Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lunar Loony Libraries

Yesterday, Richard Hoagland posted the following on his FB page. I don't think any explanatory comment from me is necessary.

No advanced, technological civilization -- going back (in our own history) to the Sumerians -- have advanced and continued to exist, unless they WROTE THINGS DOWN ... and left those crucial insights to FUTURE generations.

The media (as in "means of keeping such vital records" in existence) may change over millennia ... BUT--

The "messages" should be THE SAME:

Unless you "write things down," and store those writings (pictures of grandma ... Hollywood movies ... Bill Gates' computer graphics Windows animations ..., etc., etc.), the future will TOTALLY COLLAPSE ... in ONE or TWO generations--

Directly back into BARBARISM!

On a place (the Moon!) where there's NO air to (literally) breath ... unless the "breathing machines" are understood ... and MAINTAINED

Everyone will simply DIE. In a very short time.

So -- there MUST be fabulous LIBRARIES out there ... on the Moon, on Mars ... elsewhere in the solar system ... ANYWHERE where this amazing "previous civilization" lived and flourished ....

All we have to do is a) FIND them, and b) figure out how to READ them ....

NOT a trivial set of tasks.

But, FINDING them comes first .... :)

Or, getting NASA to 'fess up -- if THEY have already found them

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Point-by-point critique of Mike Bara's 'The Choice'

        The Choice is Mike Bara's bid to cash in on the 2012 Apocalypse mini-panic. According to its cover sell, it's a guide to "using conscious thought and physics of the mind to reshape the world." It won't surprise anyone to know that Bara no more delivers on that promise than Rhonda Byrne delivered on hers in The Secret. That part is poppycock. Well, actually, the whole book is poppycock.

        What good can possibly be said about a book that has so many errors and accomplishes so tragically little? Well, let's see — at least it has an index, which is more than can be said for Dark Mission. The copy-edit is not too bad, although since it was done by a computer there are plenty of missing words, homophones and misplaced apostrophes to giggle at. Do book editors ever actually read MS these days? Mike Bara evidently worked commendably hard, delivering 75,000 words to New Page Books on June 21st, having signed only in March. It's very unlikely he got an advance. That's about all the positive I can think of.

        Rather than take issue with the bone-headed pseudo-psychology this book represents, I will try and simply point out factual errors in the order in which they appear in the text. I may not be able to resist a little sarcasm. Sorry, it's my nature, just as it's Mike Bara's nature to chastise us all for our left-brained materialism as he steers his 2007 BMW 5 Series toward Las Vegas one more time for a rendezvous with his favorite strippers and porn starlets.

OK, here goes:

1 p.15 After a scattershot dismissal of the whole of conventional physics, Bara writes "What we have been missing ... is that Newton and Einstein aren't the whole picture."
Who does he think has been missing this? Certainly not every physicist in the entire world, all of whom are engaged in a daily struggle to fine-tune their equations and unravel the logic of the Universe. Does he think nine billion dollars were spent building the Large Hadron Collider by people who had missed this point?

2 p.17 "...if radio waves can be influenced by the positions of the planets, then our own thoughts, moods, and dreams can be affected, too."
Oh yeah? Who sez? A human brain and a short wave radio transmitter are not quite the same, Mike.

3 p.31 "...astrology is a perfectly valid and defensible science."
FACT: No it isn't.

4 p.32 "Without the Moon's calming influence, the Earth would spin so fast that the centrifugal force would most likely flatten us all like pancakes."
No, the reverse would happen. CentriFUGAL means "directed away from the center," so we'd become lighter, not heavier.

5 p.34 "Many of the planet's orbits, which ... should be perfectly circular by now, are highly elliptical. In fact, Mars's orbit is so eccentric that its distance from Earth goes from 34 million miles at its closest to 249 million miles at its greatest."
Ahem, excuse me but aren't planetary orbital eccentricities measured in relation to the Sun, not to some other random planet? Yes indeed they are.

FACT: Mars' aphelion is 154 million miles, perihelion 128 million miles, eccentricity 0.09 (cf. Earth 0.017.) Mars' orbit, although more eccentric than that of Earth, is not remarkably so. The figures Bara cites are correct but they do not illustrate the point he says they do.

This is a truly appalling, inexcusable error, coming so early in the book and making it absolutely certain that Mike Bara is not qualified to write on the subject of planetary science. When the New Page editors saw this they should have canceled his contract on the spot. Terrible, terrible. Embarrassing.

6 p.47 "Neptune's Great Dark Spot, the Great Red Spot of Jupiter, the erupting volcanoes of Jupiter's moon Io, Olympus Mons on Mars... and Earth's own Maunakea volcano ...all were at, or very near, the 19.5° latitude.

FACT: Neptune's dark spots are transient, forming and dissipating in just a few years. The one Mike is presumably citing, observed by Voyager 2, was first observed around 25°S and drifted north before dissipating.
The Great Red Spot of Jupiter is stable, and centered at 22°S.
The volcanoes of Io are far too numerous to be assigned any specific latitude. 12 known volcanoes are cited in the reference.
Olympus Mons is at 18°N.
Mauna Loa is at exactly 19.5°N - Bara almost got one right but he got the wrong Hawaiian volcano.

I'm sure he's going to say "I only wrote that they were very near 19.5°." Yes, Mike, you did, but that has no real meaning. Olympus Mons may be "very near" 19.5° but it's even nearer to 17.8°, or 18.8°, or.... etc. If this is supposed to be a geometric theory you're selling, it's either exact or it's useless.

7 p.57 "The human brain is nothing but a complex electrical signal transmitter."
FACT: Although there are some electrical pathways in the brain, chemical information exchange by neurotransmitters has overwhelmingly more influence. Why else does Mike Bara think the whiskey sours he knocks back in the lounges of Las Vegas, as he eyes the cougars across the bar, make him feel so nice and relaxed?

8 p.58 "...aren't our thoughts, which are also nothing more than electrical energy, actually coming from higher dimensions?"
It's hard to say what meaning to attach to this muddled idea. It's something to do with astrology, I think. The safe answer is "No, they aren't."

9 p.60 "Newton's laws of motion ... only work if the object being measured doesn't rotate."
Poppycock. The planet Earth, to name but one, is rotating, and objects in orbit around it still obey Newton's equation of gravity. If he'd written "Newton's laws of motion only work if the object being measured isn't moving at a substantial fraction of the speed of light," he'd have been right.

There's a terrible tendency for people like Mike Bara, who know just a little physics, to think "Einstein came along and disproved Newton." It's absolutely not true. Einstein came along and ADDED to Newton — EXTENDED Newton into more exotic contexts. A young man sitting under an apple tree can still reckon the falling apple is going to bonk him on the head according to Newton.

10 p.67 "...most mainstream physicists are actually blithering idiots..."
Well, perhaps I shouldn't classify that one as a factual error, exactly. I include it so that readers who don't plan on ever reading this ridiculous book get an insight into Mike Bara's personality flaws.

11 p.72 After expounding on ancient cultures such as the Mayans, Egyptians and Indo-Aryan Hindus and how life, to them, is a continuous repeating cycle, Bara writes " the west, time is an arrow. To the ancients, time is a wheel."

Is he saying that we in "the west" don't understand that the Sun rises and sets every day, or that the seasons repeat every 365 days? Is he saying that the ancients didn't understand that a human life is lived from birth to death? This is a sentence that sounds as if it's an aphorism but is actually without useful meaning.

12 p.128 Mike Bara is perenially confused about the International Space Station, or ISS for short. He thinks it's really called Isis, to fit in with Richard Hoagland's utterly indefensible theory that NASA spends its time worshipping Egyptian Gods.
FACT: The international space station is known as "International Space Station." ISS is not the same as Isis. Nobody attempts to pronounce it as though it were an acronym.
FACT: NASA is not interested in Egyptian Gods. When it isn't launching spacecraft, it spends its time trying to get a decent annual budget.

13 p.134 On this page Mike Bara demonstrates his ignorance of the nature of gravity. He writes "On the surface of the Earth, the magnitude of the gravitational field is more than enough to keep me in place, but if I was in orbit around the Earth, ... the influence of gravity would be so slight that I would be essentially weightless and float freely."
And what, pray, does Mike Bara think would be keeping him in orbit?

FACT: The pull of gravity simply follows an inverse square law. Newton, brilliantly, told us that the force exerted by the Earth on Mike Bara's body is equal to G*m1m2/d2 where G is the gravitational constant, m1 the mass of the Earth and m2 the mass of Mike Bara (less than it was a year ago, we understand. Well done Mike.) d is the distance Mike is from the center of the Earth, 6371 kM at the surface, about 6726 kM at ISS orbit. Yes, Newton's equation works perfectly well even though the Earth is rotating (see Bara's other error, p.60.)

Bara goes on to compare gravity with his imagined aether, and to state that, whereas gravity has a limited field of influence, the aether "exists everywhere and connects everything." This is just an extension of his ignorance. To be sure, if Mike Bara were to take his body to Alpha Centauri, he could safely ignore Earth's gravitational influence. But mathematically, no matter how large the factor d becomes, some infinitesimal value for G*m1m2/d2 could be calculated. So it's totally misleading to portray gravity as local only.

14 p.139 Bara describes a Faraday cage as being shielded by lead.
FACT: If it were, it'd be highly ineffective. The whole point of a Faraday cage is that its material is a good electrical conductor. Lead isn't.

15 p.143 "In November 1957 the Soviets had launched Sputnik 1..."
FACT: Sputnik 1 was launched on 4th October 1957.

16 p.144
Chapter 12 is all about the higher-than-expected orbit of USA's first satellite, Explorer 1. Richard Hoagland made a disastrous attempt to work out the mathematics of this on a web page, and this blog explained why he failed. Mike Bara's take on the situation is a little different but no less inaccurate.

He writes that "Explorer 1 ended up in an orbit that was almost 60% higher than it should have been." That is approximately true — the apogee was almost 60% higher than planned — but it's extremely misleading. What really matters is the additional energy the satellite had at orbit insertion, as measured by its instantaneous velocity. And a small change in velocity results in a much larger excursion in apogee (even Hoagland understood this, actually.)

So here's the calculation for Explorer 1

Planned orbit 354 x 1,609 kM (220 x 1,000 miles)
Actual orbit 359 x 2,562 kM (223 x 1,592 miles)
Radius of Earth 6,375 kM
Gravitational constant, µ, of Earth 398,660 kM3/s2

semi-major axis of planned orbit, Lsmaj, (354+6375+6375+1609)/2 = 7356 kM
distance from center of Earth to orbit point, R, 6375+354 = 6729 kM

planned velocity at orbit injection, Vorb = sqrt(µ(2/R - 1/Lsmaj))
2/R - 1/Lsmaj = 0.0001613
Vorb = sqrt(64.3) = 8.018 kM/sec

semi-major axis of actual orbit, Lsmaj, (359+6375+6375+2562)/2 = 7835 kM
distance from center of Earth to orbit point, R, 6375+359 = 6734 kM

actual velocity at orbit injection, Vorb = sqrt(µ(2/R - 1/Lsmaj))
2/R - 1/Lsmaj = 0.000169
Vorb = sqrt(67.493) = 8.215 kM/sec

So we're talking about a velocity excess of about 3%. Bara writes "Despite various conventional explanations being bandied about over the decades since then, none of them have stood up to scrutiny." The conventional explanations that I'm aware of are a) cumulative overperformance of the fifteen small "Baby Sergeant" solid rockets, b) uncertainty about the pitch angle during burn of the 3rd/4th stages, and c) unusually strong high altitude winds.

I have to ask, in what sense have these not stood up to scrutiny? Who did the scrutiny? Not the notoriously error-prone Richard Hoagland, I hope for their sakes.

(The equation is presented here.)

17 p.146 "Werner Von Braun ... must have realized that if you wanted a spacecraft to follow conventional Newtonian celestial mechanics, Rule One had to be: Don't let it rotate. .... they immediately abandoned solid fuel rockets, spinning upper stages..."
FACT: Spin-stabilization continued to be a very common technique in spacecraft design, and it's still sometimes used to this day (See this, for example.) Solid fuel rockets are an extremely common phenomenon, especially for military applications in which instant readiness is an important factor. Bara is just wrong about this.

18 p.162 "...vibration ... is really just partial rotation..."
No it isn't.

19 p.165 "...every cell and every atom in our bodies is vibrating..."
FACT: Perhaps every atom is. It would be more correct to say that every sub-atomic particle is. But, every cell? I don't think so, Mike. It's amazing how this totally false idea has caught on in the crackpot New Age community. It seems that every two-bit spiritual guidance enthusiast who gets guested on "Coast to Coast AM" talks about getting the vibrations of our bodies tuned, or whatever. Bla-bla-bla. There's no foundation to the idea at all.

20 p.202 *sigh* Here we go again. Hoagland & Bara persist in claiming that the Brookings Report of 1960 directed NASA to withhold evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence lest it spread panic. They've been told, many times, that it just ain't so, but they will keep trotting it out. Here Bara writes that the report "detailed how best to inform the public in the event that NASA discovered extraterrestrial artifacts on the Moon or Mars." What utter poppycock!

FACT: The Brookings Report did not even consider the question. It recommended that the question ought to be considered, that's all. Here's the full quote:

"...two research areas can be recommended -- Continuing studies to determine [the public's] emotional and intellectual understanding and attitudes -- and successive alterations of them if any -- regarding the possibility and consequences of discovering intelligent extraterrestrial life. Historical and empirical studies of the behavior of peoples and their leaders when confronted with dramatic and unfamiliar events or social pressures. Such studies might help to provide programs for meeting and adjusting to the implications of such a discovery. Questions one might wish to answer by such studies would include: how might such information, under what circumstances, be presented to or withheld from the public for what ends? What might be the role of the discovering scientists and other decision makers regarding release of the fact of discovery?"

If Mike Bara thinks that's "detailing how best to inform the public," he's got a reading comprehension problem.

21 p.206 Bara writes here that HAARP, although operating in the 3.6 megawatt range, can combine its 180 antennas to yield an energetic output of 5.1 terawatts. I've no idea where he gets the terawatt figure from — it's certainly an error.

22 p.214 "An annular eclipse means that the Moon and Sun are in perfect alignment, but the Sun is not totally blotted out because the Moon is a little too close to the Earth..."
No, Mike. Too far away. tsk, tsk, careless.....

23 p.217 "We have, each of us, enough energy to make this world into anything we wish it to be."
FACT: This is not true.

24 p.222 Bara writes that he'd love to have a Porsche to cruise around Hollywood with. He writes "It would feed my ego, and that is an aspect of my personality."
FACT: That's one thing he got right. And what an appropriate way to end this review. Thanks for reading, if you did.