Zoo Break?

Tonight we're staying in a hotel near KCI in preparation for an early flight to Orlando. Unfortunately, Julie has once again remembered to explicitly forbid "sleeping Julie photography" so the best topic is off limits. On the bright side, we've got some other good stuff going on.



Photographed above is the Red (or lesser) Panda. Earlier this week, Julie was running along Linear Trail (behind the movie theater) and noted a raccoon running across the trail in front of her. The curious thing about this raccoon, was that it was red. This leads to only one conclusion: A massive zoo break in our zoo has freed the tigers, the sloth bear, the snow leopard, and the red pandas. I mean, if you search google for "red raccoon" the first hit is the wikipedia page for red pandas. Go ahead, try it, I'll wait. Bummer that we're headed out. It would have been fun to be in town while an army of tiny ninja pandas marauded about.

Another topic has been close to my heart lately. Below you will find an 3-year old's crayon drawing of the (now) dwarf planet Pluto and surrounding icy rocks.



Fortunately, the Hubble space telescope can provide us with an even better close-up (shown below):



In 2006, in a fancy European meeting, the IAU (International Astronomical Union) decided that instead of a planet, Pluto was a dwarf planet - or more specifically, a non-planet. Here's a photograph taken at the meeting (I think Mars would be nothing if Neptune wasn't always backing him):



So, the theory goes, out around where Pluto is there's a bunch of space junk like Pluto. Some of it is even bigger. If we were to call Pluto a planet, we'd have to call every asteroid and wingnut that orbits the Sun a planet also. Here's the thing. Not true. We could do it like grades: Sure, Pluto didn't quite make the cut to be a real planet. However, what it lacks in gravity, it more than compensates for in awesomeness. We make an exception for Pluto, bump it up a classification, then we move on. Done.

*sigh*

Dumb old science. I hate it when it ruins stuff. Most of the time, it works in my favor. (For the record, evidently, if Earth had the same orbital distance as Pluto, it wouldn't be a planet either [it takes a lot of mass to clean up your orbit out there].)

Okay. I should go to sleep. We have to wake up at 5:00 tomorrow to catch our plane. Next round should be in Florida!

Comments

Pam Deters said…
The plight of Pluto is worth a few thoughts. I can think of all sorts of more scientific arguements but my favorite is that Clyde Tombaugh was a fellow Kansan so if for no other reason it will remain a planet to me.