Are you as excited about Mike Brown’s new planet as I am? Because hell yeah I’m excited.
I mean, the proposed planet hasn’t actually been properly discovered yet (via direct observation). Nobody’s snapped a picture of it or anything. But Mike Brown* and Konstantin Batygin put together such a nice paper that pulls together so many different pieces of what we know about the outer solar system, and they make wonderful dynamics arguments using numerical simulations, that, really, it’s just a matter of time before we actually do find Planet X. Man, what an exciting time to be alive!
And, see, this right here is why articles like this (“The 2 most dangerous numbers in the universe are threatening the end of physics”) infuriate me so much. People who haven’t taken a science class since high school write bumpkis articles like this: “Oh, we’ve stumbled upon some intractable problem, so that must mean the ‘end’ of physics!” As though this one problem–the difficulty rectifying gravity with quantum mechanics–means we shouldn’t study physics anymore. That we should just throw it away because it’s not useful for anything any more.
But physics is what led to the proposal of this new planet! Using just one of the equations for gravity (there are many beautiful formulations), Brown and Batygin not only realized that there must be a new planet, but they also predicted it’s actual orbit through the outer solar system. We know where to look because of physics! And this two-bit business “news source” is going to try convincing me that physics is dead because we’ve crashed upon a rocky shore after having been sailing quite nicely for the past 101 years? Take off, hosers: peddle your know-nothing anti-intellectual bullshit somewhere else.
* He of How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming fame.
Additionally: This XKCD comic is incredible.