Babylon Podcast #35: Remembering Johnny Sekka

Welcome to Show #35!

Tim and Summer welcome Jeffrey back from his travels, and continue beating the dead horse known as “Is Pluto a planet or not?” Summer comes down on the side of “the more planets in our solar system, the merrier”, and Jeffrey thinks the bean counters are winning.

Johnny Sekka, “Dr Benjamin Kyle”

Next, Jeffrey, Tim and Summer talk with Patricia Tallman and John Radulovic about their memories of acclaimed actor Johnny Sekka, who portrayed Dr Benjamin Kyle in “The Gathering”, and who passed away on September 14th. Pat talks about how it was to work with him on-screen, and John tells us more about working with him from a director’s perspective, and later, Jeffrey touches on his memories of meeting him during conventions.

If you want to listen to us live as we record episodes, that feature will be be available starting September 6th, 9pm EDT/6pm PDT.

Listener Feedback: This week, we experiment with taking live callers with commentary on what we’re discussing. Chris Patterson joins us from the lurkers in the chat room, and adds his impressions on the interaction between Kyle and Takashima, and how the threads that were seeded weren’t able to be followed through during the series.

A more traditional feedback discussion will return next week.

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Promo: The Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas


  1. If you really want a good explanation of why Pluto isn’t and shouldn’t be considered a planet, listen to the Astronomy Cast:

    But the jist of it is this: there has been a multi-decade debate on what constitues a planet and for all that time Pluto was one of the primary offenders. It doesn’t look like nor act like the classic 8 planets. As we learn more about the solar system we are finding out that Pluto looks less and less like a planet. So, finally we are trying to come up with a good definition for what a planet is. And Pluto just doesn’t qualify.

  2. My question was more about the argument than with the results (this time).

    With the discovery of more extra-solar planets that don’t behave the way the planets in our solar system do, and how much more scientists are learning from that info, will that mean that that definition going to change again in another 50 years?

    Or will they start coming up with different definitions for different solar systems, based on star type or even separating them by near-orbit and far-orbit, or something else that seems arbitrary to most folks?

    Besides, I always wanted to see a Pluto expedition drop a few thousand cockroaches on the surface and see how well they survive. Now that it’s not categorized as a planet, that may never happen. πŸ™‚

  3. A lot of those questions are answered in the Astronomy Cast episode I linked.

    Will the definition of a planet change again? Possibly. That’s the good thing about science. At one time an atom was considered indivisible. Now we know better. BTW, Ceres, the asteroid, was once considred a planet back around 1850 and then was demoted as we learned more about the asteroid belt.

    Also, I don’t accept the premise that if Pluto wasn’t considered a planet we wouldn’t explore it. NASA, and other agencies, have sent probes to comets, asteroids, moons, and just to collect dust. Basically if it is out there we are going to take a look at it.

  4. I always liked the definition requiring a planet to have a mass large enough for gravity to pull it into a sphere, and be in an independant solar orbit. But I guess that would put the larger asteroids in the planet folder.

    They should just ‘grandfather’ Pluto in, and put an infamous asterisk in future astronomy record books. πŸ™‚

  5. Ditto, I subscribe to the Astronomy Cast (Slacker Astronomy, R.I.P.), and as I recall – if not in that particular episode, another – that the kinds of extra-solar planets found have shaken assumptions about solar system and planetary formation. So, it’s likely that the definition of “planet” may undergo more refinement. (Keep in mind that there was never a specific scientific definition.)

    As for going to Pluto, Summer’s only partly correct, IMHO. We would have gone, but not in our lifetimes. New Horizons had been on the chopping block twice before the probe had been completed. One of the reasons it managed to push through is that Pluto is now entering its winter, and scientists wanted to visit before its atmosphere froze out.

    Historically speaking, its been decades between missions to the outer worlds. The Grand Tour of ’77-’89 wasn’t offically planned as such; it was originally a mission to fly by Jupiter and Saturn. Galileo arrived at Jupiter in 1995; Cassini reached Saturn in 2004. There are currently no plans to revisit Uranus and Neptune.

    As for JIMS comment about the asterisk, well… with the discovery of Eris, it’s clear that Pluto wasn’t taking steroids, so all the home runs it hit seem to be due to natural athletic skill. πŸ˜›

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