The most interesting class I took in school was called Science, Knowledge and Technology and it covered different theories about how new ideas are created and diffused. I wrote a paper for that class looking at why Pluto’s status as a planet was being challenged and why so much attention was being focused on the subject. This was written last year right at the time that the International Astronomical Union ruled that there were only 8 planets and Pluto was not one of them.
I wanted to try to get the paper published somewhere, but never had the time to devote to it during school. Now that I’ve graduated and have some time, I think the subject might not be so relevant anymore. I would be interested in getting people’s thoughts and comments on what I’ve written though, so I’m posting it here if anyone is interested.
- Why Pluto Matters (PDF file)
The first half of the paper covers how the number, and even the order, of the planets has changed numerous times before. The last part explains how this scientific issue doesn’t have a scientific solution. Basically, Pluto is whatever astronomers decide to call it and there is no scientific test that can be applied to resolve the dispute.
I started thinking of this paper again recently when I read an article about a new book on Pluto that argued the exact opposite position: the issue is a scientific question, not a matter of public opinion or a decision to be made by NASA or a panel of distinguished astronomers. I clearly don’t agree with this point of view, but what do you think?