Monday, June 8, 2009

Well, tradition is important to society but I'm not sure it should be allowed to override science in this case. Think about future generations. Sure, we grew up with Pluto as a planet, but if we tell our children that Pluto is a planet, even though by scientific definition it's not, then all we're doing is teaching a lie. I don't think future generations should be taught falsities because we're too uncomfortable with deviations from tradition. Part of the beauty of science is that it is always changing. If we don't accept the changes in perspective that science brings to the modern world than we might as well go back to the days of Galileo when tradition prevented the advancement of science completely.

1 comment:

  1. Not. . . A. . . Planet. . . Charon is too large to be called a conventional moon, and the two revolve around each other. The center of mass of the orbiting system is actually outside of Pluto. The classification of Pluto as a planet was a mistake made over seventy years ago, and it was past due for correction. Science is based philosophically on the ability to change in world view with new evidence. With the discovery of multitudinous other dwarf planets (some of which are larger than Pluto), scientists are presented with two options: The first is to classify any decent sized hunk of debris orbiting the sun as a planet, and make elementary schoolers memorize a two-hundred letter mnemonic for the solar system. This presents the problem of completely watering-down the definition of planet and corrupting the meaning from what we learned in elementary school. Also, many of these dwarf planets share little in common with the traditional planets. I believe the second option, which was followed, was the more logical and better scientifically and culturally, and while categorization nearly always boils down to semantics, Pluto's status is an example of flexibility of science, and is to be celebrated, not deplored. Today's children may grumble at the new mnemonics, but those they memorize will be more worthwhile.