The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet
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The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  2,407 ratings  ·  325 reviews
In August 2006, the International Astronomical Union voted Pluto out of planethood. Far from the sun, wonder Pluto has any fans. Yet during the mounting debate over rallied behind the extraterrestrial underdog. Disney created an irresistible pup by the same name, and, as one NASA scientist put it, Pluto was "discovered by an American for America." Pluto is entrenched in ou...more
Hardcover, 194 pages
Published January 26th 2009 by W. W. Norton & Company (first published January 19th 2008)
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Ken
ugh... awfully light book on what really be a weighty tome. felt like a long article in time magazine or something, where it might scratch the surface of a subject, but you don't really get a whole understanding of the topic. filled with way too many 'extras': political cartoons, appendixes of song lyrics, full page portraits of the little girl who suggested the name, etc... i mean seriously, just get on with it. when you remove the quotes and pictures and figures, it's what, maybe like 50 pages...more
Dj
deGrasse Tyson proves that while he might not be the smartest man in the United States, he is one of the best scientist at making what at first glance could be a daunting project for the uninitiated to read both understandable and enjoyable. With this the second of this Astrophysicists books and it has determined me to read anything that I can find under his pen. His delivery makes it easy to read some of the most complex subjects in a clear and easy to read manner.

While this book is about the...more
Amanda
Tyson is always a favorite guest on The Daily Show and this book was discussed on his last interview with Jon Stewart. Library to the rescue!

There are 9 chapters to this fairly short book, all done with wit and an obvious love of science. Tyson goes over Pluto's history, how Pluto was received in our culture, and the descent of how Pluto lost his status as our 9th planet.

Apparently Americans really love Pluto, not only because of it's association with Disney's dog, but because an American discov...more
Bry
Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson was voted Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive by people magazine - who would have known such a stud muffin was also an crazy intelligent, funny, and witty writer?!

This book details the history of Pluto's place in both science and people's hearts from the time of it's discovery and naming as a planet all the way to its demotion to a dwarf planet within the Kuiper Belt. Plus it is full of satirical comics and extremely angry and often misspelled letters from damn near homicidal t...more
Carolyn
Another guilty pleasure. Neil deGrasse Tyson always writes well. This time he is less concerned with science education than he is with describing the shared cultural mania that resulted from rebranding Pluto a plutoid.

The story begins with the fallout of the exhibit he put together at the Hayden Planetarium in the new Rose Center for Earth and Space. His team presented the planets as members of families of object with similar properties rather than as orbs to be memorized. Pluto was firmly plac...more
Christina
I'm reminded of that quote from a child's review of a book that said: "This book told me more about penguins than I cared to know." Only substitute penguins for Pluto. I KID, I KID.

No, I feel very informed about Pluto as a planetary object, and this was really a fascinating read, but I have to say, I came out of this book with Dr. Tyson's same conclusion: WHY DID THIS CAUSE SO MUCH CONTROVERSY? The book ends with a cartoon of a news bulletin proclaiming Pluto was no longer a planet, with a pict...more
Chris
What was the biggest story of 2006? The arrest of the shampoo bombers in England? Small fries. The first World Baseball Classic? YAWN! The death of Don Knotts? Nothin'.

No, as interesting as they were, none of these generated nearly as much public interest and argument as the much ballyhooed "demotion" of Pluto by the International Astronomical Union in August of 2006. Poor little Pluto, hanging out there on the edge of the solar system, got bumped down to "Dwarf Planet," rousing much ire from pe...more
Greg
I read The Pluto Files because I am interested in space science and I am a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson, and while it is a nice little book, it does not have too much to offer.

As a chronicle of the public outcry over the American Museum of Natural History's decision to not include Pluto among the planets exhibited at the Hayden Planetarium, it's interesting. As a discussion of the curious obsession among some people of Pluto, it is also interesting. And as a way to get the reader thinking about wh...more
Meredith
Audio. This book came on 4 cds, but I think it could have been 2, comfortably. There was a lot of repetition - of content that was phrased identically more than once - so much so that I kept checking that I hadn't repeated a track/disc. Perhaps that doesn't comes across as strongly in print? Anyway, it was a fun little read, very much popular science. I liked the overarching theme of the difference between science (as in scientific thought and logical rigor) and popular science (culturally-led,...more
Kristen
I picked up this short, beautifully designed book after following all the public brouhaha over Pluto's downgrading to a "dwarf planet" expecting mostly an overview of that scene. The second half of the book does provide this, but the first half is basically a history of Pluto's discovery, and frankly, I found this part rather boring. But that's mostly because I have a pea brain that can't follow science very well. For me, the hands-down highlight of the book are the letters from children--printe...more
Sara
I loved this book! The first half was very educational, but with a light conversational tone. Too many science books (and history too, for that matter) take their subjects WAY too seriously, and although the subject may be fascinating, it makes it very difficult to read. Dr. Tyson doesn't suffer from that sort of writing style at all. He's a great speaker and communicator, and obviously has translated that skill into being a very good writer as well. Pluto, on the other hand, is NOT the most int...more
Ashley
Neil deGrasse Tyson is national treasure. Hopefully you all are aware of this, either because you’ve known for years, or because you caught the fantastic Cosmos this year. About three years ago I was lucky enough to see him speak at the local university, where he told vivid stories that helped me understand the scale of things in the universe and on earth, including one story that aided me in fully grasping how much money Bill Gates really has. Mr. Tyson is coming back to Seattle this fall and t...more
Hemed
Spoiler alert, Pluto is not a planet :)
This book reminds me that humanity is doomed to fail, people getting upset over nothing really, because they are used to 9 planets and not it's 8. Instead of embracing scientific knowledge and progress they complain and whine. If this decision was made a few centuries ago Neil would have been stoned/hanged/ripped to pieces by an angry mob. Nothing has changed since then only the laws that protect him.
In a hundred years people will laugh at all the commotion...more
Ayush Boruah
This is the first Neil deGrasse Tyson book I have read after getting to know about the famous astrophysicist from "Cosmos: A Space-time Odyssey", a documentary show he hosted. The reason behind reading this book was out of curiosity for i) the author, who is renowned among the scientific community almost achieving the 'celebrity' status & ii) the name of the book itself, subject of which I haven't read about earlier.

The book has quite the theatrics that Tyson is known for from the show and a...more
Laura
This is actually my second time reading this book and I still think it's great. I'm not all that interested in science but Neil DeGrasse Tyson sets you up with a little Pluto back story and fun facts I already forgot about (like the degree of it's orbit) so you don't need to have some sort of astronomy degree. After that is out of the way the book portrays Pluto's impact on the hearts of all from scientists to elementary school students during and after it's controversial demotion.
Scott
Affable and charasmatic as always, Dr. Tyson has once again managed to bring an enlightening, informative and humorous look into a world beyond our own. An easy read, with a few laugh out loud moments, I would put this book as a must read for anyone interested in our celestial neighborhood. With that being said, I must admit that I take issue with Dr. Tyson's assertion that he was a neutral party in the debate as to Pluto's planetary status. As a scientist, this is appropriate. However, the book...more
Hisashi Nishimura
冥王星が惑星からはずされたという2006年暮れのニュースは、日本でも話題になったが、アメリカの騒ぎはその比ではなかった。文化的(英名がミッキーのペットの名前と同じ pluto)、歴史的(アメリカで発見された)にはるかにアメリカ国民に親しい存在だった。

「水金地火木土天海冥」という太陽系の惑星の名前を語呂合わせで覚える記憶法に相当するものがアメリカにもあるんだということは興味深い。しかし、作者は惑星の数や名前に拘泥するよりも、太陽系の天体をその性質で分類する方が有意義だと説く。

邦題はセンセーショナルだが原題は The Pluto Files - The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet。降格騒ぎだけではなく、冥王星発見の事情から国際天文学連合(IAU)による準惑星決定とその後まで、膨大な資料を整理したレポートとして、おもしろく読めた。
Luke
I finished it and it was great! It was sad hearing about how Neil got so many angry letters because people didn't want Pluto demoted but it was still great, and reading about how many people also saw the humor in this and and made funny headlines. I highly recommend this for people who liked a good laugh and astronomy. I really enjoyed it!!!
Kyle
Apr 04, 2014 Kyle rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: teachers, people interested in Pluto, degrasse tyson fans
Neil DeGrasse Tyson. Famous astronomer, now with his own show Cosmos on Discovery and slowly taking over NOVA for the good of the public. Voted sexiest man in science, this brilliant man who was inspired by Carl Sagan strives to educate the world on all things space. But he’s not just all of that, he was the man that brought down Pluto as its planet status (well, inspired it, we have to thank all the amazing people over at the International Astronomical Union for its crash).

Pluto, this mysteriou...more
Joan
Karin, thanks for the recommendation. I am really learning a lot. I had no idea that Pluto the pup and the planet were related...I learned a lot in the beginning of the book but then it went pretty deep into the
sciencetist reasons for Pluto being demoted. A little bit too much technical information.
Kelly Newton
I'm currently in totally nerdcrush over NdGT so my opinions are slightly biased. I'm listening to Startalk, watching Cosmos, and reading his writings. The dude's just brilliant. Obviously, his scientific knowledge is great, but even more so, is his ability to effectively communicate with "non-sciencey" people. He's funny. He's passionate. He stirs up a sense of child-like wonder and curiosity in his audience.

I read several reviews of this book before reading the book first. It's funny. You'll h...more
Charles Bates
What a wonderful light read. Really a great argument, I felt, on how semantics and the problems it can cause. Thank you Neil deGrasse Tyson for brightening a couple of days for me.
Shane McDaniel
The first half is a good history of Pluto's discovery and the peculiarities around it. Would we even consider Pluto a planet if it were discovered today?

The second is quite padded and feels like scientist political infighting and is largely recaps scientists talking online on a bulletin board; very exciting. It also feels a bit defensive which is a little awkward. These are then followed by a somewhat random list of pop culture references w.r.t the demoting.

The last 50 pages are then just appen...more
Emily
Dr. Tyson gets a little defensive at points, but overall does a good job discussing the history (and pop culture impact) of Pluto and its demotion.
Tim Kepner
Entertaining and educational

This book is not your typical science book. While astronomy is discussed throughout, the more interesting and, frankly, entertaining, portions were those describing the passions of people debating the status of Pluto. While I probably shouldn't have been surprised, I was amazed at the lengths some people went to in arguing their positions. In the end, Mr. Tyson used his characteristically easy to understand, laid back prose to describe the debate, the science, and the...more
David R.
Empty calories. Perhaps best for the novice.
Karin
who would have thought Pluto was so fun!
Jen Hazlett
I very much enjoyed this inside look on the mostly emotional process of reclassifying Pluto as a Dwarf Planet.
Neil DeGrasse Tyson made the history behind Pluto's discovery into a pleasently light read.
I especially enjoyed the fact that NDGT included letters written to him from children, adults and scientist from during this exciting time period.
And, while I admit that I have felt just as disgruntled as some of those that wrote to Tyson, I now understand why it is best to group like objects with...more
Chris
A humorous look at the demotion of Pluto from "planet" status to "dwarf planet" status. There was really not very much science in this book, but it was a fun, light read. The only complaint I have is that it became repetitive towards the end. In my opinion, he read too many letters from disgruntled elementary school students who were upset about Pluto's demotion. While these were cute letters, I think he could have shaved off about an hour's worth of this content from the audio book and gotten t...more
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That's no exuse: errors by NDT? 1 1 Jun 26, 2014 04:51AM  
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  • Why Does E=mc²? (And Why Should We Care?)
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Neil deGrasse Tyson was born and raised in New York City where he was educated in the public schools clear through his graduation from the Bronx High School of Science. Tyson went on to earn his BA in Physics from Harvard and his PhD in Astrophysics from Columbia.

Tyson's professional research interests are broad, but include star formation, exploding stars, dwarf galaxies, and the structure of our...more
More about Neil deGrasse Tyson...
Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution The Sky is Not the Limit: Adventures of an Urban Astrophysicist Merlin's Tour of the Universe

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“When your reasons for believing something are justified ad hoc, you are left susceptible to further discoveries undermining the rationale for that belief.” 15 likes
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