## Tuesday, March 27, 2007

### Zodiac sign: Serpentarius

Astrology is a communist pseudoscience

Ann asked me what is my zodiac sign: well, it is Serpentarius, currently called Ophiuchus, the least known among the 13 zodiac signs: see the symbol on the left. Everyone who was born between 11/30 and 12/17 had this sign behind the Sun although most of these people incorrectly assume that they are Sagittarius. ;-)

Figure 1: Sagittarius Serpentarius (Secretary Bird), the heterotic result of a compromise between the scientific and unscientific approach to the zodiacal constellations. It is an extraordinary bird of prey in the "least concern" category. The word "secretary" comes from the pencils that it stores for the secretaries. According to others, they're arrows which is why it is a Sagittarius. But the bird likes to eat snakes which is why it is Serpentarius.

Ann Coulter recently pointed out that astrologers are almost as untrustworthy as the global warming alarmists. I agree with her: astrology is just another communist pseudoscience. :-) The main features of astrology that justify this description are the following:
1. egalitarianism
2. elimination of inconvenient groups
3. static picture of the world
4. the desire to control the world from the top

Egalitarianism of astrology is obvious. All zodiac signs had to be assigned exactly 1/12 of the year - just like every European country can only get one out of 12 stars on the European flag - even though there are obvious differences in the size of the constellations.

More seriously, it turned out that there is a 13th constellation, the Serpentarius, that didn't fit the pre-conceived picture at all. Well, it had to be eliminated from the list of astrological signs. There must exist egalitarianism but only for those who "deserve" it. Those who are outside the box must be sent to Siberia and destroyed.

The ideology behind astrology was absolutely static. They believed Aristotle's dogma that the heavens couldn't ever change. Aristotle could have been smart in some ways but in most ways, he was nearly as naive as the proponents of Gaia.

Johannes Kepler, an early 17th century string theorist who became famous for the laws describing the low-energy non-relativistic two-body limit of string theory and who discovered an early version of the ADE classification, observed the last certain supernova explosion in our Galaxy: SN 1604 occured on the right Serpentarius' leg in 1604. Galileo Galilei, a fellow string theorist, later used Kepler's observation to disprove the Aristotelian dogma that the heavens were completely static.

Figure 2: Kepler's drawing of Serpentarius: wasn't he a great artist? The supernova "N" is near the right leg.

This dogma has always been very powerful. For example, they used to think that if they would divide the year into 12 zodiac signs, such a fragmentation of the year would be valid forever. Some better astronomers have known about the precession of the Earth. At any rate, the zodiac signs have shifted by 1 sign since the zodiac was introduced because it has been more than -(1+2+3+4+...) of the period of the precession which is D thousand years. Recall that the sum of integers equals -1/12 and the critical dimension of bosonic string theory is D=26.

Of course, the people who were designing the zodiac didn't care that the future generations would feel annoyed by this upgef*cked science. In some sense and despite their quiet temperament, the creators of the great global astrology swindle were the same kind of megalomaniacs as the proponents of the catastrophic global warming. Both of these groups think that they're smarter than the people who will live centuries in the future from now which is why they want to dictate how the people in the future should live, what constellations they should believe coincides with the Sun, and how much carbon they should emit. The future generations feel cheated by their ancestors.

Finally, astrology wanted to organize the world from the top. The stars, planets, and constellations were Big Brothers - or Big Sisters, in order for me to be politically correct - who had the right to control human lives as well as all microscopic processes on Earth and elsewhere. Astrology was wrong and other leftist ideologies are wrong, too. :-)

And that's the memo although this particular one is not 100% serious. Well, it's as serious as CosmicVariance's cute entangled cat and the struggle between beer and wine in the Democratic primaries.

1. Dude...yes the heavens will change. The Earth was once believed to be flat. People didn't believe that pollution also effected the environment.

Global warming may be caused by carbon, or it may be natural. Either way it's real, as is the rising gas prices in the U.S. and most of that can be attributed to Bush's economic plan, spend on war, and borrow from China. Thus the falling of the dollar. Ann Coulter is a greedy individual who will say anything for money. I hear she's desperate for a man too... Why don't you give her a call?

Your post exacerbates a static society just as much as Aristotles ideas on Astronomy. Our notions of constancy change. You wont be able to rely on fossil fuels in the sense that you are accustomed to. That is reality. The population is increasing, and you are tapping a somewhat finite resource at an exponential rate.

2. Although Ophiucus intersects the ecliptic, it is not a zodiacal sign in astrology. The signs are defined as 30-degree segments of the ecliptic, of which there are only twelve, and they are named after nearby constellations at the time the system was developed, rather than being defined by the constellations.

3. That's actually the old Eastern Zodiac belief, which was before the moon caused the Earth to spin differently around 2000 years ago [[perhaps 2011?!?]]. Hence why we now use the 12 Zodiac sign astrology [[12 months in a year...?!?!?]]. The Earth's axis is rotating in a different way since the moon's gravitational pull causes it to wobble around it's axis. So technically there are only 12 Zodiacs in our day in age because the Sun is in a different position than it was when the Eastern Zodiac Astrology was adhered by. If we lived in BCE it would be different. Although some Eastern civilizations still abide by the old astrological terms before earth's axis started to wobble, those who are accustomed to the Western civilization way of living, which includes more than what your Zodiac sign is, use the Tropical Zodiac because of how the Sun aligns with the cancellations now that the axis has changed. But, if you wish to live in the past I hope it works out for you... You can think about us when you hope for the future. ;] Cheers!

4. So wait... 4.6 billion years and the moon only started causing a wobble in the last 1000 or so years? Yea there's been a wobble to the earth and a bob and a tilt as well as the entire solar system for a long time. 2012... the Solar alignment... happens more than once in the history of earth.

5. Yeah, as mentioned by others, Astrology and Astronomy aren't the same, have nothing to do with each other, and constellation does NOT equal sign. They just used outer-space as a handy reference, because it was a fuckton of years ago and it made it sound both scientific AND mystical; but it's MUCH more closely linked to our planet's seasonal changes, and how they effect us, like any other organism on earth.
But, I do acknowledge that this on only half-serious, and you probably don't really care that much.

6. re: Ann Coulter---"Even a broken clock is right twice a day" In her case, the time frame needs to be expanded dramatically. She is a
performer, not an oracle.

7. Astrological predictions are simply a duality
to fortune cookie predictions and similar to "cold reading" techniques. I think someone could make a lot of  by making and selling
sarcastic and demeaning fortune cookies :)

8. Archimedes rules! As Lagrange said of Euler--"He is the master of us all."
He seems to have been like Leonardo, only also a math genius--and came very close to inventing calculus. He was hampered (perhaps) by the Phoenician number system (taken over by the Greeks), and by not having much prior math to draw on (though sometimes that can be a plus---namely Feynman for example, who liked to work out stuff rather than relying on formulaic prior stuff eg his path integral formulation of QM).

I like Socrates, but see how he could be a total pain in the butt even for non-political hack idiots...sort of like the kid who keeps saying "why" about 10 000 times too often. After awhile, the act seems like "schtick".

9. Amen, Gene. Even in '67 when I started my undergrad, we had rigorous standards and there was only the start of mark inflation. Also, the rather ludicrous "rate your professor" did not exist. There, of course, was dead wood, but the current trend often rates profs best for giving all A's and telling the best jokes.
There is a famous study, called the Fox Effect where a psychologist hired an actor to give a lecture called "Mathematical Game Theory as Applied to Physician Education" which was total meaningless jargon-filled nonsense, but was given in a jokey, bantering, confident, audience-friendly manner. The audience of professional physicians and grad students rated the talk as excellent, informative, etc, and the results were replicated in three separate talks. :)
---
"The experimenters created a meaningless lecture on 'Mathematical Game
Theory as Applied to Physician Education,' and coached the actor to
deliver it 'with an excessive use of double talk, neologisms, non
sequiturs, and contradictory statements.' At the same time, the
researchers encouraged the actor to adopt a lively demeanor, convey
warmth toward his audience, and intersperse his nonsensical comments
with humor. ... The actor fooled not just one, but three separate
audiences of professional and graduate students. Despite the emptiness
of his lecture, fifty-five psychiatrists, psychologists, educators,
graduate students, and other professionals produced evaluations of Dr.
Fox that were overwhelmingly positive. ... The disturbing feature of the
Dr. Fox study, as the experimenters noted, is that Fox’s nonverbal
behaviors so completely masked a meaningless, jargon-filled, and
confused presentation." --from wiki