The fear that Planet X is heading right toward Earth makes no sense. If it did that every 27 million years, as they claim it does, how would Earth have survived all of these encounters? We're just a punching bag that gets blasted every now and again by a giant planet, yet Earth somehow stays together and keeps orbiting the sun like nothing happened? "Oh, I fell down some stairs. Don't mind me, everyone. My dinosaurs? Oh, I'm not sure what happened to them." A collision with a planet that large seems like it would destroy Earth, or throw it way off orbit, or send it hurtling into the sun while we all give nature one last collective middle finger.
What Whitmire is claiming, and what makes people confuse the existence of Planet 9 with the possibility of Planet X is that they both theoretically travel through the Kuiper Belt. He is convinced that every 27 million years or so, this giant, evil planet goes bashing through that field of icy objects and debris and sends those objects flying toward Earth. Like a cue ball barreling into thousands, perhaps millions, of billiard balls that go scattering across an endless pool table. And Earth in this scenario is just some hapless fool twirling around to its own beat on the outer edges of the table, unaware that it is about to be clobbered yet again by shrapnel from this scheduled collision.
Digital Vision./DigitalVision/Getty Images
Like you running a stop sign because you're really into the new Ariana Grande
and getting T-boned by the 2:45 bus.
It's a reasonable thought, and he is a physicist. It's not crazy, and there have been extinction-level events in Earth's history, but all of life isn't consistently wiped out every 27 million years. The dinosaurs were around for 165 million years before the big event wiped them away. Planet X could have sent meteors at them five times during their run, and they just held the newspaper in front of their faces with their tiny arms the next morning and shrugged and said, "I am so sick of these damn asteroids plinking into our home. Another giant wave washed up and took away our friends. I have just had it!" That scenario is equally as plausible as the existence of Planet X, because there has been just as much evidence to support it as there has been of dinosaurs being voracious readers.
Some people might point to the Planet 9 evidence and say it also supports Planet X, but it does not. Planet 9 has a theoretical orbital period of 10,000 to 20,000 years, not 27 million. And its trek through the Kuiper Belt is quite the opposite of a billiard ball plowing through a field of balls. Rather than finding that all the objects were sent speeding away, Batygin and Brown noticed something called mean-motion resonance, which showed that several of the objects in the field had a similar orbital angle. They had aligned themselves so that Planet 9 could pass through and they could all maintain their respective orbits. "Still, I was very skeptical," says Batygin. "I had never seen anything like this in celestial mechanics." This is the guy who discovered it, and he was skeptical even after seeing proof.
Caltech/R. Hurt (IPAC)
Probably didn't help that you could see many similar artists' renderings on drug dealers' vans.
That's the way it is supposed to work. "I can't believe what I'm seeing, but there it is." As opposed to, "A guy selling hemp jewelry told me this, and it makes a lot of sense." It's more fun to hold on to harebrained theories and try to bend them until they become rational, but there is nothing that suggests Planet X exists or is heading straight for us or has smashed through the Kuiper Belt and unleashed a shotgun-like blast of comets and meteors upon us. And even if it had, didn't everyone see Deep Impact? We'll arm our nuclear weapons and blast them out of the sky like shooting skeet. It will be fun and maybe even unite the entire world as one entity rocket-punching space in harmony.
So we could all be rational and logical and wait until there is some actual proof of the existence of this giant destroyer planet, or we can keep listening to people who get most of their information from crystals and go running into the streets yelling about doom and Armageddon. Whitmire is not one of those people, but by making these kinds of claims, he does give them plenty of fodder. Science, well Batygin in this case, says things like, "A good theory should not only explain things that you set out to explain. It should hopefully explain things that you didn't set out to explain and make predictions that are testable." And that is incredibly boring. Just wait around until we get evidence? No way. I'm getting my foil hat, and I'll race you to that secret underground bunker the government clearly built under the Denver airport.
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