Tuesday, May 10, 2011

An experimental protocol

James Concannon contributes today's bloggery:

        Not long ago, Richard Hoagland proposed carrying out another "experiment" with his Accutron equipment, testing whether the planetary alignment due later this year induces a measurable "torsion field," as he claimed happened during the Venus transit of 8th June 2004 (and at other occasions too, but the Venus transit is the only one he's ever attempted to document.) He asked for suggestions on how to improve his experimental protocol, which had been criticized (by me, inter alia.)

        His experimental setup can be seen here. A Microset™ precision timer and its ancillary software are used to monitor fluctuations in the frequency of the tuning fork inside a precision wristwatch. The claimed Venus transit result can be seen here.

The problems I see with this claim are as follows:

- He made no specific prediction
- There was no baseline and no control
- The first frequency peak at 07:03:53 went off-scale
- Many other peaks are seen later than 07:21:00, the end of the experimental period. Two of these are also off-scale and they are not explained.
- He tells us nothing about the equipment: How old the watch is, where the Microset was purchased, what laptop computer he used, etc.

Therefore I suggest the following experimental protocol for future tests:

- Purchase two brand new Accutron watches.
- Break the hands off them, since there are known issues with frequency variation according to position of the hands[1].
- Keep both watches rigidly fixed during test runs, since there are known issues with frequency variation according to position of the whole watch [same ref].
- Establish a baseline recording of at least one hour for each watch, with the watches in such a situation as does NOT expose them to the hypothesized "torsion field." This baseline can be taken many weeks or months before the test runs.
- Make a specific prediction. I don't think it is necessary to predict the actual frequency variation quantitatively. It would be enough, for example, to state "I think the tuning fork frequency will increase when exposed to the torsion field because the field will decrease the mass of the fork, and frequency is inversely proportional to the square root of the density of the fork material." Frequency excursions measured during test runs must be greater than any excursions seen during baseline runs to be valid.
- If possible, use one watch as a control, shielding it from the hypothesized field. This may mean sending it to the other side of the planet during the test run.
- Ensure that neither the experimental watch or the control watch is close to any abnormal electromagnetic field.
- Ensure that the ambient temperature is the same at the experimental site and the control site.
- Each test run should last 30 minutes, with the experimental watch and the control watch running and permanent records being taken at one-minute intervals.
- Stop any test which causes the frequency trace to go off-scale, and restart the test with sensitivity adjusted.
- Perform at least five test runs.
- Document all experimental hardware.

        Under these conditions, clearly aberrant frequency excursions in four of the five test runs would be acceptable evidence in support of the hypothesis.


[1] http://www.bmumford.com/mset/tech/accutron/index.html

        On Facebook, Hoagland drew attention to the difficulty of designing a protocol, writing that "we're in the same position as Van Allen before Explorer," by which I take him to mean that he expects to discover the torsion field as opposed to measuring it. However, that cannot be so—the Russian experimental work he so often refers to already did that. What seems to utterly escape him is that that work is thoroughly discredited.


Anonymous said...

Oh Man. You people are cruel. Worse even than James Randi.

I mean, how dare you be mean to Richard, making him prove his theories. Doesn't the fact that he wrote all those long, long, long, long...descriptions prove that he's right?

Are you saying that some boring "scientist", poring over dusty textbooks is more knowledgeable than Richard? C'mon guys, he got his knowledge from the Ancients.

Let's see. He's got a laptop computer, some kind of timing device, RS232 connectors, a mystery square, USB cables coiled 3 times each (because there are 3 digits in 19.5). The man's a genius. Can't you see that?

Chris Lopes said...

The set up described looks very promising. If we were to actually conduct a scientific experiment of this type, the data collected would be very useful. By adding proper calibration and a control, you do indeed increase the reliability of the experiment.

The problem is, none of this may really apply to what Richard is doing. We have no reason to believe that the watch was actually connected to the computer in any meaningful way, or that the "mass/inertia fluctuation sensor" did anything it is said to do. The schematic linked to just describes what Hoagland and company CLAIM was the set up. For me to buy any of this, I'd have to see the actual schematic of the apparatus, as well as the source code of the program used. It's just too easy to fake this stuff.

Dale Martin said...

I think this is in the area of the "Chance Brothers..."
Slim, Fat, No and their sister, Nada!!


Chris Lopes said...

Expat, quick question here. Hoagland is using a so called Boeing study on human perception (being able to see 3d shapes in a 2d image) to explain why some people can't see the artifacts in those images. Does such a study actually exist and does it say what he says it says?

expat said...

Well, I see from RCH's post not only 'Boeing' but also 'CAD,' and that says to me 'Mike Bara.'

I don't know anything about it personally but I bet it's something Mike told him about. As we know, Mike is error-prone, so the story may well be exaggerated or wrong.

Chris Lopes said...

Kind of what I figured. I was just curious if such a study actually existed or was it from Hoagland (or Bara's) imagination. He's using it to deal with the issue of pareidolia and why some (enlightened few) can see those magnificent artifacts and the rest of us (otherwise known as sane) can't.

Biological_Unit said...

More Manned Moon Mission fun:


Wagging the Moondoggie, Part XIV
May 12, 2011
by David McGowan