My son, Erin Jones, and I were talking about boundaries this morning, except he calls them frontiers.  Interesting distinction, isn’t it?  One person’s boundary is another person’s frontier.

Starship Enterprise (Source:Wikipedia Commons)

Starship Enterprise (Source:Wikipedia Commons)

We had listened to an interview on Science Friday on NPR.   Dr. Lawrence Krauss, from Arizona State University, was speaking about colonization of Mars.  In one part of the interview, he compared sending humans to Mars to other times when people pushed past the known into the unknown.  I was thinking that this urge to migrate to new territory had been happening since the beginning of human culture caused by overpopulation threatening the available food resources.  In astrological terms this would be represented by the planet Mars.

My son, who is strongly ruled by Uranus, only partially agreed.  He thinks that in addition to the biological urge to find and develop new food sources, there is a natural human tendency toward exploration.  He cited how in every field of endeavor there is the urge to break boundaries, and then to continue, to break the next, and then the next.  Each new discovery becomes a new threshold. 

Breaking Boundaries

Erin pointed out that modern art broke through the boundaries of tradition, not to meet a biological need, but to allow for an expression that hadn’t been voiced until then.  This opened the door for the unprecedented techniques that were coming in the next century.  It reminded me of studying Art History and seeing how the human form was represented by the Egyptians, beautiful, upright, but with rigid, unbending, non-undulating musculature.  And then how the Greeks built on that form to develop a much more natural, fluid style. 

Writing continues to be transformed too.  When Jane Austen wrote Pride and Prejudice in 1813, it opened a whole new format for human expression, the modern novel.  Blogging and twittering continue to upend traditional communication styles.

Einstein’s theories are obvious examples, where an insight, a “thought experiment”, led to his theories of relativity.  These theories began a technical revolution that forever changed the course of human life.  But were scientists content with this breakthrough?  No.  Even the massive shift in consciousness and technology enabled by Einstein has become a threshold for other scientists to take knowledge forward to string theories, the big bang, and onward. 

Migration

In thinking about migration to Mars, I wondered about human migration in general.  What was the impetus that caused early man to migrate from Africa?  The migration occurred during a period of Ice Age warming when the African and Middle Eastern continents were lush with food.  So why did they go?  While this mystery is still in the process of being resolved, it’s interesting to look at early human’s relationship with fire.  Excavations at the Gesher Benot Ya’aqov archaeological site in Israel show that the occupants of the site — identified as a branch of the Acheulian culture that arose in Africa about 1.6 million years ago — had mastered fire-making ability as long as 790,000 years ago.   Researcher Alperson-Afil said, “The powerful tool of fire-making provided ancient humans with confidence, enabling them to leave their early circumscribed surroundings and eventually populate new, unfamiliar environments.”  So this tool, fire, essentially pulled humankind into and through the frontier.

Dr. Krauss, from Science Friday, made another interesting point.  There is a moral argument that we can’t send humans to a place they may never return from, as the journey to Mars would almost certainly be.  It is prohibitively expensive to carry enough fuel for the return trip, and some people find the idea of sending humans into this situation reprehensible.  He reminds us that Columbus and company weren’t certain that they weren’t going to fall off the edge of the world.  (Actually Columbus understood the world was spherical.  What he didn’t understand was how large it is.)  I’m sure the early Africans were bucking the conventional wisdom of their tribe when they set off into the Middle East.  Interestingly Dr. Krauss’ piece in The New York Times has inspired an unprecedented response from people willing to go on a one-way trip to Mars.  No doubt the Uranus in Sagittarius (adventure, travel) set.

Extending Frontiers

Columbus was sailing for profit.  King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella didn’t bankroll him just for the adventure.   But it occurs to me that profit motive is just another boundary, or frontier.  If we’ve reached a certain level of revenue in our business, there may be an urge to break that boundary.  Any other metric that we’ve reached extends our frontier and can become the impetus to go further.  I feel it in my blogging:  each goal I reach in terms of readers makes me want to break through and reach more. 

These urges to break through boundaries are the stirrings of Uranus.  While not an Einstein or a Columbus, our individual sparks of insight pull all of society forward in some small way.  So as business people it’s worth thinking about.  What boundary are you up against?  And are we feeling the boundary because breaking through it is our next frontier?

More on this in the next post…