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The Pluto Files


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Award winning author Neil deGrasse Tyson is an astrophysicist with the American Museum of Natural History, the director of the world-famous Hayden Planetarium, a monthly columnist for Natural History and the host of the PBS series "NOVA Science NOW". Also available: Death by Black Hole (ISBN 978 0 393 33016 8) and Origins (ISBN 978 0 393 32758 8).


Many blame astrophysicist and Hayden Planetarium director Tyson (Death by Black Hole) for the International Astronomy Union's demotion of Pluto to a dwarf planet in 2006. Here, he tells his tale while exploring the history of planet classification and Americans' fervid interest in Pluto's status. At first, actor/narrator Mirron Willis's (Basketball Jones) reading is a bit slow, but he relaxes more as the story progresses to a discussion of our love affair with Pluto; he successfully gets Tyson's often tongue-and-cheek tone across to the listener. An enjoyable title on a topic having broad appeal. [Audio clip available through; the review of the Norton hc credited Tyson with "expertly relat[ing] the history and science of Pluto and its discovery," LJ 12/08.-Ed.]-Emma Duncan, Brampton Lib., Ont. Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.

"Now, in The Pluto Files, Tyson offers a highly entertaining history of Pluto..." New Scientist "It's eminently readable and particularly enjoyable."

From Pluto's 1930 discovery to the emotional reaction worldwide to its demotion from planetary status, astrophysicist, science popularizer and Hayden Planetarium director deGrasse Tyson (Death by Black Hole) offers a lighthearted look at the planet. Astronomical calculations predicted the presence of a "mysterious and distant Planet X" decades before Clyde Tombaugh spotted it in 1930. DeGrasse Tyson speculates on why straw polls show Pluto to be the favorite planet of American elementary school students (for one, "Pluto sounds the most like a punch line to a hilarious joke"). But Pluto's rock and ice composition, backward rotation and problematic orbit raised suspicions. As the question of Pluto's nature was being debated by scientists, the newly constructed Rose Center for Earth and Space at the Hayden Planetarium quietly but definitively relegated Pluto to the icy realm of Kuiper Belt Objects (cold, distant leftovers from the solar system's formation), raising a firestorm. Astronomers discussed and argued and finally created an official definition of what makes a planet. This account, if a bit Tyson-centric, presents the medicine of hard science with a sugarcoating of lightness and humor. 35 color and 10 b&w illus. (Jan.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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