You may remember the sad day in late summer 2006 when Pluto was officially demoted. Maybe you sobbed into your pillow, maybe you wrote an angry letter, or maybe you simply joined the Facebook group, “When I was your age, Pluto was a Planet.”
Whatever your reaction, you can blame Mike Brown, the Caltech astronomer who was, for a brief period of time, the discoverer of the 10th planet in the solar system– before Eris was demoted along with Pluto.
Why is this on our bookshelf?
Ever since Pluto’s status as a planet was killed, the great question of whether or not Pluto should still be the solar system’s 9th planet has practically replaced the Star Trek vs. Star Wars question as the top geeky debate item.
In light of that, understanding who killed Pluto and why is a priority.
Rating (4 stars)
Although I joined the Facebook group mentioned above, I gave Pluto’s demotion very little thought at the time. Planet or dwarf planet, I didn’t have much of an opinion.
I picked up Mike Brown’s book based on the strength of the title alone and I loved it more than I expected. This is not a detailed and hard-hitting look at the science behind Pluto and the reasons behind reclassification.
Instead, its an enjoyable memoir that traverses the thrill of discovery, the joys of becoming a parent and Mike Brown’s own philosophy on scientific advancement.
After reading it, I am thoroughly convinced that Pluto shouldn’t be a planet and its reclassification should be celebrated as an auspicious event when science triumphed over sentimentality.
Mike Brown may be an astronomer rather than a writer, but his story is still fascinating.
Read this book:
you are on a Pluto debate team.
Don't Read this book:
you took Mike Brown’s Ge 1 class at Caltech in 2005.
Once you're done, do this:
Carry a big black marker and correction fluid with you in case you come across a diagram, model, or picture of a solar system with nine planets.