Another two hours of Coast to Coast's so-called science adviser last night, and he managed to cram in more falsehoods than facts.
He insisted, as he has been doing to his faithful disciples in Facebookistan for many days, that he sees geometric forms on the latest image of Vesta sent back by the Dawn ion-propelled space explorer. It does not seem to concern the faithful that he has yet to show one single example of what he's pretending to see. At one point he wrote on FB about seeing 90° angles, but backed off when he was reminded that angles are not what they seem on a photograph of a sphere.
Fact: There is not the slightest evidence of any such geometry.
He remarked that perhaps this photo-sequence (only in its very early stages now) represents "NASA being honest at last," noting that NASA has never before released space images in .tiff format.
Fact: .tiffs of the entire JSC photo archive have been available for at least a decade. Images from the HiRISE telescope orbiting Mars are available in .jp2 format which is equivalent.
Moving on to the tiny long-period comet C/2010 X1, known as Elenin after its discoverer, Hoagland insisted again that "the numbers" prove Elenin has a special message for us.
He reiterated that Elenin's perihelion will occur on the very significant date of September 11th. He allowed that "there's some controversy" since if you're in Greenwich it will be September 10th, but he emphasized that it will be the 11th in India and Sri Lanka, the country in which Arthur C. Clarke wrote Rendezvous with Rama.
Fact: The time is given in the official JPL database as 2011-Sep-10.71930992. This means "Sept. 10 plus .71930992 of a day." 24 x .71930992 = 17.2632 so it's 17h plus .2632 of an hour UTC (same as GMT.) .2632 x 60 = 16 so the official time is 17.16. September 10th, NOT ONLY IN GREENWICH but anywhere in Europe, Africa, the Middle East or the Americas.
The time in Sri Lanka will be 22.46. Still September 10th. What Arthur Clarke wrote and where is totally irrelevant. Astronomers use UTC.
Hoagland dug himself deeper by proclaiming triumphantly that Elenin's closest approach to Earth will be at the hyperdimensionally magic hour of 19.5, and this time he didn't insist on shifting the time zone to somewhere his favorite author wrote something vaguely relevant 50 years ago. UTC suited his daft theory just fine.
Fact: The time is 19:51 UTC (see "close-approach data" at the foot of the JPL database page.) 19:51 in decimal would be 19.85.
It all added up, he said breathlessly, to the obvious fact that Elenin has a message that will save the world. We should listen on radio (he didn't say what frequency) for this message from 13,000 years ago.
Fact: Unmitigated poppycock.
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