02 September 2006

Planetary protest

A group of 300 astronomers, including David Levy (planetariums), Carolyn Shoemaker (comets), and Irwin Shapiro (GR) have signed a petition protesting the IAU's unilateral decision of a definition of planet. They're unclear if they dislike the definition, or dislike the lack of public input. I dislike their doing this, it's absolutely pointless when they admit themselves that the IAU doesn't convene again until 2009.

I also dislike their implied claim that it's all experts in planets:
We, as planetary scientists and astronomers, do not agree with the IAU's definition of a planet, nor will we use it. ...The list of signatories have studied every planet in the solar system, asteroids, comets, the Kuiper Belt, and planet interactions with space environment.

The first sentence reads that everyone on the list is a planetary scientist AND astronomer, and the second listed reads that EACH signatory studied every planet. No, simply not true.

As for 300 names, keep in mind that put a piece of paper in front of enough people and you're bound to get people to sign it.

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