View Full Version : Prediction: Pluto will disappear

2003-Mar-06, 09:56 PM
Some years back there was a humorous scientific article about Pluto. Maybe in J. Irreproducible Results in the 1970s. It was a graph of the decreasing mass of Pluto, starting with the pre-discovery predictions, and going down through the discovery of Charon as a separate object.

The author drew a line and extrapolated to zero mass, predicting that Pluto would disappear around the year 2000!

If anyone remembers this and can post the citation, it would be appreciated.
We posted the above to Colt's poll in this thread (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=4016&forum=1&56) in Against the Mainstream.

Kilopi commented that he (she? they?) remembered it. Anyone else?

Maryellen and Tom

2003-Mar-06, 10:34 PM
This page (http://www.physics.vanderbilt.edu/astrocourses/AST101/announcements/07feb01.html) mentions the conclusion, though not the original source.

2003-Mar-07, 04:22 AM
Reminds me of the Mark Twain quote on the Mississippi River...

"In the space of one hundred and seventy-six years the Mississippi has shortened itself two hundred and forty-two miles. Therefore... in the Old Silurian Period, the Mississippi River was upward of one million three hundred thousand miles long... seven hundred and forty-two years from now the Mississippi will be only a mile and three-quarters long. There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesome returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact."

Kind of reminds me of creationists and their claims about the Earth's magnetic field.


The Bad Astronomer
2003-Mar-07, 04:47 AM
On 2003-03-06 23:22, Hale_Bopp wrote:
Reminds me of the Mark Twain quote on the Mississippi River...

That's the quotation on the main page of this site! But isn't it "wholesale" and not "wholesome"? I'd better look that up.

2003-Mar-07, 11:14 AM
Kilopi commented that he (she? they?) remembered it. Anyone else?

Here is the way to link directly to a post (http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=4016&forum=1&start=0:&start=23). As I said, the joke had been posted on one of my professor's door, complete with graph.

I have since found the title The Incredible Shrinking Planet (http://www.locusmag.com/index/t71.html#A8886), an article from 1987 by Isaac Asimov. It was also in a book compilation, The Relativity of Wrong (http://www.msen.com/~muffin/Books/Contents/AsimovIsaacTheRelativityofWrong0.html). I don't remember that the graph I saw was by Asimov, but who knows?

2003-Mar-07, 04:44 PM
I found a discussion in sci.astro from 1993 that talked about some articles. These posts (http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=alien.05ex%40acheron.amigans.gen.nz&output=gplain) mention a Scientific American article about Pluto, but this one (http://groups.google.com/groups?selm=1rfs0aINNbhb%40gap.caltech.edu&output=gplain) seems pretty sure it was an article in EOS around 1980. Perhaps Asimov's article (1987) refers to it.

2003-Mar-07, 06:58 PM
Thanks for the leads.

The following citation is from a BIBLIOGRAPHY OF PLUTO from the University of Arizona Lunar & Planetary Laboratory

Dessler, A.J. and Russell, C.T. (1980) From the ridiculous to the sublime: the pending disappearance of Pluto. Eos 61, 691.

Off to the library!

2003-Mar-07, 08:17 PM
You are probably right BA...I just cut and pasted from a page of famous quotes...they probably got it wrong.

Funny...I knew that quote and liked it but didn't remember it was on your web page /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif


2003-Mar-08, 02:52 AM
The graph and a link to the article are now on our website here (http://www.maryellenandtom.com/2002/planets/Pluto1980.html).

Actually, the conclusion was that Pluto would not disappear, but would become a complex mass. Accurate prediction!

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: maryellenandtom on 2003-03-07 21:53 ]</font>

Kaptain K
2003-Mar-08, 09:18 AM
I do not know the origin of this, but I do know that it can not be any of those mentioned so far, since I first heard it from an astronomy professor in the early '70s.

John Kierein
2003-Mar-08, 10:28 AM
Sounds like the big bang to me.

JS Princeton
2003-Mar-08, 02:28 PM
Sounds like you have a grudge against the big bang, JK, just because you don't understand it. Pity. None of us understand it really. But this is a hijack. Perhaps you should start another thread since it's been a while since we've disproven your ideas. (I've noticed you've all been rather quiet since WMAP results were announced.)

Anyway, this is off-topic. Sorry, you all should carry on.

One thing this reminds me of is a creationist "science" argument that gave the different measurements for the speed of light over the ages and used that to "prove" that the speed of light was changing!