Pluto is not a planet but Neptune is?

Filed under: news,physics @ 16:28

Today’s IAU vote reduced the solar system’s planet count to eight. No, Pluto has not been forcibly removed from orbit for bad behavior, it has merely been demoted; Pluto has been designated a “dwarf planet” since it fails to meet the newly defined criteria for planetary status.

A “planet” is a celestial body that (a) is in orbit around the Sun, (b) has sufficient mass for its self-gravity to overcome rigid body forces so that it assumes a hydrostatic equilibrium (nearly round) shape, and (c) has cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit.

It is the third test that Pluto fails; it has not “cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit” (whatever that means) since its orbit and Neptune’s overlap.

Fair enough. Too bad, Pluto.

But just as Pluto’s and Neptune’s respective orbits overlap, so too do Neptune’s and Pluto’s. Neptune, then, has not “cleared the neighbourhood around its orbit” either.

Perhaps I’m missing something in the highly rigorous definitions of “to clear” and “neighbourhood”, but it seems the new rules have been inconsistently applied to yield an ‘eight planet system’.

I should also point out that the new definitions do nothing to define the status of bodies orbiting other stars since all of the language used refers to “the sun” and “the solar system”. Are the IAU resolutions science, then, or just self-important verbiage?

I hope my confusion comes only from my ignorance and that there’s a good answer to all of this.


The best songs are the sad songs

Filed under: a group of folks,music,slice,useless @ 14:35

I had a debate with Michelle the other day that started with me making the statement above. My argument was that artists are going to spend a long time composing and brooding over a work of sadness because they have nothing better to do; they’re sad. A happy song, however, will be written quickly; the artist has better things to be getting on with.

Now, I know there will be many who disagree with this assessment (or the conclusion), so allow me to seal the deal by offering up a concrete example grounded in objectivity that will surely convince even the most fervorous of dissenters: Elliott Smith v. The Village People.

As long as nobody brings up Belle and Sebastian, I think we’ve got that all settled.


Death Cab and Spoon at the Greek

Filed under: a group of folks,music @ 10:32

Depending on whether or not someone else grabs it first, I may have an extra ticket for the Death Can for Cutie and Spoon concert tonight at the Greek Theatre.

Get in touch with… Greg or Ellen or Paul.za if you want it (or me by phone); I’m at the beach today.


Pacific Coast Highway

Filed under: a group of folks,neat!,photos @ 23:22

Michelle and I drove down a portion of the after our WordCamp inspired trip to the bay area. (I should note that the section of Highway 1 we were on is not officially called the Pacific Coast Highway according to the hard to parse wikipedia entry.)
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Filed under: blogging,neat!,wordpress @ 11:05

I’m in San Francisco at the moment here at the WordCamp convention. So far I’ve learned how to “write a compelling blog” (please, have you been to blogwaffe before?).

More to the point, I finally got to meet Podz and Matt.

For all the readers at home, you can check out the .

Update 08.07.2006:

After lunch I went to talks about WordPress MU, server optimization and a really good one on microformats. I also met Ryan, Mark, Andy, and Donncha.

The day was made all the sweeter by the bumping afterparty. By the way, Ryan, your penalty for not attending the postWordCamp bash is to recommend to me a favorite beer of yours.

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