Hi there! In a world that seems to be stuck on a Mobius strip of one damn conflict after another running parallel to a series of mundane things that center around brain dead politicians and equally deficient celebrities, we had something really cool to ponder. And we owe it all to....
Specifically rocket science. Or SPACE science! These little triumphs don't happen so much it seems.
This week the human race reached the edges of our solar system to take a look-see once and for all at our furthest solar neighbor, Pluto.
A few years ago, Pluto got demoted from planet to dwarf planet which I imagine didn't do much for its self-esteem. I mean, it was already dealing with being named after a Disney cartoon dog.
Ten years ago, NASA sent a probe up into space called New Horizons (which I think was also the title of the last album from Yanni, master of the pan flute.) It's destination was to go check out our little planetary friend on the farthest edges of our neighborhood. And I mean edges that are really, really far away. It took 10 years to get there. Well, it would've taken only 9 years but New Horizons got lost a bit and refused to ask for directions.
Male rocket scientists. What you gonna do?
On the way there to see the 9th planet of our solar system, the mission changed a bit when back on Earth, some scientist types were in a bar, drinking their vodka and Tang, and one of them said, "F**k Pluto! It's too small to be a planet!" And the other scientists scribbled a statement on the back of a napkin and did whatever science people do to make things a rule and voila, Pluto was reduced to a "special guest appearance" role in our solar system.
Now I should clarify that I know Pluto was NOT named after a Disney cartoon dog. Pluto was the Roman god of the underworld, the dominion of the dead and the lost, also known as MySpace. In Greek mythology, he was called Hades which I think even the Romans had to admit was cooler than being called Pluto. Still, would we have such an affection for our little planetoid if it had been named Hades instead of Pluto?
Or Mickey Mouse's dog? "Here, Hades! Good boy, Hades!"
Pluto may have been demoted from planet to assistant planet but it still has a moon named "Sharon", which was Pluto's girlfriend who nagged him a HELL of a lot. "We never go anywhere! My friends don't call anymore! My mom said being with you would be a living hell! I didn't know she meant literally!"
OK, that's Charon who was the boat ...driver that took souls into the underworld. Charon didn't mind much, it was steady work. But as the centuries wore on and he became a bit tired of driving the boat with the wailing dead souls, he wondered when the f**k someone would build a bridge so Charon could retire, kick back a bit.
Where was I? Oh, yeah. Going to visit a planet.
So New Horizons made it to Pluto and began taking pictures. Back on Earth, we had some problems getting the pictures developed because who knew back in 2005 that Polaroid would go out of business. But eventually somebody blew the dust off the picture making thingamajig and we got...
OK, no more jokes because this is amazing! This is a picture of a world that we've known about for decades but had never seen.
And this planet...and hell yeah it's a planet, screw you, you scientists drunk on vodka and Tang...this planet so small and so frequently disregarded, it has welcomed us with a heart upon its surface.
Or that could be a butt.
Hello, Pluto. Nice to finally meet you.
Everyone, say "hi" to Pluto.
And be good to one another.
I'm So Glad My Suffering Amuses You
Click here for Stephen Colbert's video about Pluto. Very funny. Can't wait for Colbert's debut on the Late Show in September.