Well before the dawn of the digital age, Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto in 1930. While literally circumnavigating the lottery- like odds in uncovering a substantial planetoid body in the Kuiper Belt of the Solar System, the young astronomer could not predict the subsequent wayward characteristics of an unbalanced narrative.
Nine years after the explorer’s death in 2006, the astronomy community downgraded Pluto from official planetary status to dwarf planet and the race commenced yet again to search the heavens for a ninth planet.
According to the BBC, in a recent study to be published, scientists have discovered various objects in the vast reaches of the Oort cloud that may indicate the presence of a massive planet past the orbit of Neptune. The premise surmises that the existence of multiple diminutive celestial bodies and the various gravitational interactions in the outer layers of the solar system could support the notion of giant lurking outside of the sun’s gravitational influence. An apt metaphor is a tracker in the forest utilizing the evidence of slightly cracked branches, obscure hair follicles and disturbed soil to indicate the presence of a bear.
While the prestige motivated hysteria of the contest to be forever immortalized as a two point answer in Wednesday bar trivia is an apt reward for uncovering a mystery in the unknown, the decade since Pluto’s trip to the minor leagues has yielded a mountain of observations and tangible data that is continuously being processed and modeled. The researchers claim that the ultimate holy grail positive result of a possible new super planet will yield telling ramifications as to the construct of the outer solar system. With the current state of innumerable unknowns and ambiguities which exist on terra, breaking news from 80 solar units into vacuum may seem irrelevant and in the realm of decadent from a funding perspective.
As the bountiful and inspiring ideas from the 20th century science fiction gods begin to breach the confines of reality, at what importance or priority level should society place on hypothesis and research that may never become scientifically, commercially or socially viable? With the billions of dollars currently intermixed within the framework of the NASA bureaucracy, the state of mind encapsulating both awe and wonder, comes at a cost.
Read the full BBC article here.