Predicting The Future - Science and Mysteries (Part 2)

Continuation of Page 1 - - - But since this new form of astrology ignores the actual position of the constellations, critics say it undermines the whole basis of the ancient system. I don't see how that can work because the characteristics that astrologers assign to some of the signs have to do with what the constellations look like. So the Pisces sign is associated with water because fish swim in water. So you can't then, suddenly, decide that the constellations and the signs have nothing to do with each other.

Modern astrologers insist, the real life force of astrology exists within the planets of our solar system. The word, planet, for an astrologer doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as it does for an astronomer. We use the word in the vein that the Greeks meant it. In the way that the planet literally means "wanderer." So for an astrologer, anything that moves against the background stars is a planet. So the Sun is not a planet, technically, but we call it a planet.

Astrology is not just based out of something in the thin air. It's based out of actual configurations of planets, their relationships to each other, to create a map. A celestial fingerprint, or a sense of destiny for somebody, in terms of the life they're living and its timing. One astrological phrase that's mentioned a lot in astrology is, Mercury in retrograde. We've heard people describe it as a bad omen. A time when one shouldn't make big decisions. Or they blame bad decisions, or actions, on the movement of the tiniest planet in our solar system.

 

But what does retrograde really mean? Retrograde is the apparent movement of a planet, seen from Earth, in the opposite direction of other bodies in the solar system when observed from a particular vantage point. It's caused by the different rates of speed at which a planet travels around the Sun. Mercury, being the closest, according to the laws of Newton, traveled faster because it's closer to the Sun. And, therefore, as the Earth and Mercury go around the Sun, Mercury seems to go backwards. And so we have this optical illusion. Forward can go backwards.

This illusion is something we can easily see in our everyday lives.  Suppose you have two cars going along a highway. But one car is moving faster than the other. As it's passing the slower car, the slower car appears to be moving backward. It's not really moving backward. But it appears to be moving backward from the perspective of the faster car. In the same way, Mercury only appears to move backward for a while. But both Earth and Mercury continue to move forward in their orbits around the Sun. Mercury has three retrograde periods per year. Each lasting about three weeks. Astrologers claim that certain people are sensitive to this celestial phenomenon. Mercury is the planet that affects communication, short-range travel. So when it goes backwards, it means that those things are having a more difficult time moving forward, So during Mercury in retrograde, you want to be careful to start any new contracts. You want to, probably, plan some extra time for travel. This tends to be a time of plane delays. And you also want to be very careful and mindful of your speech and communication.

Particularly through technology. Whether Mercury, or any other planet, is in retrograde motion, or the normal prograde motion, should have no effect, whatsoever, on how our day goes, or our well-being, or our futures, or our careers. Scientists insist that astrology must be wrong. But is it possible that the ancient system is actually driven by a known fundamental force in the universe?

Astrology

Some believe it's a cosmic blueprint for life. But is there any evidence of a force that empowers the planets, Sun, and Moon, to affect human behavior and destiny at the moment of birth? A lot of astrology talks about how crucial it is to know, at time of birth, what was going on in the night sky. That implies that there's some sort of mechanism connecting the motion of celestial objects to influences on someone at birth. But what kind of mechanism? According to the law of physics, there are four fundamental forces of nature by which particles, or planets, can interact with each other. They are gravity, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force, and weak nuclear force. Scientists argue that if astrology has any basis in reality, it needs to rest on one of these four basic forces. But is there any evidence it does?

Gravity, which is one of the most fundamental forces in the universe, is the pull of all stuff on all other stuff. Every piece of matter in the universe attracts every other piece of matter. And so we, the Earth, are pulled into orbit around the Sun. We, in turn, pull the Moon into orbit around the Earth. So could gravity be the source by which celestial objects affect humans on Earth? The gravity of an object depends on two things. How much mass it has. And how far away it is. The more massive an object is, the stronger its gravity. Yet the closer it is, the more its gravity affects you. A way of thinking about that is to imagine that my voice is accompanied by several other voices. And so what's actually going to happen is that it's gonna be very hard for you to hear me. I'm gonna have to raise my voice. But if they start moving away, then the effects of their voices, even though there are many more of them than my voice, will actually get weaker, and produce a much less significant effect than just me standing here talking to you. That's very much like a planet being far away. Even though it's very massive, its effects are very weak, compared to effects locally that may be much stronger.

Mars is the closest planet to Earth. But does it have a measurable gravitational effect on a human at the moment of birth? Regardless of the position of Mars in the sky, its gravitational effect on the baby is much less than that of the doctor delivering the baby. The doctor has a lot less mass, but the doctor is much, much closer than Mars. And so the gravitational effect is much greater. Gravity can't be the physical mechanism that governs astrology. But could astrology be linked to another force of nature?

Electromagnetism

It's the force that acts between electrically charged particles, producing electricity, magnetism, and light. Electromagnetism affects a lot of what's going on here on Earth, in terms of how we broadcast radio signals, how things are attracted to each other, how things bump into each other. That's all controlled by the electromagnetic force. The Moon, planets, and even the human body, are composed of electrically charged particles, like electrons and protons that make up atoms. But positive protons and negative electrons cancel each other out and make the atoms electrically neutral. Electromagnetic forces shouldn't influence people in their daily lives or at the moment of birth, because between electrically neutral bodies, there's essentially no electromagnetic interaction. Now Earth is neutral, the planets are neutral, there should be no electromagnetic interactions among them.

What about the two remaining fundamental forces of nature? The weak nuclear force and the strong nuclear force? The strongest of all the known forces. It's the glue that holds together atomic nuclei, which all living things are made of. The strong and weak nuclear forces are influential only over extremely tiny distances. The sizes of sub-atomic particles. There should be no effect whatsoever, in terms of the nuclear forces, between the planets, at the time of birth, and the baby.

Astrology doesn't appear to be linked to any detectable force. But could the ancient system be governed by one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of the universe? Astrology. An ancient tradition that links the patterns of our solar system with the patterns of our lives. But what force in the universe could enable the positions and motions of the planets and stars to affect us here on Earth. None of the four known forces of nature appear to be the smoking gun. But could modern science have missed something? Could astrology be governed by a mysterious, undetectable force in our universe? - Science can't even tell us what consciousness is, but we know it's there. So it's very similar to astrology.

We can interpret them and share the influences with people, but we don't exactly know how it works. Unlike the known forces of nature, astrologers theorize that this unknown force that governs astrology is completely independent of distance.

Meaning the Sun, Moon, and all the planets in our solar system have an equal effect on humans on Earth. Given that no experiment shows the force that astrology's using, that the force doesn't follow any of the known laws of science, I think the simplest hypothesis is that there is no such force. Scientists assert that astrology hasn't kept up with the times. There are thousands of newly discovered objects and phenomenon in the universe that are pushing the boundaries of astronomy, and testing the legitimacy of astrology.

Sagittarius, the 15th largest constellation, is thought to loosely resemble an archer, half-man, half-horse, drawing his bow. Astrology claims that people born under this sign are energetic and enthusiastic. But scientists discovered one of the most exotic things within the constellation. A black hole. A super massive object with such powerful gravity that nothing can escape from it, including light. The cosmic beast swallows gigantic volumes of gas, and dust, and anything else that gets near it. But does it have any effect on humans here on Earth?

In the constellation, Sagittarius, 26,000 light-years away, is the center of our galaxy. And we've discovered that there's a giant black hole, 4 million times as massive as the Sun, right there, in the middle of our galaxy. That's really neat but it has nothing to do with any physical effect on our lives, in terms of what careers we should have, what people we should date, what kind of a day we're gonna have. According to astrology, the constellation, Cancer, symbolizes a crab. Those born under the sign are said to be maternal homebodies. But scientists have recently made a big discovery. The constellation is home to solar systems containing planets resembling Earth. Part of the reason the discovery of extra solar planets is so exciting, is that we might be seeing planets that are potentially like our own Earth. Planets that received enough light from their star, that they could warm enough to have liquid water. And hopefully, with liquid water, the chances to be host for life.

But none of these things are included in astrology at all. Astrologers acknowledge all the new scientific discoveries but claim that the most important astrological influences exist in our own solar system, not the universe at large. The reality is that if we were to incorporate all of the new discoveries, we would have an overwhelming body of things to consider. So we have to play triage a little bit and narrow it down to the things that seem to have the most important and influential effects on us. I think you can lose the forest for the trees if you get too crazy, and go too far out, and start to look at too many variable pieces. What's most important is just to take in this little space that we're all involved with, within the solar system, and understand your place in it.

Despite the lack of hard evidence, many people still swear by astrology when making the most important decisions of their lives. So what happens when scientists take the biggest claim in all of astrology and put it to the test?

Astrology and astronomy have been engaged in a cosmic rift for centuries. Astrologers claim their system is scientific. Astronomers, on the other hand, dismiss it as a superstition. However, in order to be fair and accurate, the scientific community decided it was time to test astrology themselves. When scientists or educators have asked astrologers for proof that their system works, their response is they're just too busy helping people to devise experiments and do any kind of proving of astrology. Besides which, astrology doesn't need any proof 'cause they have thousands of years of satisfied customers. So if the astrologers didn't want to advance any proofs about whether astrology works or it doesn't, maybe we could help them out and do some experiments ourself.

In one study, scientists tested one of astrology's biggest claims-- is the ancient system accurate at predicting which Zodiac signs are compatible or incompatible when it comes to relationships? At Michigan State University, a psychologist collected the marriage and divorce records for the state of Michigan and surveyed the Zodiac signs among approximately 3,000 couples who got married and 500 who got divorced. Psychologists tried to see were more compatible signs married and more incompatible signs divorced? And the answer was it was completely random. The divorces were evenly spread among the signs. The marriages were evenly spread among the signs. Nothing about getting married or getting divorced was visible in their astrological characteristics. These stars you see at night, trillions upon trillions of miles away... and yet some people believe that the motion of these gigantic objects is just there so you can meet a tall, dark, handsome stranger tomorrow.

If astrology can't predict compatibility, can it provide clues about a person's most suitable profession? In a well-publicized study, a French psychologist looked at famous people to see if occupations lined up with particular signs of the Zodiac.

 

The best-known finding was called "The Mars Effect." It alleged that champion athletes were born... when the planet Mars, known astrologically as the Warrior Planet, was rising or at its highest point when viewed from earth. That study has been repeated later with a much more carefully selected sample, with much more careful procedures. And there, the correlations with athletes are no better than the correlations that you get among just a random sample of people who are not star athletes.

The idea that somehow the position of Mars the day I'm born is important, that it will tell them something about my life or my destiny-- that's nonsense. There's no evidence for it either in the statistical tests or in the examinations of the mechanism of how astrology works. Astrology cannot pass the test of science, but that doesn't seem to sway the true believers.

The National Science Foundation recently reported that almost half of all Americans think astrology is scientific. Astrology isn't science in terms of hard, fast science. But it's more like psychology. Astrology shows us the habits and patterns and tendencies of the human psyche, and then, of course, the person's individual free will has to interact with that in some way, and there's no control group for that particular experiment. There are things that we just don't know. In some ways, a lot of astrology is a narrative that people find gives meaning to things that sometimes seems random. As long as the narratives are not being misused, not being used to deceive people, I think it's perfectly fine.

Astrology and astronomy share a common origin... but now they're completely separate disciplines. Astronomers admit humans do have a deep connection to the universe... but not in the way astrologers think. We connected to the cosmos. The atoms in our bodies are made for us by previous generations of stars, distributed throughout the universe by the explosions of stars. The warmth of the sun, the energy of the sun made life on earth possible. What I would hope is that people will look at the universe as a modern mystery and try to learn more about the fascinating world of stars and planets, not ancient gods.   

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