Pluto’s Lament

I read about some science that happened last week and figured while everyone was all “SUPER HAPPY HOORAY SCIENCE!” at least one guy was probably still all “BOOO SCIENCE! BOOOOO!”

I know comics have been sparse for the last week. I’ve been working on some updates to the website, which has taken up quite a bit of my mental and physical resources for the last few days. Even though the comics are the main thing you come here for, the website is the cage that holds them. And, as anyone who’s ever tried to put something in a cage can tell you, that cage better be ship shape before you start putting people in it… things… things go in cages. Or animals. Never unsuspecting motel guests…

You may notice that the site is now 3 columns instead of two, and the comic area is much larger. Going forward I’m going to be posting the comics at 1000px wide instead of 820px. That might seem like a small change, but I think it really makes a difference in how pretty the art is. The rest of the stuff I’ve spent 12 hours a day working on will be imperceptible to you unless it breaks. Is this what it’s like to work in IT? No one notices your work unless something breaks? Guys, that sounds awful. You Fancy Coding Bastards should call each and every one of your clients ever single day and tell them, “Your shit still works. You’re welcome.”

COMMENTERS: So I guess we’re pretty close to understanding why stuff has mass. Neat. What’s your favorite (not necessarily the most important or life changing, just your favorite) scientific discovery? I don’t mean inventions and what not. I mean, “We used to think it was this way, but now we know it’s THIS way,” type of situation. Which one do you think caused the most shake up in the average person’s daily life? Which was the hardest to accept?

Posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , .


  1. The most important scientific discovery for me is the understanding of the human body enough to do a heart transplant. Without that understanding, I would not be here today.

  2. To me the most important scientific revelation has and will always be the moment when someone went, "you know, maybe all this diarhea is a result of eating something bad, and not a demonic possesion"

    Then everyone burned that dude for a witch and went, "you know, he might just have a point"

    And that boys and girls, is how the USDA was created

  3. My favorite scientific discovery recently is that the moon has quite a bit of water on it, contrary to previous belief. The most important scientific discovery, in terms of affecting the greatest number of people has got to be the germ theory of disease, and consequent discovery of antibiotics. Before antibiotics, average lifespan was around 40. After, it nearly doubled. Astounding, if you think about it. The hardest to accept for most people is probably evolution through natural selection. There are still tons of people who refuse to believe in it, despite the overwhelming evidence.

  4. Wait, you say this was some science that happened today, but that article is from September. Did you link the wrong article?

  5. Plate tectonics was a really cool one to me. The theory's first major proponent, Alfred Wegener, unfortunately passed away before he could be vindicated, and while he was alive he weathered a hell of a lot of criticism from the scientific establishment about his theory.

    It stands to me as a great example of how science often is quite set in its ways, and that its course can be very difficult to change. But there can be another worker to come along and present the idea in a different light, or in the case of plate tectonics a whole new scientific discipline (palaeomagnetism) can be applied to the theory giving it traction. Once the ball of certainty starts rolling down the snowy mountain of establishment, it can build a lot of momentum quickly.

  6. Now I have an image of a drunken, verbally abusive Pluto screaming at its moons.

  7. I was crazy about dinosaurs when I was a kid, and there were all these theories floating around about why they may have gone extinct, but nobody really knew. The comet strike theory was out there, but mostly I think it was considered "out there" by most paleontologists at the time, so when evidence of an actual comet strike around that time was found, I guess it was a pretty big to those interested in such things. A formerly "crackpot" theory had turned out to be the right one. I guess it didn't affect most people's daily lives much (unless you were a paleontologist), but I found it both interesting and surprising.

  8. Ive got a degree in maths and physics and there are two things that really stand out to me. The first is interference, I remember at school seeing it demonstrated with speakers set up to cancel noise completely, then with lasers I saw interference patterns which can be really cool to see but in my final year at uni I was able to see two laser beams set up so they totally cancel eachother out as if they were both switched off which just even though I knew the theory blew my mind a bit seeing it.

    The second is quantum entanglement which is far beyond my ability to explain properly but where two particles become linked and so no matter how they are seperated once you measure one the other becomes its opposite. Think of schrodingers cat but with two cats in boxes both alive and dead at the same time… when you find out one cat is alive you know the other is dead.

    • Quantum entanglement still seems like magic to me. I believe we’ll one day find some way to use it, and it’s going to be awesome. Of course, I felt the same way about tunneling diodes, which I still can’t believe. The idea that an electron–by virtue of having a percent chance of being on the other side of an electrostatic force barrier–actually appears there often enough to create a usable current, just blows me away.

  9. I saw last night on our national TV that boobs have a natural frequency. Now I need to find out if it can be achived by motorboating.
    So science have supplied me with a hobby.

  10. How your brain fills in missing dominant harmonics so we can make smaller speakers and fake bass sounds. (Musician).

  11. The rest of the stuff I’ve spent 12 hours a day working on will be imperceptible to you unless it breaks. Is this what it’s like to work in IT? No one notices your work unless something breaks? Guys, that sounds awful. You Fancy Coding Bastards should call each and every one of your clients ever single day and tell them, “Your shit still works. You’re welcome.” Oh man oh man I must do that from now on!!

  12. That brains DO in fact grow and heal and regenerate. And the discovery of how little we really know about brain and nerve function. I'm not a scientist (far from it), but scientific discoveries about neurology and how differences/abnormalities manifest are like… my space. So much to discover.

  13. Not so much scientific theory, but my favourite science demo is dropping a strong, small rare earth magnet down a copper pipe. As the magnet falls down the pipe, it induces an electric current (as changing magnetic fields tend to do) in the copper. This current creates a magnetic field that is opposite to, but weaker than, the field in the falling magnet. This causes the magnet to fall much slower than gravity would normally like it to fall.

    It is such an elegant demonstration. It is counter-intuitive and it violates our concepts of common sense.

  14. Every time someone makes a remark that dwarf planets aren't planets, I die a little inside. I guess dwarf people aren't people? I mean, the IAU defines four new planets in our solar system, but instead everyone gets mad that 'they got rid of pluto' when they didn't even?

    As for most important scientific discovery I have to agree with antibiotics and advances in medicine that let us live twice as long as before. I hope we can make more advances like that soon, so I can continue to complain on message boards forever.

    • If we let the Dwarf Planets feel like Planets, we gotta let all the other Dwarf Planets in!

      If we do that, they'll be happy and I'll never get to see Pluto dressed up in Mithril armor and attack Mars with an axe the size of an asteroid.

    • I know, right? Like, is my compact car not a car? It's just more specific categorizing. But I think instead there's just this big meme now of some big fake debate over Pluto's planetness, or reminiscing about the old days when it was, and people don't want to mar that with the fact that, really, nothing happened.
      I give you an extra thumbs up for naming yourself after one of the said dwarf planets, BTW.

  15. I'm still trying to wrap my head around the fact that Coke started as cough syrup. That's dark witchcraft right there!

    • A quick google fueled research (if you can even call it that) indicates that the existence of said bodies has been known much longer than that. The relatively recent excavations apparently did reveal new information, but the fact that those heads have bodies is not such new information.

      There have been heads with exposed bodies in there for centuries. The media has, just as usual, apparently grabbed the more attention worthy aspect of the situation and blew it way out of proportion to the point of falsehood. Nothing new XD

      Again, that is just what I got for a quick google verification and, as such, may be super-wrong

  16. For largest effect on most people's everyday lives, I have to go with the electron. Totally useless when it was discovered, now pretty much EVERYTHING operates on its properties.

  17. Your header and column ad-banners keep messing up, your skyscraper ads are showing in the leaderboard, and vice versa. Just a heads-up, old chum. 🙂

    • That happens randomly. Nothing I can do about it. Just means the ad companies are putting the wrong sized ads in the slots.

  18. As one of the aforementioned "Fancy IT Bastards" (I'm not a coder, but I am in IT Systems) that is _exactly_ what it is like. No one "appreciates" you until something breaks. And then that "appreciation" comes in the form of hurled staplers and thinly (or not so thinly) veiled death threats.

    True story. One of my old bosses would lament the fact that he never saw me "doing work." His idea was, if he didn't see me walking around the building, I must not be doing my job. I actually had to tell him, "if you don't see me, then I'm doing my job. The last thing you want to see is me running around here like my hair's on fire. That means shit is broke." He left me alone after that.


  19. It doesn't help anyone, or affect anything, but the fact that one of the 'stars' in the constellation of Orion's Belt is actually a vast nebula containing millions of stars much, much further away, blows my mind. To the naked eye, there is no difference at all. Amazing.

  20. **You Fancy Coding Bastards should call each and every one of your clients ever[y] single day and tell them, “Your shit still works. You’re welcome.”**

    We used to run a small computer service/repair business, and had set up a new backup system for a hotel in our area, to do the standard daily, weekly, and monthly backups. Set it to run at 2 am when the system was least likely to be in use while it ran. And then we told Bruce, the night shift manager, to keep an eye on it for the next few days and let us know if it was giving any errors, and we'd be back in just over a week to make sure everything was backing up okay and that the data was restorable (protip: test that when you're doing a backup. When you need that backup isn't a good time to discover that something wasn't working quite right after all).

    So this idiot watched it do its daily backups, and then would cheerfully call us up to report that the backup *worked*, with *no* errors. And he did this at about 3 am every single fucking night. *Facepalm*

    When, after about the third or fourth night of us groggily answering the phone at three am to him chirping away that the backups were just fine, my husband repeats that we only need to know if there's a problem and the backup *doesn't* work. Because, dude, the phone is right beside the bed and every time he calls us, he wakes us up.

    He apologizes and assures us that he understands what we're asking and won't phone us at 3 am again unless there's an actual problem.

    So the next night, instead of calling us to tell us there's no problem, he faxes us to tell us that there's no problem. To the same damned number. ><


    Yeah… we don't do that anymore. Computer repair, I mean. Haven't for a while. But your line up there reminded me of Bruce, the Idiot Night Manager.

    (Denouement: Just told him it didn't matter anymore and he didn't need to keep an eye on it. Checked in with the day manager a couple of times, and went back for follow-up testing. As Bruce had reported, it was all working fine.)

Leave a Reply