Thursday, January 22, 2015

The one with telescopes, not fortune tellers.

Ready to have your mind exploded? You are? Great, because astro-scienceticians (or astronomers as they prefer to be called for some reason) believe that there might just be two, count'em two heretofore unknown planets in our solar system. Not planetoids, not more loser dwarf planets. Planets, possibly even bigger than Earth.
I propose we call them New Alderaan and Pluto 2: The Revenge.
Way to go astronomy...
Can you believe it? No? You can't? That's fair. After all, we live in the future and have had telescopes since the 1600's. Are we supposed to believe that astronomers just missed these guys for 400 years? Well, yes, it looks that way. Sure, space is really big and dark and I suppose it's possible that something could be overlooked, but seriously? Entire planets? C'mon. Astronomy, as a scientific field of study, has really dropped the ball on this one. Although Carlos de la Fuente Marco, the scientist who led the team whose research is blowing our minds right now (click here and here for all this science I don't understand), cautions us that nothing's actually been discovered yet. All he has is indirect and math-heavy evidence.

Now brace yourself as I try and sum up something I only sort of understand: De la Fuente's team analyzed the the motion of trans-neptunian objects (space rocks floating out past Neptune) whose crazy, elliptical orbits seem to suggest that something large and planet-like, say, like a planet or two, is exerting a gravitational influence on them. Still with me?
Or possibly that Unicron's coming, although they admit it's a long shot.
Or maybe it's like discovering your dad
has a secret Canadian family. A Canadian
family with 2-15 times the mass of...forget it.
Anyway, these hypothetical planets, if real, are probably terrestrial and have a mass 2-15 times that of the Earth, each. Holy shit, right? As if we needed more reasons to feel small and insignificant in a cold, godless universe that's completely indifferent to our existence. Thanks science...this is like living in a house all your life and discovering that it has two whole rooms you never knew about. Two whole rooms with 2-15 times the mass of the room you did know about...and...ok, sorry, it's not the best analogy, but go with me on this.

My Very Educated Mother Just Served
Us Nachos, Not Any...uh, Pluto 2...The-uh-
hey, back off, it's just a rough draft... 
So if this discovery pans out, it could have enormous ramifications for...well, uh, pretty much no one. Like it's cool and all, but for the the vast majority of us, two new planets really won't have any impact on our lives. Sure, we'll have to make up a new mnemonic for the planet names, but otherwise it's just-oh, shit. Astrology. This is totally going to screw up astrology. You know, that word you always say when you mean astronomy, and then someone corrects you and you feel like an idiot?

Like, I know it's kind of bunk to begin with, but you can't just throw two more planets into the mix, can you? I mean, for the horoscope fans out there, this has got to be the equivalent of archaeologists digging up a couple new commandments or something.
"...number ten: thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's stuff, number eleven thou shalt
remember casual Friday and maybe wear a t-shirt with a funny joke on it, and finally number
 twelve: thou shalt be nice to gays, seriously people, the burning bush was very clear about this."


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