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Comment: Re:Density is therefore a necessity (Score 1) 180

by fyngyrz (#49161165) Attached to: One Astronomer's Quest To Reinstate Pluto As a Planet

A drop of water can self-form into a sphere by surface tension alone. If that is dropped off in space, it becomes a planet??

Not in my view. That isn't implied by what I said, either. I said mass, and I meant mass. If you dropped your putative drop of water off in space, by the way, by which I mean in a vacuum, I don't think it would be able to hold itself together by any means. I suspect it'd most likely sublimate before you even had a chance to really get into admiring it.

Oh, by the way, our sun orbits the galaxy, does that mean we aren't a planet here on earth because we orbit around something that has its own orbit?

Not to me. Again, I said nothing of the sort, and I implied nothing of the sort.

If not, then why do moons get to be moons when many of them are bigger than the "planet" Pluto, when they orbit around something that has its own orbit around another body?

Moons get to be moons in the context of a solar system; once you step beyond that level of organization, most of us (apparently not you, but that's ok) use different terminology to indicate groupings of stars, gas clouds, supergroupings, and so on.

But hey, don't let me get in the way of your irrational ranting; you've got a good head of steam going there, be a shame to see it peter out too soon.

Comment: Oh, science, is it? (Score 1) 180

by fyngyrz (#49161105) Attached to: One Astronomer's Quest To Reinstate Pluto As a Planet

We see articles about how few people are scientifically literate, and so many on Slashdot decry "We are geeks, we understand science!"

Appearently, nope!

Actually, my dear fellow poster, it is you that does not understand science. Science is a method. Information gathered and suppositions constructed are both data. Such data, particularly when the scientific method is applied, may give rise to (hopefully) more accurate metaphor(s) (more data) as to how nature behaves, and that in turn may let us go a little (or a lot) deeper next time around. Science is a very simple, and beautiful, method.

Back to data. Data is subject to naming, among other things, and those names are (a) abstracts selected for the convenience of the various users, (b) significantly arbitrary, (c) quite often of a dual or more diverse nature (and still 100% correct), for instance "daisy" and "bellis perennis" and "flower" and "that thing that makes me sneeze" and (d) often extend into the metaphorical and allegorical realms in order to further-, and/or better-, and/or simply re-define the issue(s) at hand. This most definitely includes one's own personal or sharable naming conventions and specifics.

When something is controversial or simply not static, we will often see the naming structure(s) and/or system(s) undergo permutation, mutation or even outright replacement. Brontosaurus, apatosaurus, brontosaurids, etc. Those are good examples of names that changed for some pretty good reasons (wrong head on the body... the "brontosaur" was an apatosaurus that mistakenly got a camarasaurus head on it, lol. Now "brontosaurids" means, hand-wavingly, "those long-necked ones" and not much else.) These nomenclature mutations are part of the process of integrating the data into our best-approximation of knowledge about the world, which, coming back around to square one, is not "science" either. Science is a method that we "do." Knowledge is not science itself, although it can and should be used in the undertaking of science.

Further, as the users of the data, objects, information vary, often so goes the terminology. Programmer: "Time for za!" Secretary sent to get it: "Can I order a pizza, please?" counter person: "pie, cheese" artisian: "yet another culinary masterpiece!"... they're all correct. It's not a problem. It's normal and natural. It is still normal and natural if someone in a particular household begins to call pizza "magic goo"... and who knows, it could be what everyone calls it some years down the road. I still kind of twitch when someone says "you suck", because when I was a teenager, that was a deadly insult, worthy of an immediate fistfight. Means something quite a bit more casual today, something absolutely unrelated to its original meaning. And so it goes. Naming is by its very nature a malleable domain. As it should be.

The bottom line here is, just because a few astronomers (and it was very few, btw) voted for a particular usage, does not mean we have to, or even should, comply if we don't agree. I'm sorry if that seems too chaotic for you, but that's really the way it is, and likely always will be, too.

But to decry that because you learned something one way, therefore that convinces you forever, that's just plain stupid.

Well, good thing I wasn't doing that then, eh?

Cheers! :)

Comment: Re:Going my own way (Score 1) 180

by fyngyrz (#49160905) Attached to: One Astronomer's Quest To Reinstate Pluto As a Planet

A protostar, given it's in a seriously pre-fusion state, will (as far as I know) be large enough to have quite decisively pulled itself into a spheroid. If it is orbiting another star, I'd say that at that point, it is a planet and a protostar.

As I see it, protostars seem to refer to a class of planet, just as do gas giants, balls of frozen gasses, molten worlds, rocky, airless worlds, and earthlike worlds. That namespace is a very rich field to till, I think.

Once it lights off, I see it as a sibling (binary, trinary, etc.) by virtue of being stars in thrall to one another's gravity. The star with the greater mass I'd call the primary, the next most mass the secondary, etc.

If it is just sitting out in space by itself, I'd designate it a (rogue) planet and a protostar.

Sure, planets can radiate all kinds of things, for all kinds of reasons. Aurorae, ionizing radiation, IR, UV (some high energy electrical storms do this here), atmosphere, monkeys in tin cans... :) ok, that's pushing the indirection a little hard, but... lol

At this point, I'd say that anything that had lit its fusion lamp gets the designator, quite possibly qualified, of "star." There are various kinds of post-fusion states; neutron stars, black holes, perhaps even just dead cinders and fragments, and of course gassy / radiative remnants resulting from their destruction. Probably lots of other things too. The world, Horatio... etc.

That's all just my own outlook though.

Comment: Going my own way (Score 1) 180

by fyngyrz (#49156963) Attached to: One Astronomer's Quest To Reinstate Pluto As a Planet

As far as I'm concerned, if it's orbiting a star, and it itself isn't another star, and it's got, or had, enough mass such that it pulled whatever it is made of into a spheroid, it's a planet. If it's orbiting another planet and the center of the orbit is within the other body, it's a moon, spheroid or not. If the center of the orbit is in space, they're both planets. If there isn't enough mass to pull the thing into a spheroid, and it's not orbiting a planet, then it is either an asteroid (primarily rocky) or a comet (primarily gassy/icy.) If it's pulled itself into a spheroid and is floating out away from any star, it's still a planet, but it is a rogue. We can have a moon orbiting another moon and so on, but that doesn't make the first one into a planet.

If an object is manufactured and not meant to navigate to arbitrary destinations under its own power, but only resides in orbit about something or sits in free space, if it can host humans, it is a space station. If it cannot host humans, and it's in orbit, it is a satellite. If it is in free space, it is a platform. If it can travel under its own power to arbitrary destinations, arbitrarily change orbits and so on, it is a spacecraft. Station keeping effectors do not count, and being able to carry humans doesn't make a difference.

If the object is, or ever was, host to a natural fusion reaction due to the usual culprits, it's a star. Live, dead or otherwise.

I could go on for quite a while, but most likely, no one cares anyway. :) The important thing is *I* know what to think when I learn about something "out there." And Pluto? Pluto is definitely a planet.

If someone convinces me that these ideas are inconsistent, I'll do my best to fix 'em so they aren't.

Comment: Argh (Score 1) 101

by fyngyrz (#49155701) Attached to: Google Reverses Stance, Allows Porn On Blogger After Backlash

Here is what is so frustrating about all this.

Consensual sex is good. Consensual sex is fine. Consensual sex is entertaining.

The "bad' things about consensual sex, mostly including distributing media recording it -- disease, "moral" backlash, reputation damage, difference from how the external objector thinks it should be performed, perceived "offense", blatant rationalizations about agency magically not being present for the most ridiculous, transparent and obviously invalid reasons -- all of this stuff comes from outside sex. They are not sex. All of these things are things a sane person needs to defend against in both the prophylactic and immediate senses. These factors are all pernicious to immediate attacks on normality and goodness -- on sex itself -- and as such, they can be dangerous as hell.

The *one* inherent, sex-centric risk that affects just a few of the many forms of sex is that of unwanted pregnancy. Because yes, that's actually part of those (again, few) aspects of sex. And, just like the external threats, it can be defended against, so it's not a good reason to not have sex even of that kind, and of course it never was a good reason to avoid the myriad types and expressions of sex that cannot result in pregnancy.

Into this environment come the bewildered. Google's corporate overlords, like most who have gained power, seek to impose their view of what's "ok" on everyone else. In the context of this step back from the brink, Google is still way, way above the depths in terms of the violence, coercion and repression the government, religions, various corporations and the general public have established, but we have been witness to the urge growing within the Google power structure. Of course it is wonderful to see it set back somewhat, but we would be extremely gullible if we thought this was certain to be the end of it. This is a very well-trodden path.

Into this environment come the masses (but I repeat myself.) Just a few days ago, an episode of The Walking Dead aired that had the Intertubes quite upset due to content.

Now, this particular work of fiction, you have to understand, has showcased, in graphic detail, human cannibalism; murder of many stripes; suicide; extreme torture; extreme bondage; non-consensual amputation; and of course "zombies" in glorious anatomical and decaying detail. Exploding heads, severed body parts, the thrusting of limbs inside the dead, painting one's self in zombie gore, the most generous splashing of body parts and fluids in every direction and every variety you could possibly imagine (unless you think they actually missed something, and in which case, if you let the producers know, I'd bet money it shows up within a few episodes.) In play have been tanks, explosives, booby traps, fire, bacterial assault, knives, guns, imprisonment, baseball bats, swords, fingernails, martial arts... None of this so much as raises an eyebrow with the viewing public, who think it's all delightful entertainment.

So good grief, what could the content possibly be that actually got the viewers weirded out enough to speak up and get feisty? Only this: Two gay fellows sharing a kiss. Not even a particularly passionate kiss, but more of a "wow, so glad you made it through that alive" kiss.

We -- the few truly sane, the only way to honestly characterize it -- watch this kind of governmental, corporate, religious and individual pathology from outside, and I have to tell all of you, any hope that human society will ever come to its senses is extinguished in a manner I can only liken to a tidal wave rolling over a single guttering candle.

There's nothing for it. Society is sick, sick, sick. And dangerous. You all be careful out there.

Comment: Re:Just damn (Score 1) 401

by fyngyrz (#49151491) Attached to: Leonard Nimoy Dies At 83

When *YOU* take an action *YOU* better be ready for the reaction. Anything less makes you a victim only to yourself.

It is very well documented that the reaction people were told they would have, which was a good one, by those who should have (and did) know otherwise, is not the reaction they actually got, which was deadly.

So while I agree absolutely that we are responsible for the outcomes of choices we make for which we understand the eventual and potential outcome(s), I deny just as absolutely that we are responsible for the outcomes of choices we make when we have been deceived.

I would have no problem whatsoever voting to convict a tobacco company executive of the previous century of premeditated manslaughter by poisoning. However, at this point, we know, or we should know, how utterly stupid smoking tobacco is in the context of our health, and yes, any individual capable of informed consent who is still (or begins) smoking today can't reasonably blame that on anyone other than themselves. And as long as they don't, and don't make non-consenting persons and animals inhale the carcinogenic pollution that results, I'm all for them smoking all they want.

"Right now I feel that I've got my feet on the ground as far as my head is concerned." -- Baseball pitcher Bo Belinsky

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