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Sept. 20, 2006

Extraterrestrial bullying

by Pia Nargundkar, Online Editor-in-Chief
Pluto, the beloved underdog planet, has been kicked out of the Big Boys Club. The International Astronomical Union (IAU) voted in late August to demote Pluto to "dwarf planet" status. Normally, no one would care what 2,500 astronomers in the IAU decide, but this has repercussions. Big Time.

"My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas" becomes…what? "My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us…Ninjas? Nincompoops? Neanderthals?" And even worse for our cherished mnemonic device, the IAU is considering the status of an asteroid named Ceres, a moon of Pluto's named Charon, and an object nicknamed Xena. That would leave the whole thing a heaping mess. "My Very Excitable Mother Called Jane Several Ugly Names 'Cause of Xenophobia." I don't buy it.

Think about the planetariums. And the textbooks. And the posters. And the puzzles. And the models. Everything has to change!! And think about the children. You always have to think about the children. Doing last minute, late-night science fair projects recycled from older siblings is no longer a possibility. Out the door with them are the models tossed together in a hurry with Internet printouts, tennis balls and dried-out glue. How will we survive?

And don't forget the poor celebrity mothers-to-be. I'm sure at least one of them wanted to name her new baby "Pluto." I mean, come on, there is already an Apple, Moon Unit, Dweezil, Phinnaeus, Tennyson, Puma, Chastity, Bluebell, Shiloh and Suri. Well, at least one of them can still call dibs on the object Xena's real name, 2003 UB313.

Multiple generations grew up accepting Pluto as a planet. It was hard, unchangeable fact. But now, our beliefs are shattered. What does that leave us with? What else will be changed in our lifetime? Was Big Brother right? Is 2+2 really 5? Is ice cream actually healthy for you (not that I would mind)? Is the world flat? Have the French, in fact, won a war? Can Justin Timberlake indeed sing?

Of course, scientists are especially finicky and unpredictable. Just watch: in a year, the IAU will decide they made a mistake and declare Pluto a planet again. The celebrities and all the children will be waiting.



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  • Hareesh (View Email) on September 20, 2006 at 2:35 PM
    LMAOZEDONG!!

    LOLLERSKATES!!!!!!one!1!@!
  • bob on September 20, 2006 at 5:50 PM
    Poor Pluto: That's the beauty of scientific peer-review for you! It's still rule by the unwashed masses, except now they're all wearing ties.
  • boo hoo on September 20, 2006 at 7:10 PM
    so what? thats one less thing to learn as far as students are concerned. This is a bunch of people making a big deal over somethign which means very little in the long run.
  • Th on September 20, 2006 at 7:14 PM
    LOL OMG HAREESH YOU TOOK MY SAYING ROFLCOPTER!!!!!!!'

    LARGE CAPITAL LETTERS GRABS YOUR ATTENTION
  • Keisha on September 20, 2006 at 9:24 PM
    Haha, Pia I love you and your article. "Can Justin Timberlake indeed sing?" [The answer is no, not even when he was with N'Sync] This major scientific change led to one of the best Facebook groups, "When I was your age, Pluto was a planet." Harhar.

    2+2=5 for large values of 2.

    Anyway, great job Pia!
  • Molly on September 24, 2006 at 12:58 AM
    Pia, I love your article! But really, Moon Unit isn't such a bad name - I'd take it myself.
  • lynden (View Email) on September 25, 2006 at 11:44 AM
    i loved the this article it was so awesome dude
  • Re: boo hoo on September 25, 2006 at 7:55 PM
    In case you didn't notice, this is the "Humor" section of Silver Chips Online. Now based on your serious tone, I will assume you do not know what humor is. Answers.com defines humor as: "that which is intended to induce laughter or amusement".

    Now the author's tone, use of rhetorical questions and pop culture allusions "induce[d] laughter" from me and quite a few other commentors, so I believe that it is perfectly legitimate under the category of "humor". I am rather saddened to discover that you have no sense of humor and take everything you read as pure fact.

    My post is written in a sarcastic tone, and I would define that for you, but humor is already a difficult concept to understand and I wouldn't want to confuse you by introducing humor that is used primarily as an insult.
  • ankhi on September 26, 2006 at 9:50 PM
    tee hee.
  • _ on September 27, 2006 at 8:56 PM
    Noodles. My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Noodles.
  • Tennyson on October 1, 2006 at 9:48 PM
    you raggin' on my name?
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