Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Mercury Retrograde Festival (Day 3.14159265): Science Marches Backwards!

Mercury continues its backwards march through Taurus, bringing with it cluttered thinking and a tendency to grasp at the wrong solution to difficult issues. Don't feel too bad if the process has made you make unwise decisions with your personal life, though: times like these can mess with the best of minds.

Like, for example, that time the Indiana State Legislatiure tried to re-write how The Universe works.

Politicians love simple, straightforward facts. Unfortunately, life is too often filled with messy details that don't fit into a soundbite or a poster. Politicians sometimes respond to this by rounding the uneven corners off of The Truth. And, in one rather famous case, they decided to tell the Universe how to do its job.

You'll probably recall the concept of "pi" from High School: it's the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. In other words, if a circle is 1 meter across, it is π meters around. π itself is what's called an "irrational number" like √2, for example. Most kids sitting in a classroom get a little nervous at the concept of a "number" that is, in fact, a long string of numbers (3.1415926535897932... and on and on for billions of decimal places with no distinct end).

So, on January 18th, 1897... with Mercury retrograde in "don't tell me what to do" Aquarius... and with Saturn (the traditional ruler of Aquarius... "laying down the law") conjunct Uranus (the modern ruler of Aquarius... "the weirder the better!")... the Indiana State Legislature began debate on a bill which defined pi as 3.2. That's all: just plain old 3.2. Finally, a government makes things simpler and easier to use! Too bad that the bill contradicted the Known Universe actually works. Other than that small problem.. great idea guys!

The original mind behind the bill was a Dr. Edwin J. Goodman, an amateur mathematical enthusiast and physician who had claimed to have discovered the true value of pi... right down to patenting the idea, so that anyone attempting to use the "more accurate" version of the mathematical constant would owe the good Doctor a user's fee.

The bill passed the House unanimously, and moved on to the State Senate. Fortunately for Indiana engineers (and the people who rely on their vehicles and elevators) the Bill died in the Senate... once an actual Professor of Mathematics explained to the Senators how utterly ridiculous the concept was. So, once Mercury was no longer retrograde... the bill died.

So you see: don't feel too badly about any bad decisions you've made lately, any drunk dialling to exes you may regret, or any recent bad decisions. You may have misinterpreted what The Universe wanted you to do... but at least you didn't tell The Universe how to do its job...

1 comment:

Matthew The Astrologer said...

Next Mercury Retrograde: August 20th. The first episode of "Conquer The Universe With Astrology: The Radio Show": August 19th.

Whew. :)

Stay tuned to this blog for further details!