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Eight planets = Worlds of trouble

The wacky world of science is just wearing me out. You go to bed believing one thing - something you've been taught all your life, understand - and you wake up the next morning and boom! Scientists have learned that what you had been taught as scientific fact wasn't a fact at all.

It's a little bit disheartening, y'all.

I'm speaking now, of course, of Pluto. When I went to bed Thursday night I was content in the knowledge that Pluto was still the smallest planet in the solar system.

I knew that because my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Betty Robertson, taught me so. That knowledge had been reinforced over the years because I had to help each of my children make models of the solar system, and Pluto was always one of the planets.

It was always the smallest Styrofoam ball or tiniest bit of modeling clay. One of my kids had a teacher who liked food so much that she required an edible solar system, and Pluto was a tiny little grape. But no matter how small, it was always there - far away from the sun, of course - but one of the starting nine, nonetheless.

Then I woke up Friday morning and learn that some highfalutin astronomers have voted that Pluto is not a planet and never has been. The vote took place in Czechoslovakia, of all places. And now, all of a sudden, there are only eight planets.

If that don't beat all!

It is sure to cause a lot of confusion for a lot of schoolchildren, because every science book around has Pluto listed as a planet. I know from experience that while teaching is hard work, un-teaching is even harder. And to a lot of folks, if something is in a book, it's the truth - no matter what they are saying in the Czech Republic.

I can't help but wonder if Mickey Mouse will have to change his dog's name.

This isn't the first time scientific "facts" have proven to be scientific fallacies, either.

People used to be absolutely certain that the Earth was flat. Then there was that whole thing about Earth being the center of the universe. In fact, Galileo almost lost his head for suggesting Earth orbited the sun instead of the other way around.

As recently as the 18th century, medical texts still expounded the theories of the Roman scientist Galen as scientific fact. Galen believed the body was governed by four "humors" that existed in four types of fluid. Without being too graphic, they were red, white, brown and yellow - you can figure out the rest.

Scientists and doctors believed that if you got sick it was because these fluid levels were out of balance. Since they couldn't very well add anything they got you back in balance by letting some stuff out.

I ain't making this up, y'all. They would purge you, expel you and, my personal favorite - bleed you - all in the name of medical science. That's right.

I said they would bleed you, make a little incision in a vein and watch all that unhealthy blood run out. Or, better yet, place leeches all over you and let your blood be sucked out. Imagine the chagrin Galen would have felt if he had lived long enough to see his theory disproved.

But for 1,500 years, scientists "knew" that illnesses were caused by fluid imbalances which could be cured by laxatives, pukes and a little blood-letting. Pluto had only been a planet for 76 years. See how much smarter we are getting?

You can't help but wonder what other little factual tidbits in today's science books are not facts at all and will be disproved someday.

Did somebody out there mention evolution? Not me. I'm not about to comment on something that controversial. It's just not my style.

But since you brought it up - wouldn't it be funny if one day people decided that teaching evolution as scientific fact and not theory proved to be as ridiculous as considering Pluto a planet or curing pneumonia by bleeding a fellow to death?

Now don't go and e-mail me about it! I'm not saying I don't believe all the scientific evidence that proves man evolved from an ape, and I'm not telling you what to believe.

I will say this, however. I might have evolved from an ape. My wife may have evolved from an ape. Cynthia McKinney might have even evolved from an ape. But Kate Hudson and all three of my children had to have been created by an all-powerful God.

And I really hope Mickey Mouse doesn't have to change his dog's name.

Darrell Huckaby is an author and teacher in Rockdale County. E-mail him at dhuck08@bellsouth.net. Have any thoughts about this column? Share them with us at letters@gwinnettdailypost.com. Letters should be no more than 200 words and are subject to approval by the publisher. Letters may be edited for style and space requirements. Please sign your name and provide an address and a daytime telephone number. Address letters for publication to: Letters to the Editor, Gwinnett Daily Post, P.O. Box 603, Lawrenceville, GA 30046-0603. The fax number is 770-339-8081.