Monday, January 24, 2011

Annoying words: Planet, pt. 2

((blows away cobwebs))

Yeah, so I've been out.  Dunno why.  Holidays suck, winter sucks, work is kinda important, blah blah blah.
Oh I could moan on and on about my life - I mean I blogged for three years doing just that!  But that's not what this blog is for, is it?  (On the other hand, what IS this blog for.  Not sure if it's just a writing exercise pad or what)

Anyways HEY!  I never finished my story about killing all the Planets! 
Since I haven't done frak-all in so long here, I may as well do that.

So.  Where were we...

Well, you could go and read part 1 of this particular topic.   
You COULD do that.

But for those with sprained clicking fingers, I provide the following recap:
Previously... on Annoying Words:
- Pluto IS a planet!
- No it's NOT a planet.
- Well, what the heck IS a "Planet"
- Here comes the Astro-Union to save the day and define what a Planet is!
- Well...?
- It's whatever Pluto isn't.
- Wha?? Well what ARE Pluto and the other not-planets?
- !! Dwarfs?
- Well, Dwarf Planets.
- So Pluto IS a planet.
- No, it is a DWARF Planet.
- Wait, isn't that like saying a red pot is not, in fact, a pot?
- Maybe.
- Well this makes no damn sense.
- It's Science!
- It's more like word games if you ask me.
- Maybe.
- Well if we can play word games, I'm gonna play too.  I'm scrapping this messed up system for something more to my liking.

In fact, after short and careless review of the whole situation - I think there is something else besides PLuto that has to be demoted.  Eliminated actually.


The word.


The word "Planet" has been abused, of late.
Its meaning has been stretched and warped over the ages.
It served us well, but if no one can settle on a proper definition of the word, it begins to become a problem word.  If, even in the astronomical community, there is still unhappiness with the new definition and the meaning of "planet", it just seems like we have to start from scratch.

So, the start of the solution is simple.  "Planet" will get a discharge with full honors.

Now there is no such thing as "planet".

That was simple!
Presumptuous, too.

But it's my writing spot, so it's my rules.

OK, but  what do we call all these floating bodies?

And I'm not just talking about the ex-planets and the ex-ex-planets.
I'm talking about everything:  The things formerly known as planets, the dwarves, ice rocks, rocky rocks, big rocky balls, big gassy balls, and the rocks and ice rocks careening into the solar system threatening to smack into whatever luckless other ball has the misfortune to attract the rock's notice.

Well, other than the Sun, all these floating bits have one thing in common: they are all bound to the sun, attracted by its massive gravity pull.  Many have stable orbits around our Star, others have wacky orbits, and some have "orbits" so stretched out that they only see the sun once every few thousand years.

But they are all Star-bound.

So we need a word for Star-bound.

I don't know of any word for that.
The Astro-Union did come up with a name for everything that wasn't a planet or dwarf planet: "small Solar System bodies".
Really doesn't roll of the tongue, does it?
I even tried playing with word bits from greek, latin, and even Elvish (Sindarian and Qenya!) to make a cool word that meant something like "bound to the sun", "star-reacher" or the like.
And I failed miserably.

But then I said, ah screw it - I'm just going to grab a short word with high impact and proclaim it to mean "Star-bound object"


I hereby claim the word "Bong".
Bong: any object bound by gravity to a star.

Yes, "Bong" has another meaning or two.  I actually think this is a net positive.  Really!  Sure, when the news breaks of this, you'll get a bunch of giggles at first.  But this will make the transition so much easier for the public, no?

And also note: a Moon is not a bong - it's not bound to a star, it's bound to a Bong.  "Moon" works for that and its meaning has never been seriously debated (to my knowledge)

Now, once we have the core word in place, the naming of objects actually becomes quite easy.
As far as I can tell, there's really only a few adjectives that are needed to describe the nature of all the Bongs of the Solar System:
Big: big enough to have formed a roughly spherical shape
Wee: Not big enough to have formed a roughly spherical shape
Rocky: has a solid, rocky outer surface
Icy: has an icy surface (ice of water or other frozen liquids)
Gaseous: has an extremely thick outer layer composed mainly of gaseous elements
Solo: shares an orbit with no other Bongs
Crowded: share an orbit with other Bongs
Banger: knocked out of a stable orbit and potentially impacting other Bongs.

And then all you have to do is mix and match as needed, and Bingo! you have super easy to understand names - and a naming system that actually makes sense!

Check it out:
  • Big Bongs:  Bongs big enough to have formed a roughly spherical shape.  This would be what used to be called "Planets" and "Dwarf Planets" all together.
    • Solo Big Bongs: Big Bongs which share their orbit with no other Bongs.   The eight no-longer-Planets.
    • Crowded Big Bongs: Big Bongs that share their orbits with other Bongs. Currently: Pluto, Ceres, Haumea, Makemake, Eris.
    • Rocky Big Bongs: Big Bongs that have a solid, rocky outer surface.
      • Solo Rocky Big Bongs: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars
      • Crowded Rocky Big Bongs: Haumea (?), Ceres,
    • Gaseous Big Bongs: Big Bongs that, while they may have a solid inner core, also have an extremely thick outer layer composed mainly of gaseous elements. 
      •  Solo Gaseous Big Bongs: Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune, Uranus.  (Neptune and Uranus are so cold that much of the gas appears to have become icy, but it's not clear that it's actually a solid surface of ice.
    • Icy Big Bongs: Big Bongs with a thick surface of ice
      • Crowded Icy Big Bongs: Pluto, Eris, Makemake
  • Wee Bongs:  Bongs that are not big enough to have formed a roughly spherical shape.  Asteroids, Comets, bits of floating fluff - any Bong that isn't a Big Bong.
    • Rocky Wee Bongs: Asteroids
    • Icy Wee Bongs: Comets, Centaurs (weird maybe-comets with funky orbits)  
    • Banger Bongs: Wee Bongs that have been  punched out of their stable orbits, wither by getting hit with another Wee Bong and yanked out of orbit by a Big Bong like Jupiter.  Having been dislodged from a stable orbit, the gravitational pulls of Big Bongs and the Sun can send these Bongs hurtling toward the Big Bongs - occasionally resulting in one of them actually Banging into a Big Bong.  The shift from stable Bong to Banger Bong is called "going Banger".
      • (Note that the "Wee" can be taken for granted here.  If a Big Bong ever went Banger, we'd all be in some deep Bantha Poodoo.)

Is there some other description that's important?  Make an adjective and tack it on to "Bong".
It's simple - once you have a base word for the big set of all things Bongy, naming the subsets is a snap.
Now that we've started fresh and clean - and got rid of the "P" word - all the craziness disappears.  

So... Is my new naming system a hit??


Yeah... I know.

Well, *I* like it.

But fine, I'll just call this a personal exercise.
And hey, least I'm writing something again.

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