Tag: tendency (page 1 of 2)

March Equinox ~ Compassion Acknowledgment Oscillating Recycling & Intensity ~ Meline Portia Lafont

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The Angels – Release yourself to Adventure – December-03-2016

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FIND YOUR TWIN FLAME – SPIRIT WIND – HIGHER SELF 9-5-16 GALACTIC FEDERATION OF LIGHT

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5 Ways to Master the Art of Letting Go

Excerpt from huffingtonpost.comWe've all had to let go of things at some point or another. Whether it be a pet, friend, boyfriend, or simply graduating high school. We are constantly ending chapters in order to start new chapters.Though age and expe...

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The Class-Domination Theory of Power

by G. William DomhoffNOTE: WhoRulesAmerica.net is largely based on my book,Who Rules America?, first published in 1967 and now in its7th edition. This on-line document is presented as a summary of some of the main ideas in that book.Who has predominant power in the United States? The short answer, from 1776 to the present, is: Those who have the money -- or more specifically, who own income-producing land and businesses -- have the power. George Washington was one of the biggest landowner [...]

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How to Deal with Narcissism

 Excerpt from hubpages.com By Stephanie HicksWhat is Narcissism?Like many other psychological issues, there is a range of narcissism from mild to severe. Because of our inherent ego (as analyzed by Freud), a tendency to want to protect, celeb...

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Why the U.S. Gave Up on the Moon

Moon nearside



Excerpt from spacenews.com


Recently, several space advocacy groups joined forces to form the Alliance for Space Development. Their published objectives include a mention of obvious near-term goals such as supporting the commercial crew program, transitioning from use of the International Space Station to future private space stations and finding ways to reduce the cost of access to space.  What is notably missing from these objectives and those of many other space agencies, companies and advocacy groups is any mention of building a permanent settlement on the moon. It’s as if the lunar surface has become our crazy uncle that we all acknowledge exists but we’d prefer not to mention (or visit).  What made the next logical step in mankind’s progression beyond the bounds of Earth such a taboo subject?  If, as the Alliance for Space Development suggests, our nation wishes to move toward a path of permanent space settlements, the most logical step is our own planet’s satellite.

Lunar base conception
A 2006 NASA conception of a lunar base. Credit: NASA


A base on the lunar surface is a better place to study space settlement than a space station or Mars for many reasons. Unlike a space station, the base does not have to contend with aerodynamic drag, attitude control issues or contamination and impingement from its own thrusters. Unlike a space station, which exists in a total vacuum and resource void, a lunar base has access to at least some surface resources in the forms of minerals, albeit fewer than might be available on Mars.  Many people naturally want to go directly to Mars as our next step. Even SpaceX has publicly stated this as its ultimate goal, with SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell noting that “we’re not moon people.” However, Mars makes sense only if we think the technology is ready to safely support humans on another surface for long periods of time. Furthermore, budget restrictions make an ambitious goal like going immediately to Mars an unlikely prospect. Why are we afraid to take the seemingly necessary baby steps of developing the technology for a long-term base on a surface that can be reached in mere days instead of months?  The tendency to want to skip a lunar settlement is not a new phenomenon. Even before the first landing on the moon, U.S. and NASA political leadership was contemplating the future of manned space, and few of the visions involved a lunar base. The early space program was driven by Cold War competition with Moscow, and the kinds of ideas that circulated at the time involved milestones that seemed novel such as reusable spaceplanes, nuclear-powered rockets, space stations and missions to Mars. 

When the United States was on the verge of a series of landings on the moon, building a permanent base just didn’t seem like much of a new giant leap. NASA's ConstellationNASA’s Constellation program, featuring the Orion manned capsule set atop the Ares 1 launch vehicle, was meant to send astronauts back to the moon. Credit: NASA  The idea of a lunar landing mission was not reintroduced seriously until the George W. Bush administration and the introduction of the Constellation program. This program came at a complex time for NASA: The space shuttle was recovering from the Columbia disaster, the space station was in the midst of construction and the United States found itself with large budget deficits. However, despite its budgetary and schedule problems, which are common in any serious aerospace development project from space programs to jumbo-jet development, it provided NASA with a vision and a goal that were reasonable and sensible as next steps toward a long-term future of exploration beyond Earth. 

Constellation was nevertheless canceled, and we have since returned to a most uncommon sense.  The decision to avoid any sort of lunar activity in current space policy may have been biased by the Obama administration’s desire to move as far away as possible from the policies of the previous administration. 

Regardless of the cause, discussion of returning to the moon is no longer on the table.  Without the moon, the only feasible mission that NASA could come up with that is within reach given the current technology and budget is the Asteroid Redirect Mission.  
Even planetary scientists have spoken out against the mission, finding that it will provide little scientific value. It will also provide limited engineering and technology value, if we assume that our long-term goal is to permanently settle space. The experience gained from this sort of flight has little applicability to planetary resource utilization, long-term life support or other technologies needed for settlement.  

If we are to have a program of manned space exploration, we must decide what the long-term goals of such a program should be, and we should align our actions with those goals. When resources such as funding are limited, space agencies and political leaders should not squander these limited resources on missions that make no sense. Instead, the limited funding should be used to continue toward our long-term goals, accepting a slower pace or slight scale-back in mission scope.  Establishing a permanent human settlement in space is a noble goal, one that will eventually redefine humanity. Like explorers before us, it is also not a goal that will be achieved in a short period of time. We would be wise to keep our eyes on that goal and the road needed to get us there. And the next likely stop on that road is a permanent home just above our heads, on the surface of the brightest light in the night sky.  

Paul Brower is an aerospace systems engineer on the operations team for the O3b Networks satellite fleet. He previously worked in mission control at NASA for 10 years.
Recently, several space advocacy groups joined forces to form the Alliance for Space Development. Their published objectives include a mention of obvious near-term goals such as supporting the commercial crew program, transitioning from use of the International Space Station to future private space stations and finding ways to reduce the cost of access to space.
What is notably missing from these objectives and those of many other space agencies, companies and advocacy groups is any mention of building a permanent settlement on the moon. It’s as if the lunar surface has become our crazy uncle that we all acknowledge exists but we’d prefer not to mention (or visit).
What made the next logical step in mankind’s progression beyond the bounds of Earth such a taboo subject?
If, as the Alliance for Space Development suggests, our nation wishes to move toward a path of permanent space settlements, the most logical step is our own planet’s satellite.
Lunar base conception
A 2006 NASA conception of a lunar base. Credit: NASA
A base on the lunar surface is a better place to study space settlement than a space station or Mars for many reasons. Unlike a space station, the base does not have to contend with aerodynamic drag, attitude control issues or contamination and impingement from its own thrusters. Unlike a space station, which exists in a total vacuum and resource void, a lunar base has access to at least some surface resources in the forms of minerals, albeit fewer than might be available on Mars.
Many people naturally want to go directly to Mars as our next step. Even SpaceX has publicly stated this as its ultimate goal, with SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell noting that “we’re not moon people.” However, Mars makes sense only if we think the technology is ready to safely support humans on another surface for long periods of time. Furthermore, budget restrictions make an ambitious goal like going immediately to Mars an unlikely prospect. Why are we afraid to take the seemingly necessary baby steps of developing the technology for a long-term base on a surface that can be reached in mere days instead of months?
The tendency to want to skip a lunar settlement is not a new phenomenon. Even before the first landing on the moon, U.S. and NASA political leadership was contemplating the future of manned space, and few of the visions involved a lunar base. The early space program was driven by Cold War competition with Moscow, and the kinds of ideas that circulated at the time involved milestones that seemed novel such as reusable spaceplanes, nuclear-powered rockets, space stations and missions to Mars. When the United States was on the verge of a series of landings on the moon, building a permanent base just didn’t seem like much of a new giant leap.
NASA's Constellation
NASA’s Constellation program, featuring the Orion manned capsule set atop the Ares 1 launch vehicle, was meant to send astronauts back to the moon. Credit: NASA
The idea of a lunar landing mission was not reintroduced seriously until the George W. Bush administration and the introduction of the Constellation program. This program came at a complex time for NASA: The space shuttle was recovering from the Columbia disaster, the space station was in the midst of construction and the United States found itself with large budget deficits. However, despite its budgetary and schedule problems, which are common in any serious aerospace development project from space programs to jumbo-jet development, it provided NASA with a vision and a goal that were reasonable and sensible as next steps toward a long-term future of exploration beyond Earth.
Constellation was nevertheless canceled, and we have since returned to a most uncommon sense.
The decision to avoid any sort of lunar activity in current space policy may have been biased by the Obama administration’s desire to move as far away as possible from the policies of the previous administration. Regardless of the cause, discussion of returning to the moon is no longer on the table.
Without the moon, the only feasible mission that NASA could come up with that is within reach given the current technology and budget is the Asteroid Redirect Mission.
Even planetary scientists have spoken out against the mission, finding that it will provide little scientific value. It will also provide limited engineering and technology value, if we assume that our long-term goal is to permanently settle space. The experience gained from this sort of flight has little applicability to planetary resource utilization, long-term life support or other technologies needed for settlement.
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If we are to have a program of manned space exploration, we must decide what the long-term goals of such a program should be, and we should align our actions with those goals. When resources such as funding are limited, space agencies and political leaders should not squander these limited resources on missions that make no sense. Instead, the limited funding should be used to continue toward our long-term goals, accepting a slower pace or slight scale-back in mission scope.
Establishing a permanent human settlement in space is a noble goal, one that will eventually redefine humanity. Like explorers before us, it is also not a goal that will be achieved in a short period of time. We would be wise to keep our eyes on that goal and the road needed to get us there. And the next likely stop on that road is a permanent home just above our heads, on the surface of the brightest light in the night sky.

Paul Brower is an aerospace systems engineer on the operations team for the O3b Networks satellite fleet. He previously worked in mission control at NASA for 10 years.
- See more at: http://spacenews.com/op-ed-why-the-u-s-gave-up-on-the-moon/#sthash.czfTscvg.dpuf

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Earth’s Moon May Not Be Critical to Life Afterall




Excerpt from space.com

The moon has long been viewed as a crucial component in creating an environment suitable for the evolution of complex life on Earth, but a number of scientific results in recent years have shown that perhaps our planet doesn't need the moon as much as we have thought.

In 1993, French astronomer Jacques Laskar ran a series of calculations indicating that the gravity of the moon is vital to stabilizing the tilt of our planet. Earth's obliquity, as this tilt is technically known as, has huge repercussions for climate. Laskar argued that should Earth's obliquity wander over hundreds of thousands of years, it would cause environmental chaos by creating a climate too variable for complex life to develop in relative peace.
So his argument goes, we should feel remarkably lucky to have such a large moon on our doorstep, as no other terrestrial planet in our solar system has such a moon. Mars' two satellites, Phobos and Deimos, are tiny, captured asteroids that have little known effect on the Red Planet. Consequently, Mars' tilt wobbles chaotically over timescales of millions of years, with evidence for swings in its rotational axis at least as large as 45 degrees. 


The stroke of good fortune that led to Earth possessing an unlikely moon, specifically the collision 4.5 billion years ago between Earth and a Mars-sized proto-planet that produced the debris from which our Moon formed, has become one of the central tenets of the 'Rare Earth' hypothesis. Famously promoted by Peter Ward and Don Brownlee, it argues that planets where everything is just right for complex life are exceedingly rare.

New findings, however, are tearing up the old rule book. In 2011, a trio of scientists — Jack Lissauer of NASA Ames Research Center, Jason Barnes of the University of Idaho and John Chambers of the Carnegie Institution for Science — published results from new simulations describing what Earth's obliquity would be like without the moon. What they found was surprising.

"We were looking into how obliquity might vary for all sorts of planetary systems," says Lissauer. "To test our code we began with integrations following the obliquity of Mars and found similar results to other people. But when we did the obliquity of Earth we found the variations were much smaller than expected — nowhere near as extreme as previous calculations suggested they would be."
Lissauer's team found that without the moon, Earth's rotational axis would only wobble by 10 degrees more than its present day angle of 23.5 degrees. The reason for such vastly different results to those attained by Jacques Laskar is pure computing power. Today's computers are much faster and capable of more accurate modeling with far more data than computers of the 1990s.

Lissauer and his colleagues also found that if Earth were spinning fast, with one day lasting less than 10 hours, or rotating retrograde (i.e. backwards so that the sun rose in the West and set in the East), then Earth stabilized itself thanks to the gravitational resonances with other planets, most notably giant Jupiter. There would be no need for a large moon. 

Earth's rotation has not always been as leisurely as the current 24 hour spin-rate. Following the impact that formed the moon, Earth was spinning once every four or five hours, but it has since gradually slowed by the moon's presence. As for the length of Earth's day prior to the moon-forming impact, nobody really knows, but some models of the impact developed by Robin Canup of the Southwest Research Institute, in Boulder, Colorado, suggest that Earth could have been rotating fast, or even retrograde, prior to the collision.

Tilted Orbits
Planets with inclined orbits could find that their increased obliquity is beneficial to their long-term climate – as long as they do not have a large moon.


"Collisions in the epoch during which Earth was formed determined its initial rotation," says Lissauer. "For rocky planets, some of the models say most of them will be prograde, but others say comparable numbers of planets will be prograde and retrograde. Certainly, retrograde worlds are not expected to be rare."

The upshot of Lissauer's findings is that the presence of a moon is not the be all and end all as once thought, and a terrestrial planet can exist without a large moon and still retain its habitability. Indeed, it is possible to imagine some circumstances where having a large moon would actually be pretty bad for life.

Rory Barnes, of the University of Washington, has also tackled the problem of obliquity, but from a different perspective. Planets on the edge of habitable zones exist in a precarious position, far enough away from their star that, without a thick, insulating atmosphere, they freeze over, just like Mars. Barnes and his colleagues including John Armstrong of Weber State University, realized that torques from other nearby worlds could cause a planet's inclination to the ecliptic plane to vary. This in turn would result in a change of obliquity; the greater the inclination, the greater the obliquity to the Sun. Barnes and Armstrong saw that this could be a good thing for planets on the edges of habitable zones, allowing heat to be distributed evenly over geological timescales and preventing "Snowball Earth" scenarios. They called these worlds "tilt-a-worlds," but the presence of a large moon would counteract this beneficial obliquity change.

"I think one of the most important points from our tilt-a-world paper is that at the outer edge of the habitable zone, having a large moon is bad, there's no other way to look at it," says Barnes. "If you have a large moon that stabilizes the obliquity then you have a tendency to completely freeze over."

Barnes is impressed with the work of Lissauer's team.
"I think it is a well done study," he says. "It suggests that Earth does not need the moon to have a relatively stable climate. I don't think there would be any dire consequences to not having a moon."

Mars' Changing Tilt
The effects of changing obliquity on Mars’ climate. Mars’ current 25-degree tilt is seen at top left. At top right is a Mars that has a high obliquity, leading to ice gather at its equator while the poles point sunwards. At bottom is Mars with low obliquity, which sees its polar caps grow in size.


Of course, the moon does have a hand in other factors important to life besides planetary obliquity. Tidal pools may have been the point of origin of life on Earth. Although the moon produces the largest tides, the sun also influences tides, so the lack of a large moon is not necessarily a stumbling block. Some animals have also evolved a life cycle based on the cycle of the moon, but that's more happenstance than an essential component for life.

"Those are just minor things," says Lissauer.

Without the absolute need for a moon, astrobiologists seeking life and habitable worlds elsewhere face new opportunities. Maybe Earth, with its giant moon, is actually the oddball amongst habitable planets. Rory Barnes certainly doesn't think we need it.
"It will be a step forward to see the myth that a habitable planet needs a large moon dispelled," he says, to which Lissauer agrees.
Earth without its moon might therefore remain habitable, but we should still cherish its friendly presence. After all, would Beethoven have written the Moonlight Sonata without it?

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Why science is so hard to believe?

 
In the recent movie “Interstellar,” set in a futuristic, downtrodden America where NASA has been forced into hiding, school textbooks say the Apollo moon landings were faked.


Excerpt from 


There’s a scene in Stanley Kubrick’s comic masterpiece “Dr. Strangelove” in which Jack D. Ripper, an American general who’s gone rogue and ordered a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, unspools his paranoid worldview — and the explanation for why he drinks “only distilled water, or rainwater, and only pure grain alcohol” — to Lionel Mandrake, a dizzy-with-anxiety group captain in the Royal Air Force.
Ripper: “Have you ever heard of a thing called fluoridation? Fluoridation of water?”
Mandrake: “Ah, yes, I have heard of that, Jack. Yes, yes.”Ripper: “Well, do you know what it is?”
Mandrake: “No. No, I don’t know what it is, no.”
Ripper: “Do you realize that fluoridation is the most monstrously conceived and dangerous communist plot we have ever had to face?” 

The movie came out in 1964, by which time the health benefits of fluoridation had been thoroughly established and anti-fluoridation conspiracy theories could be the stuff of comedy. Yet half a century later, fluoridation continues to incite fear and paranoia. In 2013, citizens in Portland, Ore., one of only a few major American cities that don’t fluoridate, blocked a plan by local officials to do so. Opponents didn’t like the idea of the government adding “chemicals” to their water. They claimed that fluoride could be harmful to human health.

Actually fluoride is a natural mineral that, in the weak concentrations used in public drinking-water systems, hardens tooth enamel and prevents tooth decay — a cheap and safe way to improve dental health for everyone, rich or poor, conscientious brushers or not. That’s the scientific and medical consensus.
To which some people in Portland, echoing anti-fluoridation activists around the world, reply: We don’t believe you.
We live in an age when all manner of scientific knowledge — from the safety of fluoride and vaccines to the reality of climate change — faces organized and often furious opposition. Empowered by their own sources of information and their own interpretations of research, doubters have declared war on the consensus of experts. There are so many of these controversies these days, you’d think a diabolical agency had put something in the water to make people argumentative.
Science doubt has become a pop-culture meme. In the recent movie “Interstellar,” set in a futuristic, downtrodden America where NASA has been forced into hiding, school textbooks say the Apollo moon landings were faked.


The debate about mandated vaccinations has the political world talking. A spike in measles cases nationwide has President Obama, lawmakers and even potential 2016 candidates weighing in on the vaccine controversy. (Pamela Kirkland/The Washington Post)
In a sense this is not surprising. Our lives are permeated by science and technology as never before. For many of us this new world is wondrous, comfortable and rich in rewards — but also more complicated and sometimes unnerving. We now face risks we can’t easily analyze.
We’re asked to accept, for example, that it’s safe to eat food containing genetically modified organisms (GMOs) because, the experts point out, there’s no evidence that it isn’t and no reason to believe that altering genes precisely in a lab is more dangerous than altering them wholesale through traditional breeding. But to some people, the very idea of transferring genes between species conjures up mad scientists running amok — and so, two centuries after Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein,” they talk about Frankenfood.
The world crackles with real and imaginary hazards, and distinguishing the former from the latter isn’t easy. Should we be afraid that the Ebola virus, which is spread only by direct contact with bodily fluids, will mutate into an airborne super-plague? The scientific consensus says that’s extremely unlikely: No virus has ever been observed to completely change its mode of transmission in humans, and there’s zero evidence that the latest strain of Ebola is any different. But Google “airborne Ebola” and you’ll enter a dystopia where this virus has almost supernatural powers, including the power to kill us all.
In this bewildering world we have to decide what to believe and how to act on that. In principle, that’s what science is for. “Science is not a body of facts,” says geophysicist Marcia McNutt, who once headed the U.S. Geological Survey and is now editor of Science, the prestigious journal. “Science is a method for deciding whether what we choose to believe has a basis in the laws of nature or not.”
The scientific method leads us to truths that are less than self-evident, often mind-blowing and sometimes hard to swallow. In the early 17th century, when Galileo claimed that the Earth spins on its axis and orbits the sun, he wasn’t just rejecting church doctrine. He was asking people to believe something that defied common sense — because it sure looks like the sun’s going around the Earth, and you can’t feel the Earth spinning. Galileo was put on trial and forced to recant. Two centuries later, Charles Darwin escaped that fate. But his idea that all life on Earth evolved from a primordial ancestor and that we humans are distant cousins of apes, whales and even deep-sea mollusks is still a big ask for a lot of people.
Even when we intellectually accept these precepts of science, we subconsciously cling to our intuitions — what researchers call our naive beliefs. A study by Andrew Shtulman of Occidental College showed that even students with an advanced science education had a hitch in their mental gait when asked to affirm or deny that humans are descended from sea animals and that the Earth goes around the sun. Both truths are counterintuitive. The students, even those who correctly marked “true,” were slower to answer those questions than questions about whether humans are descended from tree-dwelling creatures (also true but easier to grasp) and whether the moon goes around the Earth (also true but intuitive).
Shtulman’s research indicates that as we become scientifically literate, we repress our naive beliefs but never eliminate them entirely. They nest in our brains, chirping at us as we try to make sense of the world.
Most of us do that by relying on personal experience and anecdotes, on stories rather than statistics. We might get a prostate-specific antigen test, even though it’s no longer generally recommended, because it caught a close friend’s cancer — and we pay less attention to statistical evidence, painstakingly compiled through multiple studies, showing that the test rarely saves lives but triggers many unnecessary surgeries. Or we hear about a cluster of cancer cases in a town with a hazardous-waste dump, and we assume that pollution caused the cancers. Of course, just because two things happened together doesn’t mean one caused the other, and just because events are clustered doesn’t mean they’re not random. Yet we have trouble digesting randomness; our brains crave pattern and meaning.
Even for scientists, the scientific method is a hard discipline. They, too, are vulnerable to confirmation bias — the tendency to look for and see only evidence that confirms what they already believe. But unlike the rest of us, they submit their ideas to formal peer review before publishing them. Once the results are published, if they’re important enough, other scientists will try to reproduce them — and, being congenitally skeptical and competitive, will be very happy to announce that they don’t hold up. Scientific results are always provisional, susceptible to being overturned by some future experiment or observation. Scientists rarely proclaim an absolute truth or an absolute certainty. Uncertainty is inevitable at the frontiers of knowledge.
That provisional quality of science is another thing a lot of people have trouble with. To some climate-change skeptics, for example, the fact that a few scientists in the 1970s were worried (quite reasonably, it seemed at the time) about the possibility of a coming ice age is enough to discredit what is now the consensus of the world’s scientists: The planet’s surface temperature has risen by about 1.5 degrees Fahrenheit in the past 130 years, and human actions, including the burning of fossil fuels, are extremely likely to have been the dominant cause since the mid-20th century.
It’s clear that organizations funded in part by the fossil-fuel industry have deliberately tried to undermine the public’s understanding of the scientific consensus by promoting a few skeptics. The news media gives abundant attention to such mavericks, naysayers, professional controversialists and table thumpers. The media would also have you believe that science is full of shocking discoveries made by lone geniuses. Not so. The (boring) truth is that science usually advances incrementally, through the steady accretion of data and insights gathered by many people over many years. So it has with the consensus on climate change. That’s not about to go poof with the next thermometer reading.
But industry PR, however misleading, isn’t enough to explain why so many people reject the scientific consensus on global warming.
The “science communication problem,” as it’s blandly called by the scientists who study it, has yielded abundant new research into how people decide what to believe — and why they so often don’t accept the expert consensus. It’s not that they can’t grasp it, according to Dan Kahan of Yale University. In one study he asked 1,540 Americans, a representative sample, to rate the threat of climate change on a scale of zero to 10. Then he correlated that with the subjects’ science literacy. He found that higher literacy was associated with stronger views — at both ends of the spectrum. Science literacy promoted polarization on climate, not consensus. According to Kahan, that’s because people tend to use scientific knowledge to reinforce their worldviews.
Americans fall into two basic camps, Kahan says. Those with a more “egalitarian” and “communitarian” mind-set are generally suspicious of industry and apt to think it’s up to something dangerous that calls for government regulation; they’re likely to see the risks of climate change. In contrast, people with a “hierarchical” and “individualistic” mind-set respect leaders of industry and don’t like government interfering in their affairs; they’re apt to reject warnings about climate change, because they know what accepting them could lead to — some kind of tax or regulation to limit emissions.
In the United States, climate change has become a litmus test that identifies you as belonging to one or the other of these two antagonistic tribes. When we argue about it, Kahan says, we’re actually arguing about who we are, what our crowd is. We’re thinking: People like us believe this. People like that do not believe this.
Science appeals to our rational brain, but our beliefs are motivated largely by emotion, and the biggest motivation is remaining tight with our peers. “We’re all in high school. We’ve never left high school,” says Marcia McNutt. “People still have a need to fit in, and that need to fit in is so strong that local values and local opinions are always trumping science. And they will continue to trump science, especially when there is no clear downside to ignoring science.”
Meanwhile the Internet makes it easier than ever for science doubters to find their own information and experts. Gone are the days when a small number of powerful institutions — elite universities, encyclopedias and major news organizations — served as gatekeepers of scientific information. The Internet has democratized it, which is a good thing. But along with cable TV, the Web has also made it possible to live in a “filter bubble” that lets in only the information with which you already agree.
How to penetrate the bubble? How to convert science skeptics? Throwing more facts at them doesn’t help. Liz Neeley, who helps train scientists to be better communicators at an organization called Compass, says people need to hear from believers they can trust, who share their fundamental values. She has personal experience with this. Her father is a climate-change skeptic and gets most of his information on the issue from conservative media. In exasperation she finally confronted him: “Do you believe them or me?” She told him she believes the scientists who research climate change and knows many of them personally. “If you think I’m wrong,” she said, “then you’re telling me that you don’t trust me.” Her father’s stance on the issue softened. But it wasn’t the facts that did it.
If you’re a rationalist, there’s something a little dispiriting about all this. In Kahan’s descriptions of how we decide what to believe, what we decide sometimes sounds almost incidental. Those of us in the science-communication business are as tribal as anyone else, he told me. We believe in scientific ideas not because we have truly evaluated all the evidence but because we feel an affinity for the scientific community. When I mentioned to Kahan that I fully accept evolution, he said: “Believing in evolution is just a description about you. It’s not an account of how you reason.”
Maybe — except that evolution is real. Biology is incomprehensible without it. There aren’t really two sides to all these issues. Climate change is happening. Vaccines save lives. Being right does matter — and the science tribe has a long track record of getting things right in the end. Modern society is built on things it got right.
Doubting science also has consequences, as seen in recent weeks with the measles outbreak that began in California. The people who believe that vaccines cause autism — often well educated and affluent, by the way — are undermining “herd immunity” to such diseases as whooping cough and measles. The anti-vaccine movement has been going strong since a prestigious British medical journal, the Lancet, published a study in 1998 linking a common vaccine to autism. The journal later retracted the study, which was thoroughly discredited. But the notion of a vaccine-autism connection has been endorsed by celebrities and reinforced through the usual Internet filters. (Anti-vaccine activist and actress Jenny McCarthy famously said on “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” “The University of Google is where I got my degree from.”)
In the climate debate, the consequences of doubt are likely to be global and enduring. Climate-change skeptics in the United States have achieved their fundamental goal of halting legislative action to combat global warming. They haven’t had to win the debate on the merits; they’ve merely had to fog the room enough to keep laws governing greenhouse gas emissions from being enacted.
Some environmental activists want scientists to emerge from their ivory towers and get more involved in the policy battles. Any scientist going that route needs to do so carefully, says Liz Neeley. “That line between science communication and advocacy is very hard to step back from,” she says. In the debate over climate change, the central allegation of the skeptics is that the science saying it’s real and a serious threat is politically tinged, driven by environmental activism and not hard data. That’s not true, and it slanders honest scientists. But the claim becomes more likely to be seen as plausible if scientists go beyond their professional expertise and begin advocating specific policies.
It’s their very detachment, what you might call the cold-bloodedness of science, that makes science the killer app. It’s the way science tells us the truth rather than what we’d like the truth to be. Scientists can be as dogmatic as anyone else — but their dogma is always wilting in the hot glare of new research. In science it’s not a sin to change your mind when the evidence demands it. For some people, the tribe is more important than the truth; for the best scientists, the truth is more important than the tribe.

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7 Types of Non-Believers Who Don’t Need Religion

Valerie Tarico, AlterNetReligious labels help shore up identity. So what are some of the things non-believers can call themselves?Catholic, born-again, Reformed, Jew, Muslim, Shiite, Sunni, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist…religions give people labels. The downside can be tribalism, an assumption that insiders are better than outsiders, that they merit more compassion, integrity and generosity or even that violence toward “infidels” is acceptable. But the upside is that religious o [...]

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So what is a supermassive black hole anyway?


Artist's rendering of a black hole recently discovered in the ultracompact dwarf galaxy M60-UCD1.

csmonitor.com

The discovery of a supermassive black hole inside a tiny dwarf galaxy has shed new light on the potential number of black holes in the universe.

An international team of researchers has discovered a supermassive black hole in M60-UCD1, a dwarf galaxy some 54-million light years away. M60-UCD1 is about 500 times smaller than our own galaxy, the Milky Way, and 1,000 times less massive. The researchers published their findings Wednesday in Nature.

Scientists have previously identified numerous supermassive black holes throughout the universe – including one at the center of the Milky Way. But this is the first time that any of these largest types of black holes have been found in such a small galaxy, says study lead author Anil Seth, an assistant professor of physics and astronomy University of Utah in Salt Lake City. 

The revelation that a supermassive black hole can exist within an ultracompact dwarf galaxy could mean that there might be twice as many of these largest black holes than astronomers previously thought.

Black holes come in several different varieties, all of which are characterized by a dense concentration of mass compressed into a tiny space and a gravitational force so powerful it keeps light from escaping.

The smallest kind, called a primordial black hole, is the size of a single atom, but it contains the mass of a large mountain. The most widely understood black holes are known as stellar black holes and can contain 20 times the mass of the sun within a ball of space with a diameter of about 10 miles. Supermassive black holes can be as vast as the entire solar system and contain as much mass as found in 1 million suns combined.

Primordial black holes are believed to have formed during the early evolution of the universe, shortly after the Big Bang. Stellar black holes are thought to be the result of the collapse of a massive star. The formation of supermassive black holes has so far remained something of a mystery.
“We know supermassive black holes exist in the center of most big galaxies … but we actually don’t know how they’re formed,” says Dr. Seth. “We just know they formed a long time ago.”

Black holes are difficult to study because their tendency to pull light inside their centers renders them effectively invisible. 

Telescopes can observe contextual clues that suggest the presence of a black hole, such as stars orbiting around an apparent void.
“We can actually see stars moving around the center of the supermassive black hole of our galaxy,” Seth says. “It is much more difficult to study smaller galaxies.”

This particular dwarf galaxy happens to have so many stars – and a black hole that is so large – that telltale signs of the black hole were detected by two telescopes, the optical/infrared Gemini North telescope atop Hawaii’s Mauna Kea and the Hubble Space Telescope.

Typically, the size of a black hole is directly proportional to the size of the galaxy. Seth suspects that M60-UCD1 is actually the remains of a much larger galaxy.

“We think that this thing is a galaxy where the outer part of the galaxy has been stripped away by an interaction with another bigger galaxy and that the core has been left behind,” Seth explains.
In general, however, current technology has not yet reached a point that enables astronomers to definitively identify the presence of black holes in smaller galaxies.

By studying this and other black holes, scientists hope to unravel some of the mysteries of the origins of the universe.

“It turns out that black holes actually play a pretty big role in how galaxies form,” Seth says. “To understand our origin story we need to understand the formation of galaxies. And black holes, even though they are just a tiny fraction of all the mass in the galaxy, can play a really important role in their evolution."

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Does Astrology Work? The Testimonial of a Scientist Turned Astrologer




Does astrology work ? It is quite a perilous exercise to write an article stating a few truths drawn from actual experience, a risky but interesting challenge for the author of this site. But without danger, where would the adrenaline be? It is so good to try to talk about astrology upstream, and not only to discuss how it functions, for a person who has spent a lot of time using its techniques.
This is what we have done for Astrotheme's visitors, trying to use everyday words devoid of technical jargon, with no historical or specialised argumentation, and with the only aim to reach to as many persons as possible, yet without proselytizing. Just a few judgments coming from experience, a pragmatic vision of this tool for knowledge, which is what astrology is all about.
For the illustration of this non-technical article, it became rapidly obvious that astronomy images are needed... The staggering sight of certain galaxies or nebulae is not only splendid but enables to open one's mind towards... more consciousness and a more intense feeling of being alive.
For the illustration of this non-technical article, it became rapidly obvious that astronomy images are needed... The staggering sight of certain galaxies or nebulae is not only splendid but enables to open one's mind towards... more consciousness and a more intense feeling of being alive.

Incidentally, this article was written in slightly more than two hours, with no preparation and no plan. For this subject, and for some reason which probably lies in my subconscious and comes from the desire for purity and complete spontaneity, I was most eager to express a sort of rough opinion, a testimony coming from… the guts and sheer experience; it is easy to realise it when a text is written as it comes, and for the author, it is a rewarding exercise because genuineness always has a unique sparkle. For the reader, it is also a token of sincerity.
Of course, the purpose is not to convince. Indeed, in politics as well as in spirituality, to change direction is a complex issue. As far as the quite bizarre field of astrology is concerned, irrational behaviours occur quickly, usually with a little disdainful smile from those who, obviously, have been beyond the naive propensity to believe anything, to dream blissfully, and to delude themselves about a necessarily silly system because it offers off the beaten path possibilities, which other human disciplines do not.
The list of the authors of scornful smiles towards astrology is quite long, just as long as the list of more open-minded people who, either have tried themselves to learn this tool which astrology is – which, like psychology or history, is not a science – and became convinced that it works or at least has some degree of efficiency, or because they no time or no interest, leave the door open, thinking "finally, why not?", after all, one does not know much, would it be solely in the area of the spouting of the thought – WHO handles thought at the moment it emerges... - or about physical laws for which the 21th century is mere prehistory, as all scientists know. Indeed, life is evolution, knowledge is not static, and the only mistake which must not be made is to gorge oneself with certainties, including that which consists in associating "too good" results with absolute scientific impossibility.
I believe that my experience is quite similar to that of everybody, i.e. that of a person who, a priori, before discovering it, was "against" astrology and considered it... crap meant for gullible people, or in the best case, an idle fancy with a tinge of poetry in which all the intellectual energy spent was finally used to create a nice virtual world and arouse pleasure.
Paradoxically enough, relatively few astrologers are interested in astronomy. This is not my case. I even dreamed I would become an astronomer when I was small, and nowadays I feel the need to have a telescope at home, even though... I seldom use it because, unfortunately, the sky above the region of Paris is too polluted.
Paradoxically enough, relatively few astrologers are interested in astronomy. This is not my case. I even dreamed I would become an astronomer when I was small, and nowadays I feel the need to have a telescope at home, even though... I seldom use it because, unfortunately, the sky above the region of Paris is too polluted.

As luck would have it, I was in the bookstore where I used to go several times a week to get all sorts of books according to my quite strong curiosity and my need to understand hidden things, and I stumbled on an astrology treatise, the famous one authored by André Barbault (André Barbault is a respected French astrologer and author who devised a computer-generated astrological portrait in the early '70s.).
As I flicked through the pages, I was a bit amused to see the natal charts of historical personages, quite rigorous rules, an apparently sound functioning, and I thought that for once, I ought to read an astrology book, and at least, this one does not seem too naive.
In addition, there were a few recipes for the compatibility of couples, and since I was in love of one of my school comrades, in that Terminale C class (In the French education system, the last year of secondary school with a maths option), I thought, well, I am going to have fun and see whether, according to astrology, my compatibility with this beautiful brunette, the sight of whom would pierce my heart, is good or not!
With a good dose of scepticism and quite negative preconceptions, I started to learn to erect a natal chart, interpret it, and become initiated into all the predictive techniques, synastry, and other relishes having the charm of that which is unknown.
Since this article is not a book, it is necessary to get to the heart of the matter. Actually, I realised quickly that among the concepts of signs, houses, planets, houses in signs, planets in signs, rulership, aspects, nature of the planets, etc. it would take some time before being rewarded, venturing into uncertain territory alone, and interpreting charts without opening astrology books every thirty seconds.
Indeed, to my view, the first obstacle for anyone willing to get an idea about astrology is the huge contrast between serious astrology on the one hand, and on the other hand, the ordinary media and its horoscopes by signs or by decans – which are of no value, it is necessary to say so, absolute void, and the biggest hoax because a natal chart cannot be reduced to the position of the Sun in one of the zodiacal signs. Absurd columns with equally stupid predictions – here again, and it is difficult to refrain from giving names, be it to quote people who saw Kerry as the winner of the American elections in Telestar (A popular French television weekly) or in other magazines, or in general a little bit everywhere because it cannot be repeated often enough that there are two types of astrology, that of horoscopes in magazines which are nonsense, a mere commercial lottery. From this perspective, it is easier to understand the disdainful smiles of those mentioned earlier, and I particularly think of Guy Carlier (A French TV presenter and humorist), whom I nevertheless find quite pleasant, and of Alain Gillot-Pétré (He was a French TV meteo presenter), a declared enemy of astrologers. I remember for instance a TV programme featuring Paco Rabanne (He became famous as a fashion designer. He is not an astrologer but a weird visionary, also quite nice), and gorgeous Elisabeth Tessier (A professional French astrologer whom the late President François Mitterrand consulted. The thesis she defended at La Sorbonne University was the subject of a hot controversy) who was castigated by Guy Carlier... Thus, there is a big discrepancy between junk astrology and genuine astrology. The latter consists in extracting information from an exact natal chart based on a date of birth and location, and whenever possible a time of birth, and to deduct relevant results from this chart.
The weird and unique feeling of infinity which emerges from the sky when one gazes into space is one of the numerous methods for starting a meditation on the purpose of one's life.
The weird and unique feeling of infinity which emerges from the sky when one gazes into space is one of the numerous methods for starting a meditation on the purpose of one's life.

Indeed, commercial astrology and horoscopes published in the media are nonsense and above all, unfounded, but genuine astrology, which includes several schools and requires many years of learning, is difficult to grasp.
Therefore, a lot of time is required because without learning by rote numerous dozens of basic notions, it is very difficult not to get lost. Of course, one can have fun, but if one expects some degree of proficiency or just wants to be able to follow the rules of this tool, one will have to spend several months studying.
I shall briefly address a few other obstacles which claim so-called scientific bases and may prompt doubts, discouraging people who are curious about astrology even before they get a chance to start studying it. I think for instance of such a statement as "astrology is bullshit since everyone knows that owing to the precession of the equinoxes, and when one says that the Sun is in Aries although in fact, it's been a long time since it has left this constellation." This is obviously stupid because by definition, in astrology, signs do not represent the constellations bearing the same name, but they refer to the immutable cycle of the seasons. Thus, the sign of Aries corresponds to the spring equinox in the Northern hemisphere, and not to the stretch of space occupied by the constellation of Aries.
But I will not elaborate any further on these technical details because they are not the focus of this article, the purpose of which is only to give a testimony and to state that astrology works, in the light of an experience and a practice which cover a span of thirty years plus.
So, after a few weeks, astrology became clearer for me. Actually, I understood that finally, there were three essential functions and a fourth one as the wild card, if I may say so. First, there is the astrology which analyses the personality, the character, the motivations, the typology, and the behaviour. Then, there is a second astrology, well-known, which checks the past and analyses the present by superimposing the positions of the planets at a given period on the planets of the natal chart, using various techniques such as transits, solar revolutions, progressions, etc. Lastly, there is the astrology which compares two charts in order to understand the relations between two individuals who may be more or less compatible.
After the feeling of infinite in space, the questioning about... whatever pre-existed automatically arises.  The sensation of the infinity of time, the research of the causes, and the voyage back beyond them necessarily makes a normally constituted human being feel dizzy. Such vertigo arouses a stronger desire to understand the meaning of all this and therefore, the commencement of spiritual quest.
After the feeling of infinite in space, the questioning about... whatever pre-existed automatically arises. The sensation of the infinity of time, the research of the causes, and the voyage back beyond them necessarily makes a normally constituted human being feel dizzy. Such vertigo arouses a stronger desire to understand the meaning of all this and therefore, the commencement of spiritual quest.

These three types of astrology, or rather, these three functions of astrology, are the three major sections of this discipline. The fourth one, which I referred to as the "wild card" earlier, is mundane astrology which forecasts or explains certain global events such as wars and peace between countries, periods of growth or periods favourable for the evolution of a given area – science, humanism, religion, spirituality, etc. - assassination attempts, natural disasters, inventions, etc.
For all four sections, it is clear that people don't have the same propensity to "believe" or not. Many people have no problem acknowledging that astrological portraits are mind-boggling because they are so accurate. I leave out the cases which present no problems, i.e. most of them, or the cases of people of good faith, again the majority, and I address only the case of sceptical people.
Regarding forecasts, it is slightly more delicate. Recalcitrant people are usually more numerous, and there are even some astrologers who want to limit astrology to the functions of personality analysis and are adamant about this. The good-looking and talented Françoise Hardy (A famous French composer and singer of the '60s. She authored a book on astrology) is one of those people. The other sections of astrology seem too risky or difficult to them, unless they deem them... impossible for x reasons known to themselves only.
Regarding couple's compatibility, also referred to as synastry, the subject is less known and better accepted because if one considers that astrology can analyse the personality, why couldn't it analyse two personalities and see if those two get along well or not...
Astrology is a mere set of efficient techniques for those who practice it and those who seek advice from it. However, although astrology and spirituality are disjoint, questions on human being, which the former necessarily indirectly arises, create... a bridge towards the quest for Reality.
Astrology is a mere set of efficient techniques for those who practice it and those who seek advice from it. However, although astrology and spirituality are disjoint, questions on human being, which the former necessarily indirectly arises, create... a bridge towards the quest for Reality.

Lastly, there is mundane astrology, which is the most difficult one. It must be acknowledged that using astrology to forecast global events equates to taking up an almost impossible challenge. Certain facts are mind-boggling, but I would only say that, to my view, this field pertains to research, and it is important that one does not believe what one reads here and there... Those who talk rubbish are definitely more numerous than those who really make predictions. Does this mean that mundane astrology does not work? Not necessarily, but there still is a long way to go. It is probably too early for our time, at least this is my opinion, formed after 35 years of experience and hindsight.
Let's get back to astrology learning. Once the two obstacles mentioned above are overcome, i.e. the venom of the ignorant mass and its bitter judgment, castigating with a conceited smile any effort made towards the shameful direction in which astrology is, and the fact that many long months will have to be spent to understand and master the concepts and the rules – actually, in my view, this is not enough, and I believe that after a whole year of reading and practice, one gets a good idea. After 5 years, one is able to make a few interpretations, after 15 years, one has good bases, and after 30 years, although one still keeps on learning, one has some good reflexes which enable to avoid making mistakes. It is after this period that amazement starts...
Bewilderment starts with the portraits. The hurdle lies in establishing the hierarchy of values and discarding whatever is superfluous. Indeed, the beginner tends to look at tons of details and get lost in a whole set of numerous meanings. Once this difficulty is solved, it is true that, if the sceptical person has paid the price and dedicated his time to learning, he usually loses his incredulity and the self-satisfied smile of the person who cannot be taken for a ride...
Having said this, unless one is particularly sensitive and vulnerable, getting to know oneself better, or having an idea about the meteorology, is rather helpful for evolving more rapidly. So, astrology would not be useless.
Having said this, unless one is particularly sensitive and vulnerable, getting to know oneself better, or having an idea about the meteorology, is rather helpful for evolving more rapidly. So, astrology would not be useless.

I wish to reassure those who are starting to learn. Actually, within a few days, as one reads the charts of acquaintances, one finds it mind-boggling. But once all the notions are well understood, one rapidly enjoys astrology and its batch of wonderments.
This is precisely what happened to me after a few months. Then, if one does not want to stop while on such a good path, one buys books and learn... during years. To me, astrology is a tool, and not a religion or something important. It is one discipline among others, such as history or psychology. Of course, it is more helpful and somehow prompts to ask questions upstream. This is what constitutes its charm, even though in no circumstances, does it answer these questions.
Astrology is anything except a spiritual path, a religion, or a moral code. It is just a tool which enables to understand our personality, our compatibility with people, and, with caution, to forecast climates, the meteorology of our evolution.
Some people have understood that astrology worked well and prefer… to avoid predictions. However, they are very few. There is indeed the auto-suggestion issue whereby the very fear of an unfortunate event might trigger it. Although there may be some truth in it, the amount of risk is minimal.
Some people have understood that astrology worked well and prefer… to avoid predictions. However, they are very few. There is indeed the auto-suggestion issue whereby the very fear of an unfortunate event might trigger it. Although there may be some truth in it, the amount of risk is minimal.

In my experience, right from the beginning, I observed that it worked. As everyone, one starts to read the charts of one's close friends and relatives, then one looks at the compatibilities, and above all, one plays at being God and analyses the future after having analysed the past. To understand the past, using the transits or any other techniques with a view to validating the rules, constitutes the best method.
Regarding this last point, my opinion is simple: forecasts work fine, provided that two major conditions, absolutely impossible to ignore, are met:
This recalls the nice philosophical tale of Samarkand which can be summed up as follows: a Vizier walks across the city to work at the Sultan's palace. He sees an ominous woman dressed in black, the sight of whom makes his blood curdle... As she gets nearer, he notices her glare and her expression and understands that she is Death. He is in a state of terror and thinks that she is coming to take him... more below
This recalls the nice philosophical tale of Samarkand which can be summed up as follows: a Vizier walks across the city to work at the Sultan's palace. He sees an ominous woman dressed in black, the sight of whom makes his blood curdle... As she gets nearer, he notices her glare and her expression and understands that she is Death. He is in a state of terror and thinks that she is coming to take him... more below

The first one is that when you analyse a period of time, many interactions or influences are noticeable. But all of them are far from being equally important. One thing that we must never hesitate to say is that "strong" events are obvious, even though the way in which they will manifest does not always exactly match what we think. Nevertheless, the general tendency can be described accurately, assuming the practitioner is seasoned enough.
Regarding minor, or "average" events, caution is required. There is a "scattering" of results, as if some people were more or less sensitive to certain transits etc. There are evidences that astrology should not be thrown out the window. The effects of very important forces at play are practically always noticeable. This is something I have observed on thousands, or perhaps tens of thousands cases, and each time, it is mind blowing because it completely rules out a vision at random of the period concerned. One must experience it to believe it: it is the number of disconcerting facts, totally incompatible with coincidence, which prompts to understand that one is not wasting time with this discipline. If one remains humble enough to accept that for less important events, or forces at play, there is some degree of uncertainty, and that one deals with probabilities of more or less favourable tendencies regarding such or such point, then, one remains on the safe side.
Does it mean that astrology is deterministic and fatalistic? No, definitely. Everything unfolds as if there was a "tendency", some sort of more or less imposed, yet partial, structure. It seems that free will enables to react differently to the planetary climates undergone, and as the old saying goes, "The stars impel but do not compel". Many questions obviously arise on this subject, but the purpose of these lines is to share my practical experience, in all simplicity, without starting to give a structured explanation for each concept addressed, which would require several books.
Thus, he is terrified and starts to run like a madman to the palace, where he arrives out of breath to see the Sultan. "What's wrong with you my friend?" said the Sultan. "My Lordship, I saw Death! She came to fetch me, I am very sure... I don't want to die, I am too young, I have a family. Would you allow me to take a dozen days off and go somewhere very far because I don't want her to find me, I don't want to die!" "No problem", answered the generous and nice sultan. "You have always been loyal and reliable. Go to Samarkand, it is such a beautiful city, it will take your mind off things.
Thus, he is terrified and starts to run like a madman to the palace, where he arrives out of breath to see the Sultan. "What's wrong with you my friend?" said the Sultan. "My Lordship, I saw Death! She came to fetch me, I am very sure... I don't want to die, I am too young, I have a family. Would you allow me to take a dozen days off and go somewhere very far because I don't want her to find me, I don't want to die!" "No problem", answered the generous and nice sultan. "You have always been loyal and reliable. Go to Samarkand, it is such a beautiful city, it will take your mind off things.

The other necessary and unavoidable condition, too often overlooked by many practitioners, is that our destiny develops only according to... what we are and therefore, according to what the natal chart describes, a natal chart which evolves, I need to underline this. Astrology obviously integrates this notion of evolution. There is no static state, no irreversible or fatalistic conditioning. A natal chart is mobile, and the human being is meant to blossom according to his basic characteristics, definitely with some degree of free will.
In plain words, it means that the astrological natal chart is fundamental. Predictive techniques use two charts, the natal chart, which represents our personality, our earthly self with its usual features: affectivity, intellect, capacity of action, inter-personal capacity, vitality, sexuality, behaviour, psychological facets, blockages, etc.
The Vizier sets off straight away with a few servants, a dozen camels. During four days and four nights, he hastily heads towards mythical Samarkand, fleeing the woman in black and running away from what he believes to be his fateful destiny. After four days, he eventually reaches Samarkand, a splendid city bathing in an extraordinarily beautiful light... He quickly takes a bath, changes clothes, and, without taking any rest, he gets out to have a mint tea and visit the city.
The Vizier sets off straight away with a few servants, a dozen camels. During four days and four nights, he hastily heads towards mythical Samarkand, fleeing the woman in black and running away from what he believes to be his fateful destiny. After four days, he eventually reaches Samarkand, a splendid city bathing in an extraordinarily beautiful light... He quickly takes a bath, changes clothes, and, without taking any rest, he gets out to have a mint tea and visit the city.

By superimposing the chart – or planets' positions – of the period analysed on the natal chart, one identifies the forces at play, in hierarchy and categories, which have an intrinsic meaning but which, at the same time, depend mainly on the natal chart; this is what is often referred to as "resonance" with the natal chart.
Let's take a concrete predictive case using transits for instance. One of the rules of thumb for predictions is to understand that transiting influences will fully manifest only if they are also found in the natal chart. Let's consider the difficult case of a transit of Uranus squaring natal Mars, with Mars in the 2nd House in Aries, and Uranus in the 11th House in Capricorn. These two planets are the most energetic ones, and at some time, their square triggers a blow-up in terms of behaviours or events, because the balance is too hard to maintain by the chart owner and meant to explode since the vibration does not correspond to his nature. Therefore, this explosive transit indicates that there is a probability that the financial area, or the way one earns a living, undergoes a very strong and unexpected jolt when the transit becomes exact or during Uranus' various passages as it retrogrades and squares natal Mars. This jolt may involve friends – it would be necessary to look at the rulerships. Now, there are two alternatives: if Uranus and Mars are connected in the natal chart, transiting Uranus will resonate with the natal chart, and it is most likely that important events, or the way they are felt by the chart owner, will be strongly experienced. The other alternative is that Uranus and Mars are not linked to each other in the natal chart, in which case it is clear that the effects of transiting Uranus, though violent, will have a less significant impact than in the first case.
The sun lights up the picturesque narrow streets, females are good-looking, and the shadows stretching their darker shape at this time of the afternoon increase the charm of the mythical city. The Vizier walks, deliriously happy to have escaped his fate. As he strolls and looks aside, he does not watch his steps and bumps into somebody! He immediately turns around and, to his stupefaction...
The sun lights up the picturesque narrow streets, females are good-looking, and the shadows stretching their darker shape at this time of the afternoon increase the charm of the mythical city. The Vizier walks, deliriously happy to have escaped his fate. As he strolls and looks aside, he does not watch his steps and bumps into somebody! He immediately turns around and, to his stupefaction...

Similarly, a stern, wise and sometimes slightly solitary Saturnian, meaning a person with Saturn in his planetary dominant, who has an upcoming transit of Jupiter passing over his Venus will not turn into Julio Iglesias or Rocco Siffredi during the few weeks of this very nice transit!
Provided these two conditions are met, i.e. some level of analogy with the natal chart, and caution whenever the influences at play are not very strong, astrology never disappoints, or almost never, as far as predictions are concerned.
Regarding couple's compatibility, there are very important rules. It is not because a synastry is exceptionally good that it means, on the one hand, that one will fall in fall, and on the other hand, that the relationship will be successful. Let me explain:
When one analyses the chart of a couple, one actually analyses three charts: the natal chart of each partner and the chart of the relationship. The latter is compared to the two natal charts and assessed using various possible techniques (composite chart, mid-space / mid-time chart, mutual planets-houses interactions, etc.). In addition of course, one must take into account the planetary climate of each partner, which is not simple.
In couple's compatibility, here are the principles that must be borne in mind:
Firstly, a fantastic compatibility between two persons never implies that they will fall in love with each other. Indeed, synastry only reflects how easy a relationship is in various areas. Conversely, a disastrous synastry does not mean that two persons will not fall in love with each other!
It is important to highlight the above because a host of visitors wonder and sometimes e-mail us asking "I met with so and so, our rate was 80% but nothing happened, the relationship has not materialised, etc.", which is normal! Astrology, at least synastry, is unable to determine whether two persons will love each other. Love eludes the comparison of charts!
Once again, if and only if, a relationship has already started, synastry will tell whether it will flow smoothly or not. In my view, that's already quite considerable!
A gorgeous and very pale lady, all dressed in black, stares at him with an almost astonished look and said, "Well, well, it's you, you are early. I did not expect you before several days yet." As she takes him by the hand, the Vizier, in a state of complete terror and at the same time strangely resigned, does not resist and follows Death, in great distress and without any possibility to rebel.
A gorgeous and very pale lady, all dressed in black, stares at him with an almost astonished look and said, "Well, well, it's you, you are early. I did not expect you before several days yet." As she takes him by the hand, the Vizier, in a state of complete terror and at the same time strangely resigned, does not resist and follows Death, in great distress and without any possibility to rebel.

Now, like with predictions, it is necessary to take natal charts into account. It is simple to understand: if in his natal chart, anyone has a difficult affective structure, as in the case of a man having an exact Saturn-Moon square, with the Moon in the 7th House and Saturn in the Midheaven, and for instance, Venus square Pluto. His marriage should a priori take place late – if he ever marries, which is not quite sure – and the context of the marriage should not be very easy. Besides, it is most likely that in the affective area, he imagines nice things and that in real life, he undergoes a few disappointments. Although it is true that there are no such things as good charts or bad charts, there are still a few tendencies which are noticeable on the manifested plane.
Let's imagine that this gentleman meets a lady with whom the compatibility is extraordinarily good. What would happen?
If he falls in love, and his feelings are reciprocated, the odds are that things will not develop smoothly. Actually, because the synastry is good, which is the hypothesis we have chosen, in order that his destiny unfolds according to his natal chart, certain obstacles will crop up. Such hurdles probably obey some necessity in terms of evolution etc., but this is another topic... Nevertheless, the relationship is most likely to be pleasant and easy. The rest of the context will have to be assessed: what are the active transits of the moment for both partners, what is the natal chart of the lady in question, etc.
As we can see, a relationship is a whole entity, a juxtaposition of five factors which already form a whole when taken separately: two natal charts, two forecasts or current planetary climates, and one synastry or couple report.
The analysis of these five factors is the only process which enables to understand and offer predictions about what is to follow, and even then... solely if the magical spark is born between them. Regarding the spark, let's say that transits enable to forecast whether the chart owner is likely to fall in love during the considered period.
It is true that one can try to bail out of what is deemed ineluctable, especially during loaded periods such as under Uranus' tensed transits. However, as one believes that one is escaping one's fate, one might also jump into it with one's feet together even faster!
It is true that one can try to bail out of what is deemed ineluctable, especially during loaded periods such as under Uranus' tensed transits. However, as one believes that one is escaping one's fate, one might also jump into it with one's feet together even faster!

The lines above emphasise, I hope, how difficult it is to make a diagnosis and the large scope of the work it requires.
My experience, once again with regard to this third section – since we have already addressed personality analysis and predictions – is that astrology works, provided that the natal chart is taken into account along with transits, progressions and solar revolution influences.
Which experience? It is simple. When one is interested in this tool, one quite quickly makes interpretations, thousands of charts in several years. Therefore, each time one gets the confirmation that "heavy" or major events occur according to the rules used, and that in most cases, portraits are quite accurate although of course, certain scattered charts are much more difficult to interpret than others. One also knows that humility is a must and that for lighter things, i.e. minor aspects, less important or fast transits, one really deals only with probabilities, but... that's already quite appreciable.
The last section, that of mundane forecast, is unrewarding. I will not enter into the details of the methods used, and I will only say that once again, my experience is quite a pessimistic one. Individual astrology offers results ranging from satisfactory to very satisfactory, but mundane astrology seems risky to me and, to state it clearly, not yet perfected enough.
There may be a fifth section, that of prediction of success for business companies, projects, etc. The principle is to take the exact date of creation of a project as its moment of birth and cast a chart exactly as it is done for a human being. This method can also be applied to an animal, why not.
As expounded in this article, my experience prompts me to think that there are two types of outer events: the fundamental ones, which are very rare through a lifetime, and the others. The former seem to bear some form of determinism affecting the way events unfold, because the way we experience them in our inner self is a different thing and gives our free will every latitude in making decisions, including that to grant them importance or not.
As expounded in this article, my experience prompts me to think that there are two types of outer events: the fundamental ones, which are very rare through a lifetime, and the others. The former seem to bear some form of determinism affecting the way events unfold, because the way we experience them in our inner self is a different thing and gives our free will every latitude in making decisions, including that to grant them importance or not.

The fans of this technique are often optimistic. Now, in my opinion, the real difficulty lies in identifying the exact date and time of the beginning of the project or a company. Let's take for instance the creation of a company, and why not, in France, the most difficult country regarding this topic, owing to all kinds of administrative hurdles: firstly, the date, time, and place of the "idea". Then, the determination of the name of the company. There may be also the date at which all the partners reached an agreement. Or the date at which the company's capital was deposited into the bank, or the date of the application or the official registration of its statutes! Or else, the date at which the premises for its head office are found...
Actually, if one ponders a little bit more, for every case, the same questions apply because the exact date and time are not really significant. The same holds true also for the birth of a country, etc.
As a result, examples are not easy to study, even though they are interesting for the astrologer as a matter of curiosity. I believe that great caution is needed in this area.
Getting back to the example given at the beginning of this article, you may want to ask about the young lady, "So, was she compatible with you?" According to the analysis of the time, no! And actually, nothing happened, except in my head. Thus, astrology started to work well in those remote days despite the sadness of the conclusion.
More seriously, the purpose of these lines is to say that the irrational refusal of some people, be they scientists or not, to consider that there might be something accurate in this discipline constitutes a real sign of laughable blockages on their part.
These questions would take us too far… Nevertheless, the Samarkand tale is a classic which tends to show the limits of free will in the field of real experiences. It is important to add that, as far as death is concerned, even though there are techniques which try to determine its date, no serious astrologer will claim to be able to do so. Why? Because, and it cannot be reiterated strongly enough, astrology describes a climate and probabilities, and nothing else. I would also add that this is at the same helpful, crucial, and an excellent thing. Nothing would be worse than absolute fate and shutting the door on hope.
These questions would take us too far… Nevertheless, the Samarkand tale is a classic which tends to show the limits of free will in the field of real experiences. It is important to add that, as far as death is concerned, even though there are techniques which try to determine its date, no serious astrologer will claim to be able to do so. Why? Because, and it cannot be reiterated strongly enough, astrology describes a climate and probabilities, and nothing else. I would also add that this is at the same helpful, crucial, and an excellent thing. Nothing would be worse than absolute fate and shutting the door on hope.

Obviously, it is easy to understand its cause, which is certainly somehow the issue of how astrology works.
Here, I have talked about concrete topics and experience, and not at all about the "why". Actually, being a scientist myself, in the beginning, what I wanted to know above all was whether astrology worked.
Over 35 years of experience have answered my question although after six months or one year, I already got the answer, thus positive, just in case some visitors would directly start to read from this point on.
The topic of why it works is completely different. Here are my impressions, given in a personal capacity: at first, I would consider astrology to be a small square of life, a bit like a helpful discipline, but without –let's say, directly – spiritual connotation.
It is efficient, useful, but it offers no answer to the real questions of life, under no circumstances. What are we, what are we made of, what is Reality? Beneath thought, feelings, sensations, there is the consciousness of being, which is the only real thing, upstream. The intellect is unable to understand itself. A blind man cannot describe the colour red. Similarly, the intellect can but go round in circles when it comes to asking "who am I?", since we are not our thought and we are upstream of it or... of them, because one can rather talk about thoughts in the plural, which are like bees continuously buzzing, with an actor behind who undergoes and at the same time has the illusion of control... Of course, there is a link between these thoughts and our consciousness to exist, but... I should stop here... This is just to show that astrology answers none of these questions, that its field applies to the earthly sphere, to human psychology, to the explanation of behaviour, to the cautious forecast of the meteorology of events, and to the assessment of the smoothness, if any, of a relationship in a couple.
There is also the topic of the astrologer who analyses his future. Can he really change it? The wisest answer is that yes, one can strengthen the periods of invulnerability and thus, one's successes etc. One can also be careful and thus lessen the impact of risky periods, for practically all events.
There is also the topic of the astrologer who analyses his future. Can he really change it? The wisest answer is that yes, one can strengthen the periods of invulnerability and thus, one's successes etc. One can also be careful and thus lessen the impact of risky periods, for practically all events.

I would say, and I believe so, that this is already quite considerable. The fact that it works is sufficient in itself, even though one would like to understand the whys in terms or physics or energy etc.
Second reflection: we know only four forces in the universe: strong interactions (the cohesion forces of atomic nuclei), weak interactions (the cohesion forces of nuclei and particles), gravitational forces, and electro-magnetic forces. We are able neither to define the consciousness of being, nor to give a definition of thought and of ourselves. To imagine giving an answer to the whys of the functioning of astrology would require a better understanding of these two planes: the first one is that of physics, which is not as advanced as it is believed to be. The second plane is that of knowledge of human nature, which does not seem too advanced either...
The first answer is that indeed, there is no known physical explanation as of today.
There are statistics, sometimes disputed, and astrologers' experience dating back to the dawn of time – and the different schools, etc. which I have not addressed here of course – which are dismissed by detractors of astrology who are so stupidly and mechanically indoctrinated with their own certainties that they self-intoxicate themselves with their own rubbishes when... they do not act in bad faith.
Regarding major events, which can probably be counted on the fingers of the two hands throughout a lifetime, I think that the astrologer himself cannot avoid a few compulsory chapters of his destiny. This may be found disgruntling or laughable, but those who make numerous predictions are aware that it is difficult, or practically impossible, to escape very powerful configurations, be they harmonious or tricky. It should be borne in mind that what is tricky brings about awareness whereas on the contrary, what is felt as nice often yields spiritual numbness. Nothing is good, and nothing is bad; there is only a succession of tests, happy or unfortunate, and the will, or lack of, to increase one's consciousness of existing with them.
Regarding major events, which can probably be counted on the fingers of the two hands throughout a lifetime, I think that the astrologer himself cannot avoid a few compulsory chapters of his destiny. This may be found disgruntling or laughable, but those who make numerous predictions are aware that it is difficult, or practically impossible, to escape very powerful configurations, be they harmonious or tricky. It should be borne in mind that what is tricky brings about awareness whereas on the contrary, what is felt as nice often yields spiritual numbness. Nothing is good, and nothing is bad; there is only a succession of tests, happy or unfortunate, and the will, or lack of, to increase one's consciousness of existing with them.

Of course, if anyone says to you "You practice astrology because you are in a fog, your mind is weak, you are indoctrinated, or you are Machiavellian, you do it for money, you are a poor insane person", there is nothing to answer since this blindness probably stems from a very irrational behaviour and above all from a pre-determined choice.
Some detractors of astrology, perhaps less obtuse than others, may imagine, during a too short-lived stroke of intuition, that not all astrologers are in a complete fog, not all malevolent, not all interested in power or money, and even that the majority do not waste their time, simply because hands-on experience has shown them the evidence, that is does work, provided due caution is observed as mentioned earlier.
Therefore, for these people, the following problem remains: "Well, let's suppose that it works and that there is some truth in it, but since there are no explanations to it, it cannot work, can it?"
A logical mind would answer back "It works of course. It is not because we don't know yet why, that it can't work, since on the contrary experience proves that it does work..."
Besides, the fact that one possesses a few assets like knowledge of astrology, or the mere fact of seeking advice from it, is part of the protections which can be found in the natal chart. The person who never doubts anything, who remains narrow-minded and keeps on his superior smile in front of concealed knowledge –astrology is not the only one – this person usually has several tensions in fixed signs in his natal chart. Indeed, fixed signs are excellent and often endow with a strong will and persuasion power, to the detriment however of open-mindedness, or rather, the swiftness to precisely adjust to whatever is new to him. Once adjustment is achieved, he will become a fierce defendant of the very cause which he fought in the first place, at least in the best cases (smile).
Besides, the fact that one possesses a few assets like knowledge of astrology, or the mere fact of seeking advice from it, is part of the protections which can be found in the natal chart. The person who never doubts anything, who remains narrow-minded and keeps on his superior smile in front of concealed knowledge –astrology is not the only one – this person usually has several tensions in fixed signs in his natal chart. Indeed, fixed signs are excellent and often endow with a strong will and persuasion power, to the detriment however of open-mindedness, or rather, the swiftness to precisely adjust to whatever is new to him. Once adjustment is achieved, he will become a fierce defendant of the very cause which he fought in the first place, at least in the best cases (smile).

The tradition does not hesitate to put forward such answers as "As above, so below.". This explanation is based on symbolism, the human being partly incarnated and partly spirit, and there is a connection between these two worlds, etc. But obviously, this is not an explanation.
Astrology works although we still don't have its explanation in terms of forces. My opinion is that it will come. It constitutes an interesting subject, but not a fundamental one. The main point is to avoid talking nonsense and to be pragmatic. It seems to me that being open-minded is the only correct attitude.
Although one can live without astrology, its offers much help to those who practice it or to those who seek advice from it. It is already very appreciable. Indeed, although astrology claims neither to give an answer about the purpose of life, nor to be absolutely reliable, and in spite of the fact that the explanation of its functioning is unknown... it nevertheless delivers obvious results.
This is what justifies its practice. To my view, the only good attitudes are, either to use it with caution if it is helpful on a punctual basis or more, or to ignore it and ask "Why not, but in any case, I am not interested." The only totally ridiculous attitude is to display the self-satisfied smile of those who cannot be taken for a ride...

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MARY MAGDALENE: Changing Your Experience in the World

Received by Mercedes Kirkel On July 28, 2014 Questioner: There’s a tendency in this life to want to change what’s going on in the world. There are direct approaches to that, such as calling forth beings for healing or praying to change the circumstances. I have the impression that for you and the Magdalene energetic, […]

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