Week 3 – Core Friday Lecture – “The Pluto Files”

This week’s core Friday lecture was on “The Pluto Files”. It showed a video on why Neil Degrasse Tyson declared Pluto as “not” being a planet and the controversy it stirred up throughout the nation and other parts of the world. The video also showed us how Pluto was first discovered by a farmer in the U.S. who constructed his own telescope with pieces of farm material. This discovery made a mark in American history and that is one of the many reasons why the “degradation” of Pluto’s status became such a controversial issue.

This video allowed me to have a deeper understanding in why Pluto is and is not a planet. It made me wonder and two different voices played in my mind. A part of me agrees that Pluto is not a planet and another part of me thinks that Pluto is. Which is true? After spending a large amount of time contemplating between these voices, I have arrived to a conclusion that neither is right or wrong.

The part of me that agrees that Pluto should not be a planet says that context in science has always been changing as advancements in technology and human creativity continues to prevail. Take Galileo for example; his proposal about the Earth not being in the center of the universe sparked outrage throughout society of his time but in the end, his assumptions were correct. Another part of me insists on keeping Pluto as a planet in our solar system for tradition and the fact that there is a blurred understanding of what qualifies to be a planet since we lack the understanding of our solar system and the rest of the universe.

My questions: How do you think that controversy of Pluto now being a dwarf planet is related to historical events? Would you agree that history tends to repeat itself? Do you agree that is it important for one to challenge conventional wisdom and claim that Pluto is not a planet?

~Vivian Tran~

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