Monday, March 9, 2009

011. Science rules!

Sorry, I've been dying of some plague.

About here, he's talking to the other witness about Pluto not being a planet. Apparently, if you could put Pluto where the moon is, it would dissappear. Just in case anyone was wondering, Bill Nye is legit. Even when he's not doing business, he's still talkin' science.

When I took a picture with him, he insised that I stand on his right. "Dance positions," he said. "The woman always goes on the right."

Bill Nye testifies to the House Appropriations Committee about the importance of science education.

Some noteable quotables:

  • After being asked by a congressman about what he could do at home with his children (ages 5, 9) to get them interested in science, Nye responded to let them make a mess in the kitchen, but make them clean it up. A specific suggestion: have them play with food coloring, and see if they can squirt it in the shape of a squid, "which is what squids do everyday with their ink. It's really difficult. Actually, I'm not really sure, I haven't interviewed many squid. I talk to them a lot, but I've never gotten a response."
  • He keeps two Emmys on his mantleplace, and the other five in a box.
  • "The man" is the reason Blackberries don't get service in the committee meeting room.
  • He wears a bow-tie (which he ties himself, no clip ons) because "it doesn't get caught in your shirt of flop in your flask." He may have been speaking about scientific beakers and junk, but Em and I took this to mean alcohol flask. And I prefer to think of it that way.
Not only is he pretty brilliant, he's articulate and hilarious. And he can still explain scientific concepts to dummies. All hail Nye.

1 comment:

  1. Tyson is not telling the whole story about Pluto. Any planet brought close enough to its parent star will develop a tail through the sublimation of its atmosphere--which is what Pluto would do if brought into the orbits of either the Earth or the Moon. Even then, it wouldn't disappear, as it is made of both rock and ice. Pluto is 30 times further from the sun than is the Earth. If Earth were moved 30 times closer to the sun, it too would develop a tail, and its atmosphere would begin sublimating.

    Pluto is a planet because it is in a state known as hydrostatic equilibrium. This means it is large enough for its own gravity to pull it into a round shape--a characteristic of planets and not of shapeless asteroids, comets, or Kuiper Belt Objects. Along with Haumea, Makemake, and Eris, Pluto shares dual citizenship as both a planet and a KBO.

    The controversial IAU demotion was done by only four percent of its members, most of whom are not planetary scientists, and was immediately opposed by hundreds of professional astronomers led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto. The definition makes no sense in that it states that dwarf planets are not planets at all, which is inconsistent with the use of the term "dwarf" in astronomy, where dwarf stars are still stars, and dwarf galaxies are still galaxies.

    Also, the IAU definition classifies objects solely by where they are while ignoring what they are. If Earth were in Pluto's orbit, according to the IAU definition, it would not be a planet either. A definition that takes the same object and makes it a planet in one location and not a planet in another is essentially useless.

    This is why even now, both scientists and lay people are working to overturn the demotion of Pluto or at least get the IAU to amend its defintion to make dwarf planets a subclass of the broader term "planet."