Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Pluto at Sarah Lawrence College

On April 15th Dr. Michael E. Brown will give a lecture at Sarah Lawrence College [Bronxville, New York...some 15 miles north of Manhattan] on the demise of Pluto as a planet.

Author and astronomer Dr. Michael E. Brown will present the Annual Science Lecture entitled “How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had it Coming” on Wednesday, April 15 at 5:30 p.m. in the Heimbold Visual Arts Center at Sarah Lawrence College. Among his numerous scientific accomplishments, Dr. Brown is best known for his discovery of Eris, the largest object found in the solar system in 150 years and the reason for Pluto’s recent demotion. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact College Events at (914) 395-2412 or collegeevents@sarahlawrence.edu.

Pluto, called a planet for seventy-five years, is now referred to as a "dwarf planet." While astronomers argued about Pluto for most of the past decade, the final blow came with the discovery of Eris, an even larger body in the outer solar system. The story of the search for and the discovery of Eris, the question of planethood for Pluto and why astronomers made the right decision to demote Pluto will be the subject for this presentation. Dr. Brown specializes in the discovery and study of bodies at the edge of the solar system.

Dr. Michael E. Brown is a professor of planetary astronomy at the California Institute of Technology and has been on the faculty there since 1996. He has authored nearly 100 scientific papers, and his writing has appeared in such venues as the New York Times, Physics Today, and the World Book Science Year. Brown received his AB. from Princeton, and his MA and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley. He has won several awards and honors for his scholarship, including the prestigious Urey Prize for best young planetary scientist from the American Astronomical Society's Division of Planetary Sciences, a Presidential Early Career Award and a Sloan Fellowship.

If anyone attends, please respond with a review.


Laurel Kornfeld said...

I object in the strongest terms to the words "final blow," and have written to officials at Sarah Lawrence asking them to invite a speaker to represent the other side of this ongoing debate, that Pluto--and all dwarf planets--are planets too. Brown likes to title his lectures "How I Killed Pluto," which is misleading, because Pluto as a planet is not dead. Many astronomers and lay people are working to get the controversial IAU demotion overturned while others are ignoring it altogether. Sarah Lawrence owes its students the whole story on this issue, and that story involves two legitimate sides, not just Mike Brown's dictates, and I hope the college will do right by its students by inviting a speaker representing the other side as well.

Timray said...

I just fail to see what all the hub-bub is about....why not tow it over to Jupiter and make it another moon. I could see the argument if one were planning on building condos there and it was a matter of environmental concerns....at least the other side is not setting fires downtown and breaking bank windows.