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Yes, Pluto was demoted, although the exact details were not very widely reported. The critical part was this: just before the vote, an extra requirement was added that an object must have largely cleared its orbit of other material in order to be a proper planet. With an orbit full of other Kuiper Belt objects, Pluto-- or, rather, Pluto/Charon, since they kept the bit about deeming planet/satellite systems with a center of gravity above the planet's surface to be double planets-- failed to make the cut.

And what of UB313? As some of you will recall, the bind for its discoverers was this: If it was certified as a planet, they didn't get to call it Xena, because the IAU reserves the right to name planets. If it wasn't, they could name it but lost the prestige of having discovered a planet. As it turned out, they were defeated on both counts-- it was declared a "dwarf planet", and the IAU still got to name it. Say hello to Eris and her satellite Dysnomia.

Meanwhile, space is slowly inching its way into people's lives, as the Associated Press reported on October 15th with the eye-catching headline, "More tourists weigh zero gravity flights".

With the 2007 Eastercon being cancelled, this year's TAFF has been postponed to next year. No word yet on how this will affect the next westbound TAFF. Meanwhile, memberships are being sold for a convention in the UK Easter weekend, exact location TBA (but not Liverpool).

News from Worldcon: John Hertz has formed his own one-off fan fund, cleverly titled "Send John Hertz to Japan", for a trip to Nippon 2007. Surplus funds will be distributed equally to TAFF, DUFF, and GUFF. More info at

Also: Leslie Fish has created a breed of hyperintelligent Oriental Shorthair cats with thumbs, and needs to find homes for some kittens and young adults. No adoption fee; pedigrees and instruction manuals included. Contact her at

Speaking of genetic engineering, a group of ecologists is renewing its push for "Pleistocene rewilding", challenging the conventional conservation approach that only tries to turn the clock back to 1492 in North America. No, they say, if you really want to restore the wilderness, go back to before humans ever showed up and reintroduce the megafauna. Some further information available at Now, before we all start arguing about the cost and practicality, let's just take a moment to savor the right-brain reaction: That would be sooooo cool.

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