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The Ides of March

Archive for February 2012

DOB 316: Astronomer Caroline Herschel

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Caroline Lucretia Herschel (16 March 1750 – 9 January 1848) was a German-British astronomer and the sister of astronomer Sir William Herschel with whom she worked throughout both of their careers. Her most significant contribution to astronomy was the discovery of several comets and in particular the periodic comet 35P/Herschel-Rigollet, which bears her name. At the age of ten, Caroline was struck with typhus, which stunted her growth and she never grew past four foot three. Due to this deformation, her family assumed that she would never marry and that it was best for her to remain a house servant. Instead she became a significant astronomer in collaboration with William.[1]

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February 25, 2012 at 12:17 am

Uranus discovered March 13

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Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun. It has the third-largest planetary radius and fourth-largest planetary mass in the Solar System. It is named after the ancient Greek deity of the sky Uranus (Ancient Greek: Οὐρανός), the father of Cronus (Saturn) and grandfather of Zeus (Jupiter). Though it is visible to the naked eye like the five classical planets, it was never recognized as a planet by ancient observers because of its dimness and slow orbit.[16] Sir William Herschel announced its discovery on March 13, 1781, expanding the known boundaries of the Solar System for the first time in modern history. Uranus was also the first planet discovered with a telescope.

In 1783 he gave Caroline a telescope, and she began to make astronomical discoveries in her own right, particularly comets. She discovered eight comets, eleven nebulae and, at her brother’s suggestion, updated and corrected Flamsteed’s work detailing the position of stars. This was published as the British Catalogue of Stars. She was honoured by the Royal Astronomical Society for this work. Caroline also continued to serve as his assistant, often taking notes while he observed at the telescope.

In June 1785, owing to damp conditions, he and Caroline moved to Clay Hall in Old Windsor. In 1786, the Herschels moved to a new residence on Windsor Road in Slough. He lived the rest of his life in this residence, which came to be known as Observatory House. It is no longer standing.

Caroline Lucretia Herschel (16 March 1750 – 9 January 1848) was a German-British astronomer and the sister of astronomer Sir William Herschel with whom she worked throughout both of their careers. Her most significant contribution to astronomy was the discovery of several comets and in particular the periodic comet 35P/Herschel-Rigollet, which bears her name. At the age of ten, Caroline was struck with typhus, which stunted her growth and she never grew past four foot three. Due to this deformation, her family assumed that she would never marry and that it was best for her to remain a house servant. Instead she became a significant astronomer in collaboration with William.[1]

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February 25, 2012 at 12:13 am

DOB 315: Andrew Jackson

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Andrew Jackson (March 15, 1767 – June 8, 1845) was the seventh President of the United States (1829–1837). Based in frontier Tennessee, Jackson was a politician and army general who defeated the Creek Indians at the Battle of Horseshoe Bend (1814), and the British at the Battle of New Orleans (1815). A polarizing figure who dominated the Second Party System in the 1820s and 1830s, as president he destroyed the national bank and relocated most Indian tribes from the Southeast to west of the Mississippi River. His enthusiastic followers created the modern Democratic Party. The 1830-1850 period later became known as the era of Jacksonian democracy.[1

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February 24, 2012 at 11:50 pm

Neptune in Pisces and the Revolutions of 1848

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With a prediction by Urbain Le Verrier, telescopic observations confirming the existence of a major planet were made on the night of September 23, 1846, and into the early morning of the 24th,[1] at the Berlin Observatory, by astronomer Johann Gottfried Galle (assisted by Heinrich Louis d’Arrest), working from Le Verrier’s calculations. It was a sensational moment of 19th century science and dramatic confirmation of Newtonian gravitational theory. In François Arago‘s apt phrase, Le Verrier had discovered a planet “with the point of his pen.”

At the same time, numerous changes had been taking place in European society throughout the first half of the 19th century by the strokes  of “pens” and also by the strokes of “swords”. There were surges in technology that made ideas more accessible to the disenfranchised as well as middle classes. These included improvements in printing presses, invention of the telegraph as well as typewriter, Braille, longer hours for reading due to many new types of lighting, and countless other precursors of modern efficiency.

However there was also widespread hardships among the many due to famines, pestilence, and war.  Large groups of the nobility were discontented with royal absolutism or near-absolutism. In 1846 there had been an uprising of Polish nobility in Austrian Galicia, which was only countered when peasants, in turn, rose up against the nobles.[6] Additionally, an uprising by democratic forces against Prussia occurred in Greater Poland. Advances in the  publishing industry similar to  development of the Internet in our times,  began to inform the masses of injustices and economic disparities existing

On February 21, 1948, Marx and Engels published their Communist Manifesto .  once they began agitating in Germany following the March insurrection in Berlin, their demands were considerably reduced.  Life was very hard. In Europe, the aristocrats had serfs and in their many colonies elsewhere in the world, they had slaves.They issued their “Demands of the Communist Party in Germany”[7]from Paris in March; the pamphlet only urged unification of Germany, universal suffrage, abolition of feudal duties, and similar middle class goals.

The middle and working classes thus shared a desire for reform, and agreed on many of the specific aims. Their participations in the revolutions, however, differed. While much of the impetus came from the middle classes, much of the cannon fodder came from the lower.  Therevolts first erupted in the cities.

There were four buzz words in 1848: democracy, liberalism, nationalism, and socialism. Wikipedia has done our homework for us by defining what those words meant in the mid 1800s. Democracy, alas, pertained mainly to male suffrage. Liberalism, however, has real punch: consent of the governed and restrictions on the influence of church and state. Nationalism probably requires some sort of modern interpretation. In a world that was emerging from feudalism, there were countless states of varying degrees of stature. For instance, in what we now know as Italy, there were once — such as during the Renaissance — the hugely influential city-states, with names like Florence and Venice, as well as many kingdoms, Papal States, duchies, etc., some of which were ruled by Austrians.

There were multiple memories of the Revolution. Democrats looked to 1848, as a democratic revolution, which in the long run insured liberty, equality, and fraternity. Marxists denounced 1848 as a betrayal of working-class ideals by a bourgeoisie that was indifferent to the legitimate demands of the proletariat. For nationalists, 1848, was the springtime of hope when newly emerging nationalities rejected the old multinational empires. They were all bitterly disappointed in the short run. 1848, at best, was a glimmer of future hope, and at worst, it was a deadweight that strengthened the reactionaries and delayed further progress.[22]

In the post-revolutionary decade after 1848, little had visibly changed, and most historians considered the revolutions a failure, given the seeming lack of permanent structural changes.

Nevertheless, there were a few immediate successes for some revolutionary movements, notably in the Habsburg lands. Austria and Prussia eliminated feudalism by 1850, improving the lot of the peasants. European middle classes made political and economic gains over the next twenty years; France retained universal male suffrage. Russia would later free the serfs on February 19, 1861. The Habsburgs finally had to give the Hungarians more self-determination in the Ausgleich of 1867. The revolutions inspired lasting reform in Denmark as well as the Netherlands.

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February 14, 2012 at 11:01 pm

Neptune in Pisces and Marxism

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With Neptune moving into Pisces later this month, there is the potential for tremendous spiritual transformation, but also mass delusion such as has never been seen before.  The last time Neptune entered Pisces was in February 1848, shortly after its discovery in 1845.   1848 is the year that the gold rush began in California, leading one reporter to complain that everyone in the state was under the spell of gold fever.  It is also marked the birth of socialism and Marxism. This kind of  utopian if not delusional thinking is very typical  of Neptune in Pisces.

 Some astrologers are linking the publication of Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto and The Revolutions of 1848 to Neptune entering Pisces, but we must not forget that Uranus and Pluto were conjunct in Aries during this same period.  The kind of socialism that evolved into Communism is representative of the Uranian longing for equality and justice, although some of us would argue that in Communism that longing was carried to an untenable extreme.  For this we can probably blame Neptune in Pisces in which the forces idealism can become clouded by illusion.

Over the past year and especially over the past few months we have been discussing the power of Uranus in Aries to foster revolutionary (Uranus) fervor (Aries) in the Arab Spring of last year, and with both Uranus and Pluto in Aries the radicalism that we are seeing today would have been exponentially more powerful, even though neither Uranus nor Pluto had yet been discovered at that time.  For this we  can probably blame Neptune in Pisces in which the forces idealism can become  clouded by illusion.

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February 14, 2012 at 10:04 pm

DOD 314: Karl Marx

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Karl Heinrich Marx (5 May 1818 – 14 March 1883) was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. His ideas played a significant role in the development of social science and the socialist political movement. He published various books during his lifetime, with the most notable being The Communist Manifesto (1848) and Capital (1867–1894); some of his works were co-written with his friend, the fellow German revolutionary socialist Friedrich Engels.[3]

Born into a wealthy middle class family in Trier, formerly in Prussian Rhineland now called Rhineland-Palatinate, Marx studied at both the University of Bonn and the University of Berlin, where he became interested in the philosophical ideas of the Young Hegelians. In 1836, he became engaged to Jenny von Westphalen, marrying her in 1843. After his studies, he wrote for a radical newspaper in Cologne, and began to work out his theory of dialectical materialism. Moving to Paris in 1843, he began writing for other radical newspapers. He met Engels in Paris, and the two men worked together on a series of books. Exiled to Brussels, he became a leading figure of the Communist League, before moving back to Cologne, where he founded his own newspaper. In 1849 he was exiled again and moved to London together with his wife and children. In London, where the family was reduced to poverty, Marx continued writing and formulating his theories about the nature of society and how he believed it could be improved, as well as campaigning for socialism and becoming a significant figure in the International Workingmen’s Association.

Marx’s theories about society, economics and politics, which are collectively known as Marxism, hold that all societies progress through the dialectic of class struggle; a conflict between an ownership class which controls production and a lower class which produces the labour for such goods. Heavily critical of the current socio-economic form of society, capitalism, he called it the “dictatorship of the bourgeoisie“, believing it to be run by the wealthy classes purely for their own benefit, and predicted that, like previous socioeconomic systems, it would inevitably produce internal tensions which would lead to its self-destruction and replacement by a new system, socialism.[4] He argued that under socialism society would be governed by the working class in what he called the “dictatorship of the proletariat“, the “workers state” or “workers’ democracy”.[5][6] He believed that socialism would, in its turn, eventually be replaced by a stateless, classless society called communism. Along with believing in the inevitability of socialism and communism, Marx actively fought for the former’s implementation, arguing that both social theorists and underprivileged people should carry out organised revolutionary action to topple capitalism and bring about socio-economic change.

Revolutionary socialist governments espousing Marxist concepts took power in a variety of countries in the 20th century, leading to the formation of such socialist states as the Soviet Union in 1922 and the People’s Republic of China in 1949, while various theoretical variants, such as Leninism, Stalinism, Trotskyism and Maoism, were developed. Marx is typically cited, with Émile Durkheim and Max Weber, as one of the three principal architects of modern social science. Marx has been described as one of the most influential figures in human history, and in a 1999 BBC poll was voted the top “thinker of the millennium” by people from around the world.

Marx is typically cited, along with Émile Durkheim and Max Weber, as one of the three principal architects of modern social science.[9] In contrast to philosophers, Marx offered theories that could often be tested with the scientific method.[7] Both Marx and Auguste Comte set out to develop scientifically justified ideologies in the wake of European secularisation and new developments in the philosophies of history and science. Whilst Marx, working in the Hegelian tradition, rejected Comtean sociological positivism, in attempting to develop a science of society he nevertheless came to be recognised as a founder of sociology as the word gained wider meaning.[38] In modern sociological theory, Marxist sociology is recognised as one of the main classical perspectives. For Isaiah Berlin, Marx may be regarded as the “true father” of modern sociology, “in so far as anyone can claim the title.  Albert Einstein  was born 14 March 1879.

DOB 314: Albert Einstein

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Albert Einstein ( 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history.[2][3] He received the 1921 Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to theoretical physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”.[4] The latter was pivotal in establishing quantum theory within physics.

Near the beginning of his career, Einstein thought that Newtonian mechanics was no longer enough to reconcile the laws of classical mechanics with the laws of the electromagnetic field. This led to the development of his special theory of relativity. He realized, however, that the principle of relativity could also be extended to gravitational fields, and with his subsequent theory of gravitation in 1916, he published a paper on the general theory of relativity. He continued to deal with problems of statistical mechanics and quantum theory, which led to his explanations of particle theory and the motion of molecules. He also investigated the thermal properties of light which laid the foundation of the photon theory of light. In 1917, Einstein applied the general theory of relativity to model the structure of the universe as a whole.

Albert Einstein’s political views emerged publicly in the middle of the 20th century due to his fame and reputation for genius. Einstein offered to and was called on to give judgments and opinions on matters often unrelated to theoretical physics or mathematics (see main article).

Einstein’s views about religious belief have been collected from interviews and original writings. These views covered Judaism, theological determinism, agnosticism, and humanism. He also wrote much about ethical culture, opting for Spinoza’s god over belief in a personal godKarl Heinrich Marx  died on 14 March 1883.  He was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist.

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February 14, 2012 at 9:49 pm