Spam (madbodger) wrote,

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Math, astrophysics, and humour

Quite some time ago, I read a humourous piece about the mass of Pluto. The writer decided to collect the estimates of Pluto's mass over the years, assume that they were all, in fact, correct, and apply a curve fit to their values over time. He came up with some sort of a sine function to an irrational power. He went on to say that the sine function would pass through zero some year hence, and then become negative. And he pointed out that a negative number to an irrational power yields a complex number. And gleefully added something to the effect that "while this idea may be repulsive to some, Pluto will be repulsive to everything.". Sadly, I don't remember where I found this essay, and the usual array of search engines comes a cropper.

Musing on this somewhat abstruse bit of humour, I recalled the recent ballyhoo over the IAU no longer regarding Pluto as a planet, and started to wonder. Was this theory actually correct, and Pluto is indeed shrinking? Are they trying to soften up the blow for when Pluto either vanishes in place or, repelled by the Sun, scoots off into the eternal darkness, never to be seen again?

Tags: geekery

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