Those of you who know me would probably characterize me as having a ‘scientific’ bent. At Design Science Toys, I spent more than 2 decades attending science conferences – working and talking with scientists in numerous disciplines as we developed toys based on many of their ideas and discoveries. It may come as a surprise to some of you then, when I say that I have no real issue with Astrology.
Though science has always been my avocation, and never my vocation, my associations with scientists taught me a most valuable lesson – a clear distinction must be made between that which is knowable (and provable) and that which can not (presently) be known. Most scientists – after spending a fair piece of their lives making these fine distinctions – would readily agree that the total amount that is truly knowable is very, very small compared to what is unknown. Life abhors a vacuum, and for me (and I believe, for everyone) the gap between what is known and what is unknown is filled by belief.
Astrology is a belief system, and applying the tools of science in an effort to make that (or any) belief system internally coherent is a fool’s errand. A belief system is proven or dis-proven not by logical argument, but by the quality it brings to your life – does it make you a better person and improve the lives of those around you? Yes? No? The argument is over.
That said, there is an entirely different spirit that can be brought to the game when attempting to meld the worlds of the known and the unknown – of joining science and belief. And that spirit is one of play.
I began to wonder: What if astrologers used actual orbital paths and star positions – the four dimensions of space-time – to make their charts, rather than the static two dimensional arrays to which they are accustomed? Astrology was born in a time when a static 2D view of the heavens predominated. All the wonderful historical baggage that enriches astrology simultaneously misrepresents what we now know to be the shape of the solar system, the true movements of the planets, and our spatial relationship to the stars that make up the constellations of the night sky. Astrologers are hardly alone in this – look at any of the popular media representing the solar system or our galaxy, and they employ the same static erroneous view, with much less excuse, as they are attempting to be scientific.
This thought became the kernel of a visualization that I offer in the spirit of play and the hope that out of the chaos of that play something new will be born.
So, I started thinking about the whole concept of a ‘birthday’ – a concept that is entirely central to Astrology (and to society as a whole): celebrating when the earth returns to the same position in space as the moment of one’s birth – because of course it never does.
As the earth orbits our sun (at a little over 29.5 km/sec) , the sun is busy following its own orbit around the outer edge of our galaxy (~ 200+ km/sec), and all the while the Milky Way dances in and around the 30 or so galaxies that make up the Local Group (at… well… figuring that out is frick’n complex).
If we step back and visualize these combined movements, we can see that the Earth’s orbital trail actually carves a shape through space that *could* be visualized by….. grabbing an over-long strand of cooked Fusilli at either end and gently twisting – until the strand formed larger spirals along its entire length in addition to the little twists it was made with. If it was a *really* long noodle we could keep twisting until the larger spirals in turn coiled around one another – kind of like what the cord on my desk phone always looks like…
A tight little spin that lives inside a corkscrew that lies along the path of a very grand twirl that at every moment occupies a new and unique place in the universe.
Which all just proves that thinking about your own birthday this late at night without having had dinner is definitely a bad idea…