Thursday, October 27, 2011

The forbidden number has been spoken!

            In one of his recent mendacious presentations, Richard Hoagland insisted that the rotation period of asteroid 2005 YU55 is 19.5 hours despite the fact that the JPL Small-Body database clearly indicates that it's 18.

            YU55 is due to pass between us and the orbit of the Moon on November 8th. Hoagland stated that he had "a source at JPL" who told him that the rotation period was really 19.5 hours but they didn't want to state that publicly. He said something to the effect that, of course, JPL couldn't give voice to the magic hyperdimensional number.

            I wonder, therefore, how he reconciles that with the fact that the JPL database was not in the least shy about noting that Elenin's magnitude when first observed was — GASP! — 19.5. Or that its arrival at closest approach to Earth was 19:50, which everyone except RCH and the True Believers knows is really 19.83.

            Here's how thoroughly un-rigorous he is. When somebody asked him, on FaceBOO, why he was content to use UTC for the Elenin/Earth close approach but insisted that the Sri Lankan time zone was the appropriate bench mark for perihelion, he replied:

Have you ever heard the expression "consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds"?

            The mere fact that he claims to have a JPL "source" tells you that he's lying again. I don't believe anyone at JPL has answered a message from Hoagland since the days when messages were attached to the legs of pigeons. Even Mike Bara, in his blog 5th May 2008, acknowledged that JPL was enemy territory.

            This blog already chuckled over Hoagland's statement, during the Project Camelot videoconference disaster in June, that YU55 will do its Lunar veronica WHILE EVERYONE'S ATTENTION IS DIVERTED TO ELENIN. I now doubt that many people will even remember what Elenin was by November 8th, let alone be diverted by it. The words damp squib come to mind when thinking about Elenin already. How appropriate for Guy Fawkes Day.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Elenin checklists

        For once Richard Hoagland has a certain amount of right on his side. To those who've been taunting him with "Boo, Elenin's passed us and the world didn't come to an end, there weren't even any fireworks!" he's been retorting that he never made prophecies of doom. On the contrary, he's been publicly mocking doom prophecies as "fear porn." And that is in fact perfectly true. However, his disclaimer went a little too far on FaceBOO late yesterday...

"I NEVER said "something" was going to happen!
My analysis has been TOTALLY about what the "numbers" tell us ... about what Elenin IS!"

        That's a definite lie. Many, many times he has said and written, quoting Arthur C. Clarke, "Something wonderful is coming." So here's my something-wonderful Elenin checklist:

Nothing at perihelion, 10th Sept.

Nothing at closest approach to Earth, 16th Oct.

Nothing on 20th Oct., when Hoagland proclaimed Elenin was at 90° to the Earth/Sun radius. Unless you count Linsday Lohan failing to turn up for community service. Funny how that young lady keeps popping up in connection with Hoagland's failures.

Nothing on 21st Oct., Hoagland's bullshit day just to give him a better chance of being right.

        As for "the numbers," this blog has already shown that they are completely spurious and without useful meaning. Stuart Robbins of Exposing PseudoAstronomy agrees.

The 99%

        Please, don't talk to me about the assassination of Ghaddafi, Richter scale 7 earthquakes in Tonga or announcements of the ending of a war (however much I may personally delight in the latter.) By definition, any event brought on by an astronomical phenomenon must be global in scope.

        That brings me to Hoagland's other Elenin hobby-horse, "consciousness raising." I don't really know what he means by that, but I assume it's close in meaning to "increased awareness." Here he is on FaceBOO again:

"You know VERY well I'm talking about "Occupy Wall Street" -- which BEGAN in New York City, Sunday, September 17, 2001, and has now -- in four SHORT weeks -- has spread to over 2000 CITIES around the world ... to say nothing of the countless "town, villages and hamlets" inbetween ....

EXACTLY when Elenin was 19.5 degrees to the Earth/sun line ...." (to be continued)

I hate to insert another checklist, but...

Anything going on in South America?
Anything going on in Russia?
Anything going on in China?
Anything going on in Mongolia?
Anything going on in Indonesia or Malaysia?

That's a mighty large piece of the planet, there.

        No, Richard Hoagland's motives are all too plain when you look at how that last quote continued...

"....The signficance[sic] of which, in the model, you would KNOW--

IF you "bothered" to actually SEE the "Awake and Aware" presentation ... and knew WHAT I have been saying about Elenin!

        Only $10, folks, put your money right here... ka-CHINGGGGG!!

        And this, I sincerely hope, will be the last time I write the word Elenin. Now it's on to YU55, which Hoagland lied about on C2C-AM last night (no, Richard, it's not rotating once every 19.5 hours.)

        He's a craven, money-grubbing liar.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

NOVA plays it straight

        The PBS science series NOVA had a good go at exobiology last night, with a two-hour special. I hope Richard Hoagland and Mike Bara were watching—they certainly would have learned a few things....

        Mike would have learned that solar system formation from a proto-planetary disk is not just the favorite model, but finding strong fresh support from study of the Orion nebula. Nobody who matters believes in the solar fission model he prefers.

        Hoagland would have been interested in some very fine artwork showing that the asteroid 25143 Itokawa is a loose accretion of material that's as much as 40% void. He might recall saying emphatically, when discussing Phobos, that "you can't have a natural object that's 30% hollow."

        They both would have learned that, although a Van Flandern-style massive impact on Mars is indeed possible, even likely, such events were not at all uncommon in the early solar system, and that all four of the rocky planets almost certainly experienced the same catastrophic fender-benders.

        Hoagland would have been disappointed that nobody credited him with being the first to publish the possibility of life under the surface of Europa, one of his oft-repeated claims. That's because the claim is a lie. Maybe he'd also have been chastened to discover that the volcanoes of Io are not in any way grouped at 19.5° latitude, as he has falsely claimed.

        I guess they'd both have been disappointed that nobody mentioned cities in the rings of Saturn, monument-building civilizations on Mars, or robot heads on the Moon. My God, these people didn't even mention 19.5 once. Clearly a cover-up by TPTB.

        FINDING LIFE BEYOND EARTH: Are We Alone? was Written, Produced and Directed by Oliver Twinch, Darlow Smithson Productions, London.        

Monday, October 17, 2011

Review of Hoagland on Coast to Coast AM, 16 Oct: "The Magnitude is the Message"

        Rob Simone, last-minute host summoned from the bullpen to fill for George Knapp, definitely had the right idea. Just before the first break, at 13:30, he said this:

"When we come back we're going to find out if the inventors of this time capsule figured out a way to make it 19.5 magnitude, to fulfill the hyperdimensional model."

        It was the right idea because he was obviously groping for a way to expose Hoagland's totally invalid ex post facto reasoning. It is perfectly true that the first-observed apparent magnitude of Elenin was 19.5. Hoagland sees that figure pop out at him, and that's good enough for him. "We're off to the races," as he put it during a previous radio show. It simply doesn't occur to him that there is no conceivable way that an ancient civilization, sending this "time capsule" on its way 13,000 years ago, could have contrived for it to have that magnitude when first observed. They would have had no idea what our telescopes would be capable of in the year 2010, no idea how we would measure magnitude, nor whether anyone would happen to be looking in the right place in the sky at the precise moment that the magnitude had that value.

        Unfortuntely, Rob Simone didn't follow up after the break. He went off on another tack, asking whether anything was actually left of Elenin after the CME zapped it in September (Good question.) Neither did he pick up another spectacular example of post facto, much later in the show. Hoagland announced, as he also did during the Awake and Aware drivel-athon, that "Occupy Wall Street" had its beginnings on September 17th, when Elenin's position was 19.5° from the Earth-Sun radius (he didn't say how he measured that.) Then he added, "exactly in accordance with the model." But that's completely unacceptable rhetoric because the so-called model never made any such prediction.

Excuse me, I believe I was talking...

        The True Believers, the Branch Hoaglandians, are up in arms on Facebook today because they think Rob Simone dissed their idol. "He talked over Richard and never answered Richard's question," was a typical complaint. The truth is the exact converse. Hoagland interrupted Simone's questions at 20:30 and 26:30, talking over him loudly as he did with Robert Zubrin in May 2010. It's his way of dealing with anyone who isn't going to worship his theories.

        I heard the show as it went on the air, and I reviewed it again on Youtube in the not-so-cold light of day. To my ears, Hoagland came off like a raving, crazy, loony who's been hearing voices in his head and is trying to explain what they're saying because he's sure the message will save the world from destruction. Much of his material last night really did have the messianic touch to it.

        So what about this "time capsule" Hoagland claims Elenin actually is? It's never going to come any closer to us than it did yesterday, and there was no sign of a message. Hoagland, typically, hedged his bets on that. Here he was on FB early yesterday:

I think Elenin will NOT create any "space spectaculars"; that's not how "consciousness raising" works ....

The "student" has to REACH for truth and insight ... by, like, figuring out the OVERWHELMING "hyperdimensional message" of Elenin's simple appearance ... as it INVISIBLY complete's[sic] its "Hyperdimensional Mission ...."

        Overwhelming, eh Richard? Pardon my laughter.

        Any attempt to pin him down will certainly fail, and I give Rob Simone credit for even trying. The one concrete statement Hoagland has made, to my knowledge, on the "message of Elenin," is that the message is 19.5.

        In other words, the magnitude is the message. How unbelievably lame.

Hoagland posted this at 16:30 PDT Oct. 17th:

George Noory may have me back on this week, to "make up" for the overt "rudeness" of his guest-host last night.

        Wouldn't it be more appropriate to NOT have him on, as payback for his rudeness?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Mike Bara, historian, explains the Space Race

        Ancient Aliens returned to the History Channel for a second season last night, featuring the error-prone Mike Bara, this time promoted as a historian. Perhaps they should rename the channel the "Wild Conjecture Channel" while the series is running.

        Mike luuuuurves being on the show because it hands him the greatest of all pick-up lines in the lounges of Las Vegas. Last season he was an anthropologist, giving us the benefit of his expertise on the Doorway of Aramu Muru in Peru. I wondered at the time whether Mike had ever actually been to Aramu Muru, or even to Peru. Now I'm wondering if he's ever been to anywhere in South America at all. Maybe. I'd ask him, but he never answers my e.

        Anyway, here he is explaining the Space Race, from an ep that hasn't aired yet:

"The whole Space Race almost seems like a joke ... the fact is there wasn't an American rocket program versus a Russian rocket program. We had a German rocket program. We didn't have an American rocket program."

        Well, there's a grain of truth in there to be sure, although it might come as a surprise to the American engineers at Convair and Glenn Martin who designed and built the Atlas and Titan ICBMs respectively (both of which also served to launch astronauts to Earth orbit in the pre-Saturn era.)

        But really, what on Earth persuaded the producers that Mike had expertise on rocketry? Didn't they know what a total cock-up he made of the Explorer 1 orbit in chapter 12 of The Choice? ("I won't bore you with the details, but that simply cannot happen." Oh yes it can, Mike, as long as you measure the orbit from the center of the Earth.... D'oh!!!)

        The production values of Ancient Aliens are actually pretty good. It looks like National Geographic. They do have some strange talking heads, though --George Noory on anti-gravity???? Then again, count the number of times the narrator says "Could it be....," "Is it possible...," or "What if..." and you'll understand that we aren't dealing in facts.

        No wonder Mike Bara fits so comfortably. He doesn't deal in facts much either.

And so modest, too....

        On Facebook Mike posted "Just watched myself on TV. What a stud." At least this time he didn't remind us what kind of car he drives.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Review of "Awake & Aware": Hoagland gets an F in math yet again

        It isn't easy to talk for 3 h 20 m, but Richard Hoagland managed the feat at the Project Camelot Awake & Aware conference on Sept. 24th. He definitely has a talent for public speaking—too bad that what he speaketh is such unmitigated balderdash.

        The entire first hour was an amended version of the presentation at Leeds, using ex post facto reasoning to derive a completely spurious figure for the "odds against Comet Elenin being a natural object." This blog has already commented on the fallacy in that whole exposition. This version did away with the mistaken perihelion data and substituted something even more mistaken—another 19.5° angle.

        The new one was the angle between the direct line from Earth to Elenin at closest approach and the tangent to Earth's orbit. He asserts that the angle is 19.5° without saying how he measured it. He got his Grade F in math by then saying that the odds of that happening were 1 in 360/19.5 = 18.5. That calculation is, very simply, wrong. An error. A boo-boo. By that reasoning, the smaller the angle, the greater the odds against its occurrence. It is axiomatic that all possible angles should be equally likely.

        Speaking of "all possible angles," what if the angle were zero? Then Hoagland would find himself in a divide-by-zero error and his math would collapse like a house of cards. There's another problem, as if those weren't enough. That angle can in no circumstances be greater than 90°, so what is the figure 360 doing in the calculation in the first place?

        He made precisely the same error in relation to Elenin's orbital inclination—another component of his utterly ridiculous "1 in 264 billion" pseudo-calcuation.

A random comet

        He went on to completely misrepresent an objection posted to his Facebookery by Neville Parchemin. By Hoagland's report at A&A, Neville had protested that "you could do the same calculation with any number, there's nothing special about 19.5." That, however, is not what Neville wrote. Instead, he wrote that you could do the same calculation with any comet. Here he is, verbatim, from Facebook 10th September:

"RCH: Your exposition on the improbability of comet Elenin's parameters (C2C-AM, 08/29, hour 4) shows the exact converse of what you say it does. It demonstrates -- in so far as it has any validity at all -- that Elenin is no different from any other visiting comet.

Consider this:
ALL COMETS have first-observed magnitudes.
ALL COMETS reach perihelion on some specific date.
ALL COMETS arrive on some anniversary of some human event.
ALL COMETS reach closest approach to Earth at some specific time.
ALL COMETS have some orbital inclination.

It matters not what the actual figures are -- you could subject the parameters of any comet to the same pseudo-statistical analysis and come up with the same result. Odds in the tens of billions against that particular set of parameters occurring.

You have scored what in the game of soccer they call an "own goal."

        Hoagland responded by going off into a total irrelevancy involving the fine structure constant, and threatening to ban Parchemin if he didn't toe the party line. Parchemin posted the next morning, as follows:

"RCH: Good morning. Yesterday you asked me to present a pseudo-statistical analysis of a different comet, following your methods as presented in Leeds and on C2C-AM for Elenin. The idea was to support my contention that any comet would have very adverse cumulative probability when several factors were combined. You also called me "dumb," which I took as a pretty good sign that you were running out of rational responses.

I now introduce you to Comet Lulin, "The Green Comet"

Discovered: Jul 11 2007
First-observed magnitude: 18.9
Probability of that magnitude (per your scale): 1 in 452

Perihelion: Jan 10 2009 (182 million km)
Probability of that date: 1 in 365

Anniversary: 89th of the Treaty of Versailles, ending WW1

Closest approach to Earth: Feb 24 2009 03:43 UTC (0.41 AU)
Probability of that time: 1 in 1440

Orbital inclination: 178.37°
Probability of that inclination: Following your method 360/178.37 = 2, although that is a totally invalid calculation.

CUMULATIVE PROBABILITY following your method: 452 x 365 x 89 x 1440 x 2 = 1 in 42 billion


        Guess what? Hoagland's response was to ban Neville Parchemin from the page.

"NASA is terrified"

        He actually said that, about 01:25 into his marathon speech. I was waiting for some shred of justification for the remark, or some explanation of how he knew this, but none came.

        What came instead was Hoagland out-Hoaglanding himself in sheer absurdity.

        He Powerpointed to the image of Elenin captured by the solar observatory STEREO-B on 2nd August. Very cute, with Orion in the background. Elenin is the bluish blob just left of Alnitak.

        But "cute" isn't what Hoagland thought when he saw this. Instead he wandered off into his well-known fantasy that NASA worships Orion. This, he declared, proves that the entire STEREO mission was designed to set up this alignment, making the photograph possible. Yes, the spacecraft, launched on 26th October 2006, secretly had this as its prime mission. Stereoscopic imagery of the Sun was merely a cover. Never mind that Elenin wasn't actually discovered until December last year.

        You're going to say I made this up, I know. Nobody could possibly be that mis-informed. Well, no, sorry. I ran the passage twice to be sure. He really said that. There were no cutaways of the audience, so I can't report how many people left at that point, shaking their heads muttering "well, he's bonkers."

Familiar territory

        The remaining hour and a half was devoted to a random selection of Powerpointery resurrected from previous conferences. The fantasy that the A in the Apollo mission patch stands for the Egyptian God Asar. The fallacy that Ken Johnston was Head of the Apollo photo archive and provided Hoagland & Bara with original photography from the Moon. The Accutron "experiments," which this blog has covered. President Obama's second swearing-in ceremony—another one of my favorites. Poppycock, balderdash, codswallop.

        Finally, lest readers be appalled that I spent $10 on this rubbish in order to review it, let me hasten to say that a back-door version exists, or did exist at the time. Quite possibly the A&A people have closed that door by now. Kudos to Chris Lopes for finding the way in.

Update: Looks like the back door has closed.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Nikolai Alexandrovich Kozyrev (1908-83)

        Today, one of the Hoagland cult on FB asked:

"[W]hy are there more Sun spots on the nothern[sic] hemisphere of the Sun than the Southern at this time?"

        Of course, Richard Hoagland loves playing the part of the learned professor teaching his eager young students, even though he himself is devoid of a science education and has shown himself on many occasions to be essentially ignorant in any branch of science.

        Be that as it may, he played the role as follows:

"Because, HD/torsion Physics is NOT equal in both hemipsheres[sic] of rotating planets/stars -- as Kozyrev demonstrated ~70 years ago, with his hemispherical experiments on Earth. :)

GREAT question .... :)"

        Hoagland quoting Kozyrev makes me giggle. A lot. Why? Because although poor old Kozyrev, in the Gulag from 1936-46 during what would otherwise have been the peak of his career, believed in torsion fields, he had a view of them that was totally in conflict with that of Hoagland & Bara.

        Those two rebarbative ignoramuses Hoagland & Bara loudly and frequently tell us that torsion energy is preferentially manifest in a rotating sphere at latitudes 19.5° north and south, and that torsion energy is entirely independent of electromagnetic fields. Kozyrev said that torsion energy increases with latitude, is most pronounced at the poles, and, yes, is stronger in the northern hemisphere of planet Earth than the southern.

        He reasoned that torsion fields follow magnetic fields, which are more concentrated at the poles. The north-south asymmetry he ascribed to greater oblateness of the northern hemisphere, leading to an extremely subtle increase in the gravitational field. Thus he linked torsion not only to electromagnetism but to gravity—a scandalous heresy in the Church of Hoagland/Bara. He should really be at least excommunicated and probably subjected to some posthumous Auto-da-Fé, if that is possible.


        More notes: The notion that Earth is more oblate in the northern hemisphere has been disproved by satellite measurement.

        Kozyrev maintained that the white areas at the poles of Mars were clouds, not surface ice.

        He performed a series of laboratory experiments that seemed to show changes in mass due to rotation, or effects of moving masses on nearby pendulums. These have all been discredited.

        So I guess we should welcome endorsement of Kozyrev. Boosting that victim of Stalin is, for Hoagland, self-disproving.

Further reading: Divine Cosmos, Chapter 1.