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Maduro slammed for dining on pricey 'Salt Bae' steaks as Venezuelans starve

Maduro slammed for dining on pricey 'Salt Bae' steaks as Venezuelans starve

(CNN) - Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro feasted on pricey steaks and smoked cigars at a "Salt Bae" restaurant in Istanbul on Monday, drawing ire and condemnation back home, where an economy spir ... Continue Reading
One year later -- Puerto Rico still needs our help

One year later -- Puerto Rico still needs our help

(CNN) - One year after Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, the island still struggles to recover. Many of the agencies tasked with rescue and supply have transitioned to long-term rebuilding. Yo ... Continue Reading
Equinox Fast Facts

Equinox Fast Facts

(CNN) - Here's a look at the equinox.The equinox occurs twice a year when the sun is directly above the Earth's equator and day and night are of equal length.Facts:September 23, 2018 - The aut ... Continue Reading
Merriam-Webster adds new words that'll make English teachers cringe (but you'll be perfectly fine with them)

Merriam-Webster adds new words that'll make English teachers cringe (but you'll be perfectly fine with them)

(CNN) - No need to study this month to increase your vocabulary. Merriam-Webster added 840 new words to the dictionary -- and chances are, you probably know many of them. A bulk of the new entries ... Continue Reading
How you can help Typhoon Mangkhut recovery efforts

How you can help Typhoon Mangkhut recovery efforts

(CNN) - Typhoon Mangkhut, known locally as Typhoon Ompong, has cut a swath of destruction across Guam, the Marshall Islands, the Philippines and China.  Aid groups are responding. You can support ... Continue Reading
China says Sweden violated tourists' human rights

China says Sweden violated tourists' human rights

(CNN) - A disagreement between a group of Chinese tourists and a hostel in the Swedish capital has escalated into a diplomatic spat, with China accusing Sweden of violating the visitors' human rights ... Continue Reading
Silvio Berlusconi Fast Facts

Silvio Berlusconi Fast Facts

(CNN) - Here's a look at the life of billionaire and former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.Personal:Birth date: September 29, 1936 Birth place: Milan, ItalyFather: Luigi Berluscon ... Continue Reading
Hajj Pilgrimage Fast Facts

Hajj Pilgrimage Fast Facts

(CNN) - Here's a look at Hajj, an annual pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia. More than two million Muslims perform the pilgrimage annually.Facts:August 9, 2019 - The Hajj pilgrimage is expected ... Continue Reading
Start your Monday smart: UN meeting, Korean summit, Polish President, Kavanaugh vote

Start your Monday smart: UN meeting, Korean summit, Polish President, Kavanaugh vote

(CNN) - Happy Mexican Independence Day! But, wait, isn't that Cinco de Mayo? No, señor. Today is the day in 1810 that a Catholic priest issued the call for an end to 300 years of Spanish rule. Viva! ... Continue Reading
Disruptor in Chief: How Trump is changing world order

Disruptor in Chief: How Trump is changing world order

(CNN) - The US emerged from World War II as a superpower aiming to shape the globe in its own image. America's alliance with European powers sought to prevent another catastrophic conflict by foundin ... Continue Reading
URGENT - Super Typhoon Mangkhut makes landfall

URGENT - Super Typhoon Mangkhut makes landfall

(CNN) -- Super Typhoon Mangkhut made landfall in the northern Philippines early Saturday, bringing with it gale-force winds and heavy rains as aid agencies warn millions are at risk.
Disadvantaged girls change their communities by learning to code

Disadvantaged girls change their communities by learning to code

LAGOS, Nigeria (CNN) - Sharon Okpoe has lived her entire 17 years in Makoko---known as the world's largest "floating slum"---built on a lagoon in Lagos, Nigeria.Rickety shacks stand on stilts in th ... Continue Reading
The earliest drawing in history: A hashtag found in South Africa

The earliest drawing in history: A hashtag found in South Africa

(CNN) - Scientists have found the oldest known drawing in history -- and it looks #familiar. The 73,000-year-old red cross-hatch pattern looks just like a hashtag, also recognizable as the US poun ... Continue Reading
Rosh Hashanah Fast Facts

Rosh Hashanah Fast Facts

(CNN) - Here is a look at the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah, a celebration of the new year. September 29, 2019 - Rosh Hashanah begins at sundown. September 9, 2018 - Rosh Hashanah began at sundo ... Continue Reading
A threat disguised as a duel: Putin's ex-bodyguard challenges opposition leader

A threat disguised as a duel: Putin's ex-bodyguard challenges opposition leader

MOSCOW (CNN) - At first glance, it looked like an episode from nineteenth-century Russian novel: A general challenging his opponent to a duel. In reality, it was direct threat to Russian President Vla ... Continue Reading
2017 was the world's most miserable year on record, study says

2017 was the world's most miserable year on record, study says

LONDON (CNN) - Last year was the world's most miserable for more than a decade, according to a survey of people's emotions in more than 145 countries.People experienced sadness, stress, worry, ange ... Continue Reading
Pluto is most definitely a planet -- and should never have been downgraded, say some scientists

Pluto is most definitely a planet -- and should never have been downgraded, say some scientists

(CNN) - Make Pluto great again?

That seems to be the aim of a new study that urges Pluto be returned to its former planetary glory.

The research, published in the scientific journal Icarus, says Pluto never should have been downgraded from a planet to a dwarf planet 12 years ago. Why? Because, the authors say, the rationale behind the decision wasn't valid.

Let's back up a bit, to 2006. That's when the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the group that gets to name planetary bodies, established updated rules for what is and what isn't a planet.

The IAU defined a planet as a celestial body that orbits the sun, is round or nearly round and "clears the neighborhood" around its orbit.

It's that last part that's currently in dispute. The IAU said Pluto was just too small to clear the neighborhood, or knock other space rocks out of its path as it orbits the sun. And so, the astronomical union demoted Pluto to dwarf planet status.

The contention

Philip Metzger has a problem with that. He's a University of Central Florida planetary scientist and lead author on the study.

"The IAU definition would say that the fundamental object of planetary science, the planet, is supposed to be defined on the basis of a concept that nobody uses in their research," Metzger said in a statement on the school's website.

Metzger and his team looked at more than two centuries' worth of research and found just one study, from the early 19th century, that employed the orbit-clearing standard the IAU used to downgrade Pluto.

And, Metzger also points out, the standard used to classify planets changed in the 1950s after astronomer Gerard Kuiper said what really determines what is and what isn't a planet is how a celestial body is formed.

Metzger goes a step further, saying a planet should be classified based on if it's big enough that its gravity allows it to become a spherical shape, according to the school's statement.

"And that's not just an arbitrary definition," he said. "It turns out this is an important milestone in the evolution of a planetary body, because apparently when it happens, it initiates active geology in the body."

A debate reignited

Pulling Pluto from the ranks of planets has always been a controversial decision.

Back in 2014 Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics jumped into the debate: What is a planet? It had some experts discuss the definition of a planet and then let the audience vote. No surprise; they voted that Pluto is a planet.

Metzger said the only planet more complex than Pluto is Earth. And we've learned so much more about Pluto after NASA's New Horizons spacecraft flew past it in 2015. Thanks to New Horizons, we now know that Pluto has dunes made of solid methane ice, mountain peaks covered in methane snow and, possibly, an icy, underwater ocean.

The AIU said there's a clear way to bring up a motion with the group -- "which is to propose an IAU Resolution through the relevant Working Group(s) and Division."

So far, however, no such resolutions have been proposed, said Lars Lindberg Christensen with the group.

"It is nevertheless good and healthy to debate these topics," Christensen said.

Maybe, sometime soon, the debate will be settled -- and we can all go back to talking about the nine-planet solar system we learned about in school.

Start your Monday smart: 9/11, iPhone, Cardinal Wuerl, war games, hurricanes, NFL

Start your Monday smart: 9/11, iPhone, Cardinal Wuerl, war games, hurricanes, NFL

(CNN) - Here's what you need to know to Start Your Week Smart. (You can also get "5 Things You Need to Know Today" delivered to your inbox daily. Sign up here.)• It's the statistical peak of ... Continue Reading
United Nations Attacks Fast Facts

United Nations Attacks Fast Facts

(CNN) - Here's a look at violence against UN peacekeeping forces. This is a selected list of incidents from 1990 to the present. Facts:Since 1948, the United Nations has authorized more than 70 p ... Continue Reading
Jocelyn Bell Burnell to donate $3 million physics prize to counter 'unconscious bias'

Jocelyn Bell Burnell to donate $3 million physics prize to counter 'unconscious bias'

LONDON (CNN) - One of the world's leading astrophysicists says she will donate her $3 million winnings from a prestigious science prize to help others break into the field.Jocelyn Bell Burnell, who ... Continue Reading