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Posted By: Ito on: 02/16/2013 04:13:18 ET
Subject: jlRIAnlaieO

Message Detail:
Paul and Adam, you may be exactly right about the Pluto v. Neptune issue, but I still think the rloeoutisn is poorly worded and ill defined. Again, it could simply be that I don't have the requisite background in the field.HAA, wow. I thought the IAU were just slapdash. It turns out they're bastards too. Thanks for spreading the word.Adam and Mary, I think this is a fantastic opportunity for educators to explain some neat concepts. Think about it. Pluto did not change, but astronomer's definition of a word did. All of the sudden, Pluto is (in some sense) no longer what it used to be. That's weird. Language, communication and reality mix in some pretty interesting ways.But I disagree with grandfathering Pluto into the astronomical definition of the word planet . There's nothing wrong with having a scientific definition of a word that doesn't jive with a cultural definition. We're talking about two different contexts, afterall. But I think scientific definitions should be very precisely defined and rigorously applied. Culturally, go ahead and call Pluto a planet. But if it is not defined to be so in the context of scientific astronomy, don't call it one in that context.As for textbooks, they're are always out of date. Every scientific field is constantly changing. Additionally new texts are only purchased once every five ten years in most schools (unfounded claim). There's no need to rush things, just say Astronomers define a planet as [so on and so forth] and state that there are eight planets in our solar system in the next edition.
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