March 6, 2009

PLUTOPALOOZA! The Secret Science Club presents Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson on Wednesday, March 18 at 8 pm @ the Bell House, $3 cover charge

photo by David Gamble

Hold on to your wigs and keys, science scenesters! Union Hall and the Secret Science Club have been overwhelmed by audience demand---so it is now official: The Secret Science Club is moving from Union Hall to Brooklyn’s big new Bell House! PLUS, the Secret Science Club is debuting its first-ever "theme song," written and performed by the Dead River Company. Check it out LIVE before the Neil deGrasse Tyson lecture.

Special Event! Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson blasts off from the Bell House with a lecture on the "Rise and Fall of America's Favorite Planet," $3 cover

The icy little world known as Pluto is billions of miles from Earth. Yet, when the International Astronomical Union demoted Pluto to the status of dwarf planet in 2006, the reaction was out of this world. Defiant T-shirt slogans, and pity-filled songs all raged against Pluto’s sad fate. Hell hath no fury like a planet (and its fans) scorned. No one knows better than astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, the director of NYC’s Hayden Planetarium, who was on the receiving end of much of this celestial wrath—including tear-stained hate mail from third-graders.

According to Tyson, Pluto may be a dwarf—but it’s still awesome. Now enthroned with its trans-Neptunian brethren in the Kuiper Belt, Pluto is the focus of intense scientific interest. NASA’s New Horizons Pluto-Kuiper Belt spacecraft has already passed Saturn on a 9-year journey to reach and take a peek at Pluto and its moon Charon. The question, says Tyson, is not what we call Pluto, but “What’s out there?”

The director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History, Neil deGrasse Tyson is host of PBS’s “Nova: ScienceNOW” and recently served on NASA's prestigious advisory council. He is the author of nine books, including his most recent The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet and the best-selling Death By Black Hole and Other Cosmic Quandaries. In 2007, Time magazine named Dr. Tyson one of the world’s 100 most influential people. What did People magazine name him? You got it, baby! He’s the "Sexiest Astrophysicist Alive.”

Don’t miss one freakin’ nanosecond of this cosmic talk. Get on your laser, Daddy and RIDE!!!!

Before & After
--Groove to heavenly tunes and video inspired by the cosmic ballet.

--Defy gravity with the Secret Science Club’s quantum cocktail of the night, the Big Bang (it will knock you into orbit . . .)

--Grab a signed copy of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s brand-new book: The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet

--Stick around for the extraterrestrial Q&A

The Secret Science Club meets Wednesday, March 18 at 8 pm @ the Bell House, 149 7th St. (between 2nd and 3rd avenues) in Gowanus, Brooklyn, p: 718.643.6510 Subway: F to 4th Ave; R to 9th St.

$3 cover charge at the door. Please bring ID: 21+.

LIMITED SEATS AVAILABLE. Doors open at 7:30. Come early to get a seat.


Laurel Kornfeld said...

Tyson is way premature in declaring Pluto's "fall." In fact, he has distanced himself from the IAU's controversial demotion, accurately labeling it as "flawed." That definition was adopted by only four percent of the IAU, most of whom are not planetary scientists. It was immediately rejected by hundreds of professional astronomers led by Dr. Alan Stern, Principal Investigator of NASA's New Horizons mission to Pluto.

When it comes to Pluto, "he got it wrong." Pluto is not a comet, as he says, because it is large enough to have been pulled into a round shape by its own gravity, a condition known as hydrostatic equilibrium. This is a characteristic of planets and not of shapeless asteroids and Kuiper Belt Objects. Yes, Pluto is a Kuiper Belt Object, but it is also a planet--as are Haumea, Makemake, and Eris.

Tyson also glosses over the fact that the IAU definition declares that dwarf planets are not planets at all--a statement that makes no linguistic sense and is inconsistent with the use of the term "dwarf" in astronomy, where dwarf stars are still stars, and dwarf galaxies are still galaxies.

People deserve to know that this is an ongoing debate with two sides, that even now, scientists and lay people are working to overturn the demotion or are just ignoring it. For a good view of the other side, why Pluto should be considered a planet, I urge all to read "Is Pluto A Planet?" by Dr. David Weintraub.

Anonymous said...

For further discussion of pro-planet, anti-planet . . . and plain old silly planet issues, read the article "How I (Ken Chang) tormented Neil deGrasse Tyson" and the 80-plus comments about Pluto's status at the New York Times website.