Planet X?

I was surprised to learn that scientists have allegedly announced the discovery of a tenth planet in our solar system recently . . . not from any headlines in any newspapers, not from any splashes on any main web portals, but as a link posted to a local rock band’s message board.

Why isn’t this bigger news? If this object, said to be one and half times the size of and three times further away from the sun than Pluto, is indeed designated as a planet, then this is only the fourth time in human history that man has “discovered” a planet in our solar system. (All but Uranus, Nepture, Pluto and the new one are visible to the naked eye, and thus have been observed from antiquity).

So, again, why wasn’t this bigger news? Can we only handle one space story at a time, meaning that we’re too engrossed news-wise in the current Shuttle mission to get excited about a new planet? Or have we become jaded by the discoveries of so many extra-solar planets that one in our system is ho-hum? Or is the problem the controversy over whether any bodies beyond Neptune actually merit the designation “planet”? There are many who want Pluto stripped of said title, and I would expect those who feel thusly to also deny this new body that designation as well.

It could be, I suppose, that this is not the first large trans-Neptunian body announced in recent years. There is an excellent article here about the various Kuiper Belt bodies that have been discovered since Pluto was first spotted. Maybe the presence of Sedna and Quaoar and Orcus out there past Neptune make us all collectively blase about this new body.

But not me . . . I love this stuff. I can’t wait to read and learn more about it, and hope that it does, indeed, receive designation as the solar system’s tenth planet. That’s something I’d like to see in my lifetime.

P.E. in the House

I got the new Public Enemy greatest hits collection, Power to the People and the Beats, yesterday. It’s the first time I’ve heard most of these songs in a while, and the first time ever on a clear CD mixes, since all of my PE collection was either on cassette tape or vinyl. It is truly awe-inspiring to listen to these songs, and hear how amazing and forward-looking the production, message and vocal performances sound today. Chuck D is a force of nature, and at their peak, the Bomb Squad created beats that have never been matched nor touched since their issue. The density of most of these tracks is almost unbearable at times, but that gives them a palpable sense of urgency unlike that found on any other records I can name off the top of my head. I can’t quibble with the inclusion of any of the tracks on this record, although the PE catalog is deep enough that they could have added a whole second disc to this collection and still maintained the quality level. In particular, I would have liked to have heard “Burn Hollywood Burn,” “Fear of A Black Planet,” “How to Kill a Radio Consultant,” “Move” and “Air Hoodlum” added to this compilation. But, hey, that’s just quibbling . . . and the fact that they’re not on this disc probably means I’ll end up buying the original albums that spawned them on CD as well, so that’s not really a bad thing in the grand scheme of things.

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