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Friday, September 21, 2007

R.I.P. (February 18, 1930 - August 24, 2006)

Image Source:, the free Online Encyclopedia
As a kid, we grew up memorising that there are nine planets in our Solar system, the last one being Pluto. To me it was always a cute little planet at the farthest end of our solar system.

But last year, this brownish planet died ta tragic death at the age of 76 years. After being in the "IAU" for quite some time, ultimately all the life support system were withdrawn and we were left with only eight remaining planets.

I heard about Pluto's sad demise when a friend called up and informed me about it. On hearing the news, I was disappointed and shocked - why change history? What points the scientists were trying to prove? I almost shouted out "Pluto Amar Rahe!", in true blue Indian style.

But as I read more about Pluto and the reasons for his demotion, I could see or perhaps, I thought that I could see, the reasons behind the changed equation. Science, being an ever evolving subject, the envelops of our scientific knowledge are being pushed further continuously. As a result, the old solar order has to give away to the new thanks largely to recent discoveries. As we learn more about our universe, existing classifications are being updated and adjusted daily, with some being deleted altogether. While others are modified or in some cases, newer additions are made to the old. The advancement of technology makes these discoveries possible at an astounding rate.

Pluto has now returned to the Kuiper Belt joining his true siblings - other large, icy rocks unqualified to be planets. Charon, Pluto's largest moon (discovered in 1978 by astronomer James Christy) has accompanied it along with the two smaller moons Nix (Pluto II, the inner moon) and Hydra (Pluto III, the outer moon) who were first seen by Hubble Space Telescope on May 15, 2005. On the anniversary of Pluto's disappearance back into the far, dark underworld of space, I just wanted to remember the "Last and Lost Planet". Hopefully, there will be a Hollywood film someday titled "Last Planet Revolving" or "Pluto - The Lost Planet".

This news also enlightened me about the guidelines of declaring oneself a planet, which - seriously speaking - I never even knew to have existed beforehand. In case anyone's interested in knowing those rules, I ctrl+c-ed i.e. copied the whole thing and ctrl+v-ed below.
The physicists say that to be considered as a planet, you must:
  • Orbit the Sun
  • Have enough mass and "self-gravity" to sustain a nearly round shape
  • Clear the neighbourhood around your orbit, establishing an independent path as you circle the Sun

Which actually raises my inquisitive quotient. I was just thinking about a certain "Lift kara de" guy. Yes, you are right. I am seriously wondering that Adnan Sami with a broom in his hand, sent to the sky to be with the diamonds, actually stands a real good chance of being declared a planet! As he's now a Mumbaikar, may be, Raj T can actively think about this!

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