I don’t like not knowing how many planets there are

I grew up understanding that Pluto was our solar system’s ninth planet.

By the time I got to college, students were being taught that there were only eight planets, and that Pluto is actually a “dwarf planet.”

In the near future, kids may be growing up learning that there are, once again, nine planets.

Scientists believe they have discovered compelling evidence of a celestial object that may fit the criteria of a planet. It’s estimated to be 20 billion miles away from the sun at its closest point in orbit, and 100 billion miles away at its furthest. By contrast, Pluto is 4.6 billion miles away. The potential new planet would take between 10,000 to 20,000 years to orbit the sun.

Planet 9Now I understand that our solar system and galaxy — let alone the entire universe — is pretty frickin’ big, but I feel like the number of planets is something that should stay constant.

A lot of things do change in life; our jobs, our relationships, our physical appearances, etc. It would be nice if I could go my entire life comfortably knowing exactly how many planets there are.

Science is forever changing. I know that. This is more of a selfish request than anything. But if there are any universal truths in the world, planets should be one of them.

It would be like being told how may presidents there were, and then one day, the history community says, “You know what? That James Garfield guy, yeah, he doesn’t count anymore. Just gonna cross him off the list.”

And just like that, he’s gone.

Or if some type of international fairy tale association added an eighth dwarf to Snow White’s clan. (If so, allow me to recommend the name “Trumpy,” the egotistical, maniacal, narrow-minded dwarf with orange hair who is hated by all. Kids have to know.)

Why don’t the people get to have a say before these experts decide to rewrite our entire childhood education? Where was the public input session prior to Pluto’s abolishing?

It would have given me the opportunity to write an emotionally driven, impassioned speech about why I would like to see Pluto stay. It would have involved absolutely no scientific reasoning, but rather, it would have been a sympathetic plea that tugged at the heartstrings.

On that same level, I’d like to know more about this mysterious ninth planet before it’s put on the same plane as Earth, Mars and Neptune. Because I don’t trust it. It’s lurking in the shadows, it’s gone billions of years without being discovered, and it’s not a planet that Matt Damon would easily be able to survive in if he got stranded there.

You know what? That should be the new criteria. Send Matt Damon there, and if he finds his way home, then it’s a planet.

What to name the program?

The Bourne Interplanetary.

Can we please stop giving cute nicknames to literally everything?

I’m not entirely sure when it started happening. But at some point, the world abandoned the English language and started embracing cute, simplified and nonsensical nicknames to describe everything.

It may have something to do with the emergence years ago of certain businesses, who, foreseeing America’s apparent need for cuteness, named their companies appropriately: Google. Yahoo. The Furby.

While there was likely a lot of sound business strategies that led to their success, I’m convinced that they wouldn’t have even had the opportunity to succeed if they didn’t first catch people’s attention with their adorable names. Against Google and Yahoo, AltaVista never stood a chance.

And now, the cuteness is everywhere. When celebrity couples date, we assign their relationship an endearing nickname. When a mischievous scandal arises, we condense it into one single easy-to-process word. And we have no problem Grexitmaking up nonexistent words to describe actions in order to turn it into a worldwide meme. Remember Tebowing?

As always, I blame social media. Since nobody can understand anything anymore without an accompanying hash tag, it almost necessitates the need for a one-word, cute nickname to describe everything.

How widespread is this? Look no further than the Greek debt crisis. This is a terrible, terrible situation for Greeks. Their banks are closed, they’re out of work, and their country may be forced to withdraw from the Eurozone. To put it into perspective, the current crisis is actually plaguing Greece’s economy worse than the Great Depression damaged New York’s in 1929.

So how does the rest of the world react? Why, by giving the entire crisis a cute nickname, of course!

The “Grexit” has been used to describe Greek’s possible exit from the Eurozone if a deal is not reached. And this isn’t jut something that is being said by Kathie Lee Gifford after her fourth glass of wine on the Today Show, but by highly credible news outlets like BBC News and The Guardian. When the British news buys into the cutesy name, that’s when you know it’s here to stay.

But that’s not even the worst of it. Grexit just wasn’t enough for most people. Once a third bailout was agreed to on Monday morning, the nickname got taken a step further — aGreekment.

Everyone do me a favor and search “facepalm” on Google images for me, and whatever pops up, that’s exactly how I feel.

It’s one thing to give a pet name to Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. But maybe we should be a tad bit more serious when discussing a crisis that might ruin the lives of millions of families, while also having a detrimental effect on the entire global economy?

In other news, the New Horizons provided us with our first close-up shots of Pluto, which sounds cute enough that it doesn’t need a nickname, and one of the the world’s most notorious drug kingpins, Joaquín Guzmán Loera, broke out of a Mexican prison Saturday night.

Now there’s a manly story that can’t be diminished by a cute nickname. A drug lord escaping prison. It’s like Scarface meets Shawshank.

Wait, Guzman has actually earned a nickname in the Mexican underworld, you say? It’s got to at least be intimidating, right?

It’s El Chapo.

I give up.

Soon, Pluto will no longer be a mystery

Before I begin, I must update a previous item — the U.S. women’s World Cup winning team will indeed get its parade in New York City! It’s the first female sports team to receive such an honor. And it’s well deserved.

Why stop there? Let’s put Alex Morgan on the $10 bill. Screw Susan B. Anthony or Harriet Tubman.

For one day, it won’t be Manhattan. It’ll be Womanhattan.

But now let’s move on to another topic a little further away from New York, and from planet Earth altogether. In one week, mankind will get a glimpse of one of the last mysteries of outer space that we actually know about — Pluto.

The former ninth planet from the sun has had an interesting history. It was discovered in 1930, not by an astronomer, but by a low-level assistant at the Lowell Observatory in Arizona named Clyde Tombaugh. First called Planet X, it was soon recognized as Pluto, our solar system’s ninth planet.

PlutoSeventy-six years later, In 2006, Pluto was no longer recognized as an official planet, but instead, as one of hundreds of dwarf planets that we know of.

And on July 14, a probe launched from the U.S. nine years ago will fly past Pluto and take the first ever close-up photos of it in history.

To the non-scientist, the prospect of it is a lot more exciting than the results. Because it will just be pictures of a shitload of rocks and ice. But the thought that a probe — called the New Horizons — floated perfectly on course for nine years from Earth to Pluto is pretty neat. Almost as neat as a solar-powered backpack that doubles as a phone charger.

C’mon, that’s pretty damn neat.

In a way, it’s a little sad. We’ve always known about Pluto’s existence, whether as an actual planet or a dwarf planet. But it’s been logged in our minds as this far away, distant rock that set the boundary for what we do know exists in outer space, and what we don’t.

It’s almost like getting to see what God looks like.

Sometimes leaving things to the imagination is better than seeing the real thing. Remember when we saw pictures of Mars three years ago? It was just dust and craters. You might as well have showed me a picture of a Saudi Arabian desert and I wouldn’t have known the difference.

I want my perception of planets to be what I saw in picture books when I was a kid. Everything l know about outer space, I learned from The Magic School Bus, and I want to keep it that way.

Pluto was always the last one on the map. The smallest. The introvert that stood out from the rest. In a way, Pluto was us.

I don’t need to know what it looks like. Is it cool as shit that we not only have the capability to do it, but managed to pull it off? Hell yeah. But where’s the mystery after this? We know there’s more out there, but we probably won’t see it in this lifetime.

Actually, the better question is, if we have the capability to send large objects to Pluto, then why don’t we send Donald Trump there?