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Comment Re:While we're on the topic... (Score 3, Informative) 43

1. Is just a nomenclature problem. The key issue was whether Pluto belongs in the same category as Mercury through Neptune.

2. If a planet changes its orbit, one of two things will happen:

  • It clears its new neighborhood
  • It gets cleared out by a new neighbor or falls into a resonance with it

In both of these cases the new category that object will fall in is quite clear

3. and 4. In geological terms yes, but I think the IAU was correct in preferring to define planets through orbital characteristics over geological ones.

5. The neighborhood of a planet cannot be simply changed without significant consequences. If through some freak incident a formerly solitary planet ends up suddenly having a neighbor of significantly higher mass, that planet will not remain a planet for very long. Its "mutability" is then not even restricted to definition games, it will quite be literally destroyed or thrown away into deep space.

6. An Earth-copy that hasn't cleared its neighborhood yet won't be an Earth-copy due to frequent crust destroying meteorite impacts. Such a child solar system will probably not be described well by our current terminology but these systems are also very rare because that phase of life only lasts for a very short time.

7. There will clearly eventually be edge cases, but Pluto isn't. There is an object with 10000 times its mass within its perihel and apohel. Its orbital period is not independantly "chosen" but defined by Neptune

8. - 10. Those are all things that we are just now starting to discover. They might eventually change up the definition of the word planet again, such as when we do find the first binary pair of planets with similar mass in the same orbit. But for now it should be perfectly acceptable to delay that decision until we have solid data.

11+ are mostly political points where you can have an opinion either way. But scientifically the question is: Are Pluto, Ceres, Eris and the 100+ other yet to be discovered KBOs really similar enough to the big eight to be in the same category.

Comment Re:Hey Google..... (Score 1) 88

Are you doing your search on a desktop PC? If yes, the recently added mobile algorithm has no effect and it's all old-fashioned pagerank stuff. All your listed social media sites do their own very effective SEO and have lots of crosslinking so it's natural their results get up higher. If you want your website to show up higher start by adding links to it to all the social media pages and follow up with the other legal SEO tricks.

Comment Re:Nothing to see here, move along. (Score 1) 308

The only solution to prevent your kind of double jeopardy would be to disallow civil suits regarding cases that were decided in favor of the accused in criminal court. And that would allow state attorneys and judges to hand out complete immunity to the law by taking up a case and then immediately dropping it again.
As things are right now there is the unfortunate problem that powerful people can talk or bully state attorneys into dropping cases (i.e. Hillary Clinton's missing emails or the periodic "Mayor's son raped a woman" cases) but at least you can follow those up by hiring a lawyer on your own dime.

Comment Re:Your justice system is flawed, too. (Score 1) 1081

You're putting too much value on single people. Hitler as a person didn't cause WW2, and certainly wouldn't be able to repeat it in 1980. Franz Ferdinand didn't really cause WW1 either. Both of them were only a single symptom of their times and if they hadn't existed a similar course of history would have taken place.

Hitler could only start WW2 in the 1930s because he had a willing base of angry Germans with a mix of justified and unjustified grievances. He was the "first past the post" politician to harness those frustrations but if he hadn't existed some other populist would have, if not a Nazi then a Communist. 50 years later the situation was entirely different, the people content, and nobody could've gotten a majority support for political upheaval. We know this because the RAF certainly tried to.

Comment Re:At this point Mars is running before you can wa (Score 1) 228

The only way I can think of to remove Venus' atmosphere is through freezing. But then you're stuck with a -80C planet.

As far as chemical means go, CO2 is incredibly stable. Even if you do find a way to convert it down to carbon and oxygen by spending inordinate amounts of energy on chemical processes you still end up lowering the pressure by only one third (since the other two thirds are oxygen) and you now have a planet where everything you bring down to the surface will go up in a fire immediately.

You could instead combine it into carbonates but you'd need huge amounts of cations for that and I'm not aware of any significant source of such ionized materials that aren't already combined into salts.

Physically removing it is out of the question because you'd need to find a way to accelerate the entire atmosphere to escape velocity. Just knocking a few asteroids into it won't help much because the gases will never leave Venus's sphere of influence and should return over the next years.

Comment Re:How is that startling? (Score 1) 413

This is absolutely untrue, just look at these maps. Control over redistricting by party:
Gerrymanderization of districts:
WV, IL and MD are truly gerrymandered democratic controlled states. As opposed to the entirety of the southeastern US from Texas to Pennsylvania that are republican controlled and gerrymandered.

Comment Re:510kph is airliner speed? (Score 1) 419

Hokkaido is a bit of a bad example though since there's no Shinkansen service through the tunnel.

Going 1500km the other way to Kagoshima the train takes about 7 hours, and the airplane 5-6 (from city center to city center). That's with the 270km/h regular Shinkansen. If you increased the speed to maglev levels the train would outperform an airplane.

Comment Re:A question for the Astronomers (Score 2) 58

By the way your analogy is very wrong. Because while there are indeed a lot of stars, they are also quite far away. An average star (diameter 10^6 kilometers) at 1000 light years (10^17 kilometers) distance is merely 10^-9 degrees across. To fill the entire night sky with stars you'd need 10^22 stars at that distance which is about how many of them exist in the entire universe. In fact it's statistically quite impossible for stars to actually cover each other.

Comment Re:Neil deGrasse Tyson (Score 1) 520

There is literally nothing we could do about a Kansas-size (500km) asteroid but that scenario is highly unlikely, there isn't any evidence that such an impact happened anywhere in the solar system in the last 3.5b years.
A realistic scenario is an asteroid between 100m and 1km, and ion thrusters and nuclear propulsion have a high enough efficiency that they can influence that category.

All science is either physics or stamp collecting. -- Ernest Rutherford