Laurele'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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There are several misconceptions here: First, our solar system does NOT have only eight planets. Second, Mike Brown did not “kill” Pluto, and use of this word is extremely misleading and more about Brown’s ego, which he for some reason has centered around calling himself the “plutokiller.” Third, Eris was not discovered by Brown alone but by a team of three astronomers; one of the other two, Dr. David Rabinowitz, disagrees with Brown and signed a petition rejecting the IAU planet definition and demotion of Pluto. Additionally, Brown is not even an IAU member, so he really had no say in that vote.

Brown is disingenuous in repeatedly saying that the majority of astronomers agree with the IAU decision when this is not the case. The question of what is a planet remains very much a matter of ongoing debate.

Pluto is not dead; Mike Brown tried but failed to “kill” it. The IAU demotion was done by only four percent of its members, most of whom are not planetary scientists. It was opposed by hundreds of planetary scientists in a formal petition led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. Even Dr. Neil de Grasse Tyson admits the debate is ongoing. I encourage people to learn both sides of the issue. Some good pro-Pluto as a planet books are “Is Pluto A Planet?” by Dr. David Weintraub and “The Case for Pluto” by Alan Boyle.

Many of us who want to read a book about astronomy are not interested in reading about how much Brown loves his wife and daughter. The personal stuff reads way too much like Hollywood gossip. There are many books about Pluto out there, and none of them devote a third of their space to personal concerns. Some feel this makes Brown’s story more “human,” but the reality is, it also detracts from the focus on the science. In contrast, Dr. Neil de Grasse Tyson in “The Pluto Files” is able to stick to the science while being humorous and not delving into a personal memoir.

Anyone can now discover a Kuiper Belt planet through the citizen science program Ice Hunters, which can be found at http://www.icehunters.org

Finally, I encourage you and everyone interested in this topic to learn the other side of the issue by reading a terrific book, “The Case for Pluto” by Alan Boyle. I am also working on a book of my own, “The Little Planet That Would Not Die: Pluto’s Story.”
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
January 6, 2012 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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Lily Are you willing to tell us what author to seek when you publish? (Send me an email and will share more about my interest??)


Dale I'm curious to know how "ongoing debate" is incompatible with the fact that a majority of astronomers agree with the IAU decision. Of course, if a majority of astronomers don't agree with the decision I would also be interested in the data that shows that to be the case.


message 3: by [deleted user] (new)

You say only 4% of astronomers were present for the decision. But when laws are made, they are voted on by Congress alone, which has significantly less than 4% of the American population. People conducting a survey of the populace would be exceedingly happy to be able to study a whole 4%.


message 4: by Laurele (new) - added it

Laurele @Dale That is not true. A majority of planetary scientists, those astronomers who study planets, do NOT agree with the IAU decision.

@Liam Those four percent are not representative of the planetary science community. A small group of astronomers determined to demote Pluto violated the IAU's bylaws and put a resolution to the floor of the General Assembly when the majority of participants had already left. Please read Alan Boyle's book "The Case for Pluto."


Parisienne It's great that he loves his daughter so much but I agree that he spent far too much time on discussing his wife's contractions, his daughter's sleeping and eating habits, etc. I was going to give the book a four until I got to that point but demoted him to a two.


Dale Laurele wrote: "@Dale That is not true. A majority of planetary scientists, those astronomers who study planets, do NOT agree with the IAU decision.

@Liam Those four percent are not representative of the planetar..."


Again - rather than merely assert that a majority do not agree, please provide a link to plausible evidence.


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