Sunday, 28 August 2011

Astrology for the Scientific

I've no doubt that this sort of thing has been done dozens of times before by people better at it than me. But it's Sunday, and I'm bored.

So, I saw via that there twitter that some people are claiming that astrology effectively predicted Hurricane Irene. I don't know if that means they predicted it would happen in general, or that it would strike land at a specific time, or that it would be a certain intensity or blah blah blah. If they predicted it happening in general, I'm sure meteorologists would have done that with a greater degree of certainty long before anyone consulted the star charts. But that's just me, ever the dismissive cynic.

Astrology in general is believed to have predicted many things, like the September the 11thattacks, Royal Weddings, several wars and lord knows what else. I believe these questionable 'successes' can be explained by what is known in the scientific circles as 'throw enough shit at a wall and some will stick' technique. But I will admit to having a soft spot for astrology, despite what I may have said in the past. I always appreciate creativity, even when it's not something I'd necessarily approve of or agree with. But people love horoscopes and star signs, the thought that our lives are being influenced by something bigger and more powerful than we are is obviously very reassuring to many people (see also; All religions ever). I've even dabbled with writing horoscopes myself before now.

So overall, I feel us sciencey types are missing out with our knee-jerk dismissals of all things astrological. So, to hopefully address this concern, here is a new, revamped star chart for scientists, rationalists, sceptics and the like. What does your star-sign say about cynical old you? Find out*.


(Jan 20th – Feb 18th)

You are a brash and confident seeming, with an outgoing exterior that hides a crippling self-doubt and neurosis that eats away at you and will eventually cause you to blurt out all of your worries and fears in one long stream of consciousness, probably to a nearby commuter who will seriously consider alerting the police about you. Scientifically, you will end up in a discipline that sounds very impressive (e.g. Nuclear Physics, Genetic modification, Germ warfare) but makes people back away slowly when you tell them what is you do, which you will do often. If you end up doing research, you will publish your results anywhere as long is means you're first author. If it's a disreputable or poor-credibility journal, you will tell people that they were the only ones who would publish your data as it's 'too groundbreaking' or 'the establishment don't want people to hear it'. A Plutonius is most likely to be the 'lone maverick' or 'sole dissenting voice' when it comes to controversial theories, and will inevitably cause a public panic or scandal. You assume parties never go on later than 10pm, because that's when everyone has left whenever you go to one.

Likes: Olivia Lee, Heston Blumenthal, Hawaiian Shirts, 9/11 conspiracy theories.

Dislikes: All Bran, poets, the peer review process, JLS.


(Feb 19th – Mar20th)

Numbers are your friends. Even the imaginary ones. Ergo, you have imaginary friends. Your meticulous devotion to the mathematical properties of everyday life mean people are always keen to get your help when dealing with taxes and such, but you don't get invited out for dinner often, as you have an unsettling habit of only ever eating the items on your plate in a specific order, and your tendency to argue over what constitutes an appropriate tip gets quite embarrassing. Every collection of items you own (DVD's, pens, socks, books) adds up to a prime number. You are not consciously aware of this, but would be pleased if you found out. You have no particular style or appearance, but however you look you are always perfectly symmetrical. Animals tend to look at you with suspicion. You will probably have been tested for autism at some point in your life. You don't really see the point in Sudoku, you never even have to fill it in order to solve it. A Paisces is highly likely to be involved in some heavily numerical discipline, and more are entering the financial sector these days as the huge numbers being used constantly excites them in ways they're not keen to tell people about.

Likes: Pub Quiz machines, logic puzzles, Russell Crowe, the Financial Times, Stephen Baxter

Dislikes: Shakespeare, Hollywood sci-fi, Carol Vorderman, the X-factor, train stations


(Mar 21st – Apr 19th)

You are strident and forthright, but not in a way that's helpful to you or your career. Everyone is plotting against you. It's likely that your theory about this is true, but it's more often than not a consequence rather than a cause of your behaviour. You are keen to have a family while keeping your career going, largely just to show people you are capable of that. A Mariecuries may enter any number of scientific fields, but once there they will be very prolific, producing data and forging a reputation at the expense of any personal interaction or social skills. You want people to know your name, and they probably will, but any time they say it it'll be prefaced with the words 'Oh no! It's...', or some variation of this. A Mariecuries will get involved with causes of any sort; as long as they a) agree with them, and b) it'll give them a legitimate excuse to berate people and make themselves better known ('a' can be disregarded if the opportunity for 'b' is big enough). If you have a Mariecurie in your lab or institution they will do the work of 3 people, but you're likely to lose at least twice as many due to sudden resignations.

Likes: Ann Widdecombe, twitter, reputable journals, Simon Pegg, online commenting systems

Dislikes: Lottery winners, Simon Cowell, Anime, Banksy, The Guardian.


(Apr 20th – May 20th)

You have a very wide range of interests and will absorb and retain information very readily. This is usually at the expense of any ability to relay this information to other people in a manner which is in any way interesting or succinct. You think of clothing purely in terms of what offers the best protection from likely environmental conditions, and see food purely as an energy resource. If it ever did occur to you to go to a high-class restaurant, you would expect the prices to be indicative of the amount of consumable mass you will be given. As a Boreus, you will be ideally suited to lecturing, on any subject that has enough information to fill an hours-long monologue. You have no problem with continuous talking and are actually under the impression that people's default expression is one of crushing apathy or semi-consciousness. Invitations to attend meetings or give speeches rapidly decline as you get older. Depending on age, a Boreus is highly likely to be a big fan of Dungeons and Dragons or World of Warcraft (online). Relationships are sustainable only with partners who understand that it is purely just a means of reproducing and providing offspring with a minimal risk environment in which to develop, in order to ensure survival of genetic information, although a committed Boreus will be happy to explain in depth why this instinct is just an evolved tendency that isn't really essential to anyone who will listen (i.e. No-one)

Likes: Ledgers, grain, books with an index section, the dewy decimal system, cottage cheese.

Dislikes: Twitter, theme parks, news bulletins, the colour purple, Michael McIntyre.


(May 21st – Jun 20th)

You are a do-gooder, with helpful intentions that border on the pathological. You will have mastered any and all helpful skills (CPR, Fire safety, Bomb disposal etc.) that you have had the opportunity to learn, and will jump at any chance to put these into practice, even to the extent of assuming minor situations are actually life-threatening so you can spring into action, much to the annoyance of everyone involved. You will most likely be involved in scientific field that has some focus on human health or biology, such as medical doctor, gene therapy, biological research and so on. You will have entered the field 'to help people', as you reflexively tell anyone who has the misfortune to ask you, as they will then be given a 10 minute treatise as to the value of your work in human terms. Your desire to help and be helpful means others will take advantage of your well meaning tendencies, to the point where you become overworked and stressed to far beyond your ability to handle. As a Floreni, you will have several options at this point, but most people opt for either snapping and killing themselves (and many others) in a huge public incident, or resorting to alcohol and narcotics more and more intensely until you find yourself screaming at squirrels in a park for stealing all your marmite (or other spreadable preserve). Any children born to Florenies are likely to experience deep psychological issues after a lifetime of being pampered and experiencing zero risk or challenge.

Likes: ER, Doctor Who, Children in Need, the NHS, fun runs, Vegetables, Red Wine, Aeroplane socks.

Dislikes: House M.D., Scotland, Politicians, the Grand Theft Auto franchise, Secret Santa, Turkish delight.


(Jun 21st – Jul 22nd)

You are generally a passive person, one who lets events affect him/her rather than deciding your own course in life. However, when good fortune does come your way, your ability to deal with it and exploit it is minimal so you just make it up as you go along, and end up coming across as, at best, a baffling eccentric or, at worst, a power hungry idiot. Scientifically, you will probably end up in whichever field is most convenient, be it due to parental influence, pre-existing interests or it being a subject taught in a convenient university which accepts you based on the grades you're likely to get. Career progression will be achieved by stepping in for more senior people who leave. A low-level, uninspiring career is likely, except when, as sometimes happens, you stumble upon a new discovery or important finding that will have you achieving notoriety well beyond your competence level. You will either try to coast on this for several years until everyone notices that you've not produced any follow-up work and promptly forget about you, or you will try to make some clever-sounding claims about what your discovery means that will be poorly thought out and annoy everyone else in the field. You will not be shy of commitment in a relationship, as you will desperately need someone to make all the big decisions for you for your own safety. You will also tend to avoid people in your on field as they tend to make you realise the extent to which you've a very poor understanding of what it is you do.

Likes: Public transport, Supernanny, life coaches, CCTV, ready meals.

Dislikes: Elections, audits, assault courses, sushi, delegation, improvised comedy.


(Jul 23rd – Aug 22nd)

You are 'cool'. By which I mean you think you're cool, but go out of your way to show others how cool you are, which is not cool. You are interested in science because it is not as 'square' as it used to be, it features in a lot more films these days and allows you to affect an air of nonchalant superiority when you tell non-scientists what you do (which is probably something cutting edge and/or slightly dangerous, such as nanotechnology or drug development). Your desire to appear cool often clashes with your scientific instincts, such as wearing shades in low-light environments, boasting about your vegetarianism while wearing leather jackets, tweeting about the disgraceful consumerist attitudes of society via an iPhone, and so on. You will embrace all new trends and technologies in order to exploit the brief window where you're more 'ahead' of the rest of the people you know. You will behave similarly in your scientific work, favouring more unlikely and obscure conclusions and theories purely to stand apart from accepted wisdom and get noticed. This will happen, and you'll be labelled a dickhead. You may find yourself working with the media far more than anticipated, but nowhere near as much as you'd truly like.

Likes: Steve Jobs, Night clubs, swords, martial arts, the Sopranos, Thai food.

Dislikes: Carol Vorderman, Nokia phones, the peer-review process, blue cheese, golf, the periodic table.


(Aug 23rd – Sept 22nd)

You have borderline sociopathic tendencies. You're love of science stems from a deep-seated dislike of people in general. You may have had several negative experiences as a young child that led you to develop this loathing for your fellow man, but are unaware that, in a social context, they were largely self-inflicted. You pursue science, most likely in a biological discipline but not always, as it allows you to mentally reduce human beings to a collection of unconscious processes and also makes it somewhat easier for you to kill them if it ever comes to that. You think this will happen. You will probably excel in your scientific career, seeing as you care not for the concern and respect of others and completely lack even the vaguest hint of a social life. This allows you to get a lot of work done and data produced in a much shorter space of time, and this will reflect well on you with regards to people who don't know you and have no contact with you. The idea of a relationship with someone genuinely baffles you. You invariably dress smartly or at least in a standard manner as anything unusual means attention from people, and you don't want that. Not until you can find a suitable place to hide the bodies, anyway.

Likes: Band saws, plagues, private Health care, silence, the X factor.

Dislikes: Jehovah's Witnesses, Telesales, public transport, pubs, the immune system.


(Sept 23rd – Oct 22nd)

You are a somewhat other-worldly creature. Although physically a normal human in appearance and anatomy, mentally you dwell in some other world where the norms are your own. People often ask you if you're stoned or inebriated, you will reassure them at first then become distracted by your own wandering brain again, leaving them none the wiser over all. You care deeply about science as it means you might be able to eventually investigate the wild flights of fancy that occur to you approximately 34 times an hour. You will eventually gravitate towards quantum mechanics, parallel worlds theory, or one of the other sciences which still operates on a largely theoretical basis, so as to not spoil your daydreams with brutal logic and evidence. Your life could end up being a risky one, as although everyone will think of you as harmless of possibly endearing, you do have a concentration problem which means you are more likely to walk in front of buses or fall down manholes. The opposite sex will invariably be drawn to you, but they will eventually express their frustration with your lack of attention to them and leave in a huff. Maybe half the time, you'll notice this has happened.

Likes: Exotic cheese, Futurama, mountaintops, Steve Martin, the Vengaboys.

Dislikes: Census forms, the Peer review process, textbooks, gravity, open manholes.


(Oct 23rd – Nov 21st)

You are the rugged outdoors type. Everything about you says adventure and exploration. You suffer from almost crippling claustrophobia. You will end up pursuing any scientific discipline that allows you to go to places where most people wouldn't go to and have a look around, possibly chopping at bits of it with a comically exaggerated machete. Zoology, geology, anthropology, anything like this gets you going (figuratively and literally). Your preferences mean you may have difficulty dealing with others. You have so many experiences and adventures you wish to tell people about that it's difficult for them to get a word in. Your constant thrill seeking means you will have trouble finding a partner. Some people propose or get married during a bungee jump, you'd probably need to conduct an entire relationship via one. Although an academic career is something you couldn't physically endure, but stories of your escapades will help inspire others into being interested and respecting science, right up to the point where all your good work is undone when you succumb to a hitherto undiscovered and harmless looking poison snail.

Likes: Jungles, adrenalin, arctic explorer ships, barbecues, Bear Grylles.

Dislikes: Desks, suits, mortgages, budget airlines, David Attenborough.


(Nov 22nd – Dec 21st)

Despite your best efforts, you will inevitably end up as the type of scientist that is often regarded as 'ridiculous stereotype'. If you are male, you'll start to develop unruly white hair, a ridiculous moustache at some time around your 21st Birthday, and it will get worse from there. You will discover all your clothes are made from tweed and can be worn over or under a lab coat with little or no bother. You may find yourself starting to speak with an Eastern European lilt for no discernible reason. Regardless of the scientific discipline you are involved with or what level you're at, people will start calling you 'Professor', to the point where you are officially declared one and are given all the associated responsibilities of one. You won't have a clue what you're doing, but it's Ok as everyone will assume you're an eccentric genius. If you are female, the exact same will happen, but instead of a moustache you'll grow shorter, and wear your hair in a bun.

Likes: Tweed, animals, tolerant postgraduates, rats, blackboards, port.

Dislikes: The internet, hip-hop, Starbucks, flamingos, lager.


(Dec 22nd – Jan 19th)

Urrghh. You know what you're like, I see no reason to state it here. Disgusting.


Dislikes: Overly-curious computer repair technicians.

* = I'd say one person at most will conform to these outrageous exaggerations. Happy scienceing!

Email: Humourology (at)

Twitter: @garwboy


Zeno said...

Brilliant! (But I refuse to say what star sign I am...)

Jess said...

I LOVE this. Could easily replace the old zodiac calendar...

Alice said...

As a boreus who loves Twitter, I claim this ONE anecdote to refute your entire system. But in a very starry-eyed fashion. ;-)

Social Network sharing gubbins