473: Still Raw

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Still Raw
We actually divorced once over the airplane/treadmill argument. (Preemptive response to the inevitable threads arguing about it: you're all wrong on the internet.)
Title text: We actually divorced once over the airplane/treadmill argument. (Preemptive response to the inevitable threads arguing about it: you're all wrong on the internet.)


This comic shows Cueball and his significant other undergoing a domestic dispute. The debate is heated, enough to tear apart a romantic relationship, and although the end result is Cueball being thrown out of his other's house, he resolves that he will stand by his point of view no matter what.

Of course, in the last panel, we learn that the argument is over something that should be, in the context of romance, utterly trivial: Cueball has been thrown out simply because he believes that Pluto should never have been a planet.

Pluto was the ninth planet in our solar system between 1930 and 2006, during a time when "planet" had no formal definition. (Jupiter was thought to be the ninth planet from 1807 to 1845.) In 2006, the IAU created a formal definition for "planet"; Pluto didn't make the cut, and it was reclassified as a dwarf planet. The reasons are complicated, but the basic issue is that like Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta, Pluto is too small to function as a planet in the solar system. A better explanation can be found here.

In the title text, the airplane/treadmill argument starts when someone asks whether an airplane can take off while it is on a treadmill that is opposing its progress (pulling it backward). The question usually leads to arguments because it is posed ambiguously. Properly defining the question shows that the airplane can indeed take off (because its forward motion is provided by its propeller/jet engine, not its wheels, which are free to spin at any speed) and experiments (such as Mythbusters') bear this out. Randall also takes a crack at the issue here, and more info can be found here.

The statement about being wrong is likely a reference to 386: Duty Calls.


[Cueball laying on sidewalk outside a house, surrounded by his belongings.]
She threw me out yelling, "You don't say those words. Not in this house."
It's been two years. I thought the wounds had healed.
But I stand by what I said.
Pluto never should have been a planet.

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The explanation says: "... Pluto has been the ninth planet in our solar system until 2006 ...".

It should say 'the tenth' shouldn't it? SioD (talk) 14:52, 30 August 2013 (UTC)

Pluto was discovered in 1930, and has since been the ninth body to be discovered and classified as a "planet". The sentence is a temporal rather than spatial reference, if that clears up any confusion. Thokling (talk) 12:04, 24 September 2013 (UTC)
Actually, no. Using the temporal definition, Pluto would be number 13. It was discovered after Ceres, Pallas, Juno and Vesta, which were discovered, named and classified, but then quickly demoted, all about 120 years before Pluto. This was due to the fact that telescopes of the day were strong enough to see quite a bit of the asteroid belt in a relatively short time, unlike with the "previously mythical" Kuiper belt.
Also, if any thing, the spatial discrepancy should be between eighth and ninth, as Pluto's orbit is squeezed enough to be inside that of Neptune, but long enough to extend outside it. Charon, Pluto's "moon" may cause additional worry, but is usually ignored.
Anonymous 01:11, 4 December 2013 (UTC)
I think this interpretation is a bit deliberately obtuse. Ceres wasn't considered a planet at the same time that Pluto was, so Pluto was indeed the ninth planet for a period of time. There is no confusion here.
On another note, the Dawn and New Horizons probes have now given us a large world covered in volatile weather, with internally driven geology, and a smaller, more obviously non-spherical cratered ball of rock. A common sense definition of a planet would probably leave Ceres out. As for Vesta, nobody has ever considered that a planet, not even the "Pluto should still be a planet" crowd. Again, being deliberately contrarian doesn't usually shed any light on scientific questions. 03:38, 18 April 2016 (UTC)
I think we would all be happy if the astronomers would come up with a definition of a planet that reasonably included Pluto but reasonably excluded the other 'candidates' that have been found so far. You know, the ones without large moons. Or Pluto could just be grandfathered in. Exactly how would science be held back by this?? 00:00, 4 January 2014 (UTC)
You don't think they tried to find a standard that included Pluto and excluded the others? Also grandfathering makes the idea of making a standard definition useless. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
For my part, I never understood why it was such an issue to not have the other things that are now dwarf planets classified as planets. More planets are cool, aren't they? They could have used whatever cut they made between dwarf planets and other stuff as a boundary definition for planets and promoted them instead of de-classifiying Pluto. You could then have split the category "planets" into "insert-cool-name-here"-planets and dwarf planets and voilà, more planets AND congruent definition. Also, less confusing nomenclature, as with the present definition dwarf planets aren't planets, even though the name makes it appear as if they are a subcategory of planets. I totally get why Pluto should be in a separate category from the other large planets. 11:46, 19 October 2017 (UTC)
I always assumed the decision was aesthetic. They were faced with a choice between eight well-known planets with familiar names and distinctive characteristics that fit neatly on a poster and dozens or hundreds of planets, mostly obscure lumps of rock or ice.

The airplane/treadmill question is actually hard to define properly. In real case scenario, the plane would of course take off, but you can keep it in place if you assume really fast treadmill (much faster that the plane), friction in airplane wheels and that those wheels won't break off, catch fire or otherwise get destroyed under the stress much higher they are developed for. Oh, wait, actually the airplane WONT take off if the wheels break. :-) -- Hkmaly (talk) 12:01, 5 December 2013 (UTC)

If you choose to model friction in the wheels, it would be simpler to model the airplane with NO wheels, and then ask whether it could take off. Well, 'Airplane!' notwithstanding, it couldn't. But that's not an interesting problem, right? And neither is the variation with friction in the wheels. 23:54, 3 January 2014 (UTC)
Odd that carrier decks still have to be so long. In fact launching them from podiums would allow the use of on-deck hangars.
Anyone know if this applies to helicopters?

I used Google News BEFORE it was clickbait (talk) 02:14, 31 January 2015 (UTC)

Highly recommend this book for the fascinating inside account of how Pluto became a not-planet! How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming L-Space Traveler (talk) 01:57, 1 September 2022 (UTC)

Evidently, someone didn't like the way I did my link and changed it; athough it looks the same, it now no longer goes to the page that I had originally linked to. L-Space Traveler (talk) 11:51, 1 September 2022 (UTC)
They didn't realise (or check) that the "It" had a different case, it looks like. This should be back to normal (without the unnecessary padlock graphic or excess markup text). 17:34, 1 September 2022 (UTC) - oh hello... That editor lucked on exactly the same Cloudflare gateway as me. And I also didn't realise I was overpasting the corrected link onto the already corrected link. I just checked my own edit work, once I saw how the prior editor hadn't, so missed that you'd already worked it out... :P