Monday, May 11, 2009

Who Knew?

Venetia Phair Dies at 90, as a Girl, She Named Pluto.

The Pluto she named was the planet, not the Disney dog. It turns out that in 1930, Venetia, then 11, suggested to an astronomer-connected grandfather that the newly confirmed planet could be named Pluto, after the Roman god of the underworld. Venetia apparently was steeped in planets and classical myths.

Unfortunately, this kind of knowledge didn't come to be used by some.

Vinny "The Chin" Gigante, a mobster who died in a Federal penitentiary in 2005, spent a good deal of his time trying to convince the authorities of his mental incompetence by anonymously shuffling around the streets of Greenwich Village in a bathrobe, slippers and pajamas. Additionally, he was known to take showers using an opened umbrella.

The Feds may not have been able to close in if he spent his time more appropriately dressed as Pluto.

1 comment:

  1. It should be noted that the IAU’s controversial demotion of Pluto is very likely not the last word on the subject and in fact represents only one interpretation in an ongoing debate. Only four percent of the IAU voted on this, and most are not planetary scientists. Their decision was immediately opposed in a formal petition by hundreds of professional astronomers led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. Stern and like-minded scientists favor a broader planet definition that includes any non-self-luminous spheroidal body in orbit around a star. The spherical part is important because objects become spherical when they attain a state known as hydrostatic equilibrium, meaning they are large enough for their own gravity to pull them into a round shape. This is a characteristic of planets and not of shapeless asteroids and Kuiper Belt Objects. Pluto meets this criterion and is therefore a planet.