54 THE UNIVERSE A VAST SYSTEM OF PARTS of those parts of mathematics (geometry especially) which are useful to astronomy. Even in this enlightened age so many people believe in astrology and horoscopes that about 20 per cent of the newspapers print daily columns devoted to this most ancient pseudo-science. The code of Standard Astrology states that "a precise astrological opinion cannot honestly be rendered with reference to an individual unless it is based upon a horoscope for the year, month, day and time of day, plus corrected geographical location of the place of birth of the individual." How, then, could forecasts in newspapers or magazines be of any value? On the other hand, are such horoscopes less valuable than those specially prepared for individuals? One of the errors of astrology is that it requires that planets with a considerable degree of similarity would affect human affairs in entirely dissimilar ways. Modem Astrology Still Flourishes As a Substitute for Problem-solving. The following statements were taken from a report of the Executive Council of the Society for Psychological Study of Social Issues: The principal reason why people turn to astrology and to kindred superstitions is that they lack in their own lives the resources necessary to solve serious personal problems confronting them. Feeling blocked and bewildered they yield to the pleasant suggestion that a golden key is at hand — a simple solution — an ever-present help in time of trouble. . . . By offering the public the horoscope as a substitute for honest and sustained thinking, astrologers have been guilty of playing upon the human tendency to take easy rather than difficult paths. The Babylonians and Egyptians Made Some Valuable Observations and Derived Some Interesting Conclusions Concerning the Nature of the Universe. The Babylonians pictured the universe to be a closed chamber, with the earth as its floor. Around the earth lay a moat of water, beyond which stood high mountains supporting the dome of the heavens. The Babylonians recognized eclipses and predicted the times that they would occur. They even fixed the length of the year as 365^ days, which represented an error of only eleven minutes in excess of our most accurate modern measurements. The Hebrews' concept of the universe, probably influenced by the Babylonians, was that there was a heavenly expanse resting on pillars and containing windows through which waters that surrounded the firmament could reach the earth. It is obvious that their ideas were based on less information than we have available today.
THE NATURE OF THE UNIVERSE 55 The Greeks, from Thales to Ptolemy, Made Many Discoveries and Formulated Theories That Were Accepted for Nearly Two Thousand Years. No doubt there were many thinkers among the primitive astronomers of Chaldea, Babylonia, China, Egypt, and India; among the outstanding thinkers known to history was Thales of Miletus, who died in 546 B.C. He has been called the founder of Greek astronomy. Thales was a merchant, statesman, engineer, mathematician, and astronomer. He taught the Greek sailors to guide their ships by the polar star and observed the natural division of the year into four seasons by the regular recurrence of the longest and shortest days of the year and of the two intervening days when the days and nights were of equal length. He successfully predicted an eclipse of the sun. He believed the stars to be self-luminous bodies and the moonlight to be but a reflection from the sun. He taught that the earth was a flat disk floating on water. Anaximander, a contemporary of Thales, was the first man to recognize that the heavens revolve around the polar star and to teach that the visible dome of the sky is half of a complete sphere whose center is the earth. For many centuries after his time the earth was considered to be the center of the universe, Anaximander is also said to have introduced into Greece the sundial, consisting of an upright rod (style, or gnomon) on a horizontal ground. Anaximenes (died 526 B.C.) thought that all matter was composed of one primordial substance, water. When water became rarefied, it was fire; when condensed, it was earth. Pythagoras (died about 500 B.C.) thought that there were four elements^ — earth, water, air, and fire — instead of only one and drew his picture of the universe with this idea in mind. The earth was recognized by him to be a sphere, whose rotation explained the apparent rotation of the heavens. It is unnecessary to recite all of the fanciful conceptions of the universe developed by the early philosophers of Greece. Inasmuch as they were not greatly troubled with the necessity of testing their theories, it is a wonder that they did not go farther astray. Socrates (died 399 B.C.), who regarded introspection as the only worthy type of study, influenced men to turn their attention away from the investigation of nature. His pupil, Plato (died 384 B.C.), condemned experiment as an impious and base art. The next Greek of great importance was Aristotle (died 322 B.C.), who was one of the greatest organizers and generalizers the world has ever known. So great was the encyclopedia of knowledge compiled by him that he was looked upon as the final authority in many fields of