Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Pluto Files is a Delight!

I've always enjoyed when Neil deGrasse Tyson makes an appearance on the Daily Show or the Colbert Report. He is funny, personable, and wears ties with planets on them: what could be better? An episode of Nova starring Tyson and dealing with the controversial classification Pluto, of course!

Throughout this episode, Tyson travels across the country on a Pluto-related mission, focusing on the question of whether Pluto is a planet. He talks with scientists who support Pluto's planethood and those who do not; he visits the hometown of the scientist who discovered Pluto and the town where the scientist's family now lives; he even visits Disney World to play with Pluto the dog.

Though the majority of the program is about science, it doesn't deal with it in a dry way. Tyson is hilarious! But the jokes didn't stop me from learning things (like, did you know that before the planet was named, Americans associated the name Pluto with a laxative? Or, that if the sun was represented by a balloon with an 8-foot diameter, the relative-size of Pluto could be represented by a ball bearing from a roller skate?) Plus, The Pluto Files shows multiple clips from the Daily Show and the Colbert Report. How could I not like it?

I give it a 4/5. Definitely worth watching, and it's only 50 minutes.

1 comment:

  1. To be fair, Tyson takes a more neutral position in this documentary, making it clear that this debate is not settled, and that there is no consensus among astronomers on Pluto's planet status. His meeting with the Tombaugh family was especially endearing. I hope Patricia Tombaugh gets her wish to see New Horizons fly by Pluto in 2015.