There’s a fascinating article, Is Pluto a planet after all?, by Stephen Battersby in the July 27, 2009 New Scientist about the continuing controversy over whether Pluto is a planet. It shows how scientific discourse reflects multiple cultural and political forces, why defining any word is hard, and how our continuing transactions with nature lead us to think again.
How many planets are in the solar system? The official answer is eight – unless you happen to live in Illinois. Earlier this year, defiant Illinois state governors declared that Pluto had been unfairly demoted by the International Astronomical Union, the authority that sets the rules on all matters planetary.
Click on the image to see the New Scientist diagram, which explains part of the debate.