Monday, March 28, 2011


        Secret! Richard Hoagland's second favorite word, after "stunning" (usually followed by "...confirmation of my brilliant ideas".)

        It's definitely a high-value word for him. First because it allows his disciples to get the thrill of believing that they're "in on" something that was not intended to be known. Even more important, it forestalls any critical review—any attempt at analysis can be answered with "of course you can't confirm this. THEY have made it impossible to find the information!"

        Accordingly, we've had "Von Braun's Secret" which, as we've seen, is utter balderdash. While Hoagland's web site has been lying idle and un-updated all these many months, it's been stuck on promo for his DVD of a Secrets Conference. Next week the Big Man[1] himself will be appearing at an international conference on "The Secret Space Program and Breakaway Civilization."

        It's been a while since he pontificated about the Secret Space Program. If I recall right, the gist of it is that there's a space program run by the supra-national SECRET government. Its capabilities are very impressive, including the ability to destroy a comet. However, it has no manufacturing facilities, no personnel and no launch sites. Cute, huh? NO OF COURSE THERE'S NO EVIDENCE!! DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND?? IT'S SECRET!!!!


[1] Hoagland actually referred to himself in those words, on his FB page last weekend. The man's arrogance is .... STUNNING.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hoagland and Bara still confused about Explorer 1

        There are signs of a slight rift between those terminally erratic writers Hoagland & Bara on the question of Explorer 1, America's first satellite. Not that either of them is right about the orbit, but they now appear to be wrong in significantly different ways.

        Hoagland, as some readers of this blog will remember, made an attempt to apply the Tsiolkovsky equation to the four-stage rocket Juno 1 that launched Explorer. He completely screwed up the calculation, admitted as much about nine months ago but so far has made no move to correct his web page.

        Hoagland's general thesis was that the rotation of the three solid upper stages induced an "anti-gravity effect" which added significantly to the velocity of the final orbit insertion. An additional reason to discount this claim, beyond Hoagland's appalling math, is that by the time the upper stages fired the rocket was traveling horizontally, so gravity is not really the point.

        Mike Bara had his own excruciatingly fallacious attempt at deriving the excess velocity of Explorer 1, but perhaps he somehow sensed that they need something more plausible than anti-gravity to explain their incorrect figures. Earlier this week he stated that perhaps "the spinning changed the burning properties of the fuel." This was in the course of an hour-long podcast interview hosted by Robert Bradbury (who had failed to read any part of The Choice prior to the recording, oops.)

        I'm having a hard time imagining anything less plausible than this attempt to explain what does not need explaining. If the upper stages had been liquid-fueled the idea might have had some superficial credibility, since liquid rocket fuel does indeed slosh around in flight and needs management to ensure a good burn. But we're talking here about military-grade solid fuel which does nothing other than burn enthusiastically when someone puts a match to it.

        Now for the good news. In the course of the podcast (00:45:00 approx) Mike said "Probably not everything in my book is correct." HOORAY. The first step toward redemption is recognition of ones failings.

Rocketry geeks read on...

        Juno 1 was, frankly, a bit of a lash-up—put together in an atmosphere of near-panic as the USSR twice demonstrated its superiority at getting to orbit, and other US rocketry crashed and burned on national TV several times. It was a Jupiter-C rocket with one additional stage.

        Von Braun had a special version of the Redstone missile made, with tankage stretched by eight feet. He fueled it with 60% unsymmetrical dimethyl hydrazine and 40% diethylene-triamine, instead of the alcohol fuel the Redstone was designed for, increasing thrust to 83,000 lb. Burn time was 155 sec, and specific impulse 235 sec. On top of that he added three upper stages, consisting of clusters of 11, 3, and 1 Baby Sergeant solids, with specific impulse 220, 235 and 235 sec. The trajectory of the Redstone first stage was guided by aerodynamic surfaces, but the upper stages had no terminal guidance whatever. For stability, the whole upper stack was therefore spun up to a rotation rate varying from 450 to 750 r.p.m. Thus, it was known in advance that the actual orbit parameters could not be predicted with great accuracy. The nation didn't care—it wanted to see something American in any orbit that could be contrived.

        To achieve orbit, a rocket has two separate tasks—get the payload high enough, then boost it horizontally to sufficient velocity to maintain the orbit. An altitude of 122 km and a velocity of 7 km/sec are approximately the minimum requirements. At cutoff of Juno's first stage, it had a velocity of just over 4 km/sec pitched over to 40° from horizontal. The upper stages were then allowed to follow a purely ballistic trajectory for over four minutes until the stack was horizontal, before sequential firing under direct ground command.

        The ideal theoretical orbit was 352 x 1600 km. In fact they achieved 357 x 2547 km. It was in noticing that rather big apogee excess that Hoagland & Bara made the elementary error of declaring that the whole thing had 60%[1] more energy than anticipated, not realizing that orbital velocities are calculated on the semi-major axis, NOT altitude above the Earth's surface. Mike Bara wrote "I won't bore you with the details, but the fact is a miscalculation of that type simply cannot happen." He should perhaps have bored himself with some details before writing such garbage.

        When you work out the math correctly, the velocity at orbit insertion turns out to have been 8.215 km/sec, cf. the planned 8.018 km/sec— an excess of 2.46% and well within known slop factors such as rocket fuel performance, pitch angle, and upper atmosphere wind speed.


        So Hoagland & Bara between them delivered four hours of overnight radio, one long web page and two book chapters of complete hogwash, based on a childish lack of understanding of rocketry. I wish I thought their fans cared, but alas those people are so gullible I swear they'd accept kool-aid if it was offered.


[1] 60% was Bara's figure (The Choice, p. 144.) Hoagland said 30% on Coast-to-Coast AM, but the inaccurate calculations in his web page suggest 17%. All three figures are, of course, wrong.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011


        Today, somebody using the name Damon Packard contacted Richard Hoagland on his FB page, inviting him to perform a cameo in a movie called Foxfur. He wrote:

It's an independent film I'm making, a short based on a feature script about a young girl named Foxfur. You are mentioned quite prominently in it and are even in a few scenes. I would love to send you the script or more detailed info. The climax deals with PHOBOS and Mt SHASTA. It treats all the material in an honest, serious (and hopefully) intelligent way. It would mean a lot to have you in it. My films are fairly well known in indie circles and a few in general release (Reflections of Evil, etc) so this is a serious inquiry. I guarantee you it would not only be a fun project but would portray you in a good light. And it would be your debut as an actor.

        James Concannon very swiftly came up with a spoof screenplay for Foxfur, which deserves a longer shelf life than FB provides, especially with Hoagland himself on the prowl with his DELETE button. So I reprint it with permission, and with extra formatting that FB doesn't allow.


LOW ANGLE on RCH, looking confident

STS-125 will be canceled.

CUT to B-ROLL: STS-125 launch

Ares 1-X will never reach the launch pad.

WHIP PAN TO B-ROLL: Ares 1-X on the pad 2 days later

NASA will never resolve the ECO sensor problem using conventional engineering.

CUT to Lockheed engineer installing new (conventional) pass-through connector. Engineer grins and gives a thumbs-up.

STS-133 will be powered by hyperdimensional torsion fields.

FX WIPE TO B-ROLL: STS-133 launch using ordinary rocket fuels

        By the way, Hoagland accepted. Well, provisionally. He said he'd read the script on his way to the Amsterdam "Secret Space Program" conf. (eyeroll)

Update: Yep, it's deleted.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Multiple-choice quiz questions about 'The Choice,' by Mike Bara

        A colleague brought this quiz to my attention. I don't usually boast, but I'm now a ten-for-ten man. How did you do?

Monday, March 14, 2011

A non-hyperdimensional event

        It must make Richard Hoagland & Mike Bara eat their hearts out that the colossal earthquake at Sendai didn't happen anywhere near 19.5° latitude (the epicenter was 38.321°N.) Neither did the recent Christchurch quake (43.58°S) or, in fact, any of the top ten:

Chile 1960, mag 9.5 - 38° 24' S
Alaska 1964, mag 9.2 - 61° 15' N
Sumatra 2004, mag 9.1 - 3° 19' N
Kamchatka 1952, mag 9.0 - 52° 45' N
Sendai 2011, mag 9.0 - 38° 19' N
Sumatra 1833, mag ~9.0 - 2° 30' S
Ecuador/Colombia 1906, mag 8.8 - 1° 00' N
Chile 2010, mag 8.8 - 35° 54' S
Cascadia 1700, mag ~8.8 - approx 45° 30' N
Valparaiso 1730, mag ~8.7 - 32° 30' S

        As we know, Richard Hoagland thinks nothing of announcing that a major earthquake is at 19.5° even when it quite obviously is not. However, even he would not stretch a point that far and so Sendai is another FAIL for the theory that rotating planets create energy upwelling at 19.5° N and S.

        Both Hoagland and Bara, in their respective publications, have listed energetic features in the solar system as confirming the theory when in fact they do not. They have even stated in writing that sunspots originate at 19.5° which must make solar system astronomers stretch their eyes somewhat. The one that makes me giggle is Io, the innermost moon of Jupiter.

Tidal heating from Jupiter makes Io the most geologically active object in the entire solar system, with at least 400 active volcanoes. Hoagland & Bara refer hand-wavingly to "the volcanoes of Io" as 19.5° features. I've tried asking Mike Bara which of the 400 are at 19.5° but, sadly, no answer has been forthcoming.

Update 1: Somebody who knows the Solar System better than me writes that Pillan Patera, Io's most active volcano, is at 12° 20' S.

        So, let's see—the planetary energy theory is blown, the ritual alignment "model" is blown, the undiscovered giant planet idea is blown. Not a good time for pseudoscience.

Update 2: Well, blow me down with a feather. Hoagland actually did try and force the Sendai event (now preferentially known as the Tohoku event) to fit his daft pattern, on Coast to Coast AM last Thursday/Friday 24/25 March. He pointed out that its latitude, 38° 19', was pretty close to double 19.5°, and its longitude, 142° 22', was pretty close to 120° east of the Great Pyramid.

        Well, it's certainly news to me that his theory predicts anything special at double-19.5, and as for the longitude, the "pyramid-plus-120" line passes 8° 46' -- or 765 km -- further East, out in the Pacific. So once again Hoagland is trying the ex post facto prediction trick.

        Later on his FB page he attempted to excuse himself:

Remember, we are NOT talking about precise longitude and latitude "lines" ... but "bands of activity" -- as with any physical process ....

        Pretty pathetic, since he didn't quantify the width of these "bands of activity," and the positions of tectonic plate junctions all over the world are of course known with far greater precision than 8°.

        By the way, he also predicted that Gabrielle Giffords will be Obama's running mate for the 2012 election.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Mike Bara recovered -- physically, at least. Mentally, we'll have to see

        This just in, by exclusive video-blog[1]: Mike Bara declares himself cured — regrets having had to cancel his appearance on the Spiritual Cruise into 2012.

        The ship sailed on Saturday, bearing a cargo of what were billed as "the world’s greatest spiritual teachers, authors, visionaries, and experts"[2]. Did Mike Bara really take a look at that billing and self-disqualify? Just kidding. Actually, he probably made a wise decision. The last thing that ship of fools needs is a few million Bara-viruses. Faced with an outbreak, Robin Falkov would undertake to cure them all with homeopathy, then they'd really be in trouble.

        In his video-blog [at 11:27], Mike re-iterates his well-known position that people only point out his colossal errors because they're scared. That joke never seems to get old.

        I posted this welcoming message to his blog, but I doubt if I'll get a response:

I'm glad to know you've recovered. Perhaps now you'd be willing to say how many Space Shuttle launches and landings fit your "ritual alignment model."

Also, are the astrologically favorable alignments timed for the originally-announced launch/landing times, or the actual times?

Please recall that you are on record as saying "NASA always seems to want to land or launch when the stars are in favorable positions, at least according to their mythology."

        Anybody not already familiar with this so-called ritual alignment model, and its many failures, can brush up on it here, here, and here.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Pseudoscientist found to be denser than moons

        This wonderful image is not new — it was returned from Cassini-Huygens back in 2005 when that brilliant over-achiever of a mission was in orbit around Saturn. It shows the honeycomb-like structure of Hyperion, one of Saturn's 62 moons and Titan's nearest neighbor. Since Bob Zimmerman referenced it in his blog today, I was reminded of the lesson to be learned.

        One of the many remarkable facts about Hyperion is its extremely low density—a mere 0.57 gram cm-3 (water has a density of 1, ice is 0.92. Most rock is in the 2.2-2.9 range.) Scientists have interpreted that as meaning that Hyperion's porosity exceeds 40% even assuming it's mostly ice.[1] For comparison, the density of our own Moon is 3.35 gram cm-3.

        Now, remember back in April 2010, when Richard Hoagland was dancing from foot to foot yelling that Phobos is an artificial spaceship? The density of Phobos is 1.876 gram cm-3 and porosity about 30%. One of Hoagland's primary arguments was YOU CAN'T MAKE A NATURAL OBJECT THAT'S 30% HOLLOW.

        If I was any kind of artist I'd make a little animation of a Hoagland figure doing a Homer Simpson style D'oh!!

[1] Hyperion's sponge-like appearance (Thomas et al., Nature 2007)