades.

When I was young, I wanted to be an architect, and design cathedrals (and that was even before I was Catholic!). In that trade, it is nearly impossible to get a commission before the age of 40.

Anonymous said...

I suppose this isn't a good time to mention that I happen to be a mechanical engineer....

Mark S. Abeln said...

Sorry Kathleen!