Last night I watched the BookTV airing of Neil deGrasse Tyson’s talk on his new book, The Pluto Files: The Rise and Fall of America’s Favorite Planet.
Sometimes I find his showmanship annoying — a distraction from the substance that I’m interested in.
This time I thought his presentation was wonderful. You can see the video here. You’ll especially want to see the questions from a couple grade school kids during the Q&A at the end.
The talk includes clear explanations of the issues in astronomy, and the process by which the scientists eventually settled on the now-prevailing classification of objects in our Solar System.
He also talks about public reactions, including letters he received from 3rd-graders.
In the context of current controversies over whether to teach evolutionary Biology (vs. a more forensic, rather than scientific, school subject on beliefs concerning “origins”) in the public schools of some states — including, for example, legislation introduced in Louisiana, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Texas — I was particularly interested in the bills introduced in the California and New Mexico legislatures in opposition to Pluto’s loss of planetary status.
Here they are, as included as appendices in Tyson’s book (click on any of the pages below to see the book at amazon.com):