This week, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced to the world that he is a fool that tosses science in the trash whenever it hurts his little feelings. No, he didn’t explicitly say this, what he did say was that he still believes Pluto to be a planet, but we can deduce the same thing.
Many people, especially young teens, advocate for a return of Pluto to the pantheon of planets, of which it was rightly revoked in 2006. This, like many other things supported by young people, is nonsense. Pluto is far too small to be a planet, it is even over-matched by rocks in the asteroid belt, such as Ceres and Juno. These rocks did not spawn movements when they were considered not planets, because they were never considered to be planets. Just like Pluto, they are simple, unremarkable stones floating around the sun, just one out of billions. Pluto does not deserve to be one of the planets: as long as scientific consensus is based on observable realities, there will be eight planets, for ever and ever.
This is part of a greater notion in society that it is “cool” to have feelings overpower knowledge. “You think.. Pluto isn’t a planet?” The Pluto supporter says. “Not the itty bitty wittle Pluterino! Nooo!!” He whines, waving his hands around. People become enamored with Pluto, because they consider it to be small and therefore “cute”. I propose a different perspective; it is small, and therefore weak. And insignificant. And worthless. And (important) not a planet.
If Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin could not manage to take off from the moon, and thus could not rejoin the Lunar Module, and were therefore doomed to die on the cold lunar surface, and in their last moments they saw the future of the science fascinated generation they would inspire with their courageous and heartbreaking act, and they saw a bunch of wimps who consider little Pluto to be a planet, they would have been nauseated and liable to throw up inside their space helmets.
When ancient people looked up at the night sky, they saw images of their heroes – Orion, Hercules, Big Dipper – painted in the stars. I can only hope that one day I will look up at the sky, and see little Pluto losing its gravitational bond with the sun and drifting, further and further, out of sight: it’s a miracle.