another take on the new-planets proposal

Again, via Chet Raymo’s excellent blog:

Not long after Linneaus proposed his new nomenclature for biology, the Frenchman Antoine Lavoisier set out to do much the same thing for chemistry. In the preface to his great work, Elements of Chemistry, Lavoisier quotes the philosopher Condillac: “We think only through the medium of words…The art of reasoning is nothing more than a language well arranged.”

Lavoisier then goes on to tell us: “Thus, while I thought myself employed only in forming a nomenclature, and while I proposed to myself nothing more than to improve the chemical language, my work transformed itself by degrees, without my being able to prevent it, into a treatise upon the Elements of Chemistry. ”

That’s what’s going on with the International Astronomical Union: Reorganizing nomenclature to conform with our developing understanding of planetary systems — to consolidate present knowledge and to facilitate future research. The rest of us will just have to adjust.

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