Title text: If you live in the Northern hemisphere, anyway. In the southern hemisphere, due to the coriolis effect, babies are born nine months BEFORE they're conceived.
Horoscopes purport to predict someone's personality or future, based on the position of planets and stars at the time of their birth and at present. Horoscopes commonly group people into twelve groups based on zodiac signs. The names of the horoscope Zodiac signs are based on the names of twelve constellations that were the backdrop for the path of the sun in the ancient times when the rules of settings horoscopes were originally developed. Today, due to precession of the Earth's axis of rotation (and to a lesser degree due to the modern formal definitions of constellations), the Zodiac signs do not correspond fully to the names of actual constellations in the path of the Sun. One's zodiac sign is determined by the position of the sun on their birthday, with each sign representing a specific 30.4 day period (1/12th of a year), starting from the First point of Aries.
Modern science has found no basis for horoscopes, which is why the comic jokes about the fact that its horoscopes at least may be true. Actual horoscopes are typically so vague that they could be true for almost anyone regardless of their sign. Note that this horoscope mainly makes sense for people living in the northern hemisphere (as mentioned in the title text) and it is especially tailored for an audience in the United States, as most cultural references are centered on "Western" or even specific "American" culture, several won't even work in Europe, for example. However, with the principle understood, it is easy to apply local traditions for more accuracy in non-Western cultures.
The 12 category zodiac signs in horoscopes are based on birth dates. The average length of pregnancy, culturally considered to be nine months, is actually given as the 40 weeks (9.2 months) after the last menstrual period. However, what is relevant here is that it is only 38 weeks after conception (8.75 month). The first two weeks of the 40 week period is before Ovulation, and the conception cannot occur before that.
Based on this knowledge Randall can do some informed guessing about the context of someone's conception (apart from the obvious), depending on the sign. For example, people of the sign Virgo have been born between August 23 and September 22. This makes it most likely that they are conceived during December the year before. Given contemporary holiday music preferences, Christmas songs were likely to be playing the day they were conceived. This leads to the guess "You may have been conceived while a Christmas song played". See detailed description of all the signs and explanation of the horoscopes in the table below.
Randall phrases his "predictions" as possibilities ("you may have") rather than declarations, acknowledging that it is a guess, and that it, unlike actual horoscopes, doesn't necessarily apply to everyone.
The title text refers to the Coriolis effect which applies to a body that is moving relative to an object that is spinning. Since the Earth is rotating, a force (the Coriolis force) causes moving objects to be deflected to the right in the northern hemisphere and to the left in the southern hemisphere. This effect is the reason that weather systems (most clearly seen for hurricanes) spiral in one direction in the northern hemisphere and in the opposite direction in the southern hemisphere.
There is also a common misconception that the Coriolis force in respect of the Earth affects objects on a much smaller scale, such as the direction water will spiral down a drain in the two hemispheres (see also 843: Misconceptions). In reality, the relative rotational speed of the Earth (one rotation per day) is insufficient to affect anything but large-scale, relatively slow movement, such as prevailing winds and ocean currents.
Randall plays on this type of misconception to make a joke involving reversing the flow of time. So whereas babies are born nine months after conception in the northern hemisphere (clockwise) the Coriolis effect is the reason why babies are being born nine months before in the southern hemisphere (counterclockwise). Note that unlike these horoscopes, which are declared to have an "actual basis in fact", it makes no sense for the conception of a baby to happen after its birth.
Table of Astrological signs
Here below is a table with data and explanation of the individual horoscopes:
|March 21 – April 21||June 28 – July 28||You may have been conceived after a 4th of July fireworks show||In the US the Independence Day is celebrated on the 4th of July, and this is customarily celebrated with huge fireworks. Fireworks are a common metaphor for the culmination of sex (i.e. the orgasm), and offer a convenient opportunity for social gatherings that might lead to conception.|
|April 20 – May 20||July 27 – August 27||You may have been conceived on a hot August day||In most of the northern hemisphere there are many hot days in August. Hot days can lead to less clothing and more lust.|
|May 21 – June 21||August 28 – September 28||You may have been conceived as the leaves began to change||In the northern part of the northern hemisphere the autumn starts at the end of this time period, so the leaves will begin to change color.|
|June 21 – July 21||September 28 – October 28||You may have been conceived by people trying on costumes||This period ends a few days before Halloween, so it is not unlikely that the people who conceived you (mom and dad) tried on their new costumes when they made you. Roleplay, enhanced with costumes, can be a way to spice up a relationship and can lead to sex and procreation.|
|July 22 – August 23||October 29 – November 30||You may have been conceived during Thanksgiving||Thanksgiving is celebrated in the US on the fourth Thursday of November.|
|August 23 – September 22||November 30 – December 29||You may have been conceived while a Christmas song played||It is very common for Christmas songs to be played in the month of December.|
|September 22 – October 23||December 29 – January 30||You may have been conceived after a New Year's Eve party||Since New Year's Eve always falls on December 31, and since the party goes on into the new year this fits with Libra. As it is very likely that people are together in a way that may lead to conception at this type of parties, there may even be rather more than a 30th part of the people that are Libra that are conceived at such a party.|
|October 23 – November 22||January 30 – February 29||You may have been conceived by people stuck inside after a long winter||This period is during the coolest part and towards the end of the winter in the northern hemisphere. People may even be forced to stay at home due to snow. When people have nothing else to do many babies are born 9 months later.|
|November 22 – December 21||February 29 – March 28||You may have been conceived during March Madness||Originally March madness referred to the early part of the mating season for the European Hare, in which females fight off male suitors. Today, in a US context, this is an American college Basketball tournament that started in 1939 and is mainly held in March. It is even covered on TV under the name NCAA March Madness.|
|December 22 – January 19||March 29 – April 28||You may have been conceived during a sexy Easter Egg hunt||Easter falls between March 22 and April 25 so most Easter Egg hunts, sexy or not, will fall in the most likely period to conceive Capricorn children. The goal of an Easter egg hunt can be to find as many eggs in a given time, or find a sequence of eggs, each containing a clue to the next. It is not difficult to think of adult variations on these themes. Most Egg hunts do not involve people who should make them sexy! On the other hand, the egg itself, as an Easter symbol, is a symbol of fertility and after the little ones have gone to bed the adults may want to produce more little ones.|
(The Water Carrier)
|January 20 – February 18||April 27 – May 25||You may have been conceived on Mother's Day||Mother's Day in the USA,and some other countries, is on the second Sunday in May, between 8 and 14 May. The husband of a Mother being celebrated may wish to show his appreciation for her by paying her special private attention, potentially leading to sex and conception.|
|February 19 – March 20||May 25 – June 27||You may have been conceived at someone's wedding||It may have been your own parent's wedding, as the traditional wedding honeymoon typically includes sex (potentially lots of it). However, it is also not uncommon that people meet at weddings, and may even go so far as to risk conceiving a child at someone's wedding. June is widely reported as the most popular month for weddings in the United States. The tradition of a June Bride (late spring and beginning of summer in the northern hemisphere) may be an old one and hence explains the reference for Pisces which lies mainly in June. ABC claim that in the 15th and 16th century, May would have been the month for an "annual bath", and moreover June is named for Juno, goddess of marriage and childbirth.|
- [Above the frame:]
- With an actual basis in fact
- [A list with the name of each astrological sign in the first column (in gray) and a horoscope for each sign in the second column. Here given in table form]
Aries • You may have been conceived after a 4th of July fireworks show Taurus • You may have been conceived on a hot August day Gemini • You may have been conceived as the leaves began to change Cancer • You may have been conceived by people trying on costumes Leo • You may have been conceived during Thanksgiving Virgo • You may have been conceived while a Christmas song played Libra • You may have been conceived after a New Year's Eve party Scorpio • You may have been conceived by people stuck inside after a long winter Sagittarius • You may have been conceived during March Madness Capricorn • You may have been conceived during a sexy Easter egg hunt Aquarius • You may have been conceived on Mother's day Pisces • You may have been conceived at someone's wedding
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