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“Astrology can’t be real, because there is no known mechanism in physics to explain planetary influence at astronomical distances.” That’s the general rebuttal offered by skeptics and scientists to any claim of validity for astrology. However, a recent scientific paper suggests that perhaps there is a way for the position of the planets to affect us.

CERN researcher Konstantin Zioutas, of the University of Patras in Greece, and co-author Edward Valachovic were inspired to do their research by a previous investigation that concluded  that  streaming “invisible massive matter” gravitationally focused by the planets are the cause of persisting anomalies of solar activity and ionization of the Earth’s ionosphere – a result that was “not expected within known physics”.

Zioutas and Valachovic decided to extend this research, and see if this “invisible streaming matter” might also have an effect on humans. To do so, they set out to investigate “whether planetary correlations exist also in medical data”, and started out with an analysis of detailed statistical data sets recording the appearance rate of melanoma.

Following an analysis of monthly melanoma rates in USA for the period 1973 – 2011, they concluded in their paper “Planetary Dependence of Melanoma” that “a planetary relationship in medicine is observed for the first time”, at a statistical significance “well above 5 sigmas”:

Streaming invisible matter from the dark sector, whose flux can be occasionally enhanced towards the Earth via planetary gravitational focusing, and, even much stronger by the Sun, it may be the explanation for 1-10% of melanoma diagnoses. The derived shortest melanoma periodicity of about 87.5 days points in its own right at a short latency period of about few months. Contrariwise, the present findings strengthen the previous physics claim of streams of invisible matter.

In particular, they correlate this planetary effect to one of the inner planets, Mercury, due to the correlation between the melanoma periodicity they uncovered in the statistical data set with the orbital period (88 days) of the closest planet to the Sun.

They hypothesise that the position of Mercury might result in “an occasionally gravitationally enhanced flux of streams of invisible massive matter” which “interacts with the human body, surpassing a certain threshold”, giving rise to melanoma.

Is the research valid? To be honest, I can’t tell. The paper is very difficult to read – perhaps due to a combination of specialist scientific terminology, and possibly translation from a foreign language? Perhaps, as a layman, I am just missing the expertise needed to understand their procedures and analysis (I welcome comments from those with more knowledge). But it did feel to me a bit like a case of fitting data to a hypothesis…looking for correlations, and finding confirmation where you can (e.g. why, and how, did they decide on the correlation being with 1 to 10% of melanoma cases?)

If the science is genuine, however, it could be more important than simply being ‘supportive of astrology’ – perhaps it could offer a window into unknown causes of human health problems, and offer ways of mitigating or eliminating the risk of suffering from them in future.

(thanks Norman R.)