Debate Rages: Is Pluto Planet?

In an amusing bit of synchronicity, given my debate with Maryam over the relative geekiness of women in technology, scientists are debating the scientific definition of “planet.”

Two of the most important people in my adult life have been interested in the fields of ornithology and botany. Both fields suffered from periodic bouts between “the lumpers and the splitters” as one called them. Members of these communities could go on at great, and amusing, length about the relative merits of either combining or dividing species.

What suprised me about this the planet debate was once again learning that there is only a casual definition for something that I was taught in school had a fixed meaning. Ascribing axiomatic meaning to cultural notions is silly, at best (planet), and dangerous at worst (race).

Xena‘s discoverer Dr. Mike Brown, IIRC, commented on As it Happens that a scientific definition doesn’t have to be the same as a cultural definition.

Pluto Saved!

Updated 2006.08.16

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