“How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming” by Mike Brown

As soon as I found this book, I immediately bought it not minding the price. I was curious with Mike Brown’s personality, career and achievements. More so, how in the world he demoted Pluto as one of the major planets in the solar system.

Mike Brown’s personality (as I understood it from the book) reminded me of Sheldon Cooper from the TV series, The Big Bang Theory. I was impressed on how he applied the scientific method to his personal life. For instance, he meticulously recorded his observations using statistics during the first three months of his daughter, Lilah. I think  my parents also behaved that way where they patiently take good care of me despite their busy schedule  – except for the graphs and the bell curve of course, haha!

I also admire his patience, dedication, skill, creativity and intelligence in finding those dim icy rocks that are more or less larger than Pluto through all possible means – from photographic plates (since the time of Clyde Tombaugh), the old Schmidt Cassegrain telescope at the Palomar Observatory, Keck Telescopes in Hawaii, to digital images. I truly envy his job! I wish I could do the same someday.

What really caught my attention was his experience of the competition within the scientific community. I realized that you really need to be vigilant in taking of what you’ve worked for. Be careful from people (even scientists) who would do everything to steal your ideas or even data. The world is indeed full of selfish people who only think of themselves.

At the last part of the book, he explained well IAU’s resolutions (5A and 5B) for the classification of planets in the solar system. I will not enumerate it here ( you should buy and read the book instead! ) but frankly, I find it too simple yet confusing. IAU’s 5A resolution should be reviewed and revised again soon.

I definitely recommend the book for those who are curious and wants to know how astronomers work and the fun side of being a scientist!

Thank you Mike Brown for sharing to us your life, work, and experience!


~ by Stella's Gaze on February 5, 2011.

6 Responses to ““How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming” by Mike Brown”

  1. Pluto is not dead; Mike Brown tried but failed to “kill” it. The IAU demotion was done by only four percent of its members, most of whom are not planetary scientists. It was opposed by hundreds of planetary scientists in a formal petition led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto. Even Dr. Neil de Grasse Tyson admits the debate is ongoing. I encourage people to learn both sides of the issue. Some good pro-Pluto as a planet books are “Is Pluto A Planet?” by Dr. David Weintraub, “The Case for Pluto” by Alan Boyle, and my own book, hopefully out in 2011, “The Little Planet that Would Not Die: Pluto’s Story.” Interestingly, the entire premise on which the four percent of the IAU made its decision has been proven wrong–in November 2010, Eris occulted a star and was shown to actually be smaller than Pluto.

    Don’t envy Brown’s job–decide to do it yourself. Why not go into the field of astronomy? I’ve done exactly this, going back to school for a Masters in astronomy, and I absolutely love it! It’s the best decision I ever made! Don’t let anyone discourage you!

  2. Hi Laura,

    As much as I want to pursue a career in Astronomy, we don’t have a strong astronomical course program and research opportunities here in the Philippines. My only choice is to go abroad. I hope it is that easy. 😦

  3. First, a minor correction: my name is Laurel, not Laura.

    Second, why not consider an online astronomy program? I am studying through Swinburne University’s Astronomy Online program, based in Melbourne, Australia. It is a real program, not a “degree mill,” and you get to be in classes with people from all over the world. Check out their graduate programs, which go all the way to a Masters of Science in astronomy, here: http://astronomy.swin.edu.au/sao/ James Cook University, also based in Australia, also offers online graduate programs including a PhD program in astronomy. A lot of work in astronomy is done remotely with data downloaded from computers, so researchers don’t necessarily have to travel to another country.

    I hope you check these out. And please, look for my book later in the year. I have a lot to share too!

  4. Sorry, forgot the link to the James Cook University program: http://www.jcu.edu.au/school/mathphys/astronomy/paged.shtml

  5. Thank you very much for the links, Laurel! Sorry for the mistake too.

    I also checked the Swinburne Astronomy program. Do they offer scholarships even for an online program? I find it very expensive.

    Yes, I’ll definitely wait for your book! I’m very curious with people’s various views and perspective regarding Pluto’s status. 🙂

  6. […] here: “How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming” by Mike Brown « The … Posted in Swinburne | Tags: absolutely-love, astronomy, degree-mill, melbourne, online, […]

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