Thursday, December 29, 2011

"Ancient Aliens," where facts never spoil a good story

        The History Channel continues to beat the truth until it cries UNCLE, with Aliens and the Secret Code, Season 3 Ep 13 of Ancient Aliens. This episode (available on Youtube) involved drawing a lot of lines on a lot of maps and globes in an attempt to show that prehistoric man knew stuff he didn't oughta have. Archaeology is a field of study I've had the merest whisper of contact with, but some of the line-making seemed a little expedient to me, and I decided to research one of their straight lines.

        Scattered across what is now Denmark and South Sweden, archaeologists have found a series of Wikingerburgen, or Viking ring fortresses. The Ancient Aliens script-writers, Kaylan Eggert and Rich Monahan, wrote this about  them:

1] They have identical construction, being a fortified ring enclosing a number of long-houses arranged in a characteristic pattern.

2] The design includes an internal cruciform wall, oriented precisely North-South-East-West.

3] The four main sites Trelleborg, Eskeholm, Fyrkat (which they mis-spell as Frykat) and Aggersborg are in a dead straight line stretching for 218 km across Sjælland, Jutland, and the Kattegat. Here's the line they drew:

Image credit: History Channel

        Here's the result of my research with Wikimapia:Trelleborg is the most classic design, showing the main features very well, however the internal walls are not compass-aligned.

Fyrkat is better-aligned and does conform to the general plan:

Aggersborg, the most Northern site, has the look of being unfinished:

        So what of the alignment between these widely-separated sites? This is how Google Earth sees it -- pretty damn good.

         However, they cheated. They simply OMITTED the Wikingerburgen that didn't fit their story -- namely, Nonnebakken, the other Trelleborg, and Borgeby. Here's the real map of these sites:

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons

        Not content with faking the data to that extent, they actually added a site which is not generally included as a Wikingerburg, and doesn't conform to the pattern -- Eskeholm, in a fjord on the island of Samsø. Here it is:

        Fortified ring? Long houses? Cruciform walls? I don't think so...

Bring on the experts
          So why, I'm sure you're already asking, is this blog taking an interest in Vikings? Just that one of the "world-class experts" commenting on this piece of flim-flam is none other than Mike Bara, who helpfully speculates "Perhaps they were able to fly" (at 24:35 in the Youtube video.) Yeah, Mike, or perhaps they had a 218 km long piece of string.

        Has Mike Bara ever studied Scandinavian archaeology? No. Has Mike Bara been to Trelleborg, Eskeholm, Fyrkat and Aggersborg to study these places on the ground? I very much doubt it, just as I doubted that he's ever been to Aramu Muru in Peru, which he commented on in a previous ep of this anti-science, anti-truth series.

        My question to the History Channel would be "What is this unemployed draftsman doing, commenting on subjects he knows nothing about?" They'd probably reply "Well, we were looking for someone who has no respect for the truth. We read Dark Mission and The Choice, and Mike seemed like just the man."

Monday, December 26, 2011

Review of Ken Johnston on Coast to Coast AM, Christmas night

        Ken Johnston (see this blog passim) turned up like an unwanted Christmas present on the night of December 25th, to trot out his well-rehearsed schtick accusing NASA of covering up the artifacts of a lunar civilization, and of summarily dismissing him from the all-volunteer Solar System Ambassador program. This time he added a counter-attack on James Oberg (joint founder of this blog) and a confirmation that yes, he did indeed get a bona fide Ph.D. from the Reform Baptist Theological Seminary. James Oberg has identified this place as a diploma mill, pointing out that the link to Ken's certificate online,'s_Doctor_of_Metaphysics_Deploma.jpg, rather ostentatiously mis-spells the word "diploma."

        Last night, the audio quality of Ken's contributions was so atrocious that I can only assume Tommy Danheiser and Lisa Lyon were comatose beside empty bottles of egg nog and the remains of several turkeys. No sane and conscious radio producer would have allowed that rubbish to continue for more than 10 seconds. However, it was possible to grasp the gist of his accusation, with the help of two images posted on the C2C web site. The first was from the Russian lander Lunik 13.

        Evidence of a lunar civilization, or part of the spacecraft? Step forward, please, Friar William of Occam, and bring your razor with you. Ken Johnston, as former Data Control Officer in the Lunar Receiving Lab in Houston, has no special expertise that would allow him to get away with claiming this is alien technology.

Now you see it, now you don't

        The second "incriminating" image was one this blog has commented on before. It's frame AS14-66-9301 from Apollo 14 lunar surface photography, shot by Commander Al Shepard, showing Lunar Module Pilot Ed Mitchell standing on the surface. Up in the sky, a blue flare is plainly seen and Ken Johnston either thinks it's a UFO (a "Blue Ship") or it's something suspended above the lunar surface (he appeared to hedge his bets by espousing both theories.)

        Well now. The Apollo 14 image library makes it plain, to those willing to accept the documented facts, that this was one frame from the third of three 360° panoramas shot by Al Shepard.

        The first pan encompassed frames AS14-66-9236 through 9252, the second was frames 9271 through 9290, and the third frames 9294 through 9316.

        Blue flares similar to that seen in 9301 are also visible in frames 9286, 9290 and 9295 (the latter is very pronounced.)

        Moreover, I can prove that the "Blue Ship" in 9301 isn't real. Because of overlap, the same portion of the sky appears in the previous frame, 9300. Here's 9301 with the blue flare marked (click to embiggen):

        Here's 9300 with the marker in the identical position relative to the ground.

        Presto-change-o! Blue flare gone in the second it took Shepard to swivel and click. You can perform the same trick with 9302, actually, but once is enough. So here are the questions that George Knapp ought to have asked (but didn't):

1) Ken, how can you possibly accuse NASA of "covering this evidence up," when the so-called evidence is right there on the NASA History web site?

2) If, as you say, this object is "suspended" then it represents a major hazard in the immediate vicinity of the landing site. Are you telling us that the astronauts knew nothing of it?

3) Why is the object not in frames 9300 and 9302? Why are similar flares in three other frames, showing different parts of the sky?

4) If your credentials as stated to Solar System Ambassadors were correct, why were details of your military service edited when Dark Mission was republished as a second edition? The first edition identified you as a jet fighter pilot with the US Marines, but the second edition merely stated that you "trained in" US Navy planes. (ref. James Oberg's comment to this post.)

I found another flare. This one's in the very first panorama frame, AS14-66-9236, and it's superimposed on the lunar surface, right by the shadow of the high-gain antenna. Explain that away, Ken!!!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Pay up or else

        As if Richard Hoagland's little corner of Facebookistan weren't entertaining enough this holiday season (see comments on the previous post here,) yesterday we got this priceless piece of pure comedy in response to somebody who asked when Moon With a View Part 7 would be forthcoming:

[W]e get many requests about this. Here is your answer. These articles have been published for free. If you want special attention focused on a particular area of research, you are welcome to fund the length of time necessary to complete the paper. Please write to if you are interested. If not, please be patient.
         The response was written by Robin Falkov the homeopathist (who also wrote, recently, "Measles does not kill" in defiance of extremely well-established medical knowledge.) However, I think we can safely assume that it has the approval of "The Big Man," as Hoagland once described himself on that very page.

        The Moon With a View series was started back in 2005, as a kind of homage to "my long-time friend, Arthur C. Clarke"(he probably worked in a reference to "my dear friend Carl Sagan" somewhere, too.) It concerns Iapetus, the moon of Saturn, and very predictably Hoagland comes up with a pseudo-argument that Iapetus's extraordinary equatorial ridge is the deliberate construction of a prior civilization. In way more words than necessary, Hoagland tells us that Iapetus, like Phobos, Hartley-2, Tempel-1, Vesta, Elenin, and YU55, is a spaceship. Yet even more words were promised, as Part 7 "coming shortly."

        So Hoagland wants to be paid up front to tie up some loose ends on that web site, of which it has been said "The 1980s called. They want their HTML back." There's plenty to do and I suggest the following scale:

Moon With a View Part 7 : $12
Correcting the math in Von Braun's Secret Part 1: $2
Writing Von Braun's Secret Part3: $4
Writing The Bees' Needs Part 2: $4
Junking the whole site: $200

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Phobos-Grunt, from Izvestiya

James Oberg posts this rather rough translation of an article in Russian from Izvestiya. The translation by "Moskit" appeared on the NASA Spaceflight forum. If I'm doing my phonetics correctly, the author is Viktor Khartov, Lavochkin's General Director and General designer.
        Every mission has three parameters: complexity, resources and risks. If we ask someone to send a complicated mission with little risk, it will involve huge resource. If you plan to send a mission to Mars in such a way, you would first test hardware on Earth orbit, then Lunar orbit, then model all aspects of the target mission. With F-G situation was a bit different - we did not fly to other planets for 25 years. There was a huge amount of new hardware without flight history. Practically only fuel tanks from Fregat were previously flown.

        Project itself was very complex, with a large number of instruments and many algorithms.  Maximum complexity and minimum resources translated to maximum risks.    It was decided the risk is ok to fly F-G. Apparently we stumbled right in the beginning of the flight. F-G flew well for two hours after the launch. It turned itself on, extended elements (solar panels), orientated to Sun and began to receive energy. It turned on all required hardware, and the Chinese satellite. It was all confirmed by telemetry. And then... it flew out of Russian zone of communication. Burn did not happen.    Our communication stations are designed for deep space and could not track fast-moving object in low orbit long enough to complete long link establishment procedures.

       In the beginning we could not target the satellite. It was tracked only by ground means, and position was inaccurate, calculated up to 6 degrees. That's why us, and European stations had to add modified antennas emitting wide beams. As a result we had a few sessions and received some telemetry.    It said that radio module works, link with onboard computer is up. Photos of on-orbit F-G showed that it was not tumbling, meaning Sun orientation module worked correctly.    We do not know when and why burn sequence was aborted. There could be many hypotheses, but fact is only one: F-G is Sun-orientated, onboard computer fulfills its function.    Logic says that when sequence is aborted, F-G will await commands from ground. Apparently it is still in that mode and we will continue attempts to make it alive.    As for the failure, there are many possibilities. For example it could be a programming error that could not be detected during modeling on Earth. Difference between model and real situation could be large enough to "stupify" computer.    It could have also been a hardware problem. Before we lost contact with F-G we enabled power to several modules, and theoretically damage during launch (?) might have caused problems with power supply.    But those are all working versions, official reason should be established by appropriate commission.

      As far as we know the rocket worked nominally. However we think that launcher should have been chosen differently, not Zenit, but Proton, which could take F-G directly to required orbit. Then F-G could be turned on and verified module by module, new comms line would be tested, and trajectory corrections made.    Decision about launcher was taken in 90s, and project was based on that.    F-G was a sort of jumping forward (cavalry charge?) over 25 years gap. It was understood that risk was high, but imagine if it were a success! However it is necessary to work step by step, systematically. That's why we should go back to Lunar exploartion.

        I would not get fixated on F-G. We have many projects. This year we launched Electro-L, a new generation sat. Our Fregat boosters have done their job on 8 launches from 3 locations, with one more launch from each location by end of this year.

"Moskit" provides this translation of an article in an online journal. Author not known.

        670 seconds after launch F-G separated from the rocket. It worked correctly, but afterwards F-G survived only two hours. When station "saw" Sun it should move "head" towards it. This means two onboard Sun detectors worked correctly. One hour later sunny zone ended, and those two detectors stopped working. Shadow lasted for 30 minutes, and unexpectedly F-G came out of it facing away. We did not expect it, F-G should have kept Sun orientation while in the shadow. Detectors saw Sun again, and started rotating F-G once again, but soon link was lost.

        It seems that star detectors, that so many blamed failure on, never got a chance to operate. They should have been turned on 4 minutes after link was lost, but F-G stop giving sings of life earlier. Star detectors found on F-G are reliable, they work on 20 space objects for 10-12 years.

        F-G was not ready for the flight. Many saw that, and many told to the management that flight control system made by Lavotchkin was not ready. Specialists simply did not have enough time to complete complex software running the mission.

        People blame youngsters at Lavotchkin, but this is unfair - they did not have a chance to learn. 15 years ago when Mars-96 was launched, it was assembled in -5C (with -20C outside) in Baikonur, in a room with broken windows. These were not conditions... there was not even toilets. Spaceship failed right after launch due to booster malfunction - completely logical final.

        Today we see a birth of Russian space program practically from ashes, with all the growing pains. You should have seen glowing eyes of the young people working on F-G... they only recently began to be paid decently.

        If there will be repressions, all will be lost again.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Is Kerry Cassidy even more wrong than Hoagland & Bara?

Make you own mind up. KC blogged this last Thursday:
Lastly, with regard to Elenin and YU55: all the Camelot whistleblower info with regard to both these so called asteroids is that they are and were CONTROLLED by someone. That means they are able to change course etc. The entire group of contacts Hoagland was dealing with---with regard to YU55 went black right after it was supposedly crossing our atmosphere. At the same time, Obama and the whole APEC conference was going on in Hawaii... Simultaneously, Hoagland's sources were seeing a SUBSTITUTION in the skies... with a metallic overlay, going along the original NASA trajectory. We were live on Livestream when this was happening. This is what his sources told him they were getting... All info on YU55 went black and then, a substitution appeared. According to Hoagland it wasn't even a good decoy... It was as if, those who are running YU55 wanted the scientists and white hats who were tracking it to KNOW they were being lied to... Where did the real craft go? Did it rendezvous with one of ours? Was there something on board being dropped off? All these are good questions but where are you going to get the answers? Listening to channelers who are as easily programmed as anyone else is not the answer.

Of course Hoagland looks like he's wrong if the people behind the scenes can change the game at any moment! And that goes for a lot of good people right now making bad predictions. Hoagland is following the clues and doing so meticulously and at great personal risk.
A few points:
        1. Elenin was not a "so called asteroid," it was a comet.
        2. Neither body changed course.
        3. YU55 never crossed our atmosphere and nobody ever said it would, not even RCH.
        4. President Obama did not get to the APEC conference until 4 days later.
        5. All info on the asteroid did not "go black" after the close approach.
        6. Hoagland is not, and never has been, meticulous.
        7. Hoagland's "great personal risk" is a self-aggrandizing fantasy.

        Hoagland doesn't just look like he's wrong, Kerry, he really is wrong. No "people behind the scenes" changed the latitude of the Port-au-Prince earthquake. It was 18.5°. When Hoagland said it was 19.5° he was simply lying. No "people behind the scenes" changed the propulsion technology of STS-133. It was H2/O2. When Hoagland said it was hyperdimensional torsion physics he was simply lying. I could go on.....

        Absolute proof that Kerry Cassidy is immune to logic and truth is contained in her wrap-up:
.... what resonates with your heart and spirit is where the truth is.. .not in superficial details that don't add up or painting a logic trail with a broad brush saying this is black and this is white.
        New Age loonies apparently allow themselves the freedom to sense truth with their hearts and spirits. I guess to them  the latitude of Port-au-Prince can be whatever "resonates." Too bad they have to live in the real world where latitudes are established facts, where their landlords demand real rent and their children demand real love, not the woo-woo kind that isn't worth second-hand toilet paper.

Fair use quotes from Kerry Cassidy/ Project Camelot Productions

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Hoagland Grunt

        "The symbology is running the show," stated Richard Hoagland during a very brief appearance on Coast to Coast AM on Monday night. Phobos-Grunt, he explained, was not out of control at all.  Moscow Mission Control was merely waiting for the numerology to come right. The spacecraft would depart for Mars on Tuesday, 11/29/11—because 29 is just as good as 11, see?

        As we know, Hoagland's notion that space agencies wait for numerology, or for certain stars to achieve certain elevations, is entirely, tragically, irretrievably, mistaken.  Of course, the dawn of 11/30/11 saw Phobos-Grunt still stuck in orbit.

        On Monday night, Hoagland also stated that the ESA antenna in Perth was no longer involved in the attempt to contact and/or command P-G. According to Perth made another attempt to contact the spacecraft on Tuesday night. Must be the fault of Hoagland's now utterly discredited "sources."

        If Coast-to-Coast had any respect for its audience it would ban Hoagland for ever. However, it doesn't and it won't. Instead, it will give Hoagland and his sources three full hours to tell lies tonight. This blogpost will resume.....


        George Noory is SUCH A WIMP. He let Hoagland so far off the hook that the hook itself straightened out and apologized for ever having been a hook. I didn't expect an actual confrontation, but considering it was just 48 hours since Hoagland had said "The symbology is running the show," surely some powder-puff like "So what happened to that?" would have been appropriate?

        But no. It immediately got worse. Hoagland was allowed to give himself a GLOBAL AND NON-EXPIRING FREE PASS, saying:
"I try not to lead people in the wrong direction by saying 'This will happen.' I almost never say something will happen. ... Just because we say something might be possible, or might have happened, we're not married to this idea. We could get new data tomorrow that would toss that idea out... "
        Noory either said nothing or grunted his approval.  Well, I'm better at prediction than Hoagland and I don't even claim to see the future. On the CoastGab forum last Sunday I offered this spoof preview of last night:
RCH: According to Roscosmos, the Russian/Chinese spacecraft Phobos-Grunt/Yinghuo-1 is now a dead loss, in a slowly decaying Earth orbit. But my sources tell me that we can expect a "convenient resurrection" some time in the next month, after which the spacecraft will be re-targeted to an asteroid -- the asteroid that was the secret destination all along!!! And what asteroid do you think that is, George?

Noory: Umm... I dunno Richard.

RCH: None other than YU55!!!
         ....and that's pretty much how the first dreary hour went. He even used the word 'resurrection.' Hoagland was highly troubled by the discrepancy between the Mars-departure windows of Phobos-Grunt and Mars Science Lab. "They should be the same," he complained, using that as phony evidence that the Russians never intended to go to Phobos. What he doesn't understand is the difference between MSL's one way journey and P-G's round trip. For the Russians, not only does Mars have to be accessible from Earth at departure, Earth has to be accessible for the sample return. In fact, real space scientists (as opposed to wannabees with scary hair) are saying that if P-G magically came to life today, it could still get there but the sample return would have to wait two years.

A Tragedy of Errors

        What followed was a tour of Hoagland's previous mistakes, even reiterating that ridiculous pseudo-statistical "proof that Elenin was artificial" despite the fact that several people have told him his math is a joke (insert swift plug for the Awake & Aware DVD, "because you need to understand the background to this".) Another old favorite was also trotted out of the barn: Those crater chains on small solar-system bodies like Phobos are "weapons fire," from the Great Galactic War 65 million years ago. Oh, how we laughed at that one!!

        Then a brand new fantasy: The USAF's X-37B space plane actually rendezvoused with YU55 and took hi-res images, which are due back on Earth in a couple of days. How did he know that? The Air Force Base in Colorado from whence X-37B is controlled was "lit up" on November 9th. Very persuasive -- not.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

        But a sizable chunk of the second hour was devoted to the landing site of MSL/Curiosity in Gale crater, shown above in false color. Hoagland approves of this, and he correctly described the somewhat hair-raising landing procedure that's been forced on mission planners by Curiosity's 900 kg heft. He likes it because the central peak is, he told us, a tetrahedron (nonsense) and there are plenty of features that are unmistakable signs of civilization (balderdash.) Too bad it's nowhere near 19.5° latitude.

        You could tell he was working toward some Grand Finale, and here it came (after about 5 very uninteresting phone calls): MSL is going to be a huge success. So huge, in fact, that it's going to force disclosure. Yes, folks -- 2012 is THE YEAR WE MAKE CONTACT!! Now where have I heard that before?.....

On C2C-AM 13th January 2012, in  the News-snippets segment, Hoagland told us that Nazis in space had probably caused the failure of Phobos-Grunt.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Politics of the Branch Hoaglandian cult

          Are the Branch Hoaglandians right-wing by self-selection? It looks that way, from a few recent comments in Facebookistan. Somebody added this comment to a thread about the symbolic war crimes tribunal of George Bush and Tony Blair:
When are they going to have a War Crimes Tribunal for Hillarious Clinton, Obama and all their cronies?
          Somebody else suggested it might be a good idea to send Nancy Pelosi off on an asteroid. Robin Falkov, the homeopathy doc, drew attention to a 60 Minutes segment on congressional corruption, also involving Pelosi. On the other hand, she's obviously rather taken with the OWS movimiento, so who knows?

          I can't recall The Big Man (as Richard Hoagland once described himself) ever expressing flagrantly Republican views, but there's absolutely no doubt about his former co-author, university drop-out Mike Bara. As I blogged at the time, back in July 2010 there was a minor news story about the release by the University of Arizona HiRISE team of a new high-definition false color image of the so-called Face at Cydonia. Mike blogged about it on 3rd August, and out of all the science commentaries he could have chosen, he elected to focus on a piece in
Usually, these linds[sic] of articles pop-up when NASA is about to release something new and interesting about Mars. It serves as a warning to anyone in science and academia not to start asking too many uncomfortable questions because they will be subsequently ridiculed.

So, the real issue here is; what’s coming up about Mars that NASA is worried about? We’ll see.
I waited 24 days before commenting, on the blog:
Do you truly, sincerely, believe that if NASA wished to issue a warning to the science community Fox News would be the medium of choice? I think that would take some explaining, since real scientists probably don’t even know that Fox News exists, let alone regularly consult its web outlet.

It’s now been a month since the release of that image. Nothing has “come up about Mars” that might worry anyone, least of all NASA. This is fatal to your thesis.

Mike riposted as follows:
As if I needed any more proof that you are a complete blithering idiot, the fact that you are obviously a democrat confirms it. Enjoy November.
          That "blithering idiot" insult is getting a little over-used, I think. Roughly translated it means "someone who doesn't worship Richard Hoagland." But anyway, how the hell did he deduce that I'm a democrat? Was it my guess that planetary scientists don't get their science news from—is that what gave the game away? (Actually, it's far, far worse—I'm further left than anyone Mike Bara has ever met.)

Keep the gubbmint small!

          I suppose it does make a certain sense, if you think about it, that people who believe that JPL scientists airbrush out little green men before releasing planetary images, also believe that Nancy Pelosi is a criminal. "Keep government out of our lives" is, after all, a slogan of the right. It's only we lefties who think that if society were unregulated the weak and disadvantaged elements would be totally shafted by the fat cats. Even worse than they are right now, I mean.

          You don't have to look far on Keith Laney's Hidden Mission Forum—another internet enclave of Face-believers—to find anti-gubbmint thoughts (usually expressed in the grammar and spelling of ghetto teenagers.) So I think we can look forward to more loony politics from the disciples, as the American election season accelerates and there are fewer comets and asteroids around to accuse of being spaceships (although today's loony space headline, I notice, is PHOBOS GRUNT SABOTAGED: MISSION WAS DESTINED FOR YU55 ALL ALONG. The disciples are lapping it up.)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

More false claims by Hoagland

          At the conclusion of last night's Coast-to-Coast AM news segment, featuring "science adviser" Richard Hoagland, George Noory said "Richard C. Hoagland predicted this 30 years ago  ... and he was right."

          He was referring to this announcement about Europa, the icy-smooth moon of Jupiter. Earlier, on Faceboodle, Hoagland himself had said the same:
I will be on "Coast" tonight ... discussing NASA's latest announcement re "the apparent existence of LAKES, just under the surface ice of Europa, Jupiter's second major moon" -- and how this new data could impact the search for life in the much larger, still unconfirmed, "global oceans of Europa."

Thirty-two years ago, I scientifically predicted the existence of such a "global ocean" under the ice fields of Europa, and examined the possibilities for advanced biology.
           This is far from being the first time Hoagland has boasted that he predicted, in a long, long article in Star and Sky Magazine in January 1980, not only the sub-surface oceans but also the possibility that they might harbor alien life-forms. He's mentioned it countless times on C2C and written about it on his amazingly retro web site.

          So what's the truth? The truth is that George Noory was dead wrong. Hoagland did not predict what was announced yesterday in Nature online by Britney Schmidt, Wes Patterson, Don Blankenship, and Paul Schenk. Hoagland himself, in his FB post, managed not to be exactly wrong by means of very careful choice of language, but he was certainly, and intentionally, misleading.

Oceans and lakes
          In fact, Schmidt et al's new model is not about the oceans Hoagland described in 1980. Technically, he was correct in writing that the ocean is "still unconfirmed," although it would be hard to find a planetary astronomer to dissent from this widely-accepted idea. The recent controversy has been over the thickness of the surface ice on Europa. A kilometer or so, or 30 km?1 The answer matters a lot for exobiology, because under the thick-ice model it's hard to see how nutrients and energy could circulate. The new idea posits thick ice, but lakes inside the ice crust. And it's in those lakes, not the main ocean below, that the scientists now suggest life is a possibility.

Image Credit: Britney Schmidt/Dead Pixel FX/University of Texas at Austin

So Hoagland was adrift in writing about the search for life in the oceans.

What did he actually write back in 1980? Well, this, for example:

Primeval Jupiter, with a magnetic field significantly weaker than at present ... would have interacted with Europa in a manner highly reminiscent of the present Io situation: an intense several-million-ampere current, under high voltage, set up between both Europan poles and the conductive Jovian "photosphere" below. The result staggers the imagination.

Beyond heating the atmosphere above the poles this massive current would have led inexorably to a set of side effects unparalleled on Earth -- like brilliant night and day aurorae constantly aflame across the polar skies, potential discharge processes between the upper atmosphere and the surface of Europa, massive "superbolts" of lightning, even in clear air. And one more thing: An inescapable set of organic synthesis reactions between the major and minor constituents within this atmosphere!2
          The million-amp current is a fiction. It doesn't exist, and it doesn't need to exist for biogenesis to have credibility. Sufficient energy to keep the ocean liquid is provided by tidal heating.

          Hoagland recognized that fact when it came to the heart of the matter—his actual prediction of the global ocean and the possible life it might contain:

There, in the tidal calculations, was the provocative potential that beneath a thin, outer shell of ice, the bulk of Europa's planetary ocean was still ocean. It may not have frozen solid as Jupiter grew dim. The ever-present tidal forces from that immense planetary object, even at the distance of Europa, are capable of adding energy to the massive, frozen crust -- energy which, disspiated in the crust, maintain the bulk of that satellite-wide sea as liquid water!

If true, the continued existence of the solar system's deepest planetary ocean ... presents us with a staggering set of possibilities, including the independent evolution beyond those pre-organic chemicals and acids into the object of our centuries-long quest: the solar system's second world with life.3
          Fine. Yes, he predicted it. What he didn't do, and still doesn't, and did not do last night on the radio, is to credit the numerous planetary scientists who had predicted it well before January 1980. The literature on Europa includes a paper by John S. Lewis from 19714 making the same suggestion, and one by Cassen, Peale and Reynolds actually entitled "Is There Liquid Water on Europa?" from September 19795. Hoagland's critics have pointed to the latter paper, which used closely similar language to the Star and Sky article, as a highly likely direct source. Hoagland acknowledged Cassen, Peale and Reynolds in his piece but made it seem as though only he, Richard C. Hoagland, had had the insight to interpret their work as meaning probable oceans and possible biology. That was not true.

          As we know, Richard Hoagland, not actually being the scientist he claims to be, very seldom answers his critics. He prefers to ignore them and hope his know-it-all manner will get him by. Specifically on the question of precedence on Europa's ocean, the critics have included Gary Posner and Ralph Greenberg, and Hoagland has made an exception, answering that he never claimed to have been the first to make the prediction. Another critic, Phil Plait, has investigated that proposition and found it to be false.

          In light of Hoagland's recent prevarications about Deepwater Horizon, Phobos, Vesta, Elenin, and YU55 (see numerous postings on this blog passim) nobody could honestly be surprised that this is another case of Hoagland preening in utter disregard for the truth.


           Last night (17th November) Hoagland removed all doubt that he is still making false claims, posting in Facelandia:
[M]y late friend, Arthur C. Clark, graciously acknowledged in "2010" that the initial idea for "life in Europa's oceans"--

Came from ME. :)

Arthur C. Clarke (note correct spelling) was mistaken, as Ralph Greenberg noted ten years ago:
On June 19th and 20th, 1979, the conference "Life in the Universe" took place at NASA's Ames Research Center. Benton Clark gave a lecture [titled] Sulfur: Fountainhead of Life in the Universe...

Clark then explained how sulfur could play the role of oxygen, and that deep-sea volcanic emissions could potentially provide all the necessary ingredients for a self-sustained ecosystem. In the final part of his lecture, Clark raised the possibility that life might exist in undersurface oceans on the icy satellites in our Solar System, including Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto in particular. 
There's more at the Greenberg and Plait links above.

1.Billings, Sandra E.; and Kattenhorn, Simon A. (2005). "The great thickness debate: Ice shell thickness models for Europa and comparisons with estimates based on flexure at ridges". Icarus 177 (2): 397–412. Bibcode 2005Icar..177..397B. doi:10.1016/j.icarus.2005.03.013

2.  Star and Sky Magazine, January 1980, p.23

3.  Star and Sky Magazine, January 1980, p.28

4.  "Satellites of the Outer Planets: Their Physical and Chemical Nature." Icarus,  vol.15, 1971.

5. Geophysical Research Letters,  Vol. 6, September 1979

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In admiration of Gabrielle Giffords

          Who could possibly not admire Congresswoman Giffords? Vivacious, dedicated, quick-witted, obviously intelligent, not afraid to let the public see some of the ups and downs of what recovering from a bullet to the brain looks like. She has life lessons for us all.

          I'm no neurologist, but it seems very possible to me that this shining personality will one day achieve more miracles in life and in politics. The only thing that's definite is that she will not be Vice-President of the USA next year. You'd have to be mad to think that.

          So what is this small rumination doing in a blog that exists to monitor pseudo-science? Only that Richard Hoagland predicted, on Coast-to-Coast AM back in April, that Gabrielle Giffords would be President Obama's choice as running mate in 2012.

          As I say, you'd have to be mad.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

One candle on Mike Bara's "I never said that!" cake

          It's a year since Mike Bara was on Coast to Coast AM plugging his nauseatingly inaccurate book The Choice. That's when I called in to challenge his woefully wrong orbital mechanics. Mike point-blank refused to answer, calling me crazy and saying several times "I never said that" despite the fact that I was reading word-for-word from his book. George Noory, an official endorser of the book, protected Bara and cut me off.

          The blog Exposing PseudoAstronomy decided to mark this anniversary by recording a podcast with me, including the original call-in and my further comments. It runs around 42 min.

          ExPA honored my request to remain pseudonymous, although I did summarize my background (which, oddly enough, ran parallel to Richard Hoagland's for a few years before he stopped working and I didn't.) I'm not keen to fully reveal my identity because this blog is not about me, and it's not even about Richard Hoagland and Mike Bara personally. It's about the accuracy of what they publish and what they say in public lectures.

          Mike has called his critics "blithering idiot" (Phil Plait), "crazy" (me), "douche-bag," "idiot," and "moron." I don't believe I've ever used any insulting epithets to describe either of them. I guess I've mocked Mike Bara's life-style, because it's irresistible, but other than that I've tried to keep this blog to the content of what they say, not who they are.

          Personally, I don't think it's acceptable for an author to go on a radio show knowing that he is expected to field phone calls, and then refuse to answer a reasoned, non-hysterical, criticism from a caller. Neither do I think it's acceptable for the host of the show to endorse the book and then support the author's refusal. See what you think.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The asteroid and the pseudo-scientist: Massive, Epic, FAIL

           Richard Hoagland's cult followers constantly praise him for "thinking outside the box." Sometimes they compare him to famous lateral thinkers of history such as Nikola Tesla, without quite understanding that a) Tesla was a trained physicist and authentic genius, and b) Tesla was not a habitual liar.

           Hoagland's thinking on asteroid 2005 YU55 was so far out of the box that it lost sight of not only the box but the table the box usually stands on, the house the table is in, and the city the house is in. Is it possible to be more wrong about anything than Hoagland was about  YU55? I don't see how. This was an almighty, world class clanger that will resound for quite a while.


           Back in June, at the problem-plagued Camelot teleconference (as this blog commented,) Hoagland introduced us to Elenin and YU55. He got the dates of perihelion and closest approach to Earth almost correct but, inexplicably, told us that the asteroid would do its close pass "while we're all distracted by Elenin." A simple glance at the JPL animation of Elenin showed that, by the time YU55 came by, Elenin would be outbound approaching the orbit of Mars, and not much of a distraction. He also noted that the FEMA national all-media alert exercise would take place on November 9th. Very true, but its connection to asteroids is non-existent.

           During July, August and September he droned on for hours and hours about Elenin (see this blog here here here here  and here. My goodness, I drone on almost as much as he does.) Not until October 21st did he turn his attention to  YU55. Here's an excerpt from Coast to Coast AM that night:
It's an object called YU55.It's supposedly an asteroid—we've got Arecibo radar images which show that it's a weird asteroid. It's only about 400 feet across. That sounds small, but it's really huge for something like this. It's coming within 200,000 miles—85% of the distance to the Moon—on the night of November 8th and 9th. And it will safely pass by, we're told. However, there's something really weird. For one thing, it's spherical. It should not be spherical, George. These things should be splinters that are bashed and battered by four and a half billion years of meteorite strikes. This thing is almost as spherical as a beach ball. And—sitting down?—it's rotating once every 19.5 hours.
           Some of that information was correct. However, it is not spherical. Its rotation period is 18 hours. He lied.

It's a spaceship -- of course!

           He was obviously developing a theory that  YU55 was another intelligently-guided spaceship—the latest member of his fanciful set of astronomical objects. Phobos, Tempel-1, Hartley-2, Vesta, Elenin.

           On November 5th he was on Internet radio with Francis Walsh, developing this theory, and he posted this to Facebollock the following day:
As promised on last night's radio interview with Francis Walsh, here (below) is the best Arecibo radar image I have been able to locate of YU55's LAST "fly-by" of Earth, in April, 2010 ... at ~1.5 MILLION miles .... The astonishing degree of "sphericity" (for a ~1300-foot-natural object) exhibited, the remarkable surface detail visible even in this low-resolution radar image, and low optical AND radar relfectivity of YU55 ... in addition to all the "numerical anomalies" associated with its currently PUBLISHED orbit -- all indicate that YU55 is NOT a "normal asteroid."
           (This time he at least got the size of the damned thing right.) I have no idea what he meant by "numerical anomalies"and I doubt that he did either. But it apparently gave him an idea. "Let's see, how can I get more attention to myself and put the bejeesus up my faithful followers? Earth impact? No, maybe that's a bit much. Lunar impact? Yes, that'll do. We need to invent a course change." Back to FB:
YU55 CAN'T jump "sideways" by ~50,000 miles. :) This YU55 "course change" we're discussing  ... happened back on September 11th ... when YU55 and Elenin were BOTH closest to the sun, on the SAME (crucial) day-- ~16 milliion miles apart, in direct alignment with the sun! The odds of that alone are over 48 MILLION to one ... AGAINST that being a simple "coincidence!! So, if the new trajectory (in our calculkations) is going to take YU55 as "close" as ~50,000 miles, it's STILL a TOTALLY safe trajectory ... in terms of an Earth impact.  ... if this is going to happen (an impact ...), it will be with the MOON!-- Creating the MOST amazing fireworks display the human race has EVER SEEN ... in modern history. :) So -- ENJOY!
           .....and he followed up by advising the faithful to stock up on food, water and cash. No word on his own bulk purchase of kool-aid. He added this:
And, in another strange "coincidence," the President of the united States -- and half the leaders of the Western Hemisphere --just "happen" to be beginning an "Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) conference" in Oahu, Hawaii ,on this SAME date-- November 9th!!
           Totally untrue. The Economic Leaders Meeting won't happen until the weekend. Piling lie upon lie, he told the faithful that President Obama would be using the FEMA all-media alert exercise to address the nation.

Radio Days

           I think we may safely surmise that during the first week of November Hoagland was beating the phone lines to every Coast to Coast AM producer he could think of, begging to be put on the air to get a wider audience for this balderdash. Showing highly uncharacteristic wisdom, they demurred, booking instead the planetary astronomer and asteroid specialist Daniel Durda for the night before closest approach. However, they allowed Hoagland into the news segment to talk briefly about lunar tourism.

           Eyes must have been rolling in their sockets in the C2C studio as Hoagland said "Yes, but there's a breaking story I'd like to switch to..." and proceeded to tell the listening millions the biggest lie so far. He said that "two separate sources, one in Washington and the other in the intelligence community," had slipped him the news that an Atlas-Centaur was on the launch pad at Vandenburgh AFB, ready for a YU55 intercept mission. Misquoting Hillaire Belloc:
Hoagland told such dreadful lies
They made one gasp and stretch one's eyes
           It was the lie of a desperate man—desperate for attention and ready to spin any cock-and-bull story to get it. Totally, totally, untrue. Of course.

           If he thought he might be invited on C2C to give a blow-by-blow commentary as the asteroid passed, last night, he was disappointed again. He had to settle for Project Camelot livestream, chronically out of focus and clearly frustrated by Kerry Cassidy's sophomoric interview technique. "Anonymous" has provided a short summary of the content, as a comment to the previous post on this blog. Thanks a lot, anon. I couldn't stand it for more than five minutes so I didn't hear the full horrible story. I see signs that some of the faithful are not quite as faithful as they were on Monday.

The Final Outcome
The asteroid didn't hit the Moon.
There was no intercept mission.
The FEMA alert exercise lasted all of 3 sec.
The President was not in Hawaii and did not address the nation.
The lie is different every time he opens his mouth.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The wisdom of Youtube commenters

              Youtube comments are not noted for their wisdom. Quite the opposite, in fact. But one of the many current Hoagland videos attracted this comment a few days ago:

Has anything Richard Hoagland predicted ever come true?

As far as I know, the answer is NO. Here's a partial checklist:

  • NASA will never resolve the Shuttle ECO fuel sensor problem using conventional engineering (Web page, December 9, 2007) WRONG
  • STS-125 will be canceled (C2C-AM, March 16, 2009) WRONG
  • Ares 1-X will never reach the launch pad (C2C-AM, October 16, 2009) WRONG
  • The EPSC conference in Rome in September  will announce that Phobos is artificial (C2C and Facebook ad nauseam throughout the summer of 2010) WRONG
  • President Obama will make a Kennedy-style national commitment to a Mars mission (C2C-AM, May 26, 2010) WRONG
  • The failure of an ammonia pump on ISS will spell the end of the program (C2C-AM, August 15, 2010) WRONG
  • STS-133 will be powered by "torsion physics, etc. etc." (C2C-AM, December 2, 2010) WRONG
  • President Obama will be [insert  verb indicating non-survival] at Ground Zero (FB, May 4, 2011) WRONG
  • YU55 will do its close pass "while everyone's attention is distracted by Elenin" (Project Camelot pseudo-conference June 24, 2011) RIDICULOUS
  • Vesta will be clearly shown to be artificial when better resolution images are taken (FB, many times in July 2011) WRONG
  • Comet Elenin will deliver a message to humanity and entrain "something wonderful" (ad nauseam through several conferences, DVDs, and FB bulletins) WRONG
              The forthcoming close pass of asteroid YU55 has sent him into paroxysms of prediction. The fact that YU55 and Elenin reached perihelion at approximately the same time has allowed him to speculate that, "in our calculations" (FB, November 3) YU55 has changed course enough that it will impact the Moon. Considering that no information on the asteroid's trajectory has been available since perihelion, WHAT CALCULATIONS CAN HE POSSIBLY BE TALKING ABOUT??

              Also, having (quite rightly) mocked the doom-sayers over Elenin as merchants of "fear porn," he does seem to be peddling something very similar himself now. Today he posted as follows:

Get prepared!

Extra food and water (think "preparing for a hurricane" ...), candles, medicines, etc.. etc. -- bought NOW -- will save a lot of aggrevation[sic] later ... IF this Event unfolds as the numbers say it will next Wednesday morning, before dawn .... :)

And,--a timely visit to an ATM now -- to withdraw some extra cash -- is also a VERY good thing to actually do.

"As the numbers say it will." WHAT FUCKING NUMBERS????

Update:  Goldstone produced a new ephemeris yesterday, 6th November. So there are "the numbers," and they offer no support to Hoagland at all.

I'll be blogging more on this after YU55 has not hit the Moon.

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.