How I Killed Pluto


Pluto. Poor little guy. He never wanted much. The others could be bigger, they could be better-looking or brag about themselves (“I’m burning hot!” or “I have rings!” or “I support life!”). He didn’t care. All he wanted was to be part of the planet club. And for about 75 years, that tiny frozen world billions of miles from the sun was a card-carrying member. Then, in 2006, Pluto was kicked out — reclassified as a dwarf planet. The credit — or, for the outraged nine-planet fans, the blame — goes to the International Astronomical Union. It also goes to Caltech astronomer Mike Brown, who just couldn’t help finding other tantalizing objects at the edges of the solar system that challenged Pluto’s planetary status. “I would hear from many people who were sad about Pluto,” Brown writes in “How I Killed Pluto: And Why It Had It Coming.” “And I understood. Pluto was part of their mental landscape, the one they had constructed to organize their thinking about the solar system and their own place within it.”

more from Nick Owchar at the LA Times here.