If we’re to answer that, we’re going to need a word for a concept not usually associated with either the occult or fantasy: astrology.
In some sense this is a bit of a stretch, as it’s not what it’s supposed to mean for astrology. It has certainly been popularised in many forms over the years, but astrology, in its roots, remains based on observations, as opposed to anything more supernatural.
Astrology is a branch of astronomy, and therefore in its main sense, its interest is in astronomical phenomena. It is a branch of the field of physics, which in turn has to deal with the physics surrounding the nature, or mechanics, of the cosmos and therefore things like light and radioactivity.
There’s no particular magical connotation to the word, so it was probably invented as a way of referring to the scientific method. It simply means having the ability to observe things, for the purpose of gaining useful information.
The word has become more in common use in recent times because of how common the idea of astrology is: it’s the mainstay of many science fictional works, including the ones created in the real world. Some people call it ‘science fiction’, not because it sounds too magical, but because it’s a very modern and useful way to communicate with fictional characters, which are often presented as more sophisticated than we are.
A few years ago, I published a series of articles called ‘A Brief History of Things Called Magic’ that explored the history and role of magic since its origins in the 19th Century. I hope that you have found some interest in it and can relate in some way.
I’ve recently written a book called ‘Riddles in the Dark’. It’s about how we develop our intuitions when trying to piece together things that are often inexplicable.
Enjoy your reading.
The National Security Agency is investigating whether the Obama administration’s phone records program that collects records of numbers dialed and duration of calls is “engaged in bulk collection.”
The New York Times first reported that Attorney General Eric Holder has asked his intelligence-gathering agency for answers of that question.
An NSA spokesman would not comment.
The news came as the Justice Department acknowledged it has been unable to find evidence of the program’s widespread use. The department is investigating the phone records program after The Guardian and Washington Post reported last week, using a top-secret court opinion
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