It’s not every day that someone discovers a planet.
For 76 years after its discovery in 1930, Pluto was the 9th planet from the sun.
So when the discoverer of Pluto came to my hometown to give a free lecture, my high school physics teacher said, “I don’t care if he’s as boring as watching paint dry, I have to go see him.”
In spite of old age and infirmity, Clyde Tombaugh was anything but boring. He was funny and charming. He regaled us with the story of how he hunted the elusive little planet, how he was the low man on the totem pole at Lowell Observatory, and how shoveling snow off the telescope’s roof was a real “snow job.”
He was just 24 when he made his big discovery, and he went on to discover hundreds of asteroids, stars and galaxies and to nurture a love of astronomy among thousands of students.
So it was kind of sad when astronomers downgraded Pluto to a “dwarf planet” in 2006. But it was also inspiring.
Because what can you do when the world suddenly decides your accomplishments aren’t so important? How do you react when tastes change and people ridicule your work, even though you gave it your all and did it better than anyone else could?
You carry on. You laugh it off. You keep doing good work. And you encourage other people to do the same.
This article first appeared on the Varamark Research blog at