Mars, from Earth

Debunking Astrology: Mars Can’t Influence You

Article Updated: 24 Dec , 2015

by

So you think the position of Mars in the sky at the time of your birth made you tall, dark, and handsome (or short, fair, and ugly)? Or lucky (or unlucky) in love? If you think believing in astrology is anywhere close to scientific, well, Dude, time to think again.

Pick two babies born within a minute of each other. One has two nurses and a doctor attending; the other, just a midwife. One is born in a brightly lit maternity ward in a downtown big city hospital; the other in a poorly lit room in a village 50 kilometers from the nearest big city. ‘Downtown’ is just a few meters above sea level; the village is situated on a 1000 meter high plateau. These local differences have far greater effects on the babies than Mars does. Let’s see how.

Nearly five centuries of physics have given us quite a few certainties, and among those are that the only long range forces in the universe are gravity and electromagnetism. And both of these, from Mars, are totally – and I mean totally – overwhelmed by those same forces that were produced by things near you when you were delivered. In a word, Mars can’t influence you.

Start with gravitation.

The gravitational force between you and Mars is greatest when Mars is closest to the Earth; let’s say that’s 56 million kilometers. Now Mars has a mass of 6.4 x 1023 kg, so the acceleration, here on Earth, due to Martian gravity would be 1.4 x 10-8 meters per second per second (m s-2).

How did I work that out? By using Newton’s law of universal gravitation:
F = Gm1m2/r2
and:
F = ma
so:
a = GmMars/distance-to-Mars2.

How does this compare with variations in gravitational force due to adults standing nearby (everyone has a mother, so we won’t count her)?

Let’s take 60 kg as an adult’s mass, and a distance of 1 meter; that gives a gravitational acceleration of 4 x 10-9 m s-2, so just three adults nearby would have the same gravitational effect on you as Mars!

How does this compare with variations in gravitational force we know people born at the same time – but elsewhere on Earth – experienced?

Let’s take a difference in altitude of 1000 m (lots of big cities have altitudes greater than this – Mexico City, for example, is at 2240 m – and lots are close to sea level), and calculate the difference in acceleration due to the Earth’s gravity (this ignores several important factors, such as the Earth’s rotation, and local differences in g). Well, it works out as 0.003 m s-2, or about 200,000 times greater than Martian gravity!

In fact, if you were born just half a centimeter higher, you’d be influenced to the same extent, gravitationally, as by Mars!

Next, electromagnetism.

You can be influenced, electromagnetically, in four separate ways: by a magnetic field, by an electric current, by an electric field, and by electromagnetic radiation. How powerful is Mars, electromagnetically?

There’s no electric current between Mars and Earth; the solar wind – which blows outward from the Sun (so Mars is ‘downstream’, and any electromagnetic influence carried by the solar wind would be from Earth to Mars) – is neutral, on balance, and carries no current.

The solar wind is a plasma, and any electric field there is in it will not be felt much more than a few Debye lengths’ away (basically, because electrons and ions are free to move in a plasma, they screen charges – the source of electric fields – quite effectively; the Debye length is about as far as an electric field can penetrate). Now the solar wind can be quite dynamic – meaning it can change a lot – but the Debye length in any part of it will rarely, if ever, be greater than a few tens of meters. Let’s be generous and say an electric field could be felt up to a kilometer away. But Mars never comes closer to the Earth than ~50 million km!

Well, that makes any electric field influence from Mars impossible, doesn’t it?!

While Mars does have a weak magnetic field, it has no influence on Earth, because the Earth’s own field creates a magnetosphere around us, one that screens out external magnetic fields. Besides, as Mars is downstream from us (the way the solar wind blows), and as the solar wind can carry (actually stretch) a magnetosphere only in the direction it blows, any magnetic influence would be from Earth to Mars, not Mars to Earth.

Three down, one to go.

The Earth’s atmosphere blocks all electromagnetic radiation except for that which we see by (and a bit on the UV side too), some infrared, and in the microwave and radio regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.

Mars is a very weak source of microwaves and radio waves, and even in the (radio) quietest places on Earth, electromagnetic radiation from (distant) radio stations, (distant) cellphone towers, TV satellites, airplanes overhead, etc totally, totally drowns out any Martian signals.

On a clear, moonless night, Mars may seem bright to your dark-adjusted eyes … but most likely you were born under quite bright lights, and indoors. No Martian influence here either.

So what do we have then?

Like I said, Mars can’t make you tall dark and handsome, nor can it influence your love life.

, ,



Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Nephish777
Member
Nephish777
January 26, 2010 12:44 PM

I do NOT believe in astrology, however a better way to disprove it would be by having personal charts created for babies born in the same city within minutes of each other and seeing how their lives compare in a few years. (Or find adults that fit the criteria and cast charts and see how well they fit.) I am not sure but I think this may have been done. This would rule out some unknown influences.

Spacer
Member
Spacer
January 26, 2010 1:34 PM

You calculate martian gravity (on the babby) as:
1.4 x 10e-8 m/s/s
and a 60kg human 1m away as:
4.0 x 10e-8 m/s/s

That makes one human approx 3 times the gravitational strength, not 3 humans equaling the martian strength (unless you meant 4.0 x 10e-9 m/s/s as the human strength ?)

Nit-picking apart, nice article !!

lluis
Member
lluis
January 26, 2010 1:53 PM
I think the point about astrology is completely missed. Celestial objects do not have any influence on anybody. In astrology the position of planets in the sky indicate somehow the energy existing in the universe at a certain moment in time. An energy that in a holistic world you can read with the astrological language and convert into useful information. Good astrologers are scarce, therefore there’s a tendency to assume that astrology is what you read in the newspapers and common opinions. That is not astrology. Do not talk about astrology if you haven’t studied it for at least several years, like with any other discipline. Think on the position of the planets as a mirror of energies… Read more »
notovny
Member
notovny
January 26, 2010 2:01 PM

The only worthwile thing Astrology ever did was fund pre-industrial Astronomy.

“Good” astrologers are delusional. Bad astrologers are charlatans.

ND
Member
ND
January 26, 2010 2:14 PM

lluis,

Can you give some more details on the years of study one can do in astrology? Where does one go to study astrology?

“In astrology the position of planets in the sky indicate somehow the energy existing in the universe at a certain moment in time. An energy that in a holistic world you can read with the astrological language and convert into useful information.”

Where is the evidence to support this?

Also, despite the distinction you make, there is a popular everyday astrology that is being addressed here. Specially since many people confuse astrology and astronomy.

CrazyEddieBlogger
Member
January 26, 2010 2:28 PM
Astrology never claimed to be founded on gravity, solar wind, or any other such mechanism… It is simply without basis…. You might as well go and prove that walking under ladders is actually safe, that lepricons don’t always wear green, and that if you run through a brick wall, you don’t leave a hole shaped like yourself. Astrology is actually proof positive to how delusional people are, since unlike a lot of other voodoo, it is predictive and can thus be debunked – yet people would rather believe in it since they don’t care.. it provides entertainment. I used to have this friend who would see a “seer” on a regular basis. One day I talked her out… Read more »
Surak
Member
Surak
January 26, 2010 2:41 PM

Very typical touchy-feely wishy-washy response Iluis.

Make up a mystical undefinable ‘energy’ that can not be detected in any way except by those that you describe as ‘good’ astrologers. No doubt if your ‘good’ astrologers disagree, you would just say one isn’t so good.

If your magical fantasies were actually reality, astrologers would have noticed patterns in their predictions over and over again, errors in their work that kept happening each year at slightly different dates.

… all over the world astrologers would have all come to the same prediction that Neptune and Uranus existed, and exactly where to find them in the sky.

Yet not one of them did.

ND
Member
ND
January 26, 2010 3:04 PM
CrazyEddieBlogger and lluis, Understanding something that before criticizing it is fundamentally important. And astrology may not invoke gravity as part of the belief, but as lluis “In astrology the position of planets in the sky indicate somehow the energy existing in the universe at a certain moment in time. An energy that in a holistic world you can read with the astrological language and convert into useful information.” The positions of the planets in the sky are dictated by the force of gravity. This is something we have modeled very very well over the past several centuries. It is very good at predicting the positions of the planets, their moons and even navigate our probes to them using… Read more »
ND
Member
ND
January 26, 2010 3:06 PM

change “does not drive the positions of the stars.” to “… positions of the planets.”

lluis
Member
lluis
January 26, 2010 3:13 PM
I have studies in engineering as a background and I am not an astrologer, but have an astrologer besides me and have a deep respect for astrology, a matter and language I confess unable to fully understand, like chinese, but I know both, astrology and chinese exist and are useful. Astrology is not a religion you can believe or not, is a subject matter to study, develop and discuss on common ground. If one person speaks English and another Japanese we might agree communication would be difficult, if not impossible. And astrology is also a language that requires study and understanding. Study of astrology, as any other discipline takes a lifetime (and more for those believing in re-incarnation)… Read more »
ND
Member
ND
January 26, 2010 3:30 PM
An engineer! I should have guessed! “Evidence: It helps people. Lots of important people have their personal astrologers. It is ancient than astronomy and other “materialistic scientific” disciplines (I mean the ones that separate the observer from the observed). It’s been around for a while (4000 years or so?), if fake should have disappeared already.” This is not evidence. This is belief. We still have a multitude of religions after 4000 years. “I know about endless astrology versus scientific discussions, but does science explain it all?” Science would not exist if all was explained. And no scientist makes such a claim. This is a common strawman argument. And astrology and other beliefs like it do not do a… Read more »
Lawrence B. Crowell
Member
Lawrence B. Crowell
January 26, 2010 3:36 PM

Astrology is based on an ancient idea that event in the heavens were connected to those on Earth. In a way the idea is correct, as the doctor in Virginia found out last week. The connection is just very different than what people conjectured in the ancient world. Back then the motion of the heavens was thought to reflect the actions of gods or divine beings, who also cast fates here on Earth.

There are no connections between physical concepts and astrological ideas. What intellectual basis astrology might have had, and Kepler was an astrologer, it has in the modern world evaporated.

LC

CrazyEddieBlogger
Member
January 26, 2010 4:14 PM

@ND – slow down, I’m on your side… just making the point about the futility of proving scientifically that hogwash is hogwash, since the people that believe in hogwash are, well, prone to believing in hogwash…

Hope this clears things up…

Surak
Member
Surak
January 26, 2010 4:31 PM

uggg it’s always the engineers … the last people that should fall for the argument from popularity has Iluis then falls into.

I should have predicted it … No suprised that he did not address the fact that astrology failed to predict the existence of Neptune and Uranus.

Iluis … tell me why this is the case, the errors that should have been very obvious pointing astrologers exactly to the existence and locations of Neptune and Uranus … but it did not.

I really hope you are a software ‘engineer’, or perhaps a train engineer with a cute train engineer hat on your head … not a civil engineer where your lack of scientific understanding could kill people.

Olaf
Member
Olaf
January 26, 2010 4:33 PM

The planets real influences have absolutely no relationships with astrology. It is just an invented story that sounded nice back in the dark ages.

BUT I am wondering if the season you are born in might have an influence. If you are born in the winter you get exposed to different environment conditions. Different sunlight less sunlight, cold temperatures and your clothing hides your skin from the sun, less Vitamin D, different types of vegetables,….

One note: it is not only the doctor that gravitationally influences you you also have the complete building the mountain nearby the. Wifi radiations, solar flares that influences the magnetic field…

fcunnane
Member
fcunnane
January 26, 2010 4:45 PM
I think astrology has become rather interesting over the last “x” amount of years. “x” being a factor of an amount of time. It is understood that the Earth wobbles on it’s axis once every 33,000 years or so, (please someone correct me if I’m wrong). Now if this factor of “x” being the last few thousand years, if astrology has been around that long. Now let x = 3,000 the earth has wobbled such that your sign is now thrown into the next constellation. Meaning the way they calculate signs is what constellation is in the sky during the day-time during a certain time of year. So I have always been told that I am a Sagittarius,… Read more »
fcunnane
Member
fcunnane
January 26, 2010 4:46 PM

Excuse me, what constellation the sun follows during the day time.

Uncle Fred
Member
Uncle Fred
January 26, 2010 5:33 PM
What I find fascinating is how one’s brain is perhaps wired to believe in such things are Astrology. Look at some of the replies above, the writers sound as if they genuinely believe what they are saying is grounded in truth. I wonder if they run such questions through their mind: “What is this energy of the planets? What instruments can we use to scientifically measure this supposed energy? If our hypothesis is that there is indeed such energy, in what ways can we devise tests to disprove this notion (thereby eliminating all possible counter evidence?” “If such energies exist, how do we devise an experiment to measure their effect on the planets?” “How do we measure and/or… Read more »
ND
Member
ND
January 26, 2010 8:56 PM

CrazyEddieBlogger, I know you are smile The threads I was trying to connect was between gravity and the astrological force lluis talks about, given that the position of the planets are governed by gravity even though astrology makes no mention of gravity.

RodBeaton
Member
January 27, 2010 12:53 AM
Astrology may not be a true science, but using ‘Light’ as a mechanism seems to suggest- that its being used by politicians and terrorists’. I make alot of predictions on my own for myself- I like to use it to keep myself informed, while I watch TV. I’m observing the ‘Lisbon treaty’, and the Euro, cause I don’t trust some of the europeans. like germans- history says for 2000 years, they liked war. One event astrology was used on ‘us’ was 9-11! -though I didn’t predict it…My computer was down. And at the time, I wasn’t really reseaching it. Nor did I know that in the 60’s, the idea of ‘false flag’ operations were being tossed around. Kennedy… Read more »
wpDiscuz