The Man Who Killed Pluto (and Other Space Odysseys)

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The astronomer who cut Pluto off the list of planets takes us to the very edge of our solar system, and beyond.

Credit: NASA/JPL
Credit: NASA/JPL

For generations there was Pluto, the planet. And then, there wasn’t. It didn’t disappear. It got demoted — reclassified as a mere dwarf.

My guest today, astronomer Mike Brown, got it demoted. He didn’t mean to. It’s a good story, but not the only story in the universe.

The number of stars we know of got tripled this month. The chances of life out there, boosted too. Scientists just watched a black hole being born, and they say we may live in a recycled cosmos. Holy moly.

Astrophysicst Neil Degrasse Tyson is with us, too, as we look to Pluto and beyond.
-Tom Ashbrook

Mike Brown, professor of planetary astronomy at California Institute of Technology. His new book is How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming.He discovered Eris, the largest object found in the solar system in the past 150 years, which then resulted in Pluto's demotion from planet status.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and director of the Hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center for Earth and Space. He's a research associate in the Department of Astrophysics at the American Museum of Natural History. His books include: "The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet" and "Cosmic Horizons: Astronomy at the Cutting Edge."

This program aired on December 9, 2010.


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