URANUS/NEPTUNE 1821 – 1993

The Previous Cycle (172 years)

The previous cycle started with the conjunction in 1821, the outgoing square was in 1868, the opposition in 1906 and the incoming square in 1954. What ‘idealisation of intellectual & technological change’ did this cycle signify ? In what way do developments between 1821 and 1993 suggest the emergence, challenge to, fruition of, and later decline of a previous idealised knowledge or new technology.

CONJUNCTION 1816 – 1827 (exact in 1821)

Once again in identifying developments around the 1821 Conjunction we shall focus on recorded historical developments which occurred while the planets Neptune and Uranus were within 10 degrees of each other. We are therefore looking at the period approximately November 1816 to January 1827.

Can we find in these ten years surrounding 1821 key developments that suggest the emergence of a new idealised knowledge, set of ideas or technologies whose dominance can feasibly rise and decline over 172 years. There appear to be three candidates – the first is the Power and Industry Revolution, the second Passenger Transport (including trains, boats, cars and planes) and the third is Electricity.


What historians term the ‘Industrial Revolution’ may be defined in terms of its two phases – as the widespread replacement of manual labour by new inventions or machinery in the first phase from 1712 to 1825 and as the application of power driven machinery to manufacturing in the second phase from 1825 to 1905 . It is the second phase of the ‘Industrial Revolution’ which appears to fit this cycle and we shall call it ‘the Power & Industry Revolution’.

By 1810 the Industrial Revolution in England is set to conquer the country. A key indicator of the force of this tumultuous change came in March 1811 when Ned Ludd leads a group of cloth workers in a protest against mechanization near Nottingham. The workers destroy the textile machinery that is eliminating their jobs. By the following year craftsmen rioting against automation, now known as ‘Luddites’, were active in Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Lancashire and Leicestershire. Over the next five years Luddite bands of workmen destroy manufacturing machinery all over England to protest that their use diminishes employment. At the same time in 1811 Francis Cabot Lowell, an American industrialist had visited England to gather information on automated textile mills. He returns to the US and starts up the American textile industry in New England and Massachusetts.  Let us now look at the 1816 to 1827 timeframe.

1814 the first US raw cotton-to-cloth mill is founded in Waltham, Massachusetts (out of orb)
1815 Steam power in Britain is now supplying 210,000 horsepower, a twentyfold increase on 1800
1816 John McAdam, introduces the first ‘macadamised’ road, Marsh Road at Ashton Gate, Bristol
1817 On Cabot Lowell’s death his associates build America’s first planned factory town, named after him
1818 the wrought iron manufacturing process is industrialised
in Britain the industrial workforce exceeds the number of people engaged in agriculture.
1822 The first American cotton-to-cloth mill moves to the more powerful Merrimack river
1823in Newcastle-upon-Tyne the world’s first locomotive builder – Robert Stephenson & Co is formed
1824 R. Owen Welsh industrialist buys the town of New Harmony, Indiana to implement his cooperative ideas
1826 The Journeymen Steam Engine Fitters, the first industrial trade union, is established in Manchester
1826 Samuel Mory patents the internal combustion engine


The start of the modern railway age is usually marked by the opening in 1825 of the Stockton & Darlington line in England. In 1825 there are only 25 miles of public railroad open in the world. 50 years later this has grown to 160,000 miles – continuing at an amazing pace thereafter. In 1825 there are only 2 locomotives available for use on a public railway, by the turn of the century, this has increased to 70,000. The importance, and magnitude of this 1825 threshold event which matches the Uranus/Neptune conjunction cannot be doubted.

Until the development of steam trains, passenger transport had been restricted to the horse or horse drawn carriage. Travelling across country would take days if not weeks. Initially the steam train allows passengers to travel around 30 mph, soon around 50 mph  – taking an hour for a journey that would have once been hard to manage in a full day. The impact on the working man’s horizons is enormous – whereas before he might have only travelled as far as the County town, now any part of the country, later the continent, is accessible within a day’s travel.

In England the advent of fast passenger trains means that clocks which had been adjusted to local time are now all set for Greenwich Mean Time. Families which had stayed generation after generation in one place could now move, attracted by new types of employment not available locally or simply when starting up a family. All these changes and more come about with the development of a network of steam trains and ships, which later are able to offer whole communities a new country, a completely different way of life. In the background to all this is the seeding of two further means of transport that are to completely transform the world and which still dominate the world today – the motor car and the airplane. We will first examine the steam locomotive.

1814 G Stephenson built Blucher, his first railway engine – it could pull 30 tons at 4 mph, but was not efficient
1825 G Stephenson operates the first locomotive to pull a passenger train – between Stockton and Darlington
1826 the first 6 miles of the Springwell Colliery Railway opens – soon to become a 15 mile railway
1826 the first US railway opens at Quincy, Massachusetts
1827 the first railway in continental Europe opens in France between Saint-Etienne and Andrézieux
1829 The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad inaugurates the first US passenger railway line
1829 Stephenson designs his locomotive ‘Rocket’, destined to reach 30 mph carrying 30 passengers.
1811 the 1st steam-powered ferryboat, Juliana, is put into operation between New York City and Hoboken, NJ
1813 the 1st steam-powered warship is launched in New York City
1816 the British steamship ‘Defiance’ crosses the North Sea to Holland
1817 the first commercial steamboat route from Louisville to New Orleans is opened
1819the first steam-propelled vessel, the 350-ton Savannah, crosses the Atlantic to Liverpool in one month
1823 the first steamboat navigates the Mississippi River in the US and Lake Geneva in Europe.
1818 Baron Karl von Drais de Sauerbrun patents the ‘draisine’, an early type of bicycle.
1826 Samuel Mory patents the internal combustion engine


Will the ‘engine’ prove to be this cycle’s paradigm ? – the key conceptual framework or worldview that will dominate knowledge – in particular science and technology – in the 144 years that elapse from 1821 to 1965 ? Or will it be the machine ?


Could electricity’s beginnings match this cycle’s conjunction ? Could electricity’s development match future stages of this 172 year cycle ? Earlier in 1800 Alessandro Volta, who had proved that electricity could travel over wires, had invented the first electric battery. But in 1820 three crucial electromagnetic discoveries are made. In 7 years the fundamental discoveries for the use of electricity are discovered.

1820 French physicist Ampere discovers a coil of wires acts like a magnet when a current is passed through it
1820 Biot and Savart develop the law governing force between an electric current and a magnetic field
1820 Hans Oersted, sees that an electric current deflects a magnetised needle, discovers electromagnetism
1821 English physicist Faraday plots the magnetic field round a conductor, and invents the first electric motor
1821 German physicist Thomas Seebeck invents the thermocouple and hence thermoelectricity
1822 Ampere establishes the laws of electrodynamics, shows 2 wires with electric currents attract each other
1823 Johann Schweigger develops the galvanometer and William Sturgeon invents the electromagnet
1826 German physicist Georg Simon Ohm establishes Ohm’s Law of electrical resistance
1827 Joseph Henry, discovering the concept of electrical inductance, builds one of the first electrical motors.

Which of these three technological revolutions is to form the key development in this 172 year cycle – is it the Power and Industry Revolution, Passenger transport or Electricity ?  Remember the importance of what is seeded at the cycle conjunction will only become established later in the cycle. Only at the Out square or Opposition will it become clearly evident which of these technological breakthroughs is going to underlie a whole new idealistic mindset

OUTGOING SQUARE 1863 – 1873 (exact in 1868)

In identifying developments around the 1868 Outgoing square we shall focus on recorded historical developments which occurred while the planets Neptune and Uranus were within 10 degrees of each other. We are therefore looking at the period approximately October 1863 to October 1873.

Can we find in these ten years surrounding 1868 developments that in some way challenge yet advance the key idealized technology developments at the time of the conjunction – the power and industry revolution, passenger transport and electricity.


The outgoing square correlates with the next stage in the power and industry revolution – the development of oil refining companies (along with the first gasoline engines), and the growth of the modern steel industry. While the period is rife with inventors it also sees the rise of billionaire industry magnates like Rockefeller and Carnegie.

1863 John D. Rockefeller and his partner Maurice Clark invest $4,000 to start the first oil refinery
1868 Rockefeller draws 5 big refineries into Rockefeller, Andrew & Flagler, the world’s largest oil refinery
1870 Rockefeller brothers incorporate the Standard Oil Company of Ohio & buy up the competition
1878 Standard Oil holds about 90% of the entire refining capacity in the U.S.A.
1864 The US Civil war increases demand for iron products, such as armour for gunboats, cannon, and shells
1865 Andrew Carnegie invests heavily in railroads receiving huge dividends
1866 the Siemens brothers improve Bessemer steelmaking process by developing the open hearth furnace.
1868 Robert Mushet invents tungsten steel, a much denser, stiffer and harder form of steel
1872 Andrew Carnegie builds a complete steel plant, revolutionizes the American steel industry
1874 The Eads Bridge built across the Mississippi proves an important proof-of-concept for steel technology


From the 1860s, integrated railway systems start to cohesively service whole nations with standard gauges and passenger and freight services. In Britain expansion surges rapidly and continuously from 1861 – between 1861 and 1888 the network mileage grows by 81 percent and the traffic carried grows by 180 percent. In the United States the growth is equally dramatic. The progress of the steamship is marked with an uncanny number of disasters while inventions on gasoline engines culminate in the four stroke engine still used today. The forerunner of the airplane can be seen in the inventions of Verne, Marriott and Zeppelin.

1862 President Lincoln signs the Pacific Railway Act allowing construction of the 1st ever transcontinental railroad
1863 London’s Metropolitan Railway, the world’s first underground passenger railway, opens to the public
1864 one of the World’s largest city railway stations Charing Cross Station opens in London
1866 when the transcontinental railroad reaches Abilene, Kansas, a Chicago livestock buyer sees the possibilities of linking the unwanted herds of Texas longhorns with the meat-packing centres of Chicago
1868 with the invention of refrigerated railroad cars food transport surges. As in Britain freight is King
1869 the Midland Railway Co builds the 70 mile Settle-Carlisle railway over very challenging terrain
1869 the Central Pacific & Union Pacific tracks meet at Promontory Summit, Utah. A golden spike is driven in to unite the east and the west. The journey across the continent is reduced from 6 months to one week!
1869 G Westinghouse introduces the revolutionary railroad airbrake, making high-speed travel safe.
1871The number of cattle driven North from Abilene pens to be shipped to Chicago reaches 600,000
1869G Westinghouse patents the first automatic airbrake – the same braking system as is used today
1865 ‘The Brother Jonathon’, a paddle wheel steamer, sinks off the coast of N California, drowning around 200
1866 two further steamships sink – the ‘London’ in a storm off Land’s End, England killing 220 , the ‘Monarch of the Seas’ off Liverpool killing 738 people ! The first accident insurance policies are now available
1866the ‘Great Eastern’, the largest ship then afloat, successfully completes the laying of a transatlantic telegraph cable from Newfoundland to Ireland thus linking Europe and America by telegraph.
1870 the British SS Cambria sinks off the North Sea coast killing 196
1873two more steamships sink – the British White Star steamship Atlantic off Nova Scotia killing 547 and
the steamship Ironsides off Grand Haven, Michigan killing only 20.
1858 Engineer Jean Lenoir invents, and in 1860 patents, a double-acting, electric spark-ignition internal combustion engine but this is fuelled by coal gas.
1862 Alphonse Beau de Rochas, a French civil engineer, patents, but does not build, a four-stroke engine
1863 Lenoir attaches an improved engine using petroleum and a primitive carburettor to a three-wheeled wagon that manages to complete an historic fifty mile road trip
1864Austrian engineer, Siegfried Marcus, builds a one-cylinder engine with a crude carburettor, and attaches his engine to a cart for a rocky 500 foot drive.
1969? Marcus designs a vehicle that briefly runs at 10 mph – some see this the forerunner of the modern automobile.
1869 In France, Pierre and Ernest Michaux build the first motorcycle – but powered by a steam engine
1873 George Brayton, an American engineer, develops a two-stroke kerosene engine using two external pumping cylinders. Though unsuccessful it is widely considered the first safe and practical oil engine
1876The first successful four-stroke engine is invented by Nikolaus August Otto. It was his four-stroke engine that was universally adopted for all future liquid-fuelled automobiles. (13 degs)
1865 Jules Verne author of ‘From the earth to the Moon’, get together to promote the development of flying machines.They fund the building of the largest balloon yet flown holding 12 people in a two-storey basket. It flies over a number of cities before crashing in Hanover.
1869Frederick Marriott flies his unmanned Aviator Hermes Junior over a field near Burlingame in California. The machine comprises a gasbag filled with hydrogen and a steam engine turning rotors with attached delta wings guided by men on the ground with ropes.
1873 In Germany Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin begins work on his improved air machine. He plans a rigid structure with gas held at various intervals in the framework with engines for propulsion and a suspended gondola to house the engines, crew and passengers.


The correlation with Electricity is definitely falling away, though there continues significantly to be a small correlation with Electromagnetism. In 1857  Gustav Kirchoff is the first to discover that electromagnetic signals can travel at the speed of light. In 1861 James Clerk Maxwell publishes a mechanical model of the electromagnetic field. And in 1873 he writes equations that describe the electromagnetic field and predict the existence of electromagnetic waves traveling with the speed of light. None of these developments relate to popular idealism at all and hence the correlation of this cycle with electricity would seem to be clearly rejected. However the development of the electric motor so central to the motor car would not have been possible without the discoveries related to  electromagnetism


OPPOSITION 1901 – 1913 (exact in 1906)

We shall focus on recorded historical developments which occurred while the planets Neptune and Uranus were within 10 degrees of opposing each other. We are therefore looking at the period approximately February 1901 to February 1913

Can we find in these twelve years surrounding 1906 key developments that suggest the coming to maximum idealisation of the new technologies we have charted emerging at the conjunction and being challenged at the outgoing square – the Power & Industry Revolution and  Passenger Transport. Remember the correlation with Electricity has failed.


The first decade of the 20th century is when the power of oil companies reaches a peak and when the might of steel outranks all other sectors. Oil and steel production is rapidly spreading, especially in the USA.

Industrial Progress is now society’s key ideal and steel is the most powerful expression of the industrial power man has created – it is the symbol that man had conquered, and would continue to conquer, nature. The most compelling image of this vision is contained early on in the 1997 blockbuster film ‘Titanic’ when the camera pans across the ship’s huge steel engine pistons as they start to turn. In April 1912 just as the Uranus/Neptune opposition moves out of orb Nature gave its response sinking this ‘unsinkable’ ocean liner – causing the deaths of over 1,500 passengers.

1901 Between 1901 and 1905 discovery of oil in villages at Tulsa, Oklahoma leads to the city’s population growing from 1,400 in 1900 to 18,200 by 1910, Tulsa calls itself ‘The Oil Capital of the World.’
1902 On Spindletop Hill in Texas 285 oil wells are operating and over 600 oil companies have been chartered
1904 A two volume history of the Standard Oil Company exposes the illegal means used by Rockefeller to gain a monopoly and control oil prices. This leads to a major federal investigation.
1907 Royal Oil and Shell merge to form British Petroleum (BP)
1908 Oil is discovered in Persia, now known as Iran. The amount of oil available is far larger than in the USA
1911 The United States Supreme Court orders the breakup of Standard Oil. From its remains 34 new companies are formed that include most of the brand names still dominant today – Exxon, Mobil, Amoco, Chevron, Arco & Conoco.
1901Federal Steel and Carnegie Steel and other smaller companies are combined by J.P. Morgan to form the United States Steel Corp.
1901the first western style steel mill is built in Japan on Kyushu Island. Its centre Kitakyushu City’s local slogan is ‘Smoke is the symbol of prosperity’ – a vivid expression of the maximisation of the idealization of industrial pogress
1904The US puts on the St. Louis World’s Fair which showcases many of the manufacturing and engineering achievements of the new century. The fair popularizes the all-American hamburger and hot dog.




In advanced countries during this period railway lines are extended into virtually all urban areas – the main explosion of line building is largely over although there is much
innovation in comfort, safety and distance and speed to come – for instance in July 1904 after 13 years construction, the 4,607-mile Trans-Siberian railway is finally completed and  in June 1905 the Pennsylvania Railroad’s 20th  Century  debuts as the fastest passenger train in the world.  Another major threshold is the first underground or metro railways which commence operating at this time. In October 1904 the first rapid transit subway, the IRT (Interborough Rapid Transit), opens in New York City. In March 1906 London Underground opens the Bakerloo line from Baker Street to Waterloo and the Parisian Metro is officially inaugurated.


The correlation with steamship travel continues. At the cycle opposition we find as expected both the launch of the largest ships ever built but also the most catastrophic peacetime maritime disaster. In September 1907 the luxury liner Lusitania leaves London for New York on her maiden voyage. Two months later the Cunard liner Mauritania sets a new speed record for steamship travel – 624 nautical miles in a one day run. In June 1908 this is eclipsed by the Lusitania which crosses the Atlantic in a record 4 days 15 hours. On April 10th  the luxury 66,000 ton RMS Titanic leaves port from Southampton, England, on its ill-fated maiden voyage with 2,223 people aboard.

Feb 1901 The steamer Rio de Janeiro piles up on the rocks at the bay entrance of San Francisco – 130 people die
Jan 1902 The steamer Walla Walla collides with the French barque Max of Havre off California coast – 141 die
June 1904 When fire erupts aboard the steamboat General Slocum in New York City’s East River – 1,000 die
June 1904 Scandinavian American Line’s ‘Norge’ runs aground at Rockall in the North Atlantic – 550 die
Nov 1905 The steamer Hilda sinks in the English channel – 100 die
Jan 1906 The American steamer Valencia runs aground near Vancouver Island – 126 die
May 1906 The British SS Camorta sinks off Rangoon – 739 die
Feb 1907 The steamer Larchmont collides with a schooner off New England’s Block Island – 300 + die
Jan 1909 The steamship Florida, with 850 Italian passengers, collides with White Star liner Republic – just 6 die
March 1912The Spanish steamer ‘Principe de Asturias’ sinks off North East Spain – 500 die
April 1912 Two steamships collide on the Nile in Egypt – 200 die
April 1912 The British ocean liner Titanic on her maiden voyage, carrying 2,223 people, collides with an iceberg in the North Atlantic. 2 hours and 40 minutes later ‘the unsinkable ship’ sinks -1,522 die
Sept 2012 The SS Kichemaru disappears in a storm off the Japanese coast – 1,000 die

But not all maritime disasters correlate with this cycle. For instance only three years after the Titanic’s loss comes the sinking of the British passenger liner Lusitania, with the loss of 1,198 lives on May 7, 1915, The disaster happened when the Uranus/Neptune opposition was completely out of orb at 17 degrees. But importantly, this disaster came about not through human error but as a deliberate act of war – it was hit by a German submarine torpedo.

Nevertheless if  we look at the worst 22 maritime disasters in modern history there is a relatively significant correlation – 18 of them fit the Uranus/Neptune cycle but only providing we select a subsidiary aspect we do not use in the book – that of 120 degrees (a trine). The three worst maritime disasters in history all occurred during World War 2 when the Uranus/Neptune cycle was within orb of 120 degrees. In all three cases, the Wilhelm Gustloff,  the Goya and the simultaneous sinkings of the Cap Arcona and the Thielbeck the loss of life far exceeded that of the Titanic and Lusitania. Disasters are covered in detail in a section of the Cycles of History book.

Nor is this idealization of engineering size and power confined to ocean liners.

Sept 1904 The huge and powerful battleship USS Connecticut, launches from New York
Feb 1906 Britain’s first modern and largest battleship, the ‘HMS Dreadnought’ is launched
March 1907 The British cruiser Invincible, the world’s largest cruiser, is completed at Glasgow shipyards
Jan 1911 The USS Arkansas, the largest U.S. battleship, is launched from New York
March 1911 The funding for five new battleships is added to the British military defence budget
March 1913 The 15,000-ton battleship Pennsylvania launches at Newport, Virginia

The other means of transport that takes off at the cycle opposition is the motor car. As we shall see, it is exactly at this period that the car becomes a mass market product. Although the first automobile license plates were issued in Paris in 1893, in April 1901 New York becomes the first US state to legally require automobile license plates – the fee is one dollar. In 1901 Ransom E. Olds assembles 425 Oldsmobile cars and thus becomes the first mass producer of gasoline automobiles – in the next six years he produces 7,000 of them and his  Olds Motor Works later becomes part of General Motors. Also in 1901 the first commercially marketed gasoline powered motorbike (the ‘Indian’) is launched in the US. As if to reflect the inexorable lead of gasoline as a fuel, in a 1901 automobile race on New York’s Coney Island, a steam-powered car finishes in 1 minute and 39 seconds,  an electric car finishes in 63 seconds while a gasoline powered car finishes in 56 seconds.

1902 The American Automobile Association is founded, Roosevelt is the first leader to ride in an automobile
1902The first motorized buses are introduced, automobile disk brakes are patented
1903The Ford Motor Co. is incorporated and sells its first automobile, the Model A
1903William Harley and the three Davidson brothers in Milwaukee produce their first motorized bike
1903The automobile electric starter is patented, a racing car, the Ford 999 sets a record mile per minute
1904Motorized omnibuses replace horse-drawn cars in Paris
1906Engineer Henry Royce and millionaire’s son Charles Rolls build the first Rolls-Royce car
1907Motorised taxis begin running in New York
1908The Ford Model T, the first car to sell not in thousands but millions, is launched. Each car costs $825. Over 15 million Model Ts will eventually be sold, all of them black
1909The newly incorporated General Motors starts its series of acquisitions, acquiring Cadillac
1910The newly incorporated General Motors starts its series of acquisitions, acquiring Cadillac
1911General Motors’s Cadillac division demonstrates the first electric self starter – launched the next year
1912Michigan becomes the first US state to draw a white centre dividing line on a roadway
1913The first sedan-type automobile, a Hudson, goes on display at the 13th Automobile Show in New York
1913The Lincoln Highway, the first paved coast-to-coast highway, opens
1913The first drive-in automobile service station opens in Pittsburgh
1913Henry Ford introduces the assembly line reducing the time it takes to manufacture a car from 12 hours to 93 minutes

The three key events which launch the automobile mass market take place in 1901 (Ransom E. Olds  assembles 425 Oldsmobiles), 1908 (the launch of the million selling Ford Model T) and 1913 (the first assembly line) precisely span the period of close opposition of Uranus and Neptune.  Almost exactly the same correlation happens with the airplane.

1901Santos-Dumont proves the airship is manoeuvrable by circling the Eiffel Tower
1902In Texas, Rev. Burrell Cannon builds his Ezekial airship flying it a short distance 12 feet above the ground
1903Orville and Wilbur Wright first attempt to file a patent on their Flying Machine
1903In December Orville Wright makes the first powered, controlled and sustained flight in history at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina although earlier in March New Zealand aviator Richard Pearse reportedly flies a self-made, bamboo-framed, mono-winged airplane in Waitohi
1905In December Orville Wright makes the first powered, controlled and sustained flight in history at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina although earlier in March New Zealand aviator Richard Pearse reportedly flies a self-made, bamboo-framed, mono-winged airplane in Waitohi
1905The French Dufaux brothers test a helicopter
1906Orville and Wilbur Wright are finally awarded a U.S. Patent on their airplane
1908The Wrights, after making refinements to their plane, embark on a series of public demonstrations
1907The world’s 1st air force is established as part of the US Army – it will contract Wright to build its 1st plane
1907In France Paul Corno achieves the first sustained helicopter fligh
1908Orville Wright trials his new Type A Military Flyer, flying for 1 hour and reaching a record 310 feet but when he loses control the plane crashes and his military observer Selfridge is killed
1908The first sustained airplane flight in England is made at Farnsborough by Samuel Cody, a U.S. citizen. Cody builds a large biplane for the British army, which he flies beyond a mile in May 1909
1908Count Zeppelin announces plans for his airship to carry 100 passengers
1908Frenchman Henri Farman carries a passenger in a bi-plane for the first time
1909French aviator Louis Blériot makes the first crossing of the English Channel in a powered aircraft – piloting his Type XI monoplane at an average 39 mph, Blériot makes the 23.2 mile trip in just under 36 minutes
1910The first successful take off from a ship in San Francisco, the first airplane to take off from water in Martinique and the first night air flight taking place in England
1910The first test flight of a twin-engine airplane in France, the first shot fired from an airplane over Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay and the first solo, public airplane flight by a woman in Indiana.
1910Charles Rolls, one of the founders of Rolls-Royce, becomes the first man to fly an airplane nonstop across the English Channel both ways. Tragically, he later dies when his biplane breaks up in mid air.
1911A world airflight distance record of 720 km, the launch of the first successful hydroplane and the successful landing of a biplane onto the deck of the USS Pennsylvania in San Francisco harbour.
1911Pierre Prier completes the first non-stop London-Paris flight in under four hours
1911Airplanes are first used in a military capacity when near Tripoli Italian planes reconnoitre Turkish lines and later perform the first aerial bombing on a Libyan oasis
1912The first non-stop flight from London to Paris in three hours, the first in- flight parachute jump over St. Louis, the first woman to fly solo across the English Channel and the testing of the first machine gun mounted on a plane.
1912French aviator Roland Garros sets an altitude record of 13,200 feet, Jules Vedrines becomes the first pilot
to break the 100 mph barrier. The first all metal plane is flown in France while the first 4 engine aircraft is built and flown in Russia.

The Year 1909 includes so many of the world’s aeronautic ‘firsts’ – the world’s first air race in France, the world’s first sustained flight of a heavier than air motor-driven airplane in Oakland, California, the opening of the first US National Aeronautic Show in New York and the first in Europe in Brescia, Italy, the first manned flight in Africa by Michel Metrot and in Australia by George Taylor, the first manned, controlled, powered flight in the continent of Africa by the Frenchman Albert Kimmerling from East London and  the first flight of a US monoplane by Henry Walden at Long Island. Orville Wright sets an altitude record flying at 1,600 feet after which the Wright brothers form a million-dollar corporation for the commercial manufacture of airplanes.

The four key events which launch the aeroplane take place in December 1903 (first powered, controlled and sustained flight), in 1905 (first flight longer than 30 minutes), in 1909 (first sustained flight of a heavier than air motor-driven airplane) and in 1911/12 the first military use of the plane including machine gunning and bombing and the first 4 engine plane. All the essential elements of modern airplanes were born precisely in these 10 years which exactly matches the period of close opposition of Uranus and Neptune.


None of the Electricity developments in this period are appropriate to the maximisation stage of this cycle. In 1903 the first successful all turbine station and gas turbine are built and the world’s largest generator (5,000 watts) and longest and highest voltage line (85 miles at 50kv) start operations. In 1905-6  the first fully connected hydroelectric plants come on line. Important but hardly threshold events. We shall cease to examine Electricity at this stage – especially as a related science – electronics is soon to mark the first challenge to the status of Power & Industry machines.

IN SQUARE 1950 – 1960 (exact in July and December 1954, June 1955 & January and May 1956)

We shall focus on recorded historical developments which occurred while the planets Neptune and Uranus were within 10 degrees of an incoming square. We are therefore looking at the period approximately June 1950 to May 1960.

Can we find in these ten years surrounding 1954-1956 key developments that suggest a terminal challenge to the technology based idealism that was seeded at the conjunction, spurred on at the outgoing square and maximised at the opposition – the Power & Industry Revolution and Passenger Transport


So what is happening to industry in 1950-60. It certainly is not yet facing a terminal challenge. But the main plank of the power and industry revolution – heavy engineering – is showing definite signs of ceasing to be the cutting edge of new technology. Two inventions constitute an inexorable terminal challenge to the dominance of heavy engineering and the type of factory and national workforce such an industry had required – the invention of the ‘transistor’ and the ‘integrated circuit’. Far less of a challenge is nuclear power, which at the time looks set to eclipse the fossil fuel sourced power which has driven the manufacturing revolution, but actually does not do so.


December 1947 – THE TRANSISTOR

In December 1947 John Bardeen, Walter Brattain, and William Shockley, engineers and scientists at Bell Telephone Laboratories in the US invent ‘the transistor’ – a tiny device which switches (transmits) and modulates (controls) electronic current.  It is an invention which heralds the end of the manufacturing age and the beginning of the digital age. The transistor, a small metal cylinder about half an inch long contains two fine wires running down to a pinhead of solid semiconductive material soldered to a metal base. The current to the crystal on one wire controls a larger current between the crystal and the second wire. The tiny transistor replaces the bulky vacuum tubes in electronic appliances like radios and most importantly produces instantaneous electronic action be it the relay of a telecommunications message or the amplification of a sound signal. In 1952 the first transistorized hearing aid is offered for sale.


The first of the extended range of mainframe computers intended for commerce, the UNIVAC I (UNIVersal Automatic Computer I), is launched in the United States. Its main memory consists of tanks of liquid mercury implementing delay line memory, arranged in 1000 words of 12 alphanumeric characters each. It became known for correctly predicting the outcome of the US presidential election the following year.


IBM rolls out its 700 series computers. These used vacuum tube logic (later made obsolete by the introduction of the transistorized 7000s). The IBM 704 is the first mass-produced computer with floating point arithmetic hardware. A typical 700 series installation would be in a specially built room of perhaps 1000 to 2000 square feet, with cables running under a raised floor and substantial air conditioning. There might be up to eight magnetic tape transports, each about 3 x 3 x 6 feet, on one or two “channels.” The 1/2 inch tape had seven tracks and moved at 150 inches per second, giving a read/write speed of 15,000 six bit characters (plus parity) per second.


The experimental SAGE unit, located in Lexington, Massachusetts, was completed in 1955. The largest computer system ever built, each of the 24 installed machines weighed 250 tons and had two computers. Its AN/FSQ-7 core used a total of 60,000 vacuum tubes and up to 3 megawatts of electricity, performing about 75,000 instructions per second for networking regional radars. The system calculated one or more predicted interception points for assigning manned aircraft or missiles to intercept an intruder.

mid 1956 – 1st HARD DISC

Engineers at IBM’s San Jose California laboratory invent the hard disk drive. The disk drive is faster though initially more expensive than tape drives. The commercial usage of hard discs begins in 1956. The earliest drives are usable only in the protected environment of a data centre Each generation of disk drives replace larger, more sensitive and more cumbersome devices. It will only be much later that generations progressively reached factories, offices and homes, eventually reaching ubiquity. Disk drives with a diameter of 8 or 14 inches typically get mounted in standalone boxes (resembling washing machines) or large equipment rack enclosures.

September 1958 – 1st INTEGRATED CIRCUIT

Jack Kilby while working for the electronics firm TI in Dallas, Texas conceives and builds the first integrated circuit (IC) – an electronic device in which all of the components, both active and passive, are fabricated in a single piece of semiconductor material half the size of a paper clip. The IC contains many interconnected transistors and other components. It revolutionises the electronics industry and virtually creates the modern computer industry. Robert Noyce at Fairchild Semiconductor, who is co-credited with the invention, goes on with Gordon Moore to found Intel Corporation, one of the giants of the computer age.

Additionally with the 1st optic fibre in 1955, the 1st computer mouse in 1956, with FORTRAN the first successful high level programming language created in 1957 and  the invention of the modem and the laser in 1958 – in around 7 years all the basic building blocks for today’s computer and telecommunications world have emerged.


Another key development appears to herald the fall from technological dominance of the main driver of the industrial revolution – the ‘engine’,  a technology relying on secondary power – be it steam from water or fire from coal or oil (fossil fuel). The totally new development is nuclear power – the product not of material conversion but of the splitting of atoms. Atomic power had been discovered in 1942 leading to atomic bombs being dropped on Japan in 1945. But by the 1950s peaceful uses of atomic power were emerging, which would help make nuclear fission the most awesome  source of power in the world. However this is to prove a technology that will not be idealized.

1951 Experimental Breeder Reactor 1 produces the world’s 1st usable amount of electricity from nuclear energy
1952 The US explodes its 1st hydrogen bomb (within a year the Soviet Union does the same) 1952 Britain detonates its first atomic bomb
1952 Britain detonates its first atomic bomb
1953The world’s 1st nuclear power station is ordered
1953In the Nevada desert an atomic bomb with double the force of the Hiroshima explosion is tested
1954 The US sets off two hydrogen bombs at Bikini Island – one is a 15-megaton device, 750 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima
1954 The US launches the U.S.S. Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine
1954 Russia’s first atomic power station opens
1955 Arco, Idaho becomes the first US town to be powered by nuclear energy, though in November
1955 An experimental breeder reactor also in Idaho, partially melts down during a test.
1956 In Britain the Calder Hall nuclear power station is the 1st to feed significant power into a civilian network
1956 The US and Canada agree to help India build a nuclear research reactor for power generation
1956 The US drops a thermonuclear bomb from a plane onto Bikini Atoll
1957 The International Atomic Energy Agency is formed to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to provide international safeguards and an inspection system
1957 The US sets off the first underground nuclear test in a mountain tunnel in the desert 100 miles from Las Vegas
1957 A large amount of radioactive iodine and polonium is released when the core of the Windscale Nuclear Reactor in England catches fire – 528,000 gallons of milk from farms within 200 miles of Windscale have to be destroyed
1957 The world’s first large-scale nuclear power plant starts up in Shippingport, Pennsylvania
1957 Two ‘unarmed’ nuclear bombs are dropped into the sea off New Jersey by a cargo plane that develops engine trouble – they are never found
1958A US B-47 plane accidentally drops an ‘unarmed’ thermonuclear bomb at the mouth of the Savannah River – it is never found.

Nuclear power as a new technology is to be perceived as too powerful – any chance of popular idealisation was swept away by the risks of nuclear annihilation during the Cold War, the nuclear disasters of Three Mile Island (1979), Chernobyl (1986) and Fukushima (2011).



The 1950s saw a drastic decline in railroad travel in the USA and a significant decline in Europe and elsewhere. The principal cause was the huge surge in the number of automobiles and trucks on the roads, though in the US the advent of jet airliners also had a major effect on the number of long distance railroad passengers. Railroad companies responded with mergers or were nationalised and then made attempts to shut down non essential train services and railroad lines.

In the UK the railway system, the oldest in the world, had been nationalised by the Labour government in 1947 and during the 1950s the railways were pre-occupied with replacing steam engines with diesel trains. By 1955 income no longer covers operating costs, and by 1960 losses start to increase exponentially. Rural line closures take place.Elsewhere in Europe state subsidies and investment programmes prevent threats of cut-backs. There are rural railway closures especially in the East Anglia region.

Although we have not sought to correlate train disasters with the Uranus/Neptune cycle, some evidence clearly emerges at this incoming square. Between the end of 1949 and the end of 1960 there are fourteen train crashes each serious enough to kill in excess of around one hundred people. Of these incidents two actually kill over 200 people and one kills over 300 people. In the peak train disaster years of 1952 and 1955 and 1957, all years well within orb of this cycle In Square, there are respectively recorded 391 deaths, 423 deaths and 567 deaths from train accidents. Since the earliest reliable records from around 1890 there have only been two years which have equalled or surpassed these figures.

Though not all train accidents match the Uranus/Neptune cycle 18 of the 27 worst train disasters in history (taking from 160 to 575 lives, from 1900 to 2005 and from countries as far apart as Mexico and Bangladesh) do share a Uranus/Neptune aspect, though many of these are subsidiary aspects – not the 0, 90, 180 and 270 stages we largely keep to in this book.


The ship makes further strides in development principally in speed and convenience but it seems difficult to see any further advance that can compete with the plane. In 1952 the ocean liner SS United States crosses the Atlantic in a record 82 and a half hours. In 1955 the Hovercraft, patented by British engineer Christopher Cockerell. is first tested – the first breakthrough in sea transport for many decades. Four years later the first civilian hovercraft crosses the Channel in 20 minutes. In 1956 Malcolm McLean uses a converted World War 2 tanker to sail 58 cargo filled containers from New Jersey to Houston – thus founding the container shipping business.

By the end of this period most that is new is nuclear. In 1958 the world’s first nuclear-powered submarine USS Nautilus becomes the first vessel to cross the North Pole underwater. In 1959 the first ballistic missile carrying submarine, the USS George Washington, is launched and the first atomic powered merchant ship, Savannah, is commissioned. In 1960 the USS Enterprise, the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is launched. In that same year the first British nuclear submarine, Dreadnought, is launched. In 1960 the first guided missile is launched from the US nuclear powered submarine, the Halibut.

The correlation of shipping disasters with the Uranus/Neptune cycle is appropriately slight at the incoming square. In 1952 and 1953 two serious shipping accidents do take place outside San Francisco harbour – in both cases two ships collide and one of them sinks – however all passengers appear to have escaped. In 1956 a fire on the US Aircraft carrier Bennington off Rhode Island kills 103 and the sinking of the Italian luxury liner Andrea Doria after a collision with the Swedish ship Stockholm off Nantucket Island, Massachusetts kills 51. In 1960 the French cargo ship ‘La Coubre’ laden with weapons, explodes in Havana Harbour, Cuba  killing 136  people.


In the 1950s large-scale production of automobiles begins. Economies of scale dictate a minimum production run of about 200,000 units to maintain a profitable operation for any one model hence in 1954 a number of American auto manufacturers merge. Of the ten million cars produced worldwide in 1950 the US accounts for two thirds.

By 1960 the USA’s overwhelming domination of the world auto market has ended. The lion’s share of the non-US production is in Europe, just over 2 million in Germany, 1.8 million in Britain,  and 1.4 million in France. However it is the Japanese auto industry that shows phenomenal growth – rising from negligible to 482,000 vehicles  – a 700% growth over the 1955 figures.

There are few fundamental changes in engine design though in 1957 in Germany engineer Fritz Wankel produces the first rotary engine. The focus is on new automotive features including air conditioning, power steering, electrically operated car windows, seat adjusters, improved suspension and a change from a 6-volt to a 12-volt ignition system which greatly improves engine performance. General Motors introduces the first American sports car – the two seater Corvette closely followed by Ford’s ‘Thunderbird’.

But the key challenge to the idealisation of the motor car is hidden – it is the extraordinary toll by the end of the 1950s that road traffic takes on the environment. The scale of this can be seen soon after 1956 when the US Federal Highway Act authorizes a 42,500 mile network of new roads linking major urban centres.

Another challenge is the growing increase in car accidents, traffic jams and exhaust pollution, spurring a corresponding extension of auto legislation. For instance in 1953 the alcohol Breathalyser is invented in the US, in 1955 the first automobile seat belt legislation is enacted in the state of Illinois and in 1960 California orders smog control devices on cars – the first ever anti car-pollution law. The era of the motor car as a pure leisure pursuit is beginning to disappear and the car is on its way to become for most people simply a utility.


Scheduled jet airliner passenger services take off

1950 The first transatlantic jet passenger trip
1952 British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) begins the first scheduled jet airliner passenger service
1952 American carrier TWA introduces the new passenger category ‘tourist class’
1953 The first jet transcontinental nonstop scheduled service begins in the USA
1954 Test flight of the Boeing 707, the first successful passenger jet airliner
1954 Test flight of the Boeing 707, the first successful passenger jet airliner
1957 The first jet flight around the world, airplanes now preferred mode of distance travel in US
1958 More than a million passengers fly the Atlantic – surpassing the total of Atlantic steamship passengers
1958 The first trans-Atlantic passenger jetliner service by BOAC with flights between London and New York
1959 The first scheduled transcontinental US flight of a Boeing 707
1959 The first helicopter passenger service n New York, the Cessna XL-19B, the 1st turboprop light plane

Military aircraft reach stratospheric levels of speed and height

1952 The first flight of the Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, capable of a speed of 650 mph and altitude of 50,000 ft
1953 The D-558-II Skyrocket surpasses the aviation record of Mach 2 (2 x speed of sound) or 1,320 mph
1956 The Bell X-2 rocket plane sets a manned altitude record of over 126,000 feet and a speed of 1,957 mph
1959 The launch of the rocket powered X-15, the fastest and highest flying aircraft in history

In 1950 the first air combat between jet planes takes place over Korea as a U.S. Air Force jet shoots down a North Korean MiG-15 – the battle lasts about 30 seconds. In 1952 helicopters from the U.S. Air Force land in Germany after the first transatlantic flight by helicopter in 52 hours In 1960 a US B-52 bomber sets a 10,000 mile non-stop flight record without refuelling.

1952 2 monkeys and 2 mice are recovered alive and unharmed after being fired by rocket to 200,000 ft
1956 Rocket scientist Werner von Braun publishes his book ‘The Exploration of Mars’.
1957 The first launch of the Atlas rocket and the Thor rocket, the predecessor of the later Delta launch vehicle
1957 USSR launches Sputnik I, the first artificial Earth satellite & Sputnik II, the first to carry a dog into space
1958 The launch of the first polar orbiting satellite and the first successful US craft to fly-by the Moon
1958 Explorer I launches – the first U.S. launched artificial satellite and the first solar powered satellite
1958 Explorer I launches – the first U.S. launched artificial satellite and the first solar powered satellite
1959The USSR’s Luna 1 become the first man-made object to escape Earth’s gravity and orbit the Sun
1959The USSR’s Luna 2 is the first human made object to reach the Moon
1959The ECHO I telecoms satellite is launched. It will later provide the first satellite television broadcast
1959Testing of the RL-10 rocket engine which goes on to launch sophisticated unpiloted spacecraft like Viking
1959The first successful test firing of an intercontinental Titan rocket
1960 The first weather satellite, TIROS 1, is launched
1960 The first successful US Corona spy satellite mission is launched and the first balloon satellite is launched
1960 Pioneer 5 launches into solar orbit between the Earth and Venus but the Russian Mars probe fails
1961 Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin becomes the first human being in space. His ship, Vostok 1, makes one orbit of the Earth taking one hour and 48 minutes from blast-off to landing (Note: 11 degrees)

We have seen how closely this cycle correlates with Power & Industry and with Passenger Transport and how the cycle matches the development path in which humanity came to idealise the power of steam and of oil and electricity to create mnufactured goods, to create national infrastructures and to provide local, national and international transport. These advances all carried costs – the dehumanisation of factories, arbitrary unemployment, traffic congestion and traffic accidents and increasing damage to the environment.