Saturday, September 15, 2018

Robert Morningstar an investigative journalist. Wait.. WHAT???

James Concannon writes...

        This week, on the FarceBook, Robert Morningstar described himself as an investigative journalist. I had a good laugh over that.

A scene that has not yet happened...
[Cue the Harp arpeggios...]

- "Come in Mr. Morningstar, take a seat. So, you want a job as investigative journalist, and you say you have lots of experience?"

- "That's right, I've been doing it for twenty years and my intuition is great."

- "What we're really looking for is facts, rather than intuition. What kind of stories have you investigated?"

- "Paranormal phenomena mostly, anomalies on the Moon and Mars, that kind of thing."

- "For example?"

- "Well, I investigated the Apollo 20 crashed alien spaceship on the far side of the Moon."


- "But you were wrong about that, weren't you? Examination of the high-definition image from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter shows that this is just a 10km long natural depression, cratered to the same extent as its surroundings.


You also said that the Apollo-era photo that shows it, AS15-P-9625, was from Apollo 12 Magazine P. In fact it's from Apollo 15's Pan camera.

-  "I investigated what are obviously hangars for alien spaceships in Mare Imbrium."


- "Those "hangars" (and by the way you mis-spelled them as hangers in your report) are about 8km wide. Even in lunar gravity, an unsupported roof 8km wide is impossible. Here's a link to the LRO image. Your "hangars" are the two knobby hills at 24.06°W, 19.87°N. Zoom in as far as you like, see if you think there are any UFOs in there. Just like the "crashed spaceship," the hangar roofs are cratered just like all the surrounding terrain. You also said in your report that the image that shows them, AS17-M-2444, is from Lunar Orbiter. In fact, it's from the Apollo 17 Mapping camera. I see, too, that in your report you labeled seven craters in Mare Imbrium and got all seven wrong. We expect better accuracy that that."

- "One of my greatest revelations was of a space station in lunar orbit. I call it "Station Luna" and I have calculated that it must be 166 miles wide."


- "You are wrong about that. The image that shows it, AS10-28-3988, is of an 18-inch piece of mylar insulation that broke away as the Apollo 10 LM separated from the CM. John Young took several shots of it because he was slightly concerned that it was a hazard. Anything in lunar orbit 166 miles wide would be extremely obvious to every astronomer on Earth. This thing cannot be permanently hidden behind the Moon because a selenosynchronous orbit is an impossibility."

- "I investigated an anomaly on Mars that I called TMA-1. The investigation took five months. Finally I published this in UFO Digest: "TMA-1 clearly appears to be an intelligently conceived and designed form.. If so, this alone, of course, would indicate (and prove) the presence or ,more likely, the previous existence of intelligent life on the Red Planet. … I now believe that this artifact, TMA-1, may be a "Time Capsule", or the remnant of a larger one, intended to call attention to the region or, perhaps, to record the circumstances or forces, which caused a cataclysm that destroyed Mars' once Earth-like ecosystem."



- "You are wrong about that. The "anomaly" is "Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD)" on 5 April 2004. It shows the mark made by the Opportunity rover's Rock Abrasion Tool. What took you five months?"

- "When you have the world-class intuition I have, you need to be certain. It took me a long time to conclude that AS17-M-2366 shows a 10-mile high clock tower on the Moon. I call it "Big Ben on the Moon."


- "You are wrong about that, too. The version of AS17-M-2366 you analyzed was a preliminary rough, containing scanner lint. In the next frame in series, AS17-M-2367, the lint you call "Big Ben" has migrated off to the right.


Moreover, the technique you used in what you call your investigation—pointing a digital camera at your computer monitor—is highly unprofessional. If you worked for us we would not put up with utter bullshit like that. Anything else?"

- "My intuition has led me to many inexplicable anomalies that NASA has obviously covered up. But those are perhaps my best work."

- "Well, Mr. Morningstar, thank you for coming in today. Be sure to let us know if you ever get anything right. We may offer you the position in the event that all the other applicants are even more incompetent than you. My assistant will show you out."

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Point-by-point critique of Mike Bara's "Ancient Aliens & JFK"

        Things are looking up slightly over at Adventures Unlimited Press, where fantasist David Hatcher Childress presides. Bara's new book may still be a load of trash, but in terms of presentation, production and editing this is a much better job than its five predecessors.The whole 230-page book is virtually free of keyboard errors, the running chapter titles are all correct, and three pages of nicely-produced color photos are included. My only complaint is that, as usual, there's no index. If Childress refuses to pay for indexing, I wonder why he doesn't get one of his minions to learn computer-assisted indexing and do it all in-house. He could get a permanent license for TExtract, for example, for $395 (cf. up to twice that for agency indexing, just for one book.) An idea for you, David. Yer welcome, mate.

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Thumbnail synopsis: JFK decided to end the Space Race and mount a joint expedition to the Moon with the Soviets. (That part is true). He knew there was useful alien technology on the Moon and wanted to retrieve it for reverse engineering. (That part is bollocks).  Certain political factions were appalled that Kennedy would be willing to share this technology with Russia. (Tiny grain of truth).  One or other of these factions conspired to have JFK assassinated to prevent this from happening. (Highly unlikely). It was probably LBJ. (It probably wasn't). THE END.
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         If this all seems familiar, it is. Bara told the same story, at reduced length, in his previous book Hidden Agenda which I critiqued almost a year ago. In last year's book Bara seemed certain that the LEET technology on the Moon was left there by the Anunnaki. This year he's much less certain—in fact if he mentions the wretched Anunnaki at all I missed it. So the title of this new book is deliberately misleading as there's nothing much here about ancient aliens.

Now for the errors and questionable logic...

1. Chapter 1. This is 19 pages of absolutely standard JFK biography which Bara could have copy/pasted from any number of sources, even Wikipedia plus its references. I suppose it had to be done but perhaps 5 pages would have sufficed.

2. p.16. Bara writes of Joe Kennedy Sr that he married off his daughter Kathleen to the son of the Duke of Devonshire, as "a transparent effort to cull favor with the English nobility." Surely you curry favor, not cull it... [Also see Comment #10, it seems Joe wasn't currying or culling]

3. Chapter 2. Another 20 pages of highly unoriginal material, this time about Majestic-12, a favorite topic of gullible UFO fans such as Linda Moulton Howe. In this case Bara's text follows the Wikipage quite closely, but not word-for-word so I should perhaps not asperse plagiarism. Bara is obviously aware that MJ-12 is ridiculed as a hoax by most researchers, but he thinks there's a good chance that it was genuine. He writes (p.33) "If MJ-12 existed—and I believe that it did—then Kennedy, of all people, would have been aware of its existence and purpose." Later, on p.71, Bara strongly implies that MJ-12 itself is a suspect in the JFK assassination. That's poppycock in my opinion.

MJ-12 is all bound up with Project Serpo, which Bara has said he also believes is a true story. There's not the slightest doubt in my mind that Serpo was a hoax designed to sell a book. MJ-12 was either a complete hoax or deliberate FBI disinformation.

4. p.40. Bara writes that The United States was shocked by Gagarin's first spaceflight, on April 12, 1961, "...and six days later, NASA finally delivered a report... commonly known as 'The Brookings Report' to Congress." This is inaccurate. NASA delivered the report on 24th March, to the Committee on Science and Astronautics of the US House of Representatives. It was that committee that read the report into the record of the full House on 18th April. NASA had had the report from The Brookings Institution since the end of November 1960.

That damned Brookings Report. Ever since Hoagland dug it up (with the help of Don Ecker) all the conspiracy theorists have been metaphorically waving it around making totally false claims about it. Mike Bara himself, on Ancient Aliens S4E5, said "The Brookings Report said very specifically, 'Don't tell anyone'" That's completely false, and I thought I saw signs from this new book that he was softening on that point. On p.41 he writes that the report called for NASA "to consider suppression of the discovery of alien artifacts," (emph. added) which is almost true. However, on p.54 we find him backsliding to the point of writing about the report expounding "the necessity for concealing information from the public if need be" (emph. in the original this time). He then re-iterates (p.55) that NASA submitted the report to Congress as a direct reaction to Gagarin's triumphant orbit, which is not the case.

On the same page he writes "...the US wasn't even remotely close to being able to put a man in orbit." I take issue with that. After all, Alan Shepard's suborbital flight in Freedom 7 took place less than a month later. John Glenn was probably in training already, and his first orbital flight, in Friendship 7, would have taken place on 16th January 1962 but for a series of technical and weather delays (it actually lifted off on 20th February.)

5. pp. 73-74. It really does seem as if Bara has his dates all wrong in the early history of the US Space Program. He writes "As we look back on the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs he initiated in his May 1961 "We Choose to go to the Moon" speech, it seems to me that Kennedy was very frustrated by his inability to find out what the CIA, MJ-12 and the shadow government were up to." Mercury and Gemini were initiated before Kennedy was president (in the case of Gemini, only just before), and the "We choose to go to the Moon..." was not delivered to Congress in April 1961 but to an audience at Rice University on 12th September 1962. Plus the fact that, in the opinion of many space historians, it was Lyndon Johnson, not Jack Kennedy, who actually decided to force NASA to "take longer strides" (and by the way, be sure to build the new Manned Spaceflight Center in Texas.) The first episode of that lovely 1998 TV series From The Earth To The Moon was accurate on this point. The episode title was Can We Do This?

6. p.76. Bara returns to the subject of that damned Brookings Report again, writing that what it "essentially did was give NASA political cover for what its real mission was all along—the retrieval of alien technology from the surface of the Moon." That's the really bad one. It marks the transition of Bara's writing from mere inaccuracy to total fantasy. There is not, and never has been, the slightest evidence that this was Apollo's real mission. Bara can't produce any such evidence, so by default he merely asserts it.

7. pp78-83. A virtually word-for-word repeat of the section of Hidden Agenda describing Project Horizon, the 1959 military project to place a 20-man permanent base on the Moon. Once again Bara shows that he has no concept of the immensity of the task that would be required. He acknowledges that Horizon was canceled, but he writes "It would have been a fairly simple thing to implement this plan over the next few decades.... My suspicion and speculation is that that is exactly what they did."

As I wrote when critiquing Hidden Agenda, the illustrations in Bara's own book make it obvious that before Horizon was half built every amateur astronomer on Earth would be saying "Er...excuse me.. what's THAT THING?"

8. p.85. I scared the office cat with my explosive reaction when I turned to this page. Here, believe it or not, is this disgraceful bit of flim-flam:

credit: Barefaced lie by Mike Bara

First appearing on p.117 of Hidden Agenda, this nonsense was created by turning a Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter image upside down. The original shows landslides down the rim of Marius crater, in Oceanus Procellarum. Take a look.

Also on p. 85, Bara seems to have backed off a bit on his often-claimed pseudo-fact that glass manufactured on the Moon is twice as strong as steel. Here he writes "about as strong as steel."  Actually Blacic (1985)note 1 gives the following figures for Young's Modulus:
Lunar glass: 100 GPa, cf. alloy steel 224 GPa, terrestrial glass 68 GPa. So the true statement would be "less than half as strong." We may all pray for the day when Bara makes true statements.

9. pp. 83-87. A repeat of Bara's utterly ridiculous accusation, first trotted out in Hidden Agenda, that the color TV camera on Apollo 12 was deliberately ruined to avoid showing alien ruins. I commented enough about it at the time that I don't feel the need to get all hot under the collar again.

10. 88-94. Here Bara tacks on six pages alleging that the Apollo 12 astronauts conducted a covert and undocumented Standup EVA (SEVA) before the publicly announced EVAs. This fairy story is copied without attribution from somebody using the nickname Luna Cognita. This person posted an hour-long video about the allegation to Youtube in 2011. The video is quite well-made but it rests on a document dated September 2006: The Apollo Experience: Lessons Learned for Constellation Lunar Dust Management by Sandra A. Wagner. And indeed, on page 1 we find this paragraph:

"The blowing dust caused by the Apollo 12 LM landing appears to have been worse than that of Apollo 11. In fact, a standup extravehicular activity (EVA) was performed by the crew to assess the site prior to performing lunar surface EVAs because blowing dust completely obscured the view during landing."

        Seems straightforward. However, Robert Pearlman, editor of collectSpace, contacted Sandra Wagner about this and she confessed that it was an error. She simply wrote 12 when she meant 15. Scroll down to Pearlman's 3-19-2014 post in this forum. I commented further on Luna Cognita's (and now Mike Bara's) misapprehensions in November 2014.

11. Chapter 5, "Oswald and the Magic Bullet," and Chapter 6, "The Badge Man and the Beast." Quite why Bara felt it was worth devoting 36 pages of this book to the minute details of what happened in Dealey Plaza and shortly afterward I cannot say. In terms of his overall thesis, who cares what Mary Moorman filmed or what Howard Brennan says he saw?

Oh, wait... I do know why. Because it was only too easy. Bara and his co-author had already written this up, for their 2007 book Dark Mission. Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V is your friend, if you're a lazy author.

Specifically, from "Whenever anyone brings up..." on p.98 to "...to the Soviets" on p.99 is a direct copy from pp.171-2 of Dark Mission, and from "It makes little difference..." to "...the fatal shot" on pp.99-100 is a direct copy from p. 172 of Dark Mission. The only edits are changes such as "It is for this reason that we.." to "It is for this reason that I.." and "We felt compelled to review..." to "I felt compelled to review..." It would be interesting to know what Bara's co-author thinks about that.

12. Chapter 7, "The Wink of an Eye." Finally, Bara gets down to his business of accusing Lyndon Johnson of masterminding the assassination. Frankly, his so-called "evidence" strikes me as pathetic.  The fact that Jacqueline Kennedy was given red roses, not yellow ones, on arrival in Dallas. Bara calls this "a bizarre occult ritual" (p.138.) Then there's the fact that the blue carpet in the Oval Office was replaced (at the behest of Jackie, in fact) with a red one while the Kennedys were in Dallas. Bara writes (p.140):
"What a lot of people don't know is that Lyndon Johnson was a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Freemason ... and as such was very aware of the trappings of office and the power of symbolism. To me, the red carpet is symbolic of the blood of the King, Kennedy, who he had killed. He even used Kennedy's old rocking chair in the Oval Office for several years. The symbolism is Johnson sitting on the throne of his predecessor, while symbolically swimming in his blood."
Oh, brother! Talk about stretching a metaphor!!!

13. This famous photograph, from p. 141:


The same pic was used in Dark Mission (p.182) with the same ridiculous interpretation: The interpretation is that LBJ and Congressman Albert Thomas are exchanging a "Got him!" moment. Bara writes that Johnson has "a broad smile" and that Thomas is winking. Other writers have used the word "smirk." I can't do bettter than to refer you to the "Piece of Mindful" blog from 2nd March 2017. The title is One of the Most Fake Photos of All Time.

14. Chapter 8: "Who Mourns for Apollo?" (the title is a nod to a famous episode of Star Trek 1967. That title was "Who Mourns for Adonais?")

This is, unbelievably, 28 pages debunking the many theories that hold that the entire Apollo program was faked. Although I heartily endorse Bara's text here, I'd like to know what TF this material is doing in a book that is supposed to be unmasking villainy in 1963, and to be concerned with ancient aliens?

Once again, the answer is Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V. Huge swaths of this text are directly copied from a long essay Bara wrote in 2001, of the same title. The co-authors on that project were Richard Hoagland and Steve Troy.

15. p.211. Bara here momentarily fools us into thinking he's about to answer the burning question: What exactly were the astronauts sent to look for, and what did they find? Those are his exact words, in fact.

What follows reminds me powerfully of Lucy in the Peanuts comic strip, yanking the football away just as Charlie Brown goes to kick it. Bara makes passing mention of the rock called (by him and Hoagland) Data's Head, and then refers the reader to one of his previous books for details. Any reader not already familiar with the mythology of Hoagland would not have the slightest clue what that's all about. I've written about it several times, including this post from 2007 citing five reasons why Cernan and Schmitt could not possibly have retrieved that rock, or even noticed it.

In the next few pages Bara brings up the so-called "alien spaceship" seen in a stereo pair from the Apollo 15 pan camera. Here's a short briefing on that. It's about 10 km long and hardly an answer to the question What did they bring back? Plus it's nowhere near any of the Apollo landing sites, so why even mention it? Lucy snatches the football again...

=========================
OK, enough of the carping from me. I'd just like to add an approximate tally of the pages in this 230-page book that are copied from other sources.

Chapter 1, 19 pp. Copied from standard political history.
Chapter 2, 20 pp. Copied from standard conspiracy theorists
pp. 78-83 Project Horizon, copied from Hidden Agenda
pp. 83-87 Apollo 12, copied from Hidden Agenda
Chapter 5, "Oswald and the Magic Bullet," and Chapter 6, "The Badge Man and the Beast."  36 pp copied from Dark Mission
 Chapter 8: "Who Mourns for Apollo?" 28 pp. Copied from Bara, Hoagland & Troy 2001

I make the total 113 pp, or almost exactly 50% of the book. 

======================/ \====================
[1] Blacic, J. D.; Mechanical Properties of Lunar Materials Under Anhydrous, Hard Vacuum Conditions: Applications of Lunar Glass Structural Components (1985.)


Thursday, August 30, 2018

A flagrantly dishonest list

        Maurice Cotterell describes himself, on his primitive web site, as an engineer and scientist—but in reality he's an author who hit upon a genre that turned out to sell rather well. The lead paragraph of his Rational Wikipedia article provides some examples of the anti-science beliefs he holds dear. Click on the label at the foot of this article to see what else this blog has had to say about him.

        Cotterell's ideas are sufficiently bizarre (and inaccurate) to have attracted the attention of the producers of the overnight radio show Coast to Coast AM, who appear to be addicted to inaccuracy.note 1 He's guested on that show no less than 19 times since February 2002, most recently on 5th August this year.

        On that occasion he trotted out a criticism of Isaac Newton's law of gravity that was an illustration of the perils of lèse majesté. If you're going to knock one of the Great Men of Science, you'd better be sure of your ground. On C2C-AM, Cotterell tripped spectacularly. His claim was that, in describing the acceleration of a falling object under gravity, Newton had omitted to take into account the centrifugal force of the Earth's rotation acting contrary to the force of gravity. He's wrong because an object in free fall is not subject to that centrifugal force.note 2

Slamming into Mars
        His intended point was that Newton's mathematical lapse explains why so many spacecraft designed to soft-land on Mars have failed, and his claim was that 10 of 18 such attempts (55%) have failed. I got interested in that statistic since I could not recall as many failures, so I requested his list and he very graciously provided it by e-mail.

        The first thing I noticed was that he listed only 17 missions, not 18, and only 9 failures. The list included some familiar prangs—the early Soviet attempts (although even here he confused Mars 6 with Mars 7) and the ESA's ill-fated Beagle 2. More modern examples include Schiaparelli, also an ESA project.

        But Lookee here—what's this? Phobos 1 and Phobos 2  tallied as failures??? These were Russian scientific space probes of 1988/9, and were indeed (mostly) failures, but they were never intended to land on the planet itself, only on one of its two moons, Phobos. Phobos 1's mission was to orbit Phobos and drop a small landing capsule onto its surface. In one of the most excruciating woopsies of the entire history of spaceflight, a computer technician omitted a hyphen in a line of code and unintentionally sent an "end-of-mission" command to the spacecraft. Phobos 2 returned some excellent images of Phobos but it, too, fell victim to the gremlins of computer software before it could complete its mission.

        So Maurice Cotterell's list of Mars surface landers is inflated by two failed missions that have no business in that list at all. Not only is he wrong about the interaction between gravity and centrifugal force, the entire premise of his argument is, in my opinion, dishonest.


======================/ \======================
[1] Witness their current love affair with Joel Wallach, who is billed as a doctor but is in fact no such thing. He's a pill salesman, making a fortune from his monthly spots on the show.

[2] An object actually attached to the surface is influenced by centrifugal force, which is why things weigh 0.34% less at the equator than they do at the poles.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Maurice Cotterell manages to be even more wrong

        I didn't think my jaw could drop any further than it did back in January 2017, in disbelief that Maurice Cotterell could be invited onto a popular overnight radio show to explain a mathematical idea that was so totally wrong that it "made one gasp and stretch one's eyes" (to misappropriate Hillaire Belloc's very inventive expressionnote 1).

        And yet, here he was, last Sunday night on Coast to Coast AM, going one better. Just like last time, he was only summarizing what is on his web site so you can get the whole thing without having to slog through two hours of audio.

        He seeks to explain why so many Mars landers have crashed instead of soft-landing as intended (10 out of 18, according to him, and for all I know it may be the correct figure - But see Update 28 August). Here are the steps in what he laughingly calls his "logic":
  1. The gravitational attraction a planet has for an object in its vicinity is only partly described by the Newtonian force G.m1.m2/d2
  2. There's an additional term to consider, the centrifugal force generated by the planet's rotation.
  3. This force acts in opposition to the Newtonian force.
  4. Since Mars' rotation rate is 2.5% slower than that of Earth (actually the firgure is 2.8%) it generates less centrifugal force, and therefore more effective gravity, in its vicinity than Earth.
  5. An incoming lander is subject to the sum of the forces of gravity and centrifugal.
  6. Therefore a terminal flight profile calculated to be correct in Earth conditions fails on Mars.

Is he right? No, of course he isn't
        Well, first off let me say that centrifugal force acting in opposition to the force of gravity on the surface of a planet is, indeed, a reality. "It's a thing," in the slang of today. This force can readily be calculated; it is

-(mvcos L)/r 

where m is the mass of an object on the surface of a rotating planet
v is the linear velocity of the planetary surface at the equator (465 m/sec for Earth)
r is the radius of the planet (6.378 x 106 m for Earth)
L is the latitude where the force is measured

        For Earth, the (v2 cos L)/r  term works out as 0.034 m/sec2 at the equator where cos L evaluates to 1. A body, such as a fat woman, of mass 100kg weighs 340 grams less at the equator than at the poles, where cos L, and the centrifugal force, are both zero.note 2

        Statements 1 & 2 are therefore in general correct when considering an object on a planet's surface. Statement 3 is also correct—it's perfectly possible to imagine a planet that rotates so rapidly that anything not tied down at its equator would be flung off into space. We would say that centrifugal force exceeds the force of gravity, in such a case.note 3

        Statement 4 is a problem although Cotterell is basically correct in writing that centrifugal force is less on Mars. It has as much to do with the smaller size of the planet as with its rotation rate. However, that small difference is swamped by the fact that Newtonian gravity is very much less. Here are the figures (at the equator in both cases):

        Earth, acceleration due to gravity: 9.863 m/sec2
        Earth, acceleration due to centrifugal force: -0.034 m/sec2
        Net acceleration: 9.829 m/sec2

        Mars, acceleration due to gravity: 3.721 m/sec2
        Mars, acceleration due to centrifugal force: -0.0171 m/sec2
        Net acceleration: 3.704 m/sec2

         It's in writing Statement 5 that Cotterell has gone completely haywire. He writes "Newton failed to recognize, in his equation, that a falling body is also under the influence of 'centrifugal force' caused by the spinning of the Earth on its axis." He's taken the purely local and surface-based phenomenon of centrifugal force, and made it a property of the planet as a whole, extending beyond the surface into the region where incoming landers start feeling the effect of a planet's gravity. This is as preposterous as Cotterell's prior comments about gravity, and shows complete lack of understanding of physics. Of course a spacecraft having no physical contact with a planet cannot possibly be influenced by rotation of the planet. Neither can a falling apple, come to that, so Newton's equation describes that event accurately.note 4

        Statement 6 suggests that engineers devising flight profiles for soft landings simply don't know about this, and therefore miscalculate. Last Sunday night, even that old softie George Noory demurred in the gentlest possible way. He reminded Cotterell that the landing of MSL and its rover Curiosity in Gale crater six years ago (almost to the day, actually) had been a brilliant success and by no means a miscalculation. Cotterell mumbled something about engineers having learnt that when they completed their calculations they should "add a little bit, just for luck."

        Cotterell is kind-of entertaining I suppose, with his bluff manner and his soft Lancashire accent, but he should be permanently banned from the fields of physics and mathematics lest he do even more damage to them.

Update 28 August:
        Cotterell kindly provided the list from which he derived 10 of 18 failures, or 55%. It turns out he was including Phobos 1 and Phobos 2 as failures, when of course they were never intended to reach the surface of Mars. He also counted the rover "Prop-M" carried by Mars 3, and the rover "Sojourner" carried by Mars Pathfinder, as separate missions. And by the way his list was only 17 missions, not 18, so the percentage ought to be 53%. Small point.

        I now believe the true statistic is 5 of 13, or 38%. Since the failure of Mars 2 was attributed to a computer malfunction, that perhaps should be adjusted to 4 of 13 or 30%.

=================/ \=====================
[1] "Matilda told such dreadful lies"

[2] In fact, there's another phenomenon that affects the acceleration due to gravity on the planet's surface. The equatorial radius is 6378 km but the polar radius is only 6357 km. Since the fat woman is 21 km further away from the center of the planet when she's on the equator than when she's at the poles, gravity has less of a hold on her. The effect amounts to 0.668%.

[3] I'm going to be in trouble with the purists for even talking in terms of "centrifugal force." To them, this force is merely the "equal and opposite" reaction to a centripetal force. They would prefer to say "The force of gravity is inadequate to provide the centripetal force needed to keep objects attached to the planet." See the difference? But Cotterell uses centrifugal, and it's intuitive, so I'm going to stick with it.

[4] Note that as long as the apple is attached to the tree, it is pulled upwards by the small amount attributable to centrifugal force. As soon as it detaches, however, that small upward force vanishes.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Robert Morningstar: FAIL!!

James Concannon writes...

        In my opinion, Robert Morningstar has just suffered the most humiliating failure of his career. The closest approach by Mars for 15 years has come and gone without any of the disaster effect AM* predicted. On Facebook, Morningstar is now dodging and weaving, making up excuse after excuse, but it's pretty much an open-and-shut case. This was his word-for-word prediction, on FB 17th July:
"Mars' passage close to Earth on July 31st, 2018 will created [sic] super storms like Katrina (again, as it did i 2003), along with volcanic activity and intense electrical storms around the globe. Be ready for something and anything."
        Let's take this piece by piece. I'm allowing one day either side of his prediction, to be generous, so I'll be reporting activity for the three days 30th July—1st August.

Superstorms
None.

        The closest thing to a superstorm in the last week was typhoon Jongdari, which caused havoc in Japan on 29th. Hilariously, just as the "Mars effect" hit us on 30th, Jongdari was downgraded to a tropical storm. There were torrential rains in Myanmar but, y'know, it's monsoon season so there's nothing unusual about that.

        Grasping at what straws were in the wind, Morningstar cited what he called "devastation" in Mexico. What a joke. The weather system he spotted was a depression which eventually became tropical storm Hector. Wind speeds were reported as a mere  35 knots, gusting to 45. No reports of any damage, loss of life or even injury.

        When I pointed this out, Morningstar replied "I think a crashed airliner is devastating enough. N'est as, Dumas?" OHH... OHHH.... a crashed airliner, oh yes how silly of me. At 3:45 pm on July 31st, Aeroméxico Connect Flight 2431 crashed almost immediately after take-off from Durango International Airport. A hailstorm was in progress, and the Embraer twin-jet with 103 aboard was probably the victim of a down-draft. All 103 people walked away, although there were 85 injuries.

        Is Morningstar seriously expecting us to equate this incident with Hurricane Katrina, a Category 5 hurricane that caused catastrophic damage from central Florida to eastern Texas in August 2005? The cities of Gulfport MS and New Orleans LA were substantially destroyed, and 1,245 people died from the immediate impact and subsequent flooding. Wind speed of 280 km/h was recorded. So don't give me crashed small airliners with no fatalities, although the incident was no doubt devastating to those involved.

Volcanic activity
None, other than ongoing sequences such as the eruption of Kilauea, which began 30th April.

        Again wriggling, Morningstar cited the 27th July evacuation of Ambae island due to the imminent eruption of the Manaro Voui volcano. In fact, the island had been evacuated already, starting in September 2017 when volcanic activity increased to Level 4, and reinforced in April this year. The island is coated with a deep layer of ash but there are no reports of death or injury. So even if this eruption had happened during the three days of the Mars effect, it would have been pretty unimpressive.

Earthquakes
        Morningstar's prediction did not specifically mention earthquakes, but under the general heading "something and anything..." the three days of the "Mars effect" were free of any major seisms anywhere on the globe. The closest was a 6.4 magnitude earthquake at Lombok, Inodnesia that killed 14. That was on the 29th so it doesn't count.

Intense electrical storms around the globe
        This one is interesting. The lightning maps maintained by Blitzortung.org showed that Europe had been unusually sparky during the week prior to Morningstar's predicted effect.

Lightning, Europe, 28th July

By the 31st, Europe had calmed down somewhat

Lightning, Europe, 31st July

As for "across the globe", that one was a busted prediction without doubt. Here's North America and the Caribbean:

Lightning, North America, 31st July

...and as for the Southern hemisphere, calm prevailed:

Lightning, Oceania/Australasia 31st July

         These maps all show the lightning strikes accumulated from noon to 2pm local time on the dates indicated.

Morningstar pleads for more time
        Morningstar got so interested in this topic that he sat down and wrote a pseudo-scientific essay, The Mars Effect: How Mars’ Close Passage Exerts Geo-Magneto-Electric Effects Inducing Electrical Forces in the Earth’s Core.  Here are some excerpts from this woefully ill-informed work, which muddies the waters by conflating the Mars approach and the Lunar eclipse of 27th July:
During an eclipse, whether solar or lunar, there will be a summation of G Forces when in concert (i.e. in the same direction during solar eclipse),  or  as opposing G Forces during lunar eclipses).
When in that celestial configuration, there will be a differential subtraction of gravitational forces, whose buildup and break-down phases will compound the G-stresses on the Earth’s core and the Earth’s mantle as the 2 gravitational forces,
However, in this unique case of July 29th, 2018, with Mars involved, there were  3 sets of contending G-forces, tangling and tugging on each other like rubber bands from different angles at every passing moment as Sun, Earth, Moon transited in lunar eclipse, as Mars raced toward the Earth-Moon system with astronomical speed, interacting with gravitational forces and geo-magnetically with Sun, Earth and Moon during lunar eclipse:
The magnetic fields of all these celestial bodies were forced toward each other, pushing pressing, intersecting, overlapping, and thereby, inducing electrical activity between them and amongst them.
Finally, the Disentanglement Phase of the G Bands, where Mars is concerned, may take weeks to unwind, and so The Mars Effects on Earth’s weather, its plate tectonics and volcanic activities could take several weeks to dissipate, but during this critical phase a new series of super storm could be spawned by The Mars Effect like Mars did in 2003, spawning the super hurricanes, Katrina, Rita and Ophelia, which I announced and predicted on July 5th, 2003 while speaking as guest n the Jonathan P. Casey Radio Show, broadcast in New Jersey and the Philadelphia area.
        Morningstar seems incapable of understanding that the Sun/Earth/Moon alignment happens every single month, at New Moon and Full Moon. In gravitational terms, there's nothing special about an eclipse. He also seems unaware that Mars has no magnetic field, and he has the date of hurricane Katrina wrong. When I asked him, on Facebook, what his source was for the information that the Mars effect would now drag on for three more weeks, his hilarious reply was «I am "The Source."»

The mathematics
        I must admit I got a surprise when I calculated the actual gravitational interaction between Earth and Mars. The answer is, with Mars in conjunction, 2.409 x 1016 newtons. With Mars at opposition, its closest approach, 8.76 x 1016 newtons, or 3.64 times as much. Even though a newton is a rather small force (roughly 4.5 to the pound) that's more than I expected. Note that the accelerations produced are 0.403 x 10-8 and 1.47 x 10-8 m/secrespectively—very, very small numbers).

        The gravitational attraction of the Sun is 40,000 times stronger and that from the Moon 200 times stronger. Dreamers like Morningstar should contemplate such data before they go making silly predictions.

        Let there be no doubt about it—regardless of how Mr. Morningstar now spins the data, this one was a total bust.

Update 14th August:
       Hector developed into a category 4 hurricane, and was thought at one time to be a threat to Hawai'i. It holds the record for most time (186 hours) as a cat 4 in the NE Pacific. However, it missed all the islands to the South and rapidly weakened. As of today it's been downgraded to a tropical storm. If Hector had ever become cat 5, and especially if it had done significant damage in Hawai'i, Morningstar would have been jumping up and down yelling about what a brilliant prognosticator he is. As things stand, his talents are seen to be crap.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Richard Hoagland and numerology

        I'm getting a bit bored with pseudoscientists who begin their sentences with "What if..." What follows is invariably the grossest speculation without any supporting evidence, but somehow the whole sentence acquires some sense of authority—or at least, that is what is hoped. I guess my standard reply is "What if you're totally wrong about that?"

        We have a brilliant example before us, in Richard Hoagland's reaction to the recent announcement by Orosei et al, in "Science" 25 July 2018 of an extensive underground "lake" (probably more like a sludgy deposit, in reality) 1.6km under the Planum Australe region of Mars. On his Other Side of Midnight web page Hoagland writes:
What if, in fact, the Europeans actually have detected the radar signature of an ancient, buried, long-abandoned Martian city … the last surviving one … before “the Martians” were forced to come to Earth?
Richard, what if that's a load of bollocks?

        For extra hilarity, Hoagland has again totally distorted his own theory about the number 19.5. According to his writings, it has significance as a latitude (either N or S) on a spinning sphere.  But he's had no hesitation about drawing attention to the number when it's a longitude, a time, the apparent magnitude of a comet, the inclination of an orbit, the NASA budget in $billion, or the price of a shirt at Old Navy. He also apparently can't perceive any difference between 19.5, 195, 1950 and the times 19h30min and 19h50min.

        The sub-surface sludge on Mars is centered at 193°E, 81°S, and that's apparently close enough for Hoagland, since he also wrote that this was another 19.5 "hit."

Hoagland needs to be reminded that:
* 193 is not the same number as 195
* 195 is not the same number as 19.5
* A longitude is not the same as a latitude

Jeez....

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Mike Bara: Maximum hubris

        This morning Mike Bara tweeted "Thanks for the confirmation of my work guys..." He was referring to the announcementnote 1, yesterday, that Italian scientists analyzing data collected by the MARSIS radar of the ESA's Mars Express have confirmed the existence of a substantial sub-surface lake below the Planum Australe region of Mars.

        By "my work" he meant the so-called Mars Tidal Model, according to which the planet Mars was once tidally locked to a sister planet which then exploded, splattering one hemisphere of Mars with debris. This blog has critically reviewed the theory passim, noting that the hemisphere that is so obviously splattered is NOT the one that would have been pointing toward a hypothetical companion.

Not his work, not relevant anyway
        Well, for one thing, the Tidal Model is not Bara's work. He's credited as second author but the work, such as it is, was accomplished by the primary author, Richard Hoagland. For a second thing, the announcement of liquid water 1.6 km underground near the south pole has no connection whatsoever to the tidal model.

        This is far from the first time that Hoagland and/or Bara have blown their own false trumpets in reaction to astronomy news of the day. I think back to this claim from August 2008, and this one from October that year, in which Mike Bara stated that the hexagonal rings around the North pole of Saturn are "an inherent and specific prediction of the Hoagland\Torun Hyperdimensional physics model."note 2 In 2012 I coined the term Convenient Recall Adjustment Phenomenon (CRAP) for this kind of false recollection.

Planum Australe: WHAT geometric structures?

        Bara was even given most of the first hour of Coast to Coast AM last night to comment on the Italian announcement (although, typically, he did not credit the authors.) He said "geometric structures" in the same region make him suspect that this area was once inhabited by a now-dead civilization, and perhaps the underground lake was a water source for them. George Noory invited him to extend his comments to Mars, and the Moon, more generally ("What's goeeeen on, Mike?") To my mind, conferring the status of "expert" on someone who is so totally wrong about the nature of the Moon is an admission of failure.

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[1] Radar evidence of subglacial liquid water on Mars: Orosei et al, "Science" 25 July 2018

[2] This is what astronomers refer to as "bullshit." There is no documentary evidence that either Hoagland, Torun or Bara ever predicted the phenomenon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Morningstar predicts

James Concannon reports...

        Today, the self-styled "civilian intelligence analyst" and "specialist in photo interpretation, geometric analysis and computer imaging" (who can't tell the difference between a 166-mile wide space station and a 2ft sheet of mylar insulation) posted this prediction:
"Mars' passage close to Earth on July 31st, 2018 will created [sic] super storms like Katrina (again, as it did i 2003), along with volcanic activity and intense electrical storms around the globe. Be ready for something and anything."
We'll be watching.

Update 20th July:
Severe tornadoes ripped through Iowa, partly destroying Marshalltown. Nothing to do with Mars.

A different storm sank a boat in a Missouri lake, drowning 17. Nothing to do with Mars, either.

6.0 magnitude earthquake, Papua New Guinea. Nothing to do with Mars.

Update 21st July:
Scorching (110°F) weather in Texas, persistent drought in the UK. Nothing to do with Mars.

Update 22nd July:
5.9 magnitude earthquake, Kermanshah, Iran. Nothing to do with Mars.
Floods/landslides in Vietnam kill 21. Nothing to do with Mars.

Update 23rd July:
Record-breaking heatwave in Japan, dozens dead. Nothing to do with Mars.
5.9 magnitude earthquake, mid-atlantic ridge. Nothing to do with Mars.
Reports that Germany is running out of beer bottles because of a heatwave. Mars?

Update 24th July:
60 dead in Greek wildfires. Nothing to do with Mars.
Dam collapses in Laos. Hundreds missing. Nothing to do with Mars.

Update 25th July:
Exceptionally heavy rain on the East US coast brings flooding. Nothing to do with Mars.

Update 27th July:
Ambae island in Vanuatu evacuated as the Manaro Voui volcano began spewing ash. Nothing to do with Mars.

Update 28th July:
Severe storm (but not "super-storm") continues on US East coast. 500 buildings destroyed by fire in Redding, CA. Notable (although perhaps not "intense") electrical storm over the North Sea, extending into Germany. Nothing to do with Mars.

Update 29th July:
6.4 magnitude earthquake, Lombok, Inodnesia. 14 dead. Typhoon Jongdarinote 1 caused chaos in Japan. Mars is coming!!! (allegedly)

Robert Morningstar has now written that the effect of close approach will last for "at least three weeks." Clever — he hopes thereby to give himself a lot more time to claim that his predictions were accurate, and to guarantee that everyone will have forgotten his exact prediction by the time his window closes. I'm not buying it.

30th July ======== ZONE OF CLAIMED MARS INFLUENCE ==========
Typhoon Jongdari downgraded to "tropical storm."
California brush fires continued (having begun a week ago). The volcanic sequence in Hawaii continued (having begun 30 April). Some Indonesian volcanoes continued to belch (as they have been doing for a few thousand years).
A fairly impressive belt of lightning persisted over Europe, but electrical activity over the Americas was normal, and that over Oceania and Australasia abnormally quiet.

Lightning map, Oceania/Australasia 30 July 2018. Pretty peaceful.

That's about it for today.

31st July: 
Nothing to report today.

Morningstar reminds me that there's a tropical cyclone over Mexico, but, y'know, it's the season for that. There's nothing remotely unusual about this one.

1st August:
Nothing going on today. No major eruptions or earthquakes worldwide. Even the European lightning map shows much less activity. The Mexican tropical storm developed into a named event, "Hector," but it's a very junior hurricane with winds 35 knots gusting to 45.

======== END ZONE OF CLAIMED MARS INFLUENCE ==========

Now please see Robert Morningstar: FAIL!!! for an assessment.

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[1] July and August are peak months for typhoons (a.k.a. Pacific tropical cyclones). Over the period 1959-2015, those months saw average numbers of 3.9 and 5.4 respectively. In other words, it would be highly surprising if there were not any typhoons during this period (ref: Wikipedia).