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Posted By: ex on: 09/6/2007 12:00:48 ET
Subject: Eris at the gates (beware of Greeks bearing myths...)

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The mytological name of Eris was assigned to 2003 UB313 because its discovery created a tense debat about "planet" definition.

The discovery of 1992 QB1 proved the existence of Kuiper Belt and brought on the disagreement of Pluto as a planet by some astronomers. Almost ten years later, the discovery of 2003 UB313 (Eris) made crucial the debat, and less than a month after the IAU resolution about planet definition, they decided to give Eris name to 2003 UB313 because of the tense debat than brought on its discovery.

That is a meaningful sincronic event recognized by astronomers.

i wonder if maybe we would be in error to hinge astrological interpretations of this new body based on the one scant story of the fateful apple. this myth seems to fall into the "blame woman for all the world's ills" category. We could heap it in with the tale of Pandora and the tale of Eve and the apple. The Trojan War which these four women supposedly started presaged the collapse of Mycenaen civilization and the start of the 500 year Greek "dark ages". Will we in the future spin myths out of the carnage that was World War 2, blaming it on the vainglorious mechanations of Mata Hari, Eva Braun and Eleanor Roosevelt? For Pete's sake, i believe that Aristophane's play "Lysistarata" made clear which of the sexes was held to be behind the bloodletting of the time that heaped so much misery on the heads of the Greek women.

Does a room full of squabbling astronomers compare to a sea full of 1000 Greek ships and the collapse of a civilization? I'm a bit skeptical here. Even one of the the discoverers of Eris, Michael Brown, admits that the IAU made the right decision in the downgrading of Pluto, just as Paris made the logical choice in deciding which Goddess was the most beautiful. I believe that the real signifigance of Eris' discovery was not that some scientists quibbled for a time, but that a large segment of the population was made conscious of the Kuiper belt and the scattered disc objects like Eris beyond. time will tell.

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