Friday, August 25, 2006

And the Cosmos Shifted

So Pluto's officially no longer a planet. Is that weird or what?

I actually think that it's kind of exciting. Not quite on the level of Galileo destroying the heliocentric theory, but still an important change in our understanding of the cosmos.

I've read/heard in several different stories the concern that the mnemonic device "My Very Educated Mother ..." won't work anymore for remembering the planets. Is this really that traumatic? Have we become so uncreative that we can't think of a new one, sans "P"? Surely they could turn the creation of a new mnemonic device into a reality TV show. Contestants battle it out to have their phrase win and be memorized by American gradeschoolers for decades to come. (I would say "time immemorial," but we've just learned that these things are not, in fact, set in stone.)

It's fascinating to realize how little we really understand not only our world, but the galaxy and greater cosmos.

I just hope that politicians don't start arguing that this is another sign of easier grading and dumbing down the curriculum to improve test scores.


Amy said...

The news report I saw mentioned how all the textbooks need to be updated, and that made me think of whether we would have to update any of our lesson plans.

Since we don't do too much on the science/math tip (thank goodness), I think there is maybe just one lesson in a middle school unit that deals with the solar system. Perhaps I should do something approximating actual work and go look into it.


cat said...

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles. Problem solved!

My dad (a Trekkie) and I were talking about all of this reclassification stuff the other day. We agreed that some of these scientists aren't even being consistent to their own definitions--namely, wanting to redifine planet including the specific criteria that a planet does not orbit another body as a satellite but at the same time, classify a couple of large satellites as planets.

I would rather forget all of this space nonsense and concentrate on changing over to the metric system.

Also, your mom's blog is lovely. I love Old Woman Creek and got all nostalgic when I saw it mentioned. Had several great canoe trips there. Now I miss it all over again.

Amy said...

Great minds think alike?

So, first you post on Ken Jennings and mention that he hasn't missed a day. Then you muse on Pluto.

I surfed over to KJ's site, and saw that he gave his take on the whole Pluto kerfluffle, and then warned us that he is going to (gasp!) miss a day of posting!!

I like his reason for doing it, though. (I'm not going to mention the reason why here -- go to his site and find out.)

M. Lubbers said...

Amy: I know! I was quite excited when I read KJ's blog to see we'd blogged about the same thing.

I remember, way back when, in my New Year's Resolutions I claimed I would blog every work day (M-F excluding national holidays). Umm, yeah. That didn't last very long. I'm impressed that he's kept up DAILY blogging for this long. But the moment of virtual silence is definitely appropriate.

The only thing that would have made his post better is if he had sent readers in my direction. It's only fair--I did it for you, Ken!

Amy said...

Well, you could go on his message boards and leave a note and a link to your site, and it would serve the same basic purpose . . . but I guess that's not the same as getting a personal shout-out from Mr. Trivia himself.