Tuesday, January 02, 2007

The WORD's 2nd Biggest Story of '06: Pulling Away the Pillow

Many Vain Earth Men Just Sit Upon Nice Pillows.
As I did, you may have learned the above mnemonic, designed to help you remember the names of the planets in our solar system, when you were a kid. Each word in the sentence begins with the same letter as one of the planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus (*snicker*), Neptune and Pluto. Last summer, however, the International Astronomical Union (whoever the heck they are) pulled away the pillow. Seventy-six years after its discovery, Pluto was officially declared not to be a planet. Now, those many vain Earth men are left to sit upon nothing. (Which does actually fit the mnemonic)
You are probably asking yourself, and drawing stares if you're doing it aloud and you're not alone, just why I consider this to be the second biggest story of 2006.
Think about it, friends. This was a major "everything you know is wrong" moment. A mysterious cabal of scientists suddenly took it upon themselves to declare that something that you and I had been taught since childhood as cold, hard fact was not, and, indeed, never had been, true at all.
This caused my friend Joe to wonder, "What's next? Are they gonna kick 'Q' out of the alphabet now?"
Just as importantly, the Pluto "controversy" got ordinary people talking about outer space again, as did other cosmic developments in the year's news, such as the possibility that water could be found on Mars, bringing with it the chance that some form of life may have existed upon the Red Planet or perhaps even still does.
It is my hope that this "buzz" will translate into renewed interest in space exploration and support for America's space program and projects such as the International Space Station and the proposed permanent base at the southern pole of the Moon.

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