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The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of…

The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet

by Neil deGrasse Tyson

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A readable, if slight and somewhat repetitive, look at the popular controversy about whether or not Pluto should be designated a planet. Neil deGrasse Tyson was one of the designers behind the Hayden Planetarium display which kicked off the argument in the media back in 2001, and the book is liberally sprinkled with excerpts from the emails and letters which he received from the public about it. Tyson's narrative reveals all the difficulties of trying to untangle "pure" science from emotion, nostalgia, and pre-existing cultural constructions—why do we persist in trying to shoe-horn things into an imperfect category just because it's been around for a very long time? It was interesting to read this around the time that reports of a new nine planet appeared, but I couldn't help but feel that The Pluto Files would have been a stronger read if it had been cut down to appear as a long-form article in The Atlantic or a similar publication. ( )
  siriaeve | Jan 22, 2016 |
Neil DeGrasse Tyson is one of my favorite people, so I was very much looking forward to reading this book. I was not disappointed. This was a highly entertaining, informative, quick read.
I've always fallen on the side of Pluto-is-a-planet, however Neil has actually convinced me otherwise. He himself doesn't seem to feel passionately one way or another but rather was compelled by facts to reach the conclusion that Pluto, in fact, is not a planet.
He showcases both sides of the he argument in this book, and the Pluto-is-a-planet crowd comes out looking pretty bad. The arguments they used to support their view were absolutely ridiculous. Some made me laugh out loud in my living room.
This book covers Pluto's discovery, the public affection for the former planet, the beginnings of skepticism of its planetary status, and finally its demotion and the public outcry it inspired.
I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is interested in planetary science regardless of your opinion if Pluto's status. ( )
  DanielleMD | Jun 20, 2015 |
Pluto's fall from grace, from it's discovery in 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona, to it's demotion to dwarf planet status as a resident of the Kuiper Belt beyond Neptune, from the perspective of Neil deGrasse Tyson, in his role as the director of the Hayden Planetarium, Rose Center for Earth and Space at the American Museum of Natural History (NYC).

A very good read (or listen, as this is an audiobook). ( )
  bodhisattva | Feb 15, 2015 |
This book has a bunch of interesting things to say about humanity's changing understanding of the cosmos and how Pluto fits into that understanding. It even has a bunch of interesting characters like William Herschel, the discoverer of Uranus, and Jane Luu, one of the co-discoverers of the first designated Kuiper Belt object. However, it also has a bunch of really dumb jokes (a technique used by many popular science writers to make their work seem more accessible), and it takes too much time describing the public reaction. One gets the impression that Tyson thinks awfully well of himself, and so any incident in which he was involved surely merits the most detailed description. The furor over Pluto's loss of planethood isn't all that amusing; it's just another instance in which ignorant human beings pick sides because they think sentimentality is appealing and intellectual effort is pointless. ( )
1 vote themulhern | Nov 8, 2014 |
Very short book about Pluto and Tyson’s role in its deplanetization. The writing can be cute, but it’s pretty light going. Tyson argues against putting much weight on the label “planet”: he doesn’t think that it does kids nearly as much good to learn a mnemonic for the planets as it does for them to learn that there are small rocky bodies (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars), big gaseous ones (Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune), and various other objects (including Pluto) in the solar system. ( )
  rivkat | Sep 18, 2014 |
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To Plutophiles young and old
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At about four in the afternoon on February 18, 1930, 24-year old Clyde W. Tombaugh, a farm boy and amateur astronomer from Illinois, discovered on the sky what would shortly be named for the Roman god of the underworld.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0393065200, Hardcover)

The New York Times best-selling author chronicles America's love affair with Pluto, man's best (celestial) friend.

In August 2006, the International Astronomical Union voted Pluto out of planethood. Far from the sun, wonder Pluto has any fans. Yet during the mounting debate over rallied behind the extraterrestrial underdog. Disney created an irresistible pup by the same name, and, as one NASA scientist put it, Pluto was "discovered by an American for America." Pluto is entrenched in our cultural, patriotic view of the cosmos, and Neil deGrasse Tyson is on a quest to discover why.

Only Tyson can tell this story: he was involved in the first exhibits to demote Pluto, and, consequently, Pluto lovers have freely shared their opinions with him, including endless hate mail from third graders. In his typically witty way, Tyson explores the history of planet recently been judged a dwarf. 35 color, 10 black-and-white

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:00:19 -0400)

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An exploration of the controversy surrounding Pluto and its planet status from a renowned astrophysicist at the heart of the controversy.

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An edition of this book was published by Audible.com.

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W.W. Norton

2 editions of this book were published by W.W. Norton.

Editions: 0393065200, 0393337324

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