My Book Review: “The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet” by Neil deGrasse Tyson,


Neil DeGrasse Tyson is becoming one of my favorite popular science authors – I enjoy his Teaching Company courses, and he was perfect in the COSMOS reboot. His delivery of intriguing topics blends interesting facts with passionate excitement and fervor that is contagious, and all too rare in the scientific education community.

I found this book to be an interesting recount of the historical rise and fall of our ninth “planet” (it’s size is actually less than 0.24 percent that of Earth!), from it’s discovery in 1930 (same year as the birth of the Disney canine character of the same name, by the way), to it’s 2006 demotion to “dwarf planet” and the subsequent media frenzy that ensued. Since there are several other celestial Kuiper belt objects discovered that are slightly smaller than Pluto (now named “plutinos”), the International Astronomical Union’s choice was to either update the solar system map to include these “extras” as planets, or demote Pluto. The largest societal impact: our planet order mnemonic changes from “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas” to “My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nachos”. Fascinating how many were vehemently opposed to this demotion despite the obvious validity of the decision.



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