Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Saturn, Pratibha Patil and Isaac newton

You have to read this to believe it! Astrologers are forecasting a victory for Pratibha Patil - the presidential hopeful in India! The funny part is that the planet saturn, that is over 762700000 miles from the earth floating in space, revolving around the sun, seems to somehow influence a woman's performance in an election. Do you see the joke !

Ok, now let's get Newton into picture. Following his ideals, let's apply the universal law of gravitation to understand Mrs. Patil's movement from Jairpur to New Delhi. My model makes some assumptions. They are contestable, but I am sure they are better than astrology.

Assuming Mrs. Patil weighs around 80 kg, the center of gravity for the patil-earth dual system (assuming no one else is present on earth) lies deep within the earth's core. To simplify further, let us also abstract away the sun and assume that Earth and Saturn are the only two heavenly bodies in local space. Now, let's calculate the force of attraction between Mrs.Patil and Earth and and Mrs.Patil and Saturn. As Mrs.Patil lies within the earth's core, the force of attraction between her and earth is zero, following universal law of gravitation (the distance between patil and earth is zero). Now applying the same law (F = gm1m2/r-sqaured) the force exerted by Saturn on Mrs.Patil works out to be 0.000002 Newtons (1 Newton = 1 Kg m/sec-squared). As force = mass*acceleration, Mrs. Patil would have accelerated in the polls with a value of 0.00000002 m/second-squared. Further, for her to travel from inertia in Jaipur, Rajasthan to New Delhi it would take her about 52 days (using s=ut+0.5at(2), distance between Jaipur and Delhi is 258,000 meters and acceleration calculated as above).

Now, given the speed with which she seems to have shot to New Delhi, it is clear that something else was moving her from Jaipur to Delhi, and it is definitely not Saturn. Saturn's contribution to her movement was quite slow.

I know, you must be thinking I am crazy. My physics is slightly messed up too. I twisted the applicability of laws to make them fit my problem. Well, at least my calculations are based on certain conditional assumptions involving the well established laws of physics, unlike the half-witted astrologers who get national attention saying that the planetary configuration is similar to the period when the Mahabharata war took place!

Unless, Newton was wrong, Saturn did not have anything to do with Mrs. Patil's impending victory. Period.


Jayarama Krishnan said...

With due respects to you, and the laws of physics, I beg to disagree with your inference.

Just because something is not understood doesn't mean it's wrong. Chaos theory may not make sense to me. But that doesn't mean it is nonsense. It's just that I have just seen the cause and the effect, I believe they are related, but I have not been able to figure out the causal relationship. Similarly, it could be with astrology.

Further, the causal relationship may have been known to man once upon a time, but he has forgotten it today. Now today if someone (read astrologer) claims to "remember it", it's upto you to believe him or not.

If you think he is fooling the world by claiming to remember it, call him a fraud. If someone (read ToI) keeps telling you about him, ask him (ToI) to shut up, or stop listening to him (reading).

But that doesn't automatically mean astrology is a fraudulent science. Don't dismiss something that could be a science, just because you think the 'scientist' is a charlatan. It's not becoming of a man of science and sense, like you.

Just my view...I miss these discussions with you! :)

Girish Mallapragada said...

I have to be honest here. I know that this post is not one of my best. However, some of my friends have told me that it is in fact one of the worst :) I decided to keep it on my blog anyways. Just to showcase that everyone has there bad days!