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Aug 22 / Dave Schumaker

IAU’s “Plutons” making geologists mad.

PlutoThe International Astronomical Union has proposed a definition for the word planet. Included within this new definition is a subunit of planets called “plutons”, based on similar characteristics of the planet (as of this writing) Pluto.

Unfortunately, the word pluton is already used frequently in the world of geology to describe bodies of magma that crystallized within the Earth’s crust and this is making some geologists rather angry. The astronomer who proposed to use the word pluton didn’t believe it was all that common due to the fact that the spellchecker in Microsoft Word flagged it as a wrong word! Hah.

The main argument by geologists against using the word is that the fields of planetology and good, old fashioned Earth geology are fairly similar that it might cause confusion. The astronomer who proposed the definition doesn’t believe that will be the case, but is willing to come up with a new name.

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