Zombies, asteroids and scholarship: Nostradamus predicts 2021

Zombies, asteroids and scholarship: Nostradamus predicts 2021

Astrologer, medical doctor of Jewish origin, and Renaissance mathematician, Nostradamus is perhaps the most quoted Frenchman in history. In his prophecies, first published in 1555, the famous star-gazer claimed to see as far ahead as the year 3797, when the world will end. His followers argue that he was able to correctly warn humanity of various evils and troubles: from the rise of Hitler to power – a man many dedicated readers believe is the mysterious Hister of whom the prophet wrote – to the novel coronavirus of our own times. 
The astrologer, some argue, spoke about a plague that will arrive in the form of a “queen” (corona) from the East (China) – a reading shaped by the crown-like structure of the virus which is the source for the name coronavirus. Skeptics point to Hister being the Latin name for the Danube River and the word being that of a location, not a person. The prophecy concerning COVID-19 does not exist in the original collection, India Today reported in July, and seems to be an Internet hoax which attempted to spread via social media using the famous historical figure. 
As for the year ahead, a Russian scientist will create a biological weapon that will turn people into zombies, DublinLive reported on Saturday, based on a prophecy warning of the “half-dead to give a start.” 
“Dead through spite,” the text seems to suggest, “he [the Russian scientist] will cause the others to shine, and in an exalted place, some great evils to occur.” 

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“In the sky,” the report quotes, “one sees fire and a long trail of sparks.” Meaning that it’s possible the mystic was attempting to warn humanity of a possible asteroid which might hit the Earth. 
  

Maybe he was referring to (410777) 2009 FD, a real asteroid discovered in 2009, once classified as a potentially hazardous one that could hit our own world. NASA, however, removed it from the threat list last month.  
The portal WiseHoroscope claims Nostradamus saw a glimpse of what AI could be when he wrote “the new sage with a lone brain sees it.” 
“By his disciples,” the prophecy continues, “invited to be immortal” – perhaps meaning that robots will become more and more visible in the year to come? 
There are three major issues with the works of the famous French mystic. First, he wrote in the French of his own day and age. His translators – to English or other language – had to therefore be extremely knowledgeable and precise in their work. Lack of knowledge could mean a faulty translation, which is vital in a prediction. 
The second issue is that, sadly, translators were very often fans of the prophecies and so leaned towards pointing to alleged cases where “their” translation happens to match something which already happened. For example, modern scholars found that the death of King Henry II began to be included in the work 55 years after it had already happened, Peter Lemesurier wrote in his 2003 biography of the astrologer. The third is that the language of the prophecies is poetic and vague, meaning that, again after an event had already happened, it is quite easy to “find” evidence of it in the text – even if the text is partly the invention of a later translator and commentator and has little to do with the original French work. 

However, as NYU Prof. Stephane Gerson wrote in his 2012 biography of the seer, there is a “machine at work” when the matter is Nostradamus. One of the few men of his time to be remembered and read today, his genius inspires us to think about the future and the stars in the heavens – and shiver a little.

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