Tracie's Reviews > How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming

How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming by Mike Brown
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Mar 18, 11


I was the one that started the Pluto craze in my house. I saw How I Killed Pluto displayed at the library and brought it home. It was taken over by my 17 yr old daughter who devoured it, and ended up writing an extra credit report on it for school. Then my 14 yr old took it over. In the mean time, my husband, who works part of the time in CA, saw that Mike Brown was giving a lecture at Foothill College, so he found a book store, picked up to a copy, went to the lecture (which he very much enjoyed), and got it autographed to my mentioned above 17 yr old. So for awhile there we had two books floating around. But it took going on vacation for me to finally settle in and read it.

How I Killed Pluto is an astronomy book for the masses. No background needed. In fact, in my opinion, it really isn't an astronomy book at all. Yes, it takes place in the background of Mike Browns discoveries and later "criminal activities", it is really more about his own journey of self-discovery and life explorations. Both paths of discovery are enchantingly woven throughout the book.

I probably should admit that, though I have a rather casual interest in astronomy and have watched some excellent The Teaching Company courses on the subject, I pretty much missed the whole Pluto controversy. I *must* have at least heard something, but it had absolutely no impact. Even now my response is, so, Pluto's not a planet. Wasn't much of a planet anyway. So kudos to the intriguing title. It got me to pick up the book. But hate mail? Come one people. Get a life.

While I really liked reading about the discovery--and I do admire people who can spend hours and hours on tedium, and over come all sorts of obstacles to do it, I have another criteria for what I consider an excellent book. It makes me think, and often about things not directly related to the book.

For example, at one point the author is discussing categorizing, and how knowledge changes how we categorize things, specifically objects in our universe. When Pluto was discovered no one knew about the Kuiper Belt. Now that it has been discovered it has opened up new opportunities for categorization. I found myself pondering on race, the human kind. My kids have a dilemma whenever they are required to check a race. My husband is half Chinese and half Samoan. Sometime Asian, sometimes Pacific Islander, sometimes Asian/Pacific Islander, even though he was born and raised in CA and speaks neither Chinese nor Samoan. I am a European mutt. My ancestral pie is cut into numerous little slivers. But I fall into a general white category, even though everyone knows there is white and then there is white. I am the white with freckles and never tans kind of white. So what do my kids check? While categorizing the universe helps us to understand, I find myself longing for a day when race will no longer be a way to separate humans into us and them.

All around a very good read.
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message 1: by Laurele (new) - added it

Laurele If you started the Pluto craze, it's only fair to yourself and your children to hear both sides of this debate--and it is an ongoing debate. Here are some resources on the other side of the issue:

"The Case for Pluto," a book by Alan Boyle
"Is Pluto A Planet?" a book by Dr. David Weintraub

Transcripts of the 2008 Great Planet Debate at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab, held in August 2008 in response to Pluto's demotion: http://gpd.jhuapl.edu/

My Pluto Blog: http://laurelsplutoblog.blogspot.com
I am an astronomer who disagrees with Brown.

"The Argument for Pluto," a preview of the book I am writing, "The Little Planet That Would Not Die: Pluto's Story," http://alunsalt.com/2012/01/03/how-i-...


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