Saturday, September 15, 2018

Robert Morningstar an investigative journalist. Wait.. WHAT???

James Concannon writes...

        This week, on the FarceBook, Robert Morningstar described himself as an investigative journalist. I had a good laugh over that.

A scene that has not yet happened...
[Cue the Harp arpeggios...]

- "Come in Mr. Morningstar, take a seat. So, you want a job as investigative journalist, and you say you have lots of experience?"

- "That's right, I've been doing it for twenty years and my intuition is great."

- "What we're really looking for is facts, rather than intuition. What kind of stories have you investigated?"

- "Paranormal phenomena mostly, anomalies on the Moon and Mars, that kind of thing."

- "For example?"

- "Well, I investigated the Apollo 20 crashed alien spaceship on the far side of the Moon."

- "But you were wrong about that, weren't you? Examination of the high-definition image from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter shows that this is just a 10km long natural depression, cratered to the same extent as its surroundings.

You also said that the Apollo-era photo that shows it, AS15-P-9625, was from Apollo 12 Magazine P. In fact it's from Apollo 15's Pan camera.

-  "I investigated what are obviously hangars for alien spaceships in Mare Imbrium."

- "Those "hangars" (and by the way you mis-spelled them as hangers in your report) are about 8km wide. Even in lunar gravity, an unsupported roof 8km wide is impossible. Here's a link to the LRO image. Your "hangars" are the two knobby hills at 24.06°W, 19.87°N. Zoom in as far as you like, see if you think there are any UFOs in there. Just like the "crashed spaceship," the hangar roofs are cratered just like all the surrounding terrain. You also said in your report that the image that shows them, AS17-M-2444, is from Lunar Orbiter. In fact, it's from the Apollo 17 Mapping camera. I see, too, that in your report you labeled seven craters in Mare Imbrium and got all seven wrong. We expect better accuracy that that."

- "One of my greatest revelations was of a space station in lunar orbit. I call it "Station Luna" and I have calculated that it must be 166 miles wide."

- "You are wrong about that. The image that shows it, AS10-28-3988, is of an 18-inch piece of mylar insulation that broke away as the Apollo 10 LM separated from the CM. John Young took several shots of it because he was slightly concerned that it was a hazard. Anything in lunar orbit 166 miles wide would be extremely obvious to every astronomer on Earth. This thing cannot be permanently hidden behind the Moon because a selenosynchronous orbit is an impossibility."

- "I investigated an anomaly on Mars that I called TMA-1. The investigation took five months. Finally I published this in UFO Digest: "TMA-1 clearly appears to be an intelligently conceived and designed form.. If so, this alone, of course, would indicate (and prove) the presence or ,more likely, the previous existence of intelligent life on the Red Planet. … I now believe that this artifact, TMA-1, may be a "Time Capsule", or the remnant of a larger one, intended to call attention to the region or, perhaps, to record the circumstances or forces, which caused a cataclysm that destroyed Mars' once Earth-like ecosystem."

- "You are wrong about that. The "anomaly" is "Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD)" on 5 April 2004. It shows the mark made by the Opportunity rover's Rock Abrasion Tool. What took you five months?"

- "When you have the world-class intuition I have, you need to be certain. It took me a long time to conclude that AS17-M-2366 shows a 10-mile high clock tower on the Moon. I call it "Big Ben on the Moon."

- "You are wrong about that, too. The version of AS17-M-2366 you analyzed was a preliminary rough, containing scanner lint. In the next frame in series, AS17-M-2367, the lint you call "Big Ben" has migrated off to the right.

Moreover, the technique you used in what you call your investigation—pointing a digital camera at your computer monitor—is highly unprofessional. If you worked for us we would not put up with utter bullshit like that. Anything else?"

- "My intuition has led me to many inexplicable anomalies that NASA has obviously covered up. But those are perhaps my best work."

- "Well, Mr. Morningstar, thank you for coming in today. Be sure to let us know if you ever get anything right. We may offer you the position in the event that all the other applicants are even more incompetent than you. My assistant will show you out."

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Point-by-point critique of Mike Bara's "Ancient Aliens & JFK"

        Things are looking up slightly over at Adventures Unlimited Press, where fantasist David Hatcher Childress presides. Bara's new book may still be a load of trash, but in terms of presentation, production and editing this is a much better job than its five predecessors.The whole 230-page book is virtually free of keyboard errors, the running chapter titles are all correct, and three pages of nicely-produced color photos are included. My only complaint is that, as usual, there's no index. If Childress refuses to pay for indexing, I wonder why he doesn't get one of his minions to learn computer-assisted indexing and do it all in-house. He could get a permanent license for TExtract, for example, for $395 (cf. up to twice that for agency indexing, just for one book.) An idea for you, David. Yer welcome, mate.

Thumbnail synopsis: JFK decided to end the Space Race and mount a joint expedition to the Moon with the Soviets. (That part is true). He knew there was useful alien technology on the Moon and wanted to retrieve it for reverse engineering. (That part is bollocks).  Certain political factions were appalled that Kennedy would be willing to share this technology with Russia. (Tiny grain of truth).  One or other of these factions conspired to have JFK assassinated to prevent this from happening. (Highly unlikely). It was probably LBJ. (It probably wasn't). THE END.

         If this all seems familiar, it is. Bara told the same story, at reduced length, in his previous book Hidden Agenda which I critiqued almost a year ago. In last year's book Bara seemed certain that the LEET technology on the Moon was left there by the Anunnaki. This year he's much less certain—in fact if he mentions the wretched Anunnaki at all I missed it. So the title of this new book is deliberately misleading as there's nothing much here about ancient aliens.

Now for the errors and questionable logic...

1. Chapter 1. This is 19 pages of absolutely standard JFK biography which Bara could have copy/pasted from any number of sources, even Wikipedia plus its references. I suppose it had to be done but perhaps 5 pages would have sufficed.

2. p.16. Bara writes of Joe Kennedy Sr that he married off his daughter Kathleen to the son of the Duke of Devonshire, as "a transparent effort to cull favor with the English nobility." Surely you curry favor, not cull it... [Also see Comment #10, it seems Joe wasn't currying or culling]

3. Chapter 2. Another 20 pages of highly unoriginal material, this time about Majestic-12, a favorite topic of gullible UFO fans such as Linda Moulton Howe. In this case Bara's text follows the Wikipage quite closely, but not word-for-word so I should perhaps not asperse plagiarism. Bara is obviously aware that MJ-12 is ridiculed as a hoax by most researchers, but he thinks there's a good chance that it was genuine. He writes (p.33) "If MJ-12 existed—and I believe that it did—then Kennedy, of all people, would have been aware of its existence and purpose." Later, on p.71, Bara strongly implies that MJ-12 itself is a suspect in the JFK assassination. That's poppycock in my opinion.

MJ-12 is all bound up with Project Serpo, which Bara has said he also believes is a true story. There's not the slightest doubt in my mind that Serpo was a hoax designed to sell a book. MJ-12 was either a complete hoax or deliberate FBI disinformation.

4. p.40. Bara writes that The United States was shocked by Gagarin's first spaceflight, on April 12, 1961, "...and six days later, NASA finally delivered a report... commonly known as 'The Brookings Report' to Congress." This is inaccurate. NASA delivered the report on 24th March, to the Committee on Science and Astronautics of the US House of Representatives. It was that committee that read the report into the record of the full House on 18th April. NASA had had the report from The Brookings Institution since the end of November 1960.

That damned Brookings Report. Ever since Hoagland dug it up (with the help of Don Ecker) all the conspiracy theorists have been metaphorically waving it around making totally false claims about it. Mike Bara himself, on Ancient Aliens S4E5, said "The Brookings Report said very specifically, 'Don't tell anyone'" That's completely false, and I thought I saw signs from this new book that he was softening on that point. On p.41 he writes that the report called for NASA "to consider suppression of the discovery of alien artifacts," (emph. added) which is almost true. However, on p.54 we find him backsliding to the point of writing about the report expounding "the necessity for concealing information from the public if need be" (emph. in the original this time). He then re-iterates (p.55) that NASA submitted the report to Congress as a direct reaction to Gagarin's triumphant orbit, which is not the case.

On the same page he writes "...the US wasn't even remotely close to being able to put a man in orbit." I take issue with that. After all, Alan Shepard's suborbital flight in Freedom 7 took place less than a month later. John Glenn was probably in training already, and his first orbital flight, in Friendship 7, would have taken place on 16th January 1962 but for a series of technical and weather delays (it actually lifted off on 20th February.)

5. pp. 73-74. It really does seem as if Bara has his dates all wrong in the early history of the US Space Program. He writes "As we look back on the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs he initiated in his May 1961 "We Choose to go to the Moon" speech, it seems to me that Kennedy was very frustrated by his inability to find out what the CIA, MJ-12 and the shadow government were up to." Mercury and Gemini were initiated before Kennedy was president (in the case of Gemini, only just before), and the "We choose to go to the Moon..." was not delivered to Congress in April 1961 but to an audience at Rice University on 12th September 1962. Plus the fact that, in the opinion of many space historians, it was Lyndon Johnson, not Jack Kennedy, who actually decided to force NASA to "take longer strides" (and by the way, be sure to build the new Manned Spaceflight Center in Texas.) The first episode of that lovely 1998 TV series From The Earth To The Moon was accurate on this point. The episode title was Can We Do This?

6. p.76. Bara returns to the subject of that damned Brookings Report again, writing that what it "essentially did was give NASA political cover for what its real mission was all along—the retrieval of alien technology from the surface of the Moon." That's the really bad one. It marks the transition of Bara's writing from mere inaccuracy to total fantasy. There is not, and never has been, the slightest evidence that this was Apollo's real mission. Bara can't produce any such evidence, so by default he merely asserts it.

7. pp78-83. A virtually word-for-word repeat of the section of Hidden Agenda describing Project Horizon, the 1959 military project to place a 20-man permanent base on the Moon. Once again Bara shows that he has no concept of the immensity of the task that would be required. He acknowledges that Horizon was canceled, but he writes "It would have been a fairly simple thing to implement this plan over the next few decades.... My suspicion and speculation is that that is exactly what they did."

As I wrote when critiquing Hidden Agenda, the illustrations in Bara's own book make it obvious that before Horizon was half built every amateur astronomer on Earth would be saying "Er...excuse me.. what's THAT THING?"

8. p.85. I scared the office cat with my explosive reaction when I turned to this page. Here, believe it or not, is this disgraceful bit of flim-flam:

credit: Barefaced lie by Mike Bara

First appearing on p.117 of Hidden Agenda, this nonsense was created by turning a Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter image upside down. The original shows landslides down the rim of Marius crater, in Oceanus Procellarum. Take a look.

Also on p. 85, Bara seems to have backed off a bit on his often-claimed pseudo-fact that glass manufactured on the Moon is twice as strong as steel. Here he writes "about as strong as steel."  Actually Blacic (1985)note 1 gives the following figures for Young's Modulus:
Lunar glass: 100 GPa, cf. alloy steel 224 GPa, terrestrial glass 68 GPa. So the true statement would be "less than half as strong." We may all pray for the day when Bara makes true statements.

9. pp. 83-87. A repeat of Bara's utterly ridiculous accusation, first trotted out in Hidden Agenda, that the color TV camera on Apollo 12 was deliberately ruined to avoid showing alien ruins. I commented enough about it at the time that I don't feel the need to get all hot under the collar again.

10. 88-94. Here Bara tacks on six pages alleging that the Apollo 12 astronauts conducted a covert and undocumented Standup EVA (SEVA) before the publicly announced EVAs. This fairy story is copied without attribution from somebody using the nickname Luna Cognita. This person posted an hour-long video about the allegation to Youtube in 2011. The video is quite well-made but it rests on a document dated September 2006: The Apollo Experience: Lessons Learned for Constellation Lunar Dust Management by Sandra A. Wagner. And indeed, on page 1 we find this paragraph:

"The blowing dust caused by the Apollo 12 LM landing appears to have been worse than that of Apollo 11. In fact, a standup extravehicular activity (EVA) was performed by the crew to assess the site prior to performing lunar surface EVAs because blowing dust completely obscured the view during landing."

        Seems straightforward. However, Robert Pearlman, editor of collectSpace, contacted Sandra Wagner about this and she confessed that it was an error. She simply wrote 12 when she meant 15. Scroll down to Pearlman's 3-19-2014 post in this forum. I commented further on Luna Cognita's (and now Mike Bara's) misapprehensions in November 2014.

11. Chapter 5, "Oswald and the Magic Bullet," and Chapter 6, "The Badge Man and the Beast." Quite why Bara felt it was worth devoting 36 pages of this book to the minute details of what happened in Dealey Plaza and shortly afterward I cannot say. In terms of his overall thesis, who cares what Mary Moorman filmed or what Howard Brennan says he saw?

Oh, wait... I do know why. Because it was only too easy. Bara and his co-author had already written this up, for their 2007 book Dark Mission. Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V is your friend, if you're a lazy author.

Specifically, from "Whenever anyone brings up..." on p.98 to " the Soviets" on p.99 is a direct copy from pp.171-2 of Dark Mission, and from "It makes little difference..." to "...the fatal shot" on pp.99-100 is a direct copy from p. 172 of Dark Mission. The only edits are changes such as "It is for this reason that we.." to "It is for this reason that I.." and "We felt compelled to review..." to "I felt compelled to review..." It would be interesting to know what Bara's co-author thinks about that.

12. Chapter 7, "The Wink of an Eye." Finally, Bara gets down to his business of accusing Lyndon Johnson of masterminding the assassination. Frankly, his so-called "evidence" strikes me as pathetic.  The fact that Jacqueline Kennedy was given red roses, not yellow ones, on arrival in Dallas. Bara calls this "a bizarre occult ritual" (p.138.) Then there's the fact that the blue carpet in the Oval Office was replaced (at the behest of Jackie, in fact) with a red one while the Kennedys were in Dallas. Bara writes (p.140):
"What a lot of people don't know is that Lyndon Johnson was a 33rd degree Scottish Rite Freemason ... and as such was very aware of the trappings of office and the power of symbolism. To me, the red carpet is symbolic of the blood of the King, Kennedy, who he had killed. He even used Kennedy's old rocking chair in the Oval Office for several years. The symbolism is Johnson sitting on the throne of his predecessor, while symbolically swimming in his blood."
Oh, brother! Talk about stretching a metaphor!!!

13. This famous photograph, from p. 141:

The same pic was used in Dark Mission (p.182) with the same ridiculous interpretation: The interpretation is that LBJ and Congressman Albert Thomas are exchanging a "Got him!" moment. Bara writes that Johnson has "a broad smile" and that Thomas is winking. Other writers have used the word "smirk." I can't do bettter than to refer you to the "Piece of Mindful" blog from 2nd March 2017. The title is One of the Most Fake Photos of All Time.

14. Chapter 8: "Who Mourns for Apollo?" (the title is a nod to a famous episode of Star Trek 1967. That title was "Who Mourns for Adonais?")

This is, unbelievably, 28 pages debunking the many theories that hold that the entire Apollo program was faked. Although I heartily endorse Bara's text here, I'd like to know what TF this material is doing in a book that is supposed to be unmasking villainy in 1963, and to be concerned with ancient aliens?

Once again, the answer is Ctrl-C/Ctrl-V. Huge swaths of this text are directly copied from a long essay Bara wrote in 2001, of the same title. The co-authors on that project were Richard Hoagland and Steve Troy.

15. p.211. Bara here momentarily fools us into thinking he's about to answer the burning question: What exactly were the astronauts sent to look for, and what did they find? Those are his exact words, in fact.

What follows reminds me powerfully of Lucy in the Peanuts comic strip, yanking the football away just as Charlie Brown goes to kick it. Bara makes passing mention of the rock called (by him and Hoagland) Data's Head, and then refers the reader to one of his previous books for details. Any reader not already familiar with the mythology of Hoagland would not have the slightest clue what that's all about. I've written about it several times, including this post from 2007 citing five reasons why Cernan and Schmitt could not possibly have retrieved that rock, or even noticed it.

In the next few pages Bara brings up the so-called "alien spaceship" seen in a stereo pair from the Apollo 15 pan camera. Here's a short briefing on that. It's about 10 km long and hardly an answer to the question What did they bring back? Plus it's nowhere near any of the Apollo landing sites, so why even mention it? Lucy snatches the football again...

OK, enough of the carping from me. I'd just like to add an approximate tally of the pages in this 230-page book that are copied from other sources.

Chapter 1, 19 pp. Copied from standard political history.
Chapter 2, 20 pp. Copied from standard conspiracy theorists
pp. 78-83 Project Horizon, copied from Hidden Agenda
pp. 83-87 Apollo 12, copied from Hidden Agenda
Chapter 5, "Oswald and the Magic Bullet," and Chapter 6, "The Badge Man and the Beast."  36 pp copied from Dark Mission
 Chapter 8: "Who Mourns for Apollo?" 28 pp. Copied from Bara, Hoagland & Troy 2001

I make the total 113 pp, or almost exactly 50% of the book. 

======================/ \====================
[1] Blacic, J. D.; Mechanical Properties of Lunar Materials Under Anhydrous, Hard Vacuum Conditions: Applications of Lunar Glass Structural Components (1985.)

Thursday, August 30, 2018

A flagrantly dishonest list

        Maurice Cotterell describes himself, on his primitive web site, as an engineer and scientist—but in reality he's an author who hit upon a genre that turned out to sell rather well. The lead paragraph of his Rational Wikipedia article provides some examples of the anti-science beliefs he holds dear. Click on the label at the foot of this article to see what else this blog has had to say about him.

        Cotterell's ideas are sufficiently bizarre (and inaccurate) to have attracted the attention of the producers of the overnight radio show Coast to Coast AM, who appear to be addicted to inaccuracy.note 1 He's guested on that show no less than 19 times since February 2002, most recently on 5th August this year.

        On that occasion he trotted out a criticism of Isaac Newton's law of gravity that was an illustration of the perils of lèse majesté. If you're going to knock one of the Great Men of Science, you'd better be sure of your ground. On C2C-AM, Cotterell tripped spectacularly. His claim was that, in describing the acceleration of a falling object under gravity, Newton had omitted to take into account the centrifugal force of the Earth's rotation acting contrary to the force of gravity. He's wrong because an object in free fall is not subject to that centrifugal force.note 2

Slamming into Mars
        His intended point was that Newton's mathematical lapse explains why so many spacecraft designed to soft-land on Mars have failed, and his claim was that 10 of 18 such attempts (55%) have failed. I got interested in that statistic since I could not recall as many failures, so I requested his list and he very graciously provided it by e-mail.

        The first thing I noticed was that he listed only 17 missions, not 18, and only 9 failures. The list included some familiar prangs—the early Soviet attempts (although even here he confused Mars 6 with Mars 7) and the ESA's ill-fated Beagle 2. More modern examples include Schiaparelli, also an ESA project.

        But Lookee here—what's this? Phobos 1 and Phobos 2  tallied as failures??? These were Russian scientific space probes of 1988/9, and were indeed (mostly) failures, but they were never intended to land on the planet itself, only on one of its two moons, Phobos. Phobos 1's mission was to orbit Phobos and drop a small landing capsule onto its surface. In one of the most excruciating woopsies of the entire history of spaceflight, a computer technician omitted a hyphen in a line of code and unintentionally sent an "end-of-mission" command to the spacecraft. Phobos 2 returned some excellent images of Phobos but it, too, fell victim to the gremlins of computer software before it could complete its mission.

        So Maurice Cotterell's list of Mars surface landers is inflated by two failed missions that have no business in that list at all. Not only is he wrong about the interaction between gravity and centrifugal force, the entire premise of his argument is, in my opinion, dishonest.

======================/ \======================
[1] Witness their current love affair with Joel Wallach, who is billed as a doctor but is in fact no such thing. He's a pill salesman, making a fortune from his monthly spots on the show.

[2] An object actually attached to the surface is influenced by centrifugal force, which is why things weigh 0.34% less at the equator than they do at the poles.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Maurice Cotterell manages to be even more wrong

        I didn't think my jaw could drop any further than it did back in January 2017, in disbelief that Maurice Cotterell could be invited onto a popular overnight radio show to explain a mathematical idea that was so totally wrong that it "made one gasp and stretch one's eyes" (to misappropriate Hillaire Belloc's very inventive expressionnote 1).

        And yet, here he was, last Sunday night on Coast to Coast AM, going one better. Just like last time, he was only summarizing what is on his web site so you can get the whole thing without having to slog through two hours of audio.

        He seeks to explain why so many Mars landers have crashed instead of soft-landing as intended (10 out of 18, according to him, and for all I know it may be the correct figure - But see Update 28 August). Here are the steps in what he laughingly calls his "logic":
  1. The gravitational attraction a planet has for an object in its vicinity is only partly described by the Newtonian force G.m1.m2/d2
  2. There's an additional term to consider, the centrifugal force generated by the planet's rotation.
  3. This force acts in opposition to the Newtonian force.
  4. Since Mars' rotation rate is 2.5% slower than that of Earth (actually the firgure is 2.8%) it generates less centrifugal force, and therefore more effective gravity, in its vicinity than Earth.
  5. An incoming lander is subject to the sum of the forces of gravity and centrifugal.
  6. Therefore a terminal flight profile calculated to be correct in Earth conditions fails on Mars.

Is he right? No, of course he isn't
        Well, first off let me say that centrifugal force acting in opposition to the force of gravity on the surface of a planet is, indeed, a reality. "It's a thing," in the slang of today. This force can readily be calculated; it is

-(mvcos L)/r 

where m is the mass of an object on the surface of a rotating planet
v is the linear velocity of the planetary surface at the equator (465 m/sec for Earth)
r is the radius of the planet (6.378 x 106 m for Earth)
L is the latitude where the force is measured

        For Earth, the (v2 cos L)/r  term works out as 0.034 m/sec2 at the equator where cos L evaluates to 1. A body, such as a fat woman, of mass 100kg weighs 340 grams less at the equator than at the poles, where cos L, and the centrifugal force, are both zero.note 2

        Statements 1 & 2 are therefore in general correct when considering an object on a planet's surface. Statement 3 is also correct—it's perfectly possible to imagine a planet that rotates so rapidly that anything not tied down at its equator would be flung off into space. We would say that centrifugal force exceeds the force of gravity, in such a case.note 3

        Statement 4 is a problem although Cotterell is basically correct in writing that centrifugal force is less on Mars. It has as much to do with the smaller size of the planet as with its rotation rate. However, that small difference is swamped by the fact that Newtonian gravity is very much less. Here are the figures (at the equator in both cases):

        Earth, acceleration due to gravity: 9.863 m/sec2
        Earth, acceleration due to centrifugal force: -0.034 m/sec2
        Net acceleration: 9.829 m/sec2

        Mars, acceleration due to gravity: 3.721 m/sec2
        Mars, acceleration due to centrifugal force: -0.0171 m/sec2
        Net acceleration: 3.704 m/sec2

         It's in writing Statement 5 that Cotterell has gone completely haywire. He writes "Newton failed to recognize, in his equation, that a falling body is also under the influence of 'centrifugal force' caused by the spinning of the Earth on its axis." He's taken the purely local and surface-based phenomenon of centrifugal force, and made it a property of the planet as a whole, extending beyond the surface into the region where incoming landers start feeling the effect of a planet's gravity. This is as preposterous as Cotterell's prior comments about gravity, and shows complete lack of understanding of physics. Of course a spacecraft having no physical contact with a planet cannot possibly be influenced by rotation of the planet. Neither can a falling apple, come to that, so Newton's equation describes that event accurately.note 4

        Statement 6 suggests that engineers devising flight profiles for soft landings simply don't know about this, and therefore miscalculate. Last Sunday night, even that old softie George Noory demurred in the gentlest possible way. He reminded Cotterell that the landing of MSL and its rover Curiosity in Gale crater six years ago (almost to the day, actually) had been a brilliant success and by no means a miscalculation. Cotterell mumbled something about engineers having learnt that when they completed their calculations they should "add a little bit, just for luck."

        Cotterell is kind-of entertaining I suppose, with his bluff manner and his soft Lancashire accent, but he should be permanently banned from the fields of physics and mathematics lest he do even more damage to them.

Update 28 August:
        Cotterell kindly provided the list from which he derived 10 of 18 failures, or 55%. It turns out he was including Phobos 1 and Phobos 2 as failures, when of course they were never intended to reach the surface of Mars. He also counted the rover "Prop-M" carried by Mars 3, and the rover "Sojourner" carried by Mars Pathfinder, as separate missions. And by the way his list was only 17 missions, not 18, so the percentage ought to be 53%. Small point.

        I now believe the true statistic is 5 of 13, or 38%. Since the failure of Mars 2 was attributed to a computer malfunction, that perhaps should be adjusted to 4 of 13 or 30%.

=================/ \=====================
[1] "Matilda told such dreadful lies"

[2] In fact, there's another phenomenon that affects the acceleration due to gravity on the planet's surface. The equatorial radius is 6378 km but the polar radius is only 6357 km. Since the fat woman is 21 km further away from the center of the planet when she's on the equator than when she's at the poles, gravity has less of a hold on her. The effect amounts to 0.668%.

[3] I'm going to be in trouble with the purists for even talking in terms of "centrifugal force." To them, this force is merely the "equal and opposite" reaction to a centripetal force. They would prefer to say "The force of gravity is inadequate to provide the centripetal force needed to keep objects attached to the planet." See the difference? But Cotterell uses centrifugal, and it's intuitive, so I'm going to stick with it.

[4] Note that as long as the apple is attached to the tree, it is pulled upwards by the small amount attributable to centrifugal force. As soon as it detaches, however, that small upward force vanishes.

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Robert Morningstar: FAIL!!

James Concannon writes...

        In my opinion, Robert Morningstar has just suffered the most humiliating failure of his career. The closest approach by Mars for 15 years has come and gone without any of the disaster effect AM* predicted. On Facebook, Morningstar is now dodging and weaving, making up excuse after excuse, but it's pretty much an open-and-shut case. This was his word-for-word prediction, on FB 17th July:
"Mars' passage close to Earth on July 31st, 2018 will created [sic] super storms like Katrina (again, as it did i 2003), along with volcanic activity and intense electrical storms around the globe. Be ready for something and anything."
        Let's take this piece by piece. I'm allowing one day either side of his prediction, to be generous, so I'll be reporting activity for the three days 30th July—1st August.


        The closest thing to a superstorm in the last week was typhoon Jongdari, which caused havoc in Japan on 29th. Hilariously, just as the "Mars effect" hit us on 30th, Jongdari was downgraded to a tropical storm. There were torrential rains in Myanmar but, y'know, it's monsoon season so there's nothing unusual about that.

        Grasping at what straws were in the wind, Morningstar cited what he called "devastation" in Mexico. What a joke. The weather system he spotted was a depression which eventually became tropical storm Hector. Wind speeds were reported as a mere  35 knots, gusting to 45. No reports of any damage, loss of life or even injury.

        When I pointed this out, Morningstar replied "I think a crashed airliner is devastating enough. N'est as, Dumas?" OHH... OHHH.... a crashed airliner, oh yes how silly of me. At 3:45 pm on July 31st, Aeroméxico Connect Flight 2431 crashed almost immediately after take-off from Durango International Airport. A hailstorm was in progress, and the Embraer twin-jet with 103 aboard was probably the victim of a down-draft. All 103 people walked away, although there were 85 injuries.

        Is Morningstar seriously expecting us to equate this incident with Hurricane Katrina, a Category 5 hurricane that caused catastrophic damage from central Florida to eastern Texas in August 2005? The cities of Gulfport MS and New Orleans LA were substantially destroyed, and 1,245 people died from the immediate impact and subsequent flooding. Wind speed of 280 km/h was recorded. So don't give me crashed small airliners with no fatalities, although the incident was no doubt devastating to those involved.

Volcanic activity
None, other than ongoing sequences such as the eruption of Kilauea, which began 30th April.

        Again wriggling, Morningstar cited the 27th July evacuation of Ambae island due to the imminent eruption of the Manaro Voui volcano. In fact, the island had been evacuated already, starting in September 2017 when volcanic activity increased to Level 4, and reinforced in April this year. The island is coated with a deep layer of ash but there are no reports of death or injury. So even if this eruption had happened during the three days of the Mars effect, it would have been pretty unimpressive.

        Morningstar's prediction did not specifically mention earthquakes, but under the general heading "something and anything..." the three days of the "Mars effect" were free of any major seisms anywhere on the globe. The closest was a 6.4 magnitude earthquake at Lombok, Inodnesia that killed 14. That was on the 29th so it doesn't count.

Intense electrical storms around the globe
        This one is interesting. The lightning maps maintained by showed that Europe had been unusually sparky during the week prior to Morningstar's predicted effect.

Lightning, Europe, 28th July

By the 31st, Europe had calmed down somewhat

Lightning, Europe, 31st July

As for "across the globe", that one was a busted prediction without doubt. Here's North America and the Caribbean:

Lightning, North America, 31st July

...and as for the Southern hemisphere, calm prevailed:

Lightning, Oceania/Australasia 31st July

         These maps all show the lightning strikes accumulated from noon to 2pm local time on the dates indicated.

Morningstar pleads for more time
        Morningstar got so interested in this topic that he sat down and wrote a pseudo-scientific essay, The Mars Effect: How Mars’ Close Passage Exerts Geo-Magneto-Electric Effects Inducing Electrical Forces in the Earth’s Core.  Here are some excerpts from this woefully ill-informed work, which muddies the waters by conflating the Mars approach and the Lunar eclipse of 27th July:
During an eclipse, whether solar or lunar, there will be a summation of G Forces when in concert (i.e. in the same direction during solar eclipse),  or  as opposing G Forces during lunar eclipses).
When in that celestial configuration, there will be a differential subtraction of gravitational forces, whose buildup and break-down phases will compound the G-stresses on the Earth’s core and the Earth’s mantle as the 2 gravitational forces,
However, in this unique case of July 29th, 2018, with Mars involved, there were  3 sets of contending G-forces, tangling and tugging on each other like rubber bands from different angles at every passing moment as Sun, Earth, Moon transited in lunar eclipse, as Mars raced toward the Earth-Moon system with astronomical speed, interacting with gravitational forces and geo-magnetically with Sun, Earth and Moon during lunar eclipse:
The magnetic fields of all these celestial bodies were forced toward each other, pushing pressing, intersecting, overlapping, and thereby, inducing electrical activity between them and amongst them.
Finally, the Disentanglement Phase of the G Bands, where Mars is concerned, may take weeks to unwind, and so The Mars Effects on Earth’s weather, its plate tectonics and volcanic activities could take several weeks to dissipate, but during this critical phase a new series of super storm could be spawned by The Mars Effect like Mars did in 2003, spawning the super hurricanes, Katrina, Rita and Ophelia, which I announced and predicted on July 5th, 2003 while speaking as guest n the Jonathan P. Casey Radio Show, broadcast in New Jersey and the Philadelphia area.
        Morningstar seems incapable of understanding that the Sun/Earth/Moon alignment happens every single month, at New Moon and Full Moon. In gravitational terms, there's nothing special about an eclipse. He also seems unaware that Mars has no magnetic field, and he has the date of hurricane Katrina wrong. When I asked him, on Facebook, what his source was for the information that the Mars effect would now drag on for three more weeks, his hilarious reply was «I am "The Source."»

The mathematics
        I must admit I got a surprise when I calculated the actual gravitational interaction between Earth and Mars. The answer is, with Mars in conjunction, 2.409 x 1016 newtons. With Mars at opposition, its closest approach, 8.76 x 1016 newtons, or 3.64 times as much. Even though a newton is a rather small force (roughly 4.5 to the pound) that's more than I expected. Note that the accelerations produced are 0.403 x 10-8 and 1.47 x 10-8 m/secrespectively—very, very small numbers).

        The gravitational attraction of the Sun is 40,000 times stronger and that from the Moon 200 times stronger. Dreamers like Morningstar should contemplate such data before they go making silly predictions.

        Let there be no doubt about it—regardless of how Mr. Morningstar now spins the data, this one was a total bust.

Update 14th August:
       Hector developed into a category 4 hurricane, and was thought at one time to be a threat to Hawai'i. It holds the record for most time (186 hours) as a cat 4 in the NE Pacific. However, it missed all the islands to the South and rapidly weakened. As of today it's been downgraded to a tropical storm. If Hector had ever become cat 5, and especially if it had done significant damage in Hawai'i, Morningstar would have been jumping up and down yelling about what a brilliant prognosticator he is. As things stand, his talents are seen to be crap.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Richard Hoagland and numerology

        I'm getting a bit bored with pseudoscientists who begin their sentences with "What if..." What follows is invariably the grossest speculation without any supporting evidence, but somehow the whole sentence acquires some sense of authority—or at least, that is what is hoped. I guess my standard reply is "What if you're totally wrong about that?"

        We have a brilliant example before us, in Richard Hoagland's reaction to the recent announcement by Orosei et al, in "Science" 25 July 2018 of an extensive underground "lake" (probably more like a sludgy deposit, in reality) 1.6km under the Planum Australe region of Mars. On his Other Side of Midnight web page Hoagland writes:
What if, in fact, the Europeans actually have detected the radar signature of an ancient, buried, long-abandoned Martian city … the last surviving one … before “the Martians” were forced to come to Earth?
Richard, what if that's a load of bollocks?

        For extra hilarity, Hoagland has again totally distorted his own theory about the number 19.5. According to his writings, it has significance as a latitude (either N or S) on a spinning sphere.  But he's had no hesitation about drawing attention to the number when it's a longitude, a time, the apparent magnitude of a comet, the inclination of an orbit, the NASA budget in $billion, or the price of a shirt at Old Navy. He also apparently can't perceive any difference between 19.5, 195, 1950 and the times 19h30min and 19h50min.

        The sub-surface sludge on Mars is centered at 193°E, 81°S, and that's apparently close enough for Hoagland, since he also wrote that this was another 19.5 "hit."

Hoagland needs to be reminded that:
* 193 is not the same number as 195
* 195 is not the same number as 19.5
* A longitude is not the same as a latitude


Thursday, July 26, 2018

Mike Bara: Maximum hubris

        This morning Mike Bara tweeted "Thanks for the confirmation of my work guys..." He was referring to the announcementnote 1, yesterday, that Italian scientists analyzing data collected by the MARSIS radar of the ESA's Mars Express have confirmed the existence of a substantial sub-surface lake below the Planum Australe region of Mars.

        By "my work" he meant the so-called Mars Tidal Model, according to which the planet Mars was once tidally locked to a sister planet which then exploded, splattering one hemisphere of Mars with debris. This blog has critically reviewed the theory passim, noting that the hemisphere that is so obviously splattered is NOT the one that would have been pointing toward a hypothetical companion.

Not his work, not relevant anyway
        Well, for one thing, the Tidal Model is not Bara's work. He's credited as second author but the work, such as it is, was accomplished by the primary author, Richard Hoagland. For a second thing, the announcement of liquid water 1.6 km underground near the south pole has no connection whatsoever to the tidal model.

        This is far from the first time that Hoagland and/or Bara have blown their own false trumpets in reaction to astronomy news of the day. I think back to this claim from August 2008, and this one from October that year, in which Mike Bara stated that the hexagonal rings around the North pole of Saturn are "an inherent and specific prediction of the Hoagland\Torun Hyperdimensional physics model."note 2 In 2012 I coined the term Convenient Recall Adjustment Phenomenon (CRAP) for this kind of false recollection.

Planum Australe: WHAT geometric structures?

        Bara was even given most of the first hour of Coast to Coast AM last night to comment on the Italian announcement (although, typically, he did not credit the authors.) He said "geometric structures" in the same region make him suspect that this area was once inhabited by a now-dead civilization, and perhaps the underground lake was a water source for them. George Noory invited him to extend his comments to Mars, and the Moon, more generally ("What's goeeeen on, Mike?") To my mind, conferring the status of "expert" on someone who is so totally wrong about the nature of the Moon is an admission of failure.

========================/ \========================
[1] Radar evidence of subglacial liquid water on Mars: Orosei et al, "Science" 25 July 2018

[2] This is what astronomers refer to as "bullshit." There is no documentary evidence that either Hoagland, Torun or Bara ever predicted the phenomenon.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Morningstar predicts

James Concannon reports...

        Today, the self-styled "civilian intelligence analyst" and "specialist in photo interpretation, geometric analysis and computer imaging" (who can't tell the difference between a 166-mile wide space station and a 2ft sheet of mylar insulation) posted this prediction:
"Mars' passage close to Earth on July 31st, 2018 will created [sic] super storms like Katrina (again, as it did i 2003), along with volcanic activity and intense electrical storms around the globe. Be ready for something and anything."
We'll be watching.

Update 20th July:
Severe tornadoes ripped through Iowa, partly destroying Marshalltown. Nothing to do with Mars.

A different storm sank a boat in a Missouri lake, drowning 17. Nothing to do with Mars, either.

6.0 magnitude earthquake, Papua New Guinea. Nothing to do with Mars.

Update 21st July:
Scorching (110°F) weather in Texas, persistent drought in the UK. Nothing to do with Mars.

Update 22nd July:
5.9 magnitude earthquake, Kermanshah, Iran. Nothing to do with Mars.
Floods/landslides in Vietnam kill 21. Nothing to do with Mars.

Update 23rd July:
Record-breaking heatwave in Japan, dozens dead. Nothing to do with Mars.
5.9 magnitude earthquake, mid-atlantic ridge. Nothing to do with Mars.
Reports that Germany is running out of beer bottles because of a heatwave. Mars?

Update 24th July:
60 dead in Greek wildfires. Nothing to do with Mars.
Dam collapses in Laos. Hundreds missing. Nothing to do with Mars.

Update 25th July:
Exceptionally heavy rain on the East US coast brings flooding. Nothing to do with Mars.

Update 27th July:
Ambae island in Vanuatu evacuated as the Manaro Voui volcano began spewing ash. Nothing to do with Mars.

Update 28th July:
Severe storm (but not "super-storm") continues on US East coast. 500 buildings destroyed by fire in Redding, CA. Notable (although perhaps not "intense") electrical storm over the North Sea, extending into Germany. Nothing to do with Mars.

Update 29th July:
6.4 magnitude earthquake, Lombok, Inodnesia. 14 dead. Typhoon Jongdarinote 1 caused chaos in Japan. Mars is coming!!! (allegedly)

Robert Morningstar has now written that the effect of close approach will last for "at least three weeks." Clever — he hopes thereby to give himself a lot more time to claim that his predictions were accurate, and to guarantee that everyone will have forgotten his exact prediction by the time his window closes. I'm not buying it.

30th July ======== ZONE OF CLAIMED MARS INFLUENCE ==========
Typhoon Jongdari downgraded to "tropical storm."
California brush fires continued (having begun a week ago). The volcanic sequence in Hawaii continued (having begun 30 April). Some Indonesian volcanoes continued to belch (as they have been doing for a few thousand years).
A fairly impressive belt of lightning persisted over Europe, but electrical activity over the Americas was normal, and that over Oceania and Australasia abnormally quiet.

Lightning map, Oceania/Australasia 30 July 2018. Pretty peaceful.

That's about it for today.

31st July: 
Nothing to report today.

Morningstar reminds me that there's a tropical cyclone over Mexico, but, y'know, it's the season for that. There's nothing remotely unusual about this one.

1st August:
Nothing going on today. No major eruptions or earthquakes worldwide. Even the European lightning map shows much less activity. The Mexican tropical storm developed into a named event, "Hector," but it's a very junior hurricane with winds 35 knots gusting to 45.


Now please see Robert Morningstar: FAIL!!! for an assessment.

=======================/ \======================
[1] July and August are peak months for typhoons (a.k.a. Pacific tropical cyclones). Over the period 1959-2015, those months saw average numbers of 3.9 and 5.4 respectively. In other words, it would be highly surprising if there were not any typhoons during this period (ref: Wikipedia).

Saturday, July 7, 2018

Robert Morningstar's fake-everything page

James Concannon reports...

        Robert Morningstar has written "I manage my Facebook page like a newspaper." What a joke. The truth is that he's turned his page into an aggregator of totally fake news. His sources include such laughable peddlars of propaganda as Pamela Geller,, and He sometimes writes a little text himself, but more often just re-posts the lead from his source.

       The majority of the garbage he re-posts is straight Republican talking-points. It's no secret that Morningstar's politics are slightly to the right of Adolf Hitler, so readers of the page get reminded daily that Donald Trump is a saint, and that Obama and the Clintons are serial child-killing maniacs.

        Last month expat was lamenting the fact that, these days, Internet arguments so often deteriorate into accusations of pedophilia. I guess the general idea is "Since pedophilia is the worst thing we can imagine, let's accuse our enemies of it and see if it sticks." So, for example, just yesterday Morningstar posted this from zerohedge:

Ex-Clinton Foundation Official Tied To Chinese Kindergarten Embroiled In Bizarre Sexual Abuse Scandal

        The actual story is highly tenuous and the connection to the Clinton Foundation non-existent. It dates from 26th November 2017, and Morningstar seems unaware that CNN covered it three days later, reporting that the police investigation concluded that the parents were making up the stories of abuse for whatever reason. But this is what passes for "news" in the world of Robert Morningstar.

        Another major theme Mr. Morningstar has willingly sucked up from his sources is Islamophobia. These sources include the blogs and creepingsharia. As expat reported back in Januay 2016, AM* thinks nothing of deliberately misattributing news images, labeling them as evidence of the crimes of Islam when they are, in fact, no such thing. monitors those sources and, under the tag creepingsharia, documents another flagrant case of misattribution, this time involving video coverage of a religious procession in Bradford, Yorkshire. The procession was not, as alleged, a demonstration in favor of Sharia.

        Morningstar hates because it frequently contradicts his prejudices. But instead of countering its analysis with logical rebuttal, he simply writes the catchphrase "Snopes is for dopes" and leaves it at that. His followers don't seem to mind, and they probably agree.

It's all a conspiracy
        Those twin major themes have almost pushed science and medicine off this horrible page, but those themes do still have a foothold, especially when the news can be twisted to imply a cover-up by governments or large corporations. A few days ago we saw this headline:

Cancer Institute Finally Admits Marijuana Kills Cancer

The source was and the lead was as follows;
"In August 2015, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) released a report on their website which stated, “Marijuana kills cancer”. Yes, you read that right – marijuana kills cancer."
        Except that the NCI report cited did not state that. Read the actual report, or the abstract anyway, and you'll find a 6-point bullet list ending with this very, very guarded statement:

* Cannabinoids may have benefits in the treatment of cancer-related side effects.

        Why does an educated man—a scholar, no less, he tells us—re-publish such trash without batting an eyelid? I've thought about that question, and here's the picture I have. Morningstar doesn't care about the truth. He has all these sources, and he gets up in the morning and reviews them. He truly sees himself as an editor/aggregator on behalf of a readership that's as bigoted and intolerant as he is, so he just picks whatever stories he thinks will appeal to that readership. The question of whether they are true or not doesn't cross his mind. Snopes is for dopes, for the simple reason that checking out unlikely news stories is a ridiculous and quite unnecessary activity.

        There's also, I think, some element of wishful thinking. He wishes he would be the one to discover a mysterious 10-mile high tower on the Moon, so he fastens on a piece of lint caught in a scanner and makes it so. He wishes he would discover a huge space station in lunar orbit, so an Apollo 10 image of a piece of floating mylar insulation becomes that space station and he calculates its size as 166 miles across. It doesn't occur to him that such an object would be extremely well known to every astronomer both amateur and professional in the world (and by the way, it could NOT be permanently hidden behind the Moon since a selenosynchronous orbit is an impossibility.)

Morningstar's 166-mile space station (public domain)

        If I'm right, it's a waste of time trying to convince him that he's wrong. I will continue to snap at his heels, however, whenever I have time. My hope is that some of his followers may one day see how bamboozled they have become.

Update: Morningstar now accuses me of sympathy with pedophiles

8th July: AM* re-posted a "story" from yournewswire with the headline:

British Man Gets Prison Sentence For Exposing Political Pedophile Ring

        The story concerns a con-man known only as "Nick." This person, now 50 years old, made allegations of sex abuse against a number of public figures, alleging multiple incidents of pedophilia and even murder, dating back 30 years. "Nick" filed a claim for £20,000 compensation.

        The police investigation of these claims, known as Operation Midland, found no evidence to support the allegations and was closed in 2016. Compensation was paid to those who had been harrassed by the investigation.

        Now "Nick" himself has been charged with twelve counts of perverting the cause of justice and one of fraud. He will appear in court in September.

        The yournewswire piece falsely reported that "Nick" has already been sentenced, adding "It’s not the first time the British legal system has conspired against those in society determined to bring pedophiles to justice."

When I posted to AM*'s fooboo page, correcting the yournewswire story, he replied:
"But we all know that what he exposed ("Nick") was true, and the British police are only protecting the guilty."
I replied
"No we don't "all know" that, Robert, that's just your fantasy. Nick's stories were pure fabrications."
AM* then came back with:
"Of course, "You all" don't know about the rampant pedophilia in Britain because you sympathize with pedophiles and so you blind yourself to their crimes."
I demanded that he produce evidence that I sympathize with pedophiles, or retract the accusation.

So far he has done neither.


Monday, June 25, 2018

Bret Sheppard displays first his ignorance, then his vindictiveness

        If you feel the need to listen to three hours of two guys who basically agree about everything shouting at each other, check out Gary Leggiere interviewing Bret Sheppard on The Martian Revelation Show, recorded last Saturday. Bret Sheppard is the guy who knows nothing whatever about spaceflight or physics, but who wrote and self-published a book strongly supporting Ken Johnston's claim that the Apollo 14 astronauts made 16mm film of an alien base in the lunar crater Tsiolkovsky. Naturally, he cannot provide this film sequence as evidence for his claim, nor can he provide any other documentation as backup.

        Sheppard's book, Flyover Tsiolkovsky Crater, has now been withdrawn from circulation, but while it existed it attracted just one Amazon review. That review probably tells you all you need to know about the wretched thing.

        During the Martian Revelation interview, Sheppard did his best to defend the idea that a balloon might be useful on the Moon. He referred to a 1950s-era technology that used a helium balloon to hoist a rocket into the stratosphere, thus avoiding the need to expend large volumes of rocket fuel for the first 1% of a flight, when the pull of Earth gravity is at its strongest.
01:58:03 Sheppard: "NASA used that same thing later to test the atmosphere on the Moon, Mars and Venus. And what would happen is, they would have the balloon, with their [..] diagnostic equipment or whatever on the bottom, and when the Sun would come over the edge of the terminator it would heat up the balloon. The balloon would rise, and—keep this in mind—that we do not know what the atmosphere is. We're completely dependent on what NASA tells us."
        One of the many things that Sheppard does not understand is that science experiments may be carried by NASA spacecraft, but the experiment packages themselves are not built by NASA but by scientists who have successfully applied to have their experiments carried. The principal information we have about the Lunar atmosphere comes from the Lunar Atmosphere Composition Experiment, part of the ALSEP array carried on Apollo 17. It is not NASA telling us these results, but the Principal Investigator of LACE, Dr. John H. Hoffman of the University of Texas, Dallas.

        Much later (2013), the  Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) basically confirmed the ultra-low atmospheric pressure on the Moon. The atmosphere is very comparable to that at 400km above the Earth's surface, where the ISS orbits. The Neutral Mass Spectrometer (NMS) on LADEE was designed by the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder. It is them that are telling us the results, not NASA.

        It goes without saying that the experiment Sheppard describes never happened. I'm giggling about the balloon on Venus, a planet whose mean surface temperature is ~460°C.

        Before the Martian Revelation interview ever happened, I suggested to Gary that he might show Bret Sheppard this modern high-resolution image of Tsiolkovsky, from the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter NACs, and ask him to point out where the aliens are. On Gary's foo boo page, Sheppard posted:
"You want me to show you on a map that is completely sanitized with CGI for the satisfaction of a bunch of debunkers who protect pedo's in court with false memory syndrome?"
         I lament the fact that Internet argument has now deteriorated to the extent that a belligerent and ignorant person losing a purely technical argument thinks it's all OK to accuse his opponent of advocating pedophilia without any evidence, purely to score a point. I challenge Bret Sheppard to provide evidence that I have ever advocated pedophilia, or retract the accusation publicly.

"I never said that"
        In the same foo boo dialog, Sheppard wrote:
"I never said they used balloons for safe touchdowns. I said they used them for atmospheric experiments like NASA has on both Venus and Mars."
        From Flyover Tsiolkovsky Crater by Bret C. Sheppard, pub. CreateSpace, 2016. ISBN 978-1541162624
"Questions have arisen about the reality of the Lunar landing due to there not being any blast zone under the L.E.M. The craft looks like it touched down gently ... Was it gently deposited on the surface by a balloon?"
        I'd cite a page number but the editor (Karen Patrick) quite forgot to paginate the book.

Thanks to "The Orbs Whiperer [sic]" for leading me to the quotes above.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Mike Bara responds to his critics

The following exchange is copied verbatim from Mike Bara's author facebooboo page:

Doug Brokaw: Dude, what is it with you and all these non-existent conspiracy theory's and government cover-ups? And why do you have to insult two of the Apollo Astronauts, calling them liars? Is it about selling books? You know if you applied the same effort towards writing the truth you would probably sell a lot more books. That and you wouldn't be laughed at by the scientific communities. And what was this photo of "Crystal spires" on the moon? You took a NASA photo of landslides in a crater, then turned them upside down and claimed they were your Crystal spires! Disgraceful! I didn't come to your site to write a comment, just curious about what people were saying about you at other sites (not very complimentary). It never ceases to amaze me how low people can go in an attempt to convince others of whatever nonsense it is they believe themselves.

Mike Bara (Author): Lick my balls, assshole [sic].

Monday, June 11, 2018

Mike Bara feeds his audience a diet of nonsense

        Writing of images of the Earth from space, Mike Bara once offered this extraordinarily ignorant explanation:
"[T]he clouds are the highest in the atmosphere, meaning that they are reflecting more light back to the camera and at a faster rate. Since they are returning more light, the clouds are the lightest. The surface areas … are darker, because they are a bit further away from the camera than the clouds and therefore the light has to travel further before it is reflected back. The deep blue oceans are therefore the darkest, because the light has to travel all the way to the ocean floor before it is reflected back to the camera." — Ancient Aliens on the Moon, p.125
        Last Saturday, speaking to a packed house at Contact in the Desert, he confirmed for us all that his understanding of optics, albedo, and selenology is dismal. He was talking about the glass towers that he claims were constructed by some alien civilization on the Moon.
17:17 "It seems to correspond with the parts of the Moon that are dark. If you've noticed, the Moon, look at the face of the Moon ... there's light stuff and dark stuff, and the dark stuff seems to have a lot of this glass structure over it and what seems to be happening is light takes a little bit longer to get to the ground and bounce back to the camera. And that's why you see this darkness in these areas."
        It hardly needs saying that the dark appearance of the lunar mares by comparison with the bright highlands is caused by the fact that the mares were created by lava flows when the Moon was young and hot, several billion years ago. They are predominantly basalt, whereas the highlands are plagioclase. And there are no glass towers anywhere on the Moon—the artifacts that Hoagland and Bara see are entirely due to scanner contamination.

        Bara came up with one additional bit of nonsense on this topic. He said (16:30 approx.) that lunar glass is a fine material for construction because it's "as strong as steel or stronger." That's NOT TRUE. Blacic 1985note 1 quotes the young's modulus of lunar glass as ~100 giga-pascals cf. Earth glass 68 because of the extreme dryness of the environment. But steel is way stronger at 224 giga-pascals.

Air conditioned
        CitD this year was held in Indian Spings, not at Joshua Tree conference center as in past years. The audience were in the luxury of air conditioning rather than the 110° desert heat of Joshua Tree's outdoor arena. Reviewing the 1h 40min lecture on Youtube, I confess I was a bit surprised. I assumed Bara would use his time to plug his forthcoming book in the "....and Ancient Aliens" series, much as he did at the New Living Expo last month (reviewed on this blog). Instead, it seems as though he just reshuffled Powerpoint slides from many previous speaking engagements and swept through all the familiar territory of NASA deceptions, astronaut prevarications, and condos on the Moon. This was one of his very first slides:

        I thought I detected a murmur of assent from the audience. It was probably there even if not really audible—that NASA is an agency of falsehood is a dogma embedded in the UFO community, largely thanks to Richard Hoagland's eloquent but entirely false propaganda. Ten minutes later Bara demonstrated that lying comes naturally by showing this slide, which he maintains depicts "the real colors of the Moon":

        How did he arrive at this travesty? He loaded the Apollo 17 image into Microsoft Office™ Picture Manager and slammed the color saturation control all the way to max. We know this because in January 2013 he performed the exact same trick on the rock in Shorty crater that resembles a skull (reviewed on this blog at the time). At CitD he added that the astronaut at extreme left still showed white, proving that he hadn't introduced color that isn't really there. Nobody from the audience yelled out "No, Mike, you haven't changed the whites but you've fucked up every other color." The audience—and there seemed to be plenty of them—apparently accepted the output of Mike Bara's amateur color manipulation rather than the ~2000 well-exposed still frames from the actual Moon.note 2

        He covered the skull-like rock a bit later (29:00 approx), and a minute later put up another of his favorite examples of things that are on the Moon that shouldn't be there.

        He says the image on the left is a satellite dish on the Moon, but that's NOT TRUE. It's a very low-resolution image of the crater Asada, at 7.3°N, 49.9°E. Seen at approximately 300 times better resolution by the LRO narrow-angle camera, Asada is this:

Bara continued:
31:11 "When you look at this picture, the same frame number, versus what's on the NASA site, they are completely different. All the stuff has been whitewashed out."
        But that's NOT TRUE. Here's a link to the NASA image, and there's Asada a little below dead center. Another problem for Bara is that, as I proved mathematically six years ago, a selenostationary orbit is impossible because the radius of such an orbit would pass on the Earth side of the L1 libration point. So it's hard to see what a satellite dish might point at.

Facing up to it—or not
        Well, given the random nature of this scamper through Mike Bara's historic Powerpoint slides, it was inevitable that we'd get around to the so-called Face on Mars—the feature I prefer to call Owen Mesa after Tobias Owen who first drew attention to it.

        Now Bara performed the same trick that he had done in his Books about Mars; namely, ignoring contrary evidence. He showed his audience this sequence:

38:48 "Here's the original Viking, Mars Odyssey, Mars Express...."

        The resolution of those images is, respectively, 44.7m, 19m and 13.7m per pixel (see "40 Years of the Face on Mars" in this blog). What's missing? Why of course, the image taken by Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter on 5 April 2007 at a resolution of 0.25 m/px. Here it is:

         Just as with the so-called "satellite dish," Bara doesn't show this because it's too good and does not enable him to make credible claims that this is an intentionally built feature.

         And there was worse to come shortly. Here's what he showed claiming it to be the "right eye".

        IT'S NOT TRUE!! You only have to glance at the high-res image to see that what's where the right eye would be (roughly) is a very ancient eroded crater that looks nothing like Bara's concocted piece of mendacious crap. Based on a total misunderstanding of dynamic range in photography, Bara asserted "It's not made of rock." That's not true either.

Let there be parrots and air-guitar playing cats
        At that point Bara was less than half way through his time. Since the audience hadn't walked out (at least, not as far as I could determine), Bara proceeded to take them through very familiar territory—the D&M pyramid (42:45), the monolith on Phobos (49:00), the parrot (51:15), the cat (58:30), Abydos for God's sake (1:03:05), the Lost book of Enki (1:06:00). He even reiterated his utterly mistaken claim that there must have been a secret breakthrough in transportation speed based on the historical data (1:09:50)—a thesis I debunked a month ago.

        What can I say? At least he expressed a little skepticism about the parrot. Small mercies...

======================/ \=========================
[1] Blacic, J. D.; Mechanical Properties of Lunar Materials Under Anhydrous, Hard Vacuum Conditions: Applications of Lunar Glass Structural Components (1985) (Table 1)

[2] On 20th June, responding to a comment on Youtube expressing skepticism, Bara wrote "There are literally hundreds of earth based telescope images showing the colors." He must be thinking of Jose Escamilla's distortions.

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Eight down, four to go

        Al Bean's death yesterday at age 86 leaves only four Moonwalkers still alive. Here's the tally:

Apollo 11
Neil Armstrong: d. 25 August 2012 after coronary by-pass surgery (which should never have been attempted IMHO)
Buzz Aldrin: STILL WITH US, age 88

Apollo 12
Pete Conrad: d. 8 July 1999 after a motorcycle crash.
Al Bean:  d. 26 May 2018, cause uncertain

Apollo 14
Al Shepard: d. 21 July 1998 from complications of leukemia
Ed Mitchell: d. 4 February 2016 under hospice care

Apollo 15
Dave Scott: STILL WITH US, age 85
Jim Irwin: d. 8 August 1991 after a third heart attack, first of the Moonwalkers to die

Apollo 16
John Young: d. 5 January 2018, complications from pneumonia
Charlie Duke: STILL WITH US, age 82

Apollo 17
Gene Cernan: d. 16 January 2017
Harrison "Jack" Schmitt: STILL WITH US, age 82

        I met Al Bean in Houston in 1979. He graciously invited me into his home in a gated community and showed me his famous artwork. He was a gent and a hard worker in space. It's despicable that whippersnappers like Mike Bara are now writing that Bean deliberately ruined the color TV camera during his Moon mission. How the hell would Bara know?

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

The short, short life of the EM drive

        The EM drive, a.k.a. the Resonant Cavity Thruster, made its début in 2001 as a theoretical design by Roger Shawyer. The device is a closed hollow metal frustrum within which resonant microwaves are generated by a magnetron. The difference between the areas of the two ends of the frustrum, according to the theory, gives rise to a net thrust toward the smaller end, without anything being ejected. So it is potentially a low-thrust rocket engine requiring no fuel.

        Positive test results from the Northwestern Polytechnical University in Xi'an, China, reported in 2008, were retracted in 2016 as experimental error. Nevertheless some people, including some at NASA's Advanced Propulsion Physics Laboratory, continued to report thrust in the 50 µN range.

        At the Technical University of Dresden, Martin Tajmar and G. Fiedler built a version of the EM drive inside a vacuum chamber evacuated to ~10-7 millibars. The device was rigidly attached to a torsion balance whose deflection was measured by a laser interferometer with sufficient sensitivity that a deflection produced by a thrust as low as 1 µN could be measured. Tajmar & Fiedler reported preliminary results at the 51st AIAA/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference, AIAA Propulsion and Energy Forum, in 2015. The paper was titled Direct Thrust Measurements of an EMDrive and Evaluation of Possible Side-Effects. From the Abstract:
"[W]e observed thrusts of +/- 20 µN however also in directions that should produce no thrust. ...Our test campaign can not confirm or refute the claims of the EMDrive but intends to independently assess possible side-effects in the measurement methods used so far."
        I, and many other commenters, knew there was something very dodgy about the device when we read that the control experiment—a run when the device was rotated so that thrust along its axis could not possibly deflect the torsion balance—produced better "thrust" than when the device was oriented optimally. Well, we knew that already because this thing cannot possibly work as claimed. It violates Newton's third law of motion. As I wrote at that time, if this works then sitting in your car and pushing on the dashboard will work, too.

The kibosh
        Now, the Dresden lab has put the almost-final kibosh on the EM thingy. On 16th May, at a Space Propulsion conference in Seville, Spain, they presented The SpaceDrive Project – First Results on EMDrive and Mach-Effect Thrusters by Martin Tajmar, Matthias Kößling, Marcel Weikert and Maxime Monette. Stripped down to telegram length, Tajmar et al. reported that they think they've found the source of the experimental error. They remembered from Electrical Engineering 101 that an electrical conductor carrying current in the presence of a magnetic field experiences a force orthogonal to both the electrical current and the magnetic field. This is the principle that makes my coffee grinder, and your vacuum cleaner, and every other electric motor in the whole world, go round and round.

        Is there an electric conductor carrying current in this experiment? Yes, the cable supplying the magnetron, which runs along the torsion arm. Is there a magnetic field present? Yes, the good old field from Mother Earth that makes compasses work. Back-of-an-envelope calculation confirms that forces in the same range as those observed could well be the result of that current (2 amps) and that magnetic field (~48 µTesla at an angle of 70°). Assuming the length of the cable is 15 cm.,
F = 2x48x0.15 sin 70 =13.52 µNnote 1

        I hope Sarah Knapton enjoyed her breakfast of words a few days ago. She's the Science Editor of the London Daily Telegraph who wrote, on 28th July 2015, 'Impossible' rocket drive works and could get to Moon in four hours.

Physics 1, Mike Bara 0
        Knapton isn't the only one eating words. Mike Bara, the world-famous denier of evolution, climate change, and the entirety of physics, loves the EM. So much so that he wrote a section about it in his book about "The Secret Space Program." Strange, because there's nothing secret about the device and its connection to space is limited to extravagant claims. Bara wrote of the original Xi'an announcement "the results were astounding," not realizing that the results had already been retracted. He also wrote that the device falsifies Einsteinian physics, not understanding that it's Newton, not Einstein, whose ideas would have to be wrong if this device works as claimed.

         In September 2010, in a promo interview for his appalling book The Choice, Bara said "I’m completely confident that I can prove there’s no such thing as the laws of physics." In the book itself, he wrote (page 67) "most mainstream physicists are blithering idiots." After the 2015 announcement by Tajmar & Fiedler, Bara tweeted  "Aaaaannnddd just like that the "laws" of physics go out the window.."

        Look around, Mike. I think you'll find that the laws of physics just flew right back in.

See also:
NASA’s EM-drive is a magnetic WTF-thruster. Test reveals that the magic space unicorns pushing the EM-drive are magnetic fields. --Chris Lee in Ars Technica, 5/21/2018.

Scott Manley reports on Youtube, with many of the key illustrations and diagrams from the new Dresden paper.

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[1] This is known in electrical theory as the Lorentz force, and it's partly responsible for vibration and "hum" in AC conductors carrying substantial current.