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Do Planets Affect Humans?

TS asks: “The notion that the planets and their location in the universe at any given time can have an impact on human life from influencing our personalities to predicting our futures, is the basis of astrology. But is this true?”

The short answer – no.

Here’s a longer explanation.

As this article from West Texas A&M University physics professor Dr. Christopher S. Baird explains,  the position of astronomical bodies does not – and cannot - affect human life outside of basic weather.

Some of these weather related effects would be the seasons which are caused by the orientation of the sun to the earth. Solar flares cause electromagnetic disturbances that can cause blackouts and disrupt satellite communication. The position of the moon causes ocean tides and solar wind creates the stunning aurora borealis in the sky.

Astrologers, on the other hand, purport that solar bodies have numerous impacts on a person depending on their birth date; however, there's siimply no evidence of this. As Dr. Baird states, “This claim is scientifically false. Numerous scientific studies have disproven that astronomical bodies affect people's lives according to their birth date."

He goes on to cite recent research that studied over 4,000 individuals and found no correlation between birth date and personality or intelligence.

Another study consisted of 28 astrologers who made predictions which were then tested for accuracy. As published in the journal, Nature, researchers “found that the astrologers could do no better at predicting the future than random chance. These results agree with fundamental science.”

These are just a few out of a plethora of studies that have been conducted over the centuries in search of some evidence that the planets affect our lives.

As this blog appearing on Ask a Mathematician/Ask a Physicist explains, “There has been a lot of research into astrological phenomena, but so far all of the results have been negative or unrepeatable (science talk for ‘this isn’t a thing’). Since the 18th or 19th century the scientific community has pretty much stopped looking, but they were at it for a very long time. There aren’t many scientific papers that seriously investigate this sort of thing, partly because the results are well-known, and partly because the experiments involved are easy enough that they tend to show up in middle-school science fairs relatively often…”

So why can't the planets influence people? It's due to basic physics. As Dr. Baird explains, there are four forces of nature: gravity, electromagnetism, the strong nuclear force, and the weak nuclear force.

“If an object affects a person, it must do so by interacting through one of these fundamental forces. For instance, strong acid burns your skin because the electromagnetic fields in the acid pull strongly enough on your skin molecules that they rip apart. A falling rock crushes you because gravity pulls it onto you. A nuclear bomb will vaporize you because of nuclear forces. Each of the fundamental forces can be very strong. The problem is that they all die off with distance. The nuclear forces die off so quickly that they are essentially zero beyond a few nanometers.”

To understand this better, a nanometer is one-billionth of a meter. To get a visual of this, consider that there are 25,400,000 nanometers in an inch and a human hair is approximately 80,000- 100,000 nanometers wide.

In other words, the impact of these forces upon earth dwellers is zilch. These heavenly bodies are just too far away to impact us.

There is also no truth to the astrological claim that the planets can form in alignment, something that never happens in the real world. But, “even if the planets did all align in a perfectly straight line, it would have negligible effects on the earth,” Dr. Baird writes.

“Fictional and pseudo-science authors like to claim that a planetary alignment would mean that all of the gravitational fields of the planets add together to make something massive that interferes with life on earth. In truth, the gravitational pulls of the planets on the earth are so weak that they have no significant effect on earth life. There are only two solar system objects with enough gravity to significantly affect earth: the moon and the sun. The sun's gravity is strong because the sun is so massive. The moon's gravitational effect on the earth is strong because the moon is so close.”

This explains why scientists suggest that rather than ask if science can explain astrological effects on humans, we should be asking if there is a such a thing as astrological effects.

According to science, it just “isn’t a thing" - which is why astrology will never be anything more than a very ancient and colorfully fabricated fairy tale.

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