Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Reflections on the Moon

        In a lecture at the Earth-Keeper 2014 Star-Gate Event in Arizona late last year, Richard Hoagland attempted to deal with a logical objection to his interpretation of this lunar image:

image credit: China National Space Administration, corrupted by RCH

        The image is from the Chinese Chang'e 3 lunar lander that touched down in Mare Imbrium on 14th December 2013. Hoagland loaded it into Photoshop™ and used the EQUALIZE tool. I commented on the technique a year ago when Hoagland first explained it, and astronomer Stuart Robbins did his typically rigorous job on it, on 1st May 2014. Hoagland tells his fans that the CCD detector noise in the sky is not noise but part of a vast glass dome over Mare Imbrium.

        The logical objection (other than the simple fact that the whole idea is crazy) is that the same noise pattern can be seen everywhere else in the left half of the image where there is black. Specifically, in the deep shadow under the spacecraft. In the Arizona lecture, Hoagland pre-empted this objection  (at 1:27:00 in the Youtube vid) by reminding us that the lunar regolith is rich in micro-particles of glass, and that therefore it's not surprising that we see that pattern down there. It's simply a reflection of the sky.

Proposition: Lunar regolith is reflective.

Corollary: From chest height, standing on the Moon, the all-black sky will be seen, reflected, in the lunar surface.

Experiment: Go to the Moon, take a good quality photograph from chest height.

Result:
 image credit: NASA/JSC
The proposition is falsified.

Monday, February 16, 2015

The pseudomind of Jason Martell

        I'm obliged to Mike Bara for Youtubifying the "Ancient Aliens" panel at the recent Conscious Life Expo. It gave us all a chance to contemplate the howling factual errors presented during those two gruelling hours.

        First up was conspiracy theorist Jim Marrs, who perhaps should have stuck to JFK assassination theories, a topic on which he still has a modicum of credibility. On this occasion he told his audience that NASA offers us no better resolution of images of the Moon and Mars than 100 yards, and at that, they all have "blurred out areas." One wonders where he's been for the last 20 years.

        Jason Martell was an unfamiliar name to me — although I guess I must have seen him on the all-bullshit cable TV show Ancient Aliens, and I probably read Jason Colavito's scholarly put-down in 2013. On the basis of an Arts degree from Mira Costa (a minor community college in S. California) Martell styles himself an expert in ancient technology. His youchoob demo of the Baghdad battery has given many a laugh to people who actually understand electro-plating. His ideas about astronomy are mind-bogglingly incorrect. Here he goes, on the subject of precession and binary star systems:
51:06 "Over 30 ancient cultures used astronomy, and basically used the 12 houses of the zodiac that we have today as like a grand celestial clock. And I've been starting to come in alignment with the idea that the ancients knew a lot more about the rise and fall of civilization, the repeating pattern that seems to happen here on Earth. You guys have heard of the Dark Ages, and the Golden Age -- well, these seem to be terms connected to a larger cycle of time, that the ancients were aware of. Precession today is based on what they call some wobble on the Earth caused by the gravitational pull of the Moon, and various things. And there's like 2,000 variables to it -- to describe the precession of the equinoxes. It's really kind-of out of control. There's a new model that's been catching a lot of publicity, based on some of the new science we have in space -- looking externally at other solar systems. Most solar systems are binary. We're starting to see that they have at least two suns -- sometimes even six, an intricate  dance. So it's very possible that we are a binary solar system -- that we actually have two suns. Our second sun would probably be a brown dwarf -- a dark star at this point, not giving off a lot of heat, not very easy to detect. But a lot of the evidence is pointing to the fact that if we are a binary solar system, the model to explain precession is getting disrupted. If we are a binary, that means that we have two suns in orbit around each other .... so that means that our Sun is literally orbiting around another sun. ?? concept, because that means that we too are moving along through space. If we're orbiting the Sun, we're going along on that journey as its orbit takes place. So there seems to be a correlation between the orbit of these two suns -- and when the suns are at their farthest point we're in the Dark Ages. When the suns are at their closest point we're in the Golden Age. [gesture indicating two objects coming together] Now, if you think about this for a second, this is a very large cycle of time -- a 24,000-year cycle -- and the ancients watched this by every 2,000 years we kind-of point to a new north star, a new direction.

[repeats the point]

If you think about that, all the energy we get from the sun -- you wake up in the morning, you feel the sunlight, gets us going... plants that lean towards the sun. Everything slows down when it's cold. What if we could introduce the electro-magnetism, or whatever these energies are, of two suns, and it exponentially wakens us, so gives us the ability to tap into a higher consciousness. And this is what seems to be taking place."
        Well, let's see... The mathematics of precession are very well understood. Lunisolar precession is caused by the gravitational forces of the Moon and Sun on Earth's equatorial bulge, causing Earth's axis to move with respect to inertial space. Planetary precession is due to the small angle between the gravitational force of the other planets on Earth and the ecliptic, causing the plane of the ecliptic to shift slightly relative to inertial spacenote 1. There is absolutely nothing "out of control" about it.

        Binary stars are reasonably common in the universe but it's by no means true that "most" solar systems are binary. It'snote 2 entirely false of Mr. Martell to suggest that our sun has a dark-star binary companion that we haven't detected. Infra-red telescopes would see such a companion star, and visible-light telescopes would see occultations  caused by such an object on a fairly regular basis. There are three possible planetary orbits around a binary systemnote 3, and in all three cases the presence of the binary would announce itself by very much more extreme annual temperature variation than we actually observe.

        But Martell's biggest screaming error was in describing the two suns as varying from a very distant approach to a very close approach over a cycle of 24,000 years, giving rise to a cycle between Dark Age and Golden Age. In fact, stars in binary formation rotate about their common barycenter, and the distance between them does not necessarily vary greatly or even at all. As for "tap into a higher consciousness," I don't know what that means and I bet the panelists don't really know either, although I don't doubt that they all use that phrase or something similar.

        The audience applauded at the end of this train-wreck of a lecture. If I'd been there I'd have thrown rotten fruit. Binary tomatoes, perhaps.



=======================
[1] OK, I confess. I copied those two sentences from wikipedia.

[2] Astroguy corrects me on this point -- see first comment.

[3] The three are orbit around just one of the stars (S-type orbit,) orbit around both (P-type,) and orbit alternately around star A and star B (the figure-eight orbit.)

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Review of Mike Bara on Coast-to-Coast AM, 1 February

        With Jimmy Church guest-hosting, Mike Bara was allowed out of the stable to frisk around the paddock for a couple of hours last night. An opportunity to pre-plug his next load of rubbishbook, Ancient Aliens and Secret Societies -- also to preen about what he thinks of as a successful prediction.

        It was quickly obvious that the new book will be another lame anti-NASA rant. Mike reiterated his false claim that Buzz Aldrin conducted a Masonic ritual on the Moon (it was a form of catholic mass, actually) and asserted that there was at least one freemason on each of the Apollo flights. I'd like to see his sources on that second claimnote 1, but even if the data is correct, I can't quite see what could be deduced from that. To Mike, it indicates that NASA had an astronaut selection bias toward people who could be trusted to keep secrets. Ergo, to him, this proves that there were secrets to be kept. Ergo, there are aliens on the Moon. Q.E.D. How very, very weak. How pathetic.

        Mike seems to have swallowed Zecharia Sitchen's Nibiru/Annunaki ideas hook, line and sinker — since he regurgitated them (without attribution) last night. I guess he thinks that's what the woo audience wants to hear. Any readers of this blog who don't know what I'm talking about could google Annunaki and settle in to read 861,000 pages of garbage. Alternatively, just pull up Mike Heiser's web site Sitchin Is Wrong.

Planet X, Planet Y
        The Planet X idea officially died last March, when the final results of the WISE infra-red survey were announced. There are no Saturn-sized objects out to 10,000 AU, and no Jupiter-sized objects out to 26,000 AU.note 2 A Scientific American podcast gave the news.

        But it seems the Planet X idea won't lie down. Just recently, astronomer Carlos de la Fuente Marcos of the Computense University of Madrid (with co-authors in Cambridge, UK) publishednote 3 findings on perturbations of the orbits of small extreme trans-Neptunian bodies which suggest the influence of one or two larger bodies out there.The survey is highly preliminary, and based on observations of only 13 small bodies, but that's good enough for Mike Bara the world-renowned planetary astronomer. The basis of his TOLDYA claim is that, in his book The Choice, he ripped off a Richard Hoagland notion that a relationship between angular momentum and luminosity could be seen as predicting trans-Neptunian planets. This blog dealt with that four years ago.

        So how come WISE missed these large bodies? "Oh," quoth the world-famous astronomer, "Maybe they detected them but decided to keep it quiet." As he said that, I felt the anger rising in me -- but then I thought it was better to just laugh it off. After all, when somebody has to posit something as ridiculous as that to make their story stand up, the weakness of the story becomes bloody obvious.

The Haters (that's us, I guess)
       Right at the end, we were treated to Mike's current thoughts about his many critics. Jimmy Church asked how he was coping with that — it went like this:

JIMMY CHURCH
“You know, Mike, you’ve been rolling that rock uphill in a lot... for a long time, for, uh, you know, twenty years.  And, what do you do, because— what do you do to fight uh, the, the wave that is going against you?  And, not only the skeptics, but the ones that just want to combat you at every step of the way? Because, you know, you choose... and like I said at the intro,  you’re steadfast in... in your research and your belief, and you don’t waver.  How do you keep up the good fight?”

MIKE BARA

“Well, you know, for me it’s that I know that we are all right about all this stuff.  I mean, there.. there may be certain issues that we’re wrong about.  There may be, you know, maybe some of the 9/11 stuff really isn’t all that serious. Not to bring up a sore subject, but, you know, there are going to be parts of what we believe in as a... as a unit, as a... what do you call them? ‘Fadernauts’ or the Coast to Coast AM audience, or anybody who’s interested in these kinds of TV shows and programs. We... we are gonna... Maybe there’s parts of the story that we’ve got wrong, but the VAST majority of it — 80% of it — we’ve got it right.  And it’s the truth.  And knowing that it’s the truth keeps pushing me forward.

"And, again, I don’t care about convincing those other guys.  I’ve  gotten to the point now where I’ve completely blocked out the people that attack me.  I... you know, I responded for a long time, it takes a lot of energy.  I basically set up a page where I said, ‘If you believe what these people say, here’s my counter-argument,’ uh... a dozen of them or so, and that’s it!  That’s... I’m just gonna let that stand.note 4

"Ummmm, and now I only wanna talk to the people that are actually interested in listening, and knowing that there are people out there that wanna listen, knowing that there are people out there that are gonna make their own discoveries because they’ll be inspired by me, or you, or George Noory, or listening to these programs, or some of the other guests you have on, just... That’s what fuels me — that’s what gets me up every day saying, you know, ‘Hey! We... we need to move forward with this.’

"And the other thing that’s really important, I think, that fires me up, is we are not the weird ones.  They are.  The people that look at us like we’re black sheep — like we’re crazy because we believe this weird stuff, they’re the ones who aren’t awake.  They’re the ones that aren’t paying attention, they’re the ones that are living with their heads in the sand.  So, I really have... feel like I’m on a quest to make people feel comfortable with who they are and with their fascination with this whole realm of stuff that’s out there: All these different issues that we talk about on shows like this."

        So Praise the Lord, Mike admits he might be wrong some of the time. On the other hand, Curse the Lord, Mike has a new policy. It's known as LAAAA LAAAA LAAAA I CAN'T HEAR YOU.


======================================
[1] According to this list, only Apollos 7 (Eisele,) 10 (Stafford,) 11 (Aldrin,) 14 (Mitchell)  and 15 (Irwin) qualify.

[2] For comparative  reference, the Kuiper Belt, of icy asteroids, extends to 50 AU. The Oort cloud, containing millions of comets, is at roughly 30,000 AU (80% of a light-year).

[3] C. de la Fuente Marcos, R. de la Fuente Marcos. "Extreme trans-Neptunian objects and the Kozai mechanism: signalling the presence of trans-Plutonian planets? Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society Letters 443(1): L59-L63, 2014. Here's a summary.

[4] This is the page he means. Note the barefaced lie: "As you will see, I never said that orbital eccentricity was measured from the Earth, that centrifugal force makes you heavier..." (See Ancient Aliens on Mars, p.42, and The Choice, p.32.)

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Robert Morningstar squeezes the truth again

with apologies to Randall Munroe of xkcd

James Concannon writes...

        There, I fixed up a famous internet cartoon, to bring it up to date.

        Appearing on blogtalkradio, 20 January, Robert Morningstar the "civilian intelligence analyst" and Regents Scholar of Fordham University was mostly rapping on about the Kennedy assassination, but he took a little time to drop one of his famous misunder-standings. On the subject of disclosure (of the presence of ETs) he said this:
"The question was decided by the Brookings Institution a year before Apollo 8. It said we shouldn't tell the world because it would be too disruptive.... etc."
        On the Book of Farces, I pointed out, first, that the Brookings Report was submitted to congress eight years before Apollo 8, and more importantly, that it didn't say what AM* thinks it said. I wrote:
"Morningstar grossly mischaracterizes what the report said. It recommended that the question of disclosure SHOULD BE STUDIED but did not itself express any opinion on the matter. In fact, no such study was ever carried out so the idea that Brookings somehow muzzled NASA is completely wrong."
...and I cited an article from Rational Wiki in support.

        After some banter, in the course of which AM* called me "a persnickity nit-picker, who loves to snipe with a little snicker" (which I took in good part), he came up with this beauty:
"The fact is that the Brookings Report began to issue recommendations in 1960, but it was revised regularly through 1967. I use the 1967 Editon of the Brookings Report, not the 1960 edition. Is that clear to you yet, or do I have draw you a pictuRe? ->M*"
        THE 1967 EDITION?????? If that exists I'll eat my hat. It appears that what Mr. Morningstar mostly learned at Fordham was how to wriggle out of admitting one's boners.
 

Monday, January 12, 2015

Dear Kerry Cassidy: The names are known

        The year is not yet two weeks old, and Kerry Cassidy, professional hater of governments and world-traveler subsidized by her fans, has almost certainly nailed the prize for "Most Obtuse Blogpost of the Year."

        Writing in the Project Camelot Portal yesterday, Cassidy proclaimed that the Charlie Hebdo massacre was obviously a False Flag government set-up, and asked this question:
"Among the questions that remain are who was actually killed within the offices of the paper if anyone and if they weren't killed, where are they?"
Here's the answer, Kerry dear:

Stéphane Charbonnier, 47 -- Editor in chief, nom-de-plume "Charb"
Jean Cabut, 76 -- cartoonist, nom-de-plume "Cabu"
Phillippe Honoré, 74 -- cartoonist,  nom-de-plume "Honoré"
Bernard Maris, 68 -- columnist
Bernard Verlhac, 57 -- cartoonist, nom-de-plume "Tignus"
Georges Wolinski, 80 -- cartoonist, nom-de-plume "Wolinski"
Mustapha Ourad, 60 -- copy editor
Elsa Cayat, 54 -- columnist
Frédéric Boisseau, 42 -- building maintenance worker
Franck Brinsolaro, 49 -- Charbonnier's bodyguard
Michel Renaud, 69 -- guest 

(Source: L'Express, 8 Januarynote 1)

        Cassidy must be the least well-informed person frequenting the blogosphere. She already took the 2014 Grand Prize for misinformation with this piece of nonsense, part of her interview with the Australian magazine Sneaky:
"Soldiers who are alleged to be going to Iraq or Afghanistan are actually being sent off planet to places like Mars to fight battles alongside other alien races. Those men and women will have their minds wiped when they come back. This is why we’re having a lot of suicides with ex-soldiers. In some cases their minds have been wiped so many times they become unbalanced as a result. When they return, they don’t know where they’ve been. They think they’ve been to the Middle East, but they’ve actually been elsewhere." 
        For more Cassidy drivel on the Charlie Hebdo affair, see this blogpost and its comments.

        My own comments here are somewhat out of the remit of this blog, since what Kerry Cassidy practices is not so much pseudoscience as pseudo current affairs. Cassidy is a dangerous liar and the only consolation is that traffic on her blog is now extremely low, and she is continually begging for donations. I sincerely hope her operation dies for lack of funding, but -- of course -- freedom of speech applies as much to her as it did to the Charlie Hebdo victims.

Je suis Charlie. Je ne suis pas Kerry.

Update 25 Jan:
        Interviewed on The Higherside Chats a few days ago, Kerry again insisted that the whole event was stage-managed, and asked "Where are the bodies?" as if she wouldn't believe five cartoonists were dead without seeing corpses. Wasn't that gruesome picture of blood on the floor enough for her?


        Kerry also said "Why haven't we heard from the wounded?" Kerry dear, it's because your research is shit. French Google rapidly produces their testimony. Here's an example -- the blog of Fabrice Nicolino, a writer who was wounded badly enough that his life was in danger.

====================================
[1] http://www.lexpress.fr/actualite/societe/fait-divers/charlie-hebdo-le-recit-de-l-interieur-de-l-attaque-sanglante_1638665.html

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The hollow Moon, and the brain of Rob Shelsky

         If you want to do any kind of successful spaceflight operation on, or near, the Moon, you absolutely need to know some facts about it. If you need to orbit it, land on it, and/or take off from it, the primary data you need are:

- Mass
- Diameter

        Once you have those two, it's a simple matter to figure out how much lunar gravity is available to keep your spacecraft in orbit, hold down your lander and maybe your astronauts, and resist your attempt to escape from it to get back home.  Well, NASA has done some pretty successful stunts up there over the years—not just Apollo but many photographic and scientific orbiters. The Russians have had their successes with the Luna and Lunakhod missions. The Chinese have Chang'e and the Jade Rabbit lander—the Indians have two Chandrayaan landers to their credit.

        So I can tell you with 100% confidence that we know how big the Moon is and how heavy it is. Here's the data:

- Mass 7.35 x 1022 kg
- Diameter (mean) 3474 km

        Since the volume of a sphere is given by 4πr3/3, it's a trivial matter to calculate:

- Volume 2.2 x 1019 cubic metres

...and from that...

- Density 3340 kg/m3 (since density = mass divided by volume)


More rubbish from George Noory
        I mention this—and I repeat, this data is not guesswork but certainty—because Coast to Coast AM last night donated three hours of broadcast time to an ignoramus called Rob Shelsky. Shelsky is described as an investigative journalist. His proposition was that the Moon is hollow, and he wanted us to know that there were three pieces of evidence for this idea. The first of them was that the overall density of the Moon was much less than it could be expected to be if the whole thing was solid.

        Well now, that's quite an easy factoid to check, now that we know with certainty what that density is. We happen to have, down here on Earth, 382 kg of moon rocks from Apollo, 326 grams from Luna, plus a few bits from meteorites. We can measure their density and see if the density of the whole Moon really is a surprise. People in white coats and face masks have indeed done that, and here's what they found:note 1

Mare basalts: 3270 - 3460 kg/m3
Feldspathic highlands rocks: 2510 - 2840 kg/m3
Breccias: 2360 - 2520 kg/m3

        We can pretty much forget the breccias because by definition they are highly porous — full of air (actually vacuum, since this is the Moon.)  Then once we realize that most of the Moon is basalt, the conclusion must be that there is no reason at all to think that the Moon is hollow on the basis of its density.

        The investigative Mr. Shelsky was perhaps misled by the fact that the overall density of the Moon is only six-tenths that of Earth. But that's because the Moon lacks that really heavy iron core that is siting there under our feet, giving us weight in addition to our inherent mass.

Like a bell
        The second part of Shelsky's "evidence" was that, when Apollo 13's SIVB upper rocket stage was deliberately crashed into the Moon, the seismometer left there by the Apollo 12 crew reacted and went on reacting for more than 10 minutes. Clive Neal, associate professor of civil engineering and geological sciences at the University of Notre Dame, entered the annals of sound-bite history by remarking that the Moon "rang like a bell." However, that has more to do with the Moon's perfect dryness than its inherent musicalitynote 2. It is not credible evidence for the hollow Moon.

Sagan
        Finally, the ill-informed Mr. Shelsky told us that even the Great Carl Sagan thought that maybe the Moon was hollow, and his co-author Ivan Shklovskii agreed. Shelsky cites Shklovskii—try saying that 12 times quickly. Wrongly, as it turns out. The booknote 3 he's thinking of speculated that Phobos, the moon of Mars, might be partly hollow. That was based on orbital data available at the time which has since been discredited. Now the error-prone Richard Hoagland is the only person who thinks Phobos is hollow, and even he would scoff at Shelsky's pseudo-data.

       Would somebody please tell George Noory and Lisa Lyon, his Exec. Producer, to stop misinforming their audience? Thank you.

==============================
[1] Kiefer, W. S., Macke, R. J., Britt, D. T., Irving, A. J., and Consolmagno, G. J. (2012) The Density and Porosity of Lunar Rocks. Geophysical Research Letters, v. 39, L07201, doi: 10.1029/2012GL051319.

[2] http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/home/15mar_moonquakes_prt.htm

[3] Sagan, Carl, and Shklovskii, I.S. (1966) Intelligent Life In the Universe. Dell. ISBN-13: 978-0440540564

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Blocking and warming

        Try posting a comment to Mike Bara's blog today. Chances are you'll be blocked with the message

Comments are restricted to team members.

        I wonder which team he means. Surely not his favorite sports teams, the Seattle Seahawks and the Manchester City football club. No, I think it just means he really doesn't want to hear any dissent from his amateur opinions. Not that he actually gets any supportive comments anyway — the last comment he allowed was from his brother Dave back in June 2014.

        I found this out because I wanted to dissent mildly from his latest attack on global warming, and specifically on the widely-reported fact that 2014 was the hottest year ever, if ocean temperature is taken into account. I'm not really qualified to argue the point — I freely admit  it — but I just wanted to offer up this link — one of many that my learned friend Prof. Google told me about. Here's another one.

credit: Dana Nuccitelli
        Why is Mike Bara the world-famous astronomer so set on claiming NO WARMING SINCE 1998? In my view, it's simple. The global warming meme is associated with Al Gore, and Al Gore is a Democrat. Mike Bara, as anyone who studies his tweets will know, is so hysterically hostile to the Democratic Party that he tweeted 'BIH Mario Cuomo' instead of 'RIP Mario Cuomo' last week.

        I think that's childish. I think blocking all dissent from a blog is childish, too. Just my opinion.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

The wisdom of Facebook commenters

        As I write this, there are 184 FB comments attached to the Coast to Coast announcement of Richard Hoagland's return to the show last night. Very likely more to come, but the trend is obvious. Even the very few supportive comments don't take Hoagland's opinions seriously, but are more in the nature of  "very unlikely, but we should keep an open mind" (and regular readers will know what I think about the "open mind" business.)

Here's a more representative selection:

"What a crock." --Lonnie Rowe

"That guy is a F-ing crackpot. His "theories" hold as much fact and are as real as Santa Claus" --Chad Garcia

"Mount Sharp is an ancient habitation. Good grief no wonder the guy's broke." --Vince Denny

"I think Hoagland is off his meds - again." --Michael Lonergan

"Hoagland...a legend in his own mind." --Steve Knox

"Hoagland would find man made structures on his own pile of *#@&." --Manny Ochoa

"Hoagland  is a real ego maniac and a fraud ! He loves the sound of his own voice. He needs to go away" --Jill Gartland

"Here we go again,no wonder nasa banned him,he is batshit crazy..." --Richard A. Martin

"Ridiculous. Is this guy on crack? Where do they find these delusional people? Where?" --David Jefferson Pearcy

"This guy is full of crap." --Joel BiJeaux

"Is it just me, or does Hogland take FOREVER to get to a point?" --Rance Sullivan

"But "I have analyzed all the data" and you sir are nuts. Has anything he ever said come to truth or actually been proven in "real" science?" --Matt Smith

"This guy is a delusional idiot" --Mark Miller

Lazy blogger?
        I pull out those quotes not to shirk the hard graft of actually writing this blog, but to point out that Hoagland has really lost his audience. It isn't just me and my fellow skepti-bloggers who see that the Emperor has no clothes, scientifically speaking. I heard all of last night's show, and I do have my own comments. The main topic is comet 67P, the ESA spacecraft Rosetta that rendezvoused with it, and the lander Philae that touched down on it.

        First, he was absolutely correct in reporting that the Philae lander is not dead. As soon as comet 67P's orbit brings it into a different orientation with the Sun (and closer to it,) there's a very good chance that the lander's solar panels will get enough energy to wake the spacecraft's systems up again. Hoagland isn't wrong about everything.

        He was wrong, however, in saying that 67P has no ice. True, the Rosetta orbiter wasn't able to see any surface ice as it approached, but when the lander attempted to use its MUPUS hammer to probe the surface, it encountered hard ice pretty soon. It looks as though the surface dust is perhaps as much as 20cm thick, overlaying a core that is predominantly ice and gets more porous toward the center of the comet. I refer you (and Hoagland, if he's reading) to the ESA blog posted a month ago, headlined Philae settles in dust-covered ice. There's been a lot of fuss about the HD ratio in 67P's water (that's the deuterium fraction, much higher than Earth water.) At a temperature of -153°C, does anyone think this water could be liquid?

        I laughed into my pillow when Hoagland spoke of "artificial gravity machines" inside the comet, and laughed again when he mentioned his buddy in Los Angeles who's an ace at digital image enhancement. This guy, according to Hoagland, has developed a way of removing "the blurring mask that NASA and ESA superimpose on all the space pictures" (not verbatim). Oh dear. Pure paranoia, that one.

        A bit later, Hoagland excitedly mentioned that comet 67P is sending out audio signals -- a song, he called it. Here's what he's talking about.  He forgot to mention that, to make this audible, the frequency was artificially raised by a factor of at least 1000. The true frequency of these magnetic oscillations is around 50 millihertz (that's one beat per 20 seconds.) Hoagland is either dishonest or ignorant. Maybe both.

Worthless imagery
        The images Hoagland provided to C2C to accompany his interview had no credibility whatsoever. Skyscrapers my ass. Take another look at this one, that Hoagland thinks is a tramway on Mars (he actually means a cable car, like the Sandia tramway in Albuquerque.)

        I'm obliged to another commenter -- this time from the Coastgab forum -- for pointing out what the tramline actually is. If you look at the whole strip that this image is part of, it's totally obvious that this is a boundary between two of the CCD elements in the HiRISE instrument.The line extends well outside the feature nicknamed Waffle City.



        The commenter was Georgie for President 2216, who also posted "It's a sad day for C2C when Richard C. Hoagland is the biggest draw in months." Thanks, GfP. The bottom line here is that Richard C. Hoagland, the unemployed museum curator, is pig ignorant. When even Farcebook commenters know it's true, it's true.