Kary Mullis—Rebel Scientist
by Zip Dobyns
There is so much doom and gloom in the world, we need to analyze the chart of at least one successful individual. Kary Mullis is especially appropriate since he lets us see that the asteroid Nobel can signify more than dynamite. Kary won a Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1993. In addition to his academic fame, he is noted for his passion for surfing and lots of beautiful women. He is in his fourth marriage. He was also in the media limelight during the O.J. Simpson trial when there was talk of calling him as a scientific witness on DNA, but O.J.’s lawyers decided they did not need his testimony. One of his latest claims to fame is his book titled Dancing Naked in the Mind Field. Astrologers should enjoy the book since he endorses the validity and value of astrology.
At the end of his discussion of how he tested astrology with his own chart, Kary gives his full birth data with the comment “you can find out more about me from that than you can from reading this book.” P. 153 He was born in Lenoir, NC on December 28, 1944, at 17:58 GMT which converts to 13:58 EWT.
Kary became curious about astrology after three strangers in widely separated regions told him he was a Capricorn. Since his horoscope has far more emphasis on fire and air, I’m inclined to credit the strangers with some psychic ability, but the two adults did offer an interesting rationale for their judgment. They mentioned that Kary alternated between pushing forward and backing off. To be labeled a Capricorn means to have one’s Sun in the sign, and this is an inherent potential for conflict between the Sun’s fire, which pushes forward, always driven by the desire to do more than we have done before, and the caution of an earth sign which is inherently aware of the consequences of personal action.
Kary’s life does demonstrate a constant battle between Capricorn ambition, productive work, and achievement, versus constant risk-taking and rebellion against any limits. Aries is rising, trine its ruler, Mars, which is in a one-degree orb conjunction with Mercury in the sign and house of Sagittarius. The combination shows an identification with the pioneer warrior and God: “I know what I want and I have the right and the power to do it.” Venus, ruler of the part of Taurus which is in the first house, is in the sign and house of Aquarius to add to the rejection of any limits on personal will. Venus is sextile the Ascendant and Mars-Mercury, as well as trine the Moon in double Gemini which opposes Mars-Mercury. Harmony aspects between different keys to “identity” show an individual in harmony with himself. Especially when they are in air and fire, the feeling is that one has the right and power to do whatever one wants. Obviously, this can lead to excessive optimism and risk-taking. Ceres in Libra completes a grand trine in air signs and houses for Kary’s immense verbal fluency. The air is supported by additional factors in Libra which are in the Virgo house trine Uranus in Gemini in the Taurus house. The fire is supported by Pluto in double Leo trine the Antivertex and East Point in Aries in the Pisces house. The fire and air also fit Kary’s sharp sense of humor. His reputation as a speaker is impressive, and his book is great fun.
In addition to the factors in air signs in earth houses, Jupiter in double Virgo and the south lunar node in double Capricorn add to the earth willingness to work and skill with details. But the south node indicates a lesson, and typically, its position in the 10th house shows resistance to authority, the need for a career which is not under the control of anyone else. If possible, such individuals are entrepreneurs, independent professionals, or at least they manage part of a larger organization, which can include work for the government. In some way, they are learning to deal with power, power people, and limits in general. Individuals lacking faith, in themselves and/or in a Higher Power, may retreat and end up ill. Individuals with strong faith may try to rule the world and live in perpetual power struggles with its limits.
Water is the weakest element in Kary’s chart, with Juno, Saturn, and the north lunar node in Cancer and the two auxiliary Ascendants in the Pisces house. Kary has the capacity for empathy, but his self-will and self-confidence are stronger, so his really strong idealism, the Sagittarius identity, tends to express as “I know what is good for you and the world and I will make it happen.” His Jupiter squares to the Moon and Mars-Mercury show a major mutable dilemma – conflict between his ideals and what is possible. As he describes in his book, over and over again, he has taken foolhardy risks with his life, not just with his career.
As mentioned above, the asteroid Nobel can mean more than dynamite. The Swedish entrepreneur, Alfred Nobel, became immensely wealthy from his invention of dynamite, though he also made money from oil fields in Baku. After his youngest brother and others were killed in an explosion that destroyed his factory which made nitroglycerin, he experimented until he found a way to create a safer explosive and techniques to ignite it. He never married, traveled constantly, was close to being a recluse and a pacifist, hoping that the destructive power of his inventions would help end wars. Near the end of his life, he was mistakenly described as having died. He was horrified by the subsequent obituary descriptions, which associated him only with death and destruction, despite previous philanthropy. To change his image, he set up the Nobel prizes for physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace. The first prizes were awarded on December 10, 1901, on the fifth anniversary of his death. A prize for economics was added in 1968 by the Bank of Sweden, and first awarded in 1969.
Kary received his Nobel Prize for chemistry on December 10, 1993, being notified of his selection by a 6:15 A.M. phone call on October 13, 1993. Readers who have time may want to look at the progressions and/or transits on those dates. I arbitrarily progressed his chart to January 1, 2000 before digging out a variety of dates for events in his life. I was mostly interested in his natal chart, since he is such a stormy petrel in the world of science. A year before his Nobel award, he received the Japan Prize, which also carried both honor and money. He was working for the Cetus Corporation, a biotech company, when he got the idea for his breakthrough in May 1983, though it took him until December 16, 1983 to produce a successful experiment. His technique is called “polymerase chain reaction” or PCR. See page 105 in his book for Kary’s description of the remarkable potentials of PCR for work with DNA. He became famous as the “DNA Doctor.” In 1992, Cetus sold the patent on his technique to replicate DNA sequences to Hoffmann-LaRoche for $300 million dollars, but Kary had left the company and did not benefit financially from the sale.
Returning to Kary’s chart, his N Nobel in 7 Scorpio is closely trine Saturn in 7 Cancer, and Universitas in 7 Pisces completes an exact grand trine. His work which won the Nobel Prize was done while working for a private company, but he spent years in universities, as well as carrying out private experiments, gaining the knowledge that made his achievement possible. P Nobel is moving slowly in 24 Scorpio semisextile Mars-Mercury and sextile P Jupiter as his fame from the Prize continues to open doors for him.
In light of Kary’s lifetime search for truth, I looked for the asteroids of truth, Aletheia and Veritas. Both were in air signs; Aletheia in 16 Gemini sextile his East Point and Veritas in 5 Libra on Pallas and trioctile Venus. Throughout his book, Kary challenges establishment dogma, from HIV as a cause of AIDS to global warming and humans affecting the ozone layer, from nutrition claims to the bans on mind-altering drugs. He experimented with LSD before it was illegal, and afterwards produced new drugs to affect the mind, always staying one step ahead of the government discovering and outlawing them. Though he does not acknowledge any current experiments with the “mind” drugs, Neptune can be associated with all drugs and chemicals and they are his life work. P Veritas moved to conjunct Neptune and is still there while P Neptune retrograded to hold a lifetime conjunction with Veritas. One of his current goals is a cure for diabetes. He claims that all he needs is money to apply current knowledge and technology.
Duponta, the asteroid named for the famous chemical company, is rising in Kary’s chart opposite Ceres and sextile his Moon. His permissive mother apparently gave him almost total free reign to experiment while he was growing up. Most parents would have had heart failure in reaction to his explorations in chemistry and electricity, but apparently she mostly ignored him, just asking mildly that he stop what he was doing when he shut down the power in the house. Urania, like Uranus, can be associated with all kinds of new technology, including electricity. Kary had Urania within one degree of his Mars-Mercury to add to his compulsive creativity. He also had Nemesis on his Venus, and many of his experiments were actually very dangerous though, so far, he has escaped disaster.
Several asteroids are associated with wisdom, including Sophia which Kary had in 9 Aquarius sextile his Antivertex in Aries and Skepticus in 9 Sagittarius, trine Uranus, and opposite Pluto. Skepticus was named for the society founded by Paul Kurtz, but the organization SCICOP is actually a group of “true believers” who are devoted to debunking anything beyond materialism. If they bother to read Kary’s book, they will find him a “true” skeptic, willing to question and test every concept. They will also dismiss him as crazy for endorsing astrology and taking seriously psychic experiences including astral travel and telepathy. Kary even describes what sounds like an alien abduction on his property in a fairly wild area in northern California. He, and his daughter by his first marriage, had similar experiences at different times, involving fear and “missing time” and reacting to a picture of the “grays” on the cover of Strieber’s book, Communion. The asteroid named for Paul Kurtz is in 21 Leo trioctile Kary’s N Sun.
Another goddess associated with wisdom was Metis, which was closely conjunct Kary’s MC at birth. Wisdom in 18 Taurus is conjunct Fortuna and trine and sextile the lunar nodes. Sapientia in 28 Capricorn just misses a one-degree trine to Jupiter by 3 minutes of longitude. Philosophia in 27 Pisces connects the two with overlapping orbs. Minerva conjuncts San Diego in 2 Aquarius, with lifetime trines to Chiron. Kary lives in La Jolla, just north of San Diego, in sight of the ocean, though he also owns vacation property in Mendocino County in northern California.
In addition to pursuing knowledge, Kary describes his favorite pastimes as surfing and (prior to his current and fourth marriage) pursuing beautiful women. He is noted for his collection of beautiful nudes and Photographica on his Pluto seems quite appropriate. His book is dedicated to his wife, Nancy, suggesting that he found heaven with her. We may be excused a bit of skepticism since they have apparently only been married since 1998, though they knew each other previously and she helped him with the book. For his love of the ocean, Oceana is rising in 3 Taurus quincunx Chiron and square San Diego, though it also has a long sextile to P Saturn. Poseidon might also be a warning in 28 Scorpio just past his 8th house cusp. One wonders whether the ocean might someday betray him as he persists in feeling immortal and taking risks. N Nancy is appropriately in 10 Sagittarius conjunct Kary’s local MC in San Diego. P Nancy will reach his N Sun in early 2000. This could mean new fame for either or both. Nancy is a painter.
I had picked January 1, 2000 for Kary’s progressions, thinking I might check the asteroids for computers on that celebrated date of Y2K. Certainly, computers are a major part of his career, and the PCR technique would not be possible without them. Eudora, controller of the “waves” which presumably can include electronic waves, is certainly appropriate conjunct Kary’s Aletheia, the goddess of truth. P Aletheia and P Eudora are still within one degree of each other, now direct with quincunxes to the MC. The NORC is in 2 Cancer so Kary’s P Moon will be conjunct it this coming winter, and P Moon will move over P and then N Saturn in early 2000. The patterns could point to some inconvenience connected to computers, but if the “laws” symbolized by Saturn are accepted voluntarily, Saturn conjunctions can signify major career accomplishments. P The NORC repeats the pattern, having returned to 25 Gemini where it will be conjunct N Moon. ASCII also repeats a pattern. It was natally on Vesta, our Virgo asteroid, to fit the central role of computers in Kary’s work, and it is now retrograde back conjunct Vesta! A theme like that must mean something, but the details could vary from personal problems involving computers to playing an important role in helping others manage computers to an important work accomplishment which involves them.
In November 1999 Kary’s P Sun will reach his Ascendant/MC midpoint, a potential key to new prominence. During the fall his Local P MC starts a quincunx to Saturn for a change of some sort in his career or status. Of course, the patterns could point to concern over his mother or any number of other details. Many other aspects could be mentioned, and his P L MC, along with P Mars, holding trines to Neptune, P Pallas, and Veritas strengthen the positive potentials. His P East Point just coming to a conjunction with P Aletheia early in 2000 also supports the possibility of a new scientific breakthrough and more fame. P Antivertex is on Wisdom trine the south lunar node and P Urania. P Ascendant trines his local Ascendant as it is about to move into Cancer. P L Antivertex is on Duponta opposite Ceres and sextile the Moon, while P L East Point is quincunx Vesta and Veritas, repeating the potential for work changes. Maybe he will find that cure for diabetes he is searching for???