Demote the Earth

A Letter to the International Astronomical Union by Professor E. Meritus, brought to our attention by E. B. Fischadler
Art by Scarlett O’Hairdye


It has come to my attention that the IAU has been inconsistent and unfair in its treatment of Pluto. As is well known, Pluto has recently been demoted from the exalted status of “planet” to the lesser status of “minor planet.” The IAU asserts that this demotion is in accord with established criteria for the designation of a planet: 1) The object orbits a star, 2) The object is roughly spherical, and 3) The object’s gravitational field sweeps debris from its orbit.

Others have objected to the demotion of Pluto on various grounds. I do not intend to argue this point here. Rather, I wish to point out that the Earth also fails to meet the above mentioned criteria and so should also be demoted. Granted, Earth orbits the sun (despite the persistent belief by some that the universe is centered on them), and Earth is an oblate spheroid of low eccentricity, thus approximately spherical. An international society exists for the sole purpose of denying this, but I shall go with the consensus here. It is the third criterion that Earth fails to meet.

Art for "Demote the Earth"

According to the IAU, planets contribute to a tidy solar system by sweeping up junk in their orbits. Earth, on the other hand, is a litterbug.


To read the rest of this story, check out the Mad Scientist Journal: Autumn 2016 collection.

Professor E. Meritus holds a barber chair in Syncretism at the Melinoe Institute of Technobabble. His publications include Pluto: It’s a Small World After All and the seminal work Original Publications on Recycled Paper–How Can That Be?

E. B. Fischadler has been writing short stories for several years, and has recently begun publishing. His stories have appeared in Mad Scientist Journal, Bewildering Stories, eFiction, and Beyond Science Fiction. In addition to fiction, Fischadler has published over 30 papers in refereed scientific journals, as well as a chapter of a textbook on satellite engineering. When he is not writing, he pursues a career in engineering and serves his community as an EMT. Fischadler continues to write short stories and is working on a novel about a naval surgeon. You can learn more about Fischadler and access his other publications at:

Scarlett O’Hairdye is a burlesque performer, producer and artist. To learn more, visit her site at

“Demote the Earth” is © 2016 E. B. Fischadler
Art accompanying story is © 2016 Scarlett O’Hairdye

Cover for Mad Scientist Journal: Autumn 2016
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