Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hoagland's wet dream

        Richard Hoagland was invited for the first hour of Coast to Coast AM last night, primarily to mark the 50th anniversary of Kennedy's "I believe this nation should commit itself..." speech to Congress. Surprise, surprise, he was half right about Kennedy. JFK really was rather keen on a joint US/USSR Moon program. The other half—that he was assassinated for that reason—is the usual rubbish, for reasons this blog has already explained.

        In the second half-hour, however, he was ignoring the truth as usual, mis-reporting two recent findings in planetary science. His versions of these stories were SO wrong that one wonders if he was paying any attention to his sources at all.

Beachfront property on the Moon?

To quote the C2C program summary verbatim, he said this:

"the moon has as much water inside it as the Earth has in its oceans."

        Yes, he did, he really did. So, let's see: Volume of the oceans is about 1.3 x 109 km3. That means the planet is 1 part in about 850 water. Volume of the Moon is 2.2 x 1010 km3. If what Hoagland said were really true, old devil Moon would be 1 part in 17 water. Those Apollo astronauts would have needed waders, not lunar boots, to get around.

        So what was the real story on lunar water? It was a Science Express article by Erik H. Hauri et al. titled "High Pre-Eruptive Water Contents Preserved in Lunar Melt Inclusions." The discovery was microscopic melt inclusions in some Apollo 17 samples which originated from volcanic eruptions, and so came from deep down. The proportion of water was from 615 to 1410 ppm (cf. lunar volcanic glasses <= 50 ppm.) This is comparable with upper mantle rocks on Earth, and the point is that these inclusions are tightly sealed so that water would not escape even at volcanic temperatures (and, perhaps more to the point, the kind of temperature that would be generated by the impact theory of the Moon's origin.) Note the word microscopic in the above explanation. It does not mean that waves are crashing on beaches in the Sea of Tranquility. Hoagland is utterly, totally, spectacularly, WRONG.

Mars as an embryo

        The second story he got wrong was a report in the May 26th Nature by Nicolas Dauphas at the University of Chicago and Ali Pourmand at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine & Atmospheric Science, "Hf–W–Th evidence for rapid growth of Mars and its status as a planetary embryo." This was a highly sophisticated isotope ratio analysis of martian meteorites, showing that Mars probably accreted from proto-planetary dust in as little as two to four million years, as compared with 50 to 100 million for the other terrestrial planets. That would explain its small size, and would class it as a so-called embryo planet (I'm more used to the term planetismal.) Science Daily has a good summary here.

        Hoagland somehow managed to force this news to confirm one of his hobby-horse theories, borrowed from Tom Van Flandern (with acknowledgement)—that Mars was once the moon of Planet X. It goes without saying that absolutely nothing in the work of Dauphas and Pourmand supports this or even so much as mentions it in passing.

        Two more colossal boo-boos by Coast to Coast. And they don't give a shit, of course.

        Hoagland turned up on C2C again last night, 15th June, and clarified his wet dream — somewhat. He said Moon and Earth have the same amount of water but "pound for pound. That's what got some people confused." Maybe he was thinking of his former co-author as one of the confused.

        He went on to say that he estimated the total quantity as "about the size of a lake like the Caspian Sea." Well, I don't know where he got that from, but we have to applaud the steady climb-down from "as much as all the oceans" to "the Caribbean Sea" to "the Caspian." He still thinks it's all accessible to future lunar colonists, though, and that's still WRONG WRONG WRONG.

Friday, May 20, 2011

He’s just a sad, broken man who has lost his way

        That phrase from Mike Bara's blog this week was the first thing that jumped out at me, and I thought "Tut-tut, Mike, that's no way to talk about your former co-author." Then I realized that for the second time he was matching wits with Prof Stephen Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA, Director of Research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology in the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at the University of Cambridge, author of six popular books and Einstein-knows-how-many research papers.

        The contrast between the erudite cosmologist and the drop-out from Seattle Pacific Uni is certainly striking. But our Mike is far from intimidated. In his 2010 piece he wrote:

In my new book The Choice, I directly confront the arrogance which Hawking so perfectly displays in “The Grand Design,” and I utterly destroy the foundations upon which his declarations are built.

This week, he was equally arrogant, if not more so:

In my new book The Choice, I put scientific materialism to shame. There is no randomness in the Universe. There is substantive proof that the “laws of physics” which Hawking puts so much faith into, simply don’t exist. There is overwhelming proof of a new, little understood theory of physics, Hyperdimensional physics, which can explain everything without having to move the goalposts even once. But that theory and the evidence supporting it MUST be denied by the scientific materialists, because once you introduce the idea of a higher level of existence, the 4th dimension, you must also acknowledge something far more threatening to the scientific materialists; God.

        Overwhelming proof, eh Mike? Well, let's take a look at chapter 3 of The Choice and see how overwhelming this proof really is. Mike explains:

The name comes from the simple idea that everything we see and experience in this universe as energy actually originates from somewhere else—from outside our observable 3D realm.
[I]f you take a sphere—like ... a planet—and you rotate it, then you will pull energy from the higher state of the planet (the hyper-sphere) and that energy will preferentially upwell from inside the planet according to the geometry of a tetrahedron encased in a sphere, and appear at or around 19.5 degrees.

        So far no proof, just a rather strange assertion. His "proof" is on page 47, as he notes that this 19.5° energy is demonstrated by Neptune's Great Dark Spot, Jupiter's Great Red Spot, the erupting volcanoes of Jupiter's moon Io (he doesn't specify how many of the 400 volcanoes of Io,) Olympus Mons on Mars, and the Mauna Kea volcano in Hawaii.

        What do these features have in common? None of them are actually at 19.5° latitude (with the possible exception of a few Io volcanoes.) If he'd written Mauna Loa instead of Mauna Kea, he'd have got one right. That's not overwhelming proof. It's not even a little bit of proof. It doesn't explain everything. It doesn't even explain one thing properly.

        As for "utterly destroying" the foundations of physics, this blog has pointed out here, here and here that physics has utterly defeated Mike. He just doesn't understand.

Mike finds God, and someone else special

        Mike seems to have caught religion, the way other people catch flu. According to what he said during this podcast, his epiphany arrived along with the seductive dedicatee of The Choice, Alyssa Reid Leblanc. He hastened to assure us that it wasn't THAT KIND of epiphany, but there's photographic evidence that he hugged Alyssa a lot at one time. Sadly, Alyssa's Facebook profile reveals that The Choice is not among her favorite books.

        Curiously enough, it isn't on Stephen Hawking's list, either.

        Mike launched yet another attack on modern physics on May 20th (one day before The Rapture.) I posted a comment which is certain never to be seen on the Bara-blog:
"....their limited, three dimensional way of thinking."

Funnily enough, superstring theory gets almost as much ridicule as you and Hoagland do, because it posits 11 dimensions. Four dimensional physics is so common that it's probably taught in high school these days (I wouldn't know, personally.)

But the physicists of the world are sure to take note that they're being chastised by someone who believes:

- Annular eclipses occur when the Moon is unusually close to Earth
- Earth and Mars would remain at the same distance if the orbit of Mars were circular
- Satellite orbit discrepancy is measured by altitude above Earth, not the semi-major axis

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Alpha Magnetic Spectrometers and Hyperdimensional Physics

        Space Shuttle Endeavour gave us a beautiful sight yesterday, as it launched into cloud bank to begin its 16-day mission to ISS.

Photo: Trey Ratcliff, by permission

        Richard Hoagland, despite having no special knowledge of the event or any relevant information to share, was invited on Coast to Coast AM to update us.

        In default of relevant information, he decided to give us, instead, some irrelevant information:

"The really cool thing about this mission, which is what makes real what I said a couple of missions ago about a transition between Newtonian science and hyperdimensional physics—the main payload on this flight, 134, is the AMS—the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, which is going to be attached to the Station permanently, and will be looking up into space as the Station whirls around the Earth every 90 minutes. And it is filled with all kinds of exquisite gadgetry—magnets, detectors, and all that—and they're actually expecting, George, they may actually find some fundamental new particles or aspects of the universe which would bring the day when hyperdimensional physics is public a little bit closer."

        AMS-02 is a particle physics experiment. The primary instrument is a cosmic ray detector, and over time its investigators, led by Samuel Ting of MIT, may gather information about dark matter, anti-matter, and the origin of the universe. Nothing whatsoever to do with hyperdimensional physics.

        I hope Dr Ting wasn't listening to C2C last night. If he was he'd have bust a blood vessel on hearing that the instrument he spent 16 years developing was destined to help an uneducated pseudo-scientist prove a wholly ficticious point.

Transition my ass

        Hoagland has a remarkably selective memory, as we know. He regularly "forgets" his unsuccessful predictions (there are no successful ones, actually) and omits to credit the work of others even when such work is copyright. What he actually said, on 2nd December 2010, was that from STS-133 on the Shuttle itself would be powered by torsion energy. In that, it goes without saying, he was WRONG AGAIN. Last night's mini-performance was very much worse than useless, in that the so-called science adviser imparted information that was not only unscientific but totally misleading. Shame on George Noory and Lisa Lyon. Their contempt for their audience gets worse and worse.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

An experimental protocol

James Concannon contributes today's bloggery:

        Not long ago, Richard Hoagland proposed carrying out another "experiment" with his Accutron equipment, testing whether the planetary alignment due later this year induces a measurable "torsion field," as he claimed happened during the Venus transit of 8th June 2004 (and at other occasions too, but the Venus transit is the only one he's ever attempted to document.) He asked for suggestions on how to improve his experimental protocol, which had been criticized (by me, inter alia.)

        His experimental setup can be seen here. A Microset™ precision timer and its ancillary software are used to monitor fluctuations in the frequency of the tuning fork inside a precision wristwatch. The claimed Venus transit result can be seen here.

The problems I see with this claim are as follows:

- He made no specific prediction
- There was no baseline and no control
- The first frequency peak at 07:03:53 went off-scale
- Many other peaks are seen later than 07:21:00, the end of the experimental period. Two of these are also off-scale and they are not explained.
- He tells us nothing about the equipment: How old the watch is, where the Microset was purchased, what laptop computer he used, etc.

Therefore I suggest the following experimental protocol for future tests:

- Purchase two brand new Accutron watches.
- Break the hands off them, since there are known issues with frequency variation according to position of the hands[1].
- Keep both watches rigidly fixed during test runs, since there are known issues with frequency variation according to position of the whole watch [same ref].
- Establish a baseline recording of at least one hour for each watch, with the watches in such a situation as does NOT expose them to the hypothesized "torsion field." This baseline can be taken many weeks or months before the test runs.
- Make a specific prediction. I don't think it is necessary to predict the actual frequency variation quantitatively. It would be enough, for example, to state "I think the tuning fork frequency will increase when exposed to the torsion field because the field will decrease the mass of the fork, and frequency is inversely proportional to the square root of the density of the fork material." Frequency excursions measured during test runs must be greater than any excursions seen during baseline runs to be valid.
- If possible, use one watch as a control, shielding it from the hypothesized field. This may mean sending it to the other side of the planet during the test run.
- Ensure that neither the experimental watch or the control watch is close to any abnormal electromagnetic field.
- Ensure that the ambient temperature is the same at the experimental site and the control site.
- Each test run should last 30 minutes, with the experimental watch and the control watch running and permanent records being taken at one-minute intervals.
- Stop any test which causes the frequency trace to go off-scale, and restart the test with sensitivity adjusted.
- Perform at least five test runs.
- Document all experimental hardware.

        Under these conditions, clearly aberrant frequency excursions in four of the five test runs would be acceptable evidence in support of the hypothesis.



        On Facebook, Hoagland drew attention to the difficulty of designing a protocol, writing that "we're in the same position as Van Allen before Explorer," by which I take him to mean that he expects to discover the torsion field as opposed to measuring it. However, that cannot be so—the Russian experimental work he so often refers to already did that. What seems to utterly escape him is that that work is thoroughly discredited.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Correction: President Obama has not been assassinated

THE MANAGEMENT OF THIS BLOG VERY MUCH REGRETS that due to an error, an incorrect story appeared in early editions today. The story was set in type to be ready in case of an assassination, but was not authorized to run. An unfortunate error by a pressman caused the story to be printed in some editions.

In addition, we now concede that the quotes from Ms. Poor and Prof. Papu were inventions. The reporter responsible has been placed on leave pending an investigation.


Assassination: A fail for a president but a decisive win for a pseudo-scientist

        The tragic assassination of President Obama earlier today, while laying a wreath at Ground Zero, was good news for one person. That person would be self-taught "scientist" and entertainer Richard Hoagland, who brilliantly predicted this exact event yesterday on his Facebook page. Hoagland has a history of using tragic events to draw attention to himself, as when he posted on a web site that the Apollo 1 fire was a deliberate act.

        Although his record of success in prediction is close to zero, he appears to have aced this one. He could not be reached for comment as he was too busy basking in the admiration of his many fans.

        Georgina Poor, host of the overnight radio show These Books Are Trash, was woken to hear the news. She said "Never bet against Hoagland. I know many people see him as an uneducated and self-advertising buffoon, but I always knew he'd get one right eventually." The distinguished physicist Michel Papu said "Personally I always thought Hoagland was an insane cretin. Not so much an idiot savant as an idiot ignorant. I guess now I'll have to look again at some of his ridiculous theories."

        So, as a nation mourns, the 16,000 adherents of a Facebook page can click on that icon that says "I LIKE IT!!!"


NOTE: The above text is purely satirical.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


        Dr Judy Wood delivered her performance on Coast to Coast AM last night, eagerly awaited by the Branch Hoaglandians because it was her work that Richard Hoagland ripped off for his recent conference presentation.

        Dr Wood spent some time educating the audience about the importance of real forensic evidence as opposed to speculation, then almost immediately broke her own rules by making an ENORMOUS leap of conjecture. The twin towers were dustified, she announced, by a directed energy weapon. When George Noory asked her where she thought the actual weapon itself was situated, she dismissed that as unimportant.

        I really have neither the time or the skill to analyze Wood's data—in any case, others have already done that quite well. I thought, however, I might provide an additional data point by estimating the total mass of drywall in the North Tower. As anyone with any construction experience can tell you, sheetrock dustifies very nicely, often when you wish it wouldn't. It's just loose chalk between sheets of paper, really. Was the dust cloud that drifted over Lower Manhattan mostly gypsum? Let's see....

The North Tower was 1,368 ft tall, cross-section 208 x 208 ft. If you imagine the entire building clad in drywall, the area would be:

1368 x 208 x 4 = 1,138,176 sq ft
assuming drywall mass 1.6 lb/sq ft, total wall mass is almost 1000 tons (US).

As for ceilings, from the total ceiling area of 208 x 208 = 43,264 sq ft we need to subtract 80 x 138 = 11,040 sq ft for the elevator well.

So ceiling area = 32,224 x 110 floors = 3,544,640 sq ft or 2,836 tons.

        Now, I make no pretense that this is in any way an accurate measure. It's just a little better than pulling a random figure out of my ass. It's "in the ballpark," as the sports fans say. I'm just saying that around 1000 tons of drywall would have dustified immediately as the tower collapsed, and over 500,000 cubic feet of air would have been pumped out of each floor as it pancaked, helping to form the white dust cloud. It's a lot harder to estimate how much of the 2,836 tons of ceiling would also have crumbled, but very likely some of it.

        Judy Wood appears to think that the cloud contained most of the structural steel, too. Put me down as a sceptic on that.