Wednesday, November 12, 2008

That Egyptian mythology, and those ritual star alignments

        On the official Dark Mission blog, Mike Bara posted today on the (expected) death by freezing of the Phoenix Mars lander. He wrote, in part,
"...readers of Dark Mission will be well aware of the significance of yet another NASA mission steeped in Egyptian mythology.... Phoenix signaled symbolically the Resurrection of Mars as an abode of life."

He refused to publish this comment in response:
It did nothing of the kind, Mike. It "signaled" the fact that NASA/JPL was cash-poor, and resurrected the canceled Mars Surveyor 2001 lander and parts of Mars Polar Lander, too.

Egyptian mythology, pffffui!!!

        Bara went on to draw attention to the fact (I'll accept it as fact, I sure as hell can't be bothered to check) that Mintaka, the rightmost belt star of Orion, was on the Mars horizon as Phoenix touched down. He also refused to post the following comment on that:
As for your star alignment, this is utterly worthless information. Since you consider five stars and two planets significant for these alignments, and since you count elevations of -33, -19.5, 0, +19.5 and +33 as equally significant, you have 35 chances of finding a "ritual alignment" at any given moment. Think about the thousands of events in the history of spaceflight. It would be extremely surprising if some of your 35 alignments hadn't cropped up, wouldn't it?

If I picked seven celestial objects and five elevations at random, I'd expect about the same frequency of coincidence.

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