The Corpus Callosum

Why I Am Happy About Pluto

The buzz right now on ScienceBlogs is about Pluto.
 Specifically, about the fact that Pluto has retained its
official status as a planet.

Pluto, as we all know, was discovered by the late , a professor at New Mexico State University.
 In 1990, a new elementary school in Las Cruces, New Mexico,
was named after him.  After all, he is one of the very few
famous people with any connection to Las Cruces.  And it was
the discovery of Pluto that made him famous enough to name a school
after him: Tombaugh
Elementary School

I saw the school a few weeks ago, while I was driving around, looking
for the house I used to live in.  It is a nice-looking school.


I am sure that the kids are proud of their school.  Perhaps
the name of the school will inspire some of the kids to become

Tombaugh also was a .  Perhaps some of
the kids will grow up to have sensible attitudes toward religion.

After retirement, Tombaugh devoted much of his time to the task of
securing better funding for scholarships for grad students.
 Perhaps some of the kids at Tombaugh will grow up to be
university administrators, and will remember his efforts.

It would have been a terrible shame to demote Pluto to the status of an
ordinary rock.  All those kids would have been terribly
disappointed.  It’d be like saying that Big Bird is not really
a bird.


  1. #1 John McKay
    August 17, 2006

    For some reason, the story of Tombaugh discovering Pluto really appealed to me as a kid. His book “Out of the Darkness” was one of the first science memoirs I ever read. When the IAU started debating the ststus of Pluto back in the nineties, I was extremely offended that they would do such a thing while he was still alive. He died in 1997 at the age of 91. Space science was not paralysed by the lack of a consesus definition for Pluto.

    I put my two cents in here:

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