Friday, August 25, 2006

*"THE EARTH IS FLAT?"- The Planet Pluto Get's The Bum's Rush

Click on the title to link to a "Sunday Boston Globe", December 13, 2009, interview with scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the villain behind the demise of Pluto as a planet. Our day will come, brothers and sisters.



Not all this writer’s political commentary is earth-bound. Here is proof. The news out of Prague recently centered on the decision of a congress of international astronomers to downgrade the planet formerly known as Pluto to the status of some thing called a “dwarf planet”. Well, so be it. This writer does not know enough of the science involved to determine whether this decision is right or wrong. But, as it turns out that there were partisans on both sides of the question. Fair enough. Science moves on in such fashion.

What interests this writer is the fact that no heads will roll over the decision (at least I assume none will roll). At an earlier time in human history such monkeying with the nature of the universe would have called forth hellfire and damnation on the heads of any who challenged the then currently accepted nature of the universe. One need only think of poor Galileo, among others, who was forced to recant his studied belief that the earth was not the center of the universe. The Catholic Church, such as it was in those days, exacted a heavy toll on inquiring minds and only took a mere few centuries to apologize to brother Galileo. Unfortunately, as occurs too frequently in such cases, he was not around to benefit from the pardon. Those of us who still see ourselves as the children of the Enlightenment can take some solace that in this small area of human endeavor humankind has made some progress. In such areas as stem cell research, the fight against creationism (or its currently fashionable disguise-“intelligent design”) as an explanation for human evolution and a more broad-based view of the death process the fight continues today. Hey, let real scientists fight it out just as they have done in Prague.

Finally, let me bring matters back to earth, so to speak. This writer makes no bones about the fact that he is an earth- chauvinist. We have enough on our plate to solve the ills that beset this little speck of the universe. Unless someone can give me a cogent argument about the need to fight for the right to self-determination of Pluto I will hold stubbornly to this view. In the meantime I will occupy my time by fighting against the very real wars in Iraq and elsewhere, the dangers of religious fundamentalism of all stripes, the attempts to roll back the gains of the Enlightenment and the international capitalist “race to the bottom” among other issues. Enough said.

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