Thursday, February 28, 2013

A case of mistaken identity

Hmmm, possession of paraphernalia..... An Accutron watch? (Just kidding)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Red ice over Chichen Itza

        Richard Hoagland's storytelling technique is really hopeless. He adds way too much detail, gets side-tracked, then repeats himself, loses track of time and sometimes doesn't even get to the point before he's cut off by the commercial breaks. On Red Ice Radio three days ago, he took an entire hour to retell the story of his unfortunate experience at Chichen Itza last December 19th (see a previous post for the deets.) He spent about ten minutes digressing into a discussion of what legally constitutes an arrest. *Eyeroll*

        Of course, if there's one thing worse than Hoagland's storytelling, it's Hoagland's science. And nowhere is his science more plainly exposed as pseudo than in his so-called "measurement" of the torsion field with his Accutron/MicroSet™ rig.

Sidebar for any readers that may be new to this topic: Hoagland says that rotating masses, including celestial objects, generate inertial fields that cause an increase of the inertia of any other mass they intersect. More recently he has extended this belief to the proposition that large pyramids amplify this effect in their immediate vicinity, but he has offered no explanation. He has never said what units a torsion field would be measured in.

He owns a 35-year-old (at least) Bulova Accutron wristwatch. He uses precision timing equipment from Mumford Micro Systems to sense departures of the watch's tuning fork frequency from its nominal 360 Hz, and records a trace of the frequency over time.

        Hoagland's frequency traces, of course, are not direct measurements of the torsion field, but (hypothetically) indications of a side effect of that field's fluctuations. And it gets worse. Since  his theory is that the torsion field increases inertia, the only reading that would offer any support for his crazy theory would be a definite, repeatable, decrease in tuning fork frequency (which is inversely proportional to the square root of the density of its material.) As this blog has pointed out more than once, to be science as opposed to a meaningless techno-game, his protocol would have to include baseline recordings and controls. We don't know whether Hoagland even records these—if he does, he keeps them to himself.

        So do his Accutron games show repeatable frequency decrease? Far from it. Here's what we know:

Venus transit 2004: 9 upspikes, 0 downspikes
Teotihuacan 2009: 2 upspikes, 0 downspikes
Tikal 2009: 7 upspikes, 9 downspikes
Stonehenge  2011:  no data
Avebury 2011:  no data
Silbury Hill 2011:  no data
Annular eclipse May 2012: 7 upspikes, 1 downspike
Venus transit June 2012: no data
Chichen Itza Dec 2012: no data


        Hoagland has said over and over again that he has successfully measured the torsion field, when in fact he has done no such thing. For him to say, as he did on Red Ice a few days ago, "The predictions of the model are overwhelmingly confirmed," is a lie.

A barefaced lie, Richard.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Mike Bara wrong on meteor/asteroid combo

        Looks like we survived the close passage of asteroid 2012 DA14, which whistled past our planet a few minutes ago leaving nary a scratch.

        Over 1000 Citizens of Chelyabinsk were not so lucky yesterday. A meteor weighing about 7000 tonnes screamed over the city at 30 km/sec and exploded created a huge shock wave1 at an altitude of 40km, shattering glass all over this Russian industrial city near the border with Kazakhstan. Buildings were scathed as well as people.

        Mike Bara, the world-famous astronomer, sought to impress the strippers and porn starlets who inhabit his FarceBook page by taking a totally gratuitous swipe at NASA.

"According to NASA (Never A Straight Answer) this has NOTHING to do with today's 17,000 mile near miss by a planet killing asteroid. Riiiiiighttttt..... Nothing to see here. Move along..."

        Well, seriously now, what qualifications does Mike have that justify his scorn? Actually, none. Is it just the NASA NEO Tracking Office that says this? No—it's also being said by qualified astronomers at ESA, MIT, The Russian Academy of Sciences...

        I've got another challenge for Mike Bara the world-famous unqualified astronomer: Please explain how a meteor in an equatorial orbit can have anything to do be co-orbital with an asteroid in a solar-polar orbit whose orbital inclination is 10°.

image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech 
        Mike has provided an answer, although not to me. A contributor to FB, Christian Ijin Link, wrote "Well...the meteor did come from the wrong direction to be associated with today's cosmic batter-brush-back pitch." The world-famous astronomer replied:

"When you're in the middle of a meteor shower, it dosen't [sic] matter which direction they come from. They come at you from all directions."

So, so wrong.... it's really pitiful.

Update 2:
        The good old Daily Torygraph has a graphic representation of the respective orbits of the two bodies.

 Update 3:
         On Coast to Coast AM last night, that world famous owner of inaccurate 30-year-old wristwatches Richard C. Hoagland took off into typical flights of fancy. The asteroid was a weapon, he told us, sent by a malevolent extraterrestrial force as a warning. And how did he know this? Easy—the closest approach was at 19.5 GMT.

         Except it wasn't. It was at 19:24. That's 19.4, not 19.5. Elenin déjà vu (in that case he said the closest approach at 19:50 GMT was the same as 19.5.)

1. Phil Plait wrote "exploded," then changed his mind, then changed it back again. I think I'll stick with the shock wave but I'm no expert.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Strong lunar glass -- the real story

        In writing Glass, steel, water, and the art of the misquote (30 Jan) I remarked that both Dark Mission (p. 244, 2nd edn) and Ancient Aliens on the Moon (pp.51-2) had flagrantly misquoted the source both books cited.

        Further research tells me that they simply cited the wrong paper from W. W. Mendell, ed.; Lunar Bases and Space Activities of the 21st Century. (Houston, TX, Lunar and Planetary Institute, 1985.) They should have cited Blacic, J. D.; Mechanical Properties of Lunar Materials Under Anhydrous, Hard Vacuum Conditions: Applications of Lunar Glass Structural Components (1985.) Blacic was cited by Rowley & Neudecker, and it was Blacic who made the point about the effect of water contamination on silicate bonding. Blacic even has a figure to help us visualize the problem.

        Hydrolization inserts a hydrogen bond into the chain of covalent O-Si bonds, and in general that would indeed cause potential weakness.

How strong is strong?
        So does Blacic support Hoagland & Bara's statement that lunar glass would be "approximately twice as strong as steel under the same stress conditions"? No, not at all. In fact, Blacic's Table 1 specifically falsifies the statement.

Here are the key comparisons in that table:

Young's modulus of lunar glass: 100 GPa, cf. alloy steel 224 GPa, terrestrial glass 68 GPa.
Ultimate tensile strength, alloy steel 2.3 GPa. For lunar glass, ultimate tensile strength is dependent on many factors especially temperature. Blacic gives a range of 0.007 - 3.0

Blacic writes (p. 491):
How can lunar glass be utilized? One obvious way is in the form of glass fibers in tensile stress situations. Although lunar glass will be very strong, it will still be a very brittle material, and therefore it makes sense to distribute the load over many small elements. .... lunar glass fibers should always be coated with a metal such as Fe, Al or Mg to protect the glass from inadvertent or purposeful exposure to water vapor. Otherwise, a highly stressed glass component might fail catastrophically due to water-induced stress corrosion.
:: Lunar glass has only half the Young's modulus of steel.
:: If the absolute maximum of the range given for ultimate tensile strength is achieved, lunar glass fibers might be about one-third stronger than steel. At the low end of the range, lunar glass would be about 300x weaker.
:: Using lunar soil in the form of glass does not get you out of the need to mine metals. The metals will be needed for coating.

:: Hoagland & Bara lied.
:: Hoagland & Bara lied, not just in their books, but repeatedly in many radio programs, most recently only 10 days ago.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Proving my point

I deliberately did not clean my scanner glass before scanning this image. I even made sure a stray human hair was around:

In Paint Shop Pro v. 7.02, I then stonked brightness to 90, contrast to 80, and saved the image again.

        My scanner glass is a lot cleaner than Hoagland's (we haven't had any office parties lately,) but the effect is nevertheless clear. Smears and sparkles are picked up wherever the image is black. The resemblance to this, which Hoagland & Bara swear shows Al Bean under a glass dome, is fairly striking.

        Again, scanner sparkle in the blacks, including Al Bean's shadow. This is another of Hoagland's scans from the Ken Johnston collection, and he's never explained why there's "glass dome" material down there on the surface.

        Here's what I think accounts for the accusations we hear about NASA "airbrushing" Hasselblad frames for release. I think it's well-nigh impossible to eliminate the sparkle altogether, on something as absolute black as the lunar sky. So I think some sparkle quite likely was removed. If working on a print, the tool was more probably a black felt pen rather than an airbrush, but the purpose was the same—to give a truer rendering than the printing process provided. And, once again, this could not have been done on a negative, as Mike Bara has alleged. That would mean eliminating black spots instead of white ones, and turning them transparent. Impossible, basically.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

I challenge Hoagland & Bara

        When, last week, I was looking for the quote I used in Glass, steel, water, and the art of the misquote, I re-read chapter 4 of Dark Mission.

        It's fairly obvious that Hoagland was the principal author, and this is the chapter in which he lays out his thesis that artificial structures are common on the Moon, and they can be seen in certain images in the Apollo (and other lunar mission) archives "after digital enhancement." 66 pages (plus 45 figures) recycled by Mike Bara five years later to make a large part of his own book Ancient Aliens on the Moon.

        On page 214 et seq. Hoagland tells how Ken Johnston approached him after a lecture in Seattle, 2nd May 1995. As this blog has related more than once, Johnston, as a Brown-Root employee, was at one time responsible for an archive of Apollo 10x8 photo-prints kept in the Lunar Receiving Laboratory, separate from the main photo-archive that was in a different building, under different curatorship. It was scans of some of those prints, done by Hoagland himself, that underpin the entire Hoagland/Bara lunar structure thesis, if such a shaky set of fantasies may be called such. On page 226, I found this passage:
"In scanning Ken's priceless Apollo 14 C-prints, [I'd] discovered that the computer could "see" what the human eye could not—incredible geometric detail in the pitch black areas, like the lunar sky. The sensitivity of modern CCD imaging technology, in even commercially-available image scanners, coupled with the amazing enhancement capabilities of state-of-the-art commercial software—like Adobe's Photoshop—allowed the invisible detail buried in these supposedly black layers, of these thirty-year-old emulsions, to ultimately be revealed—a "democratization" of technology that no censor at NASA could have possibly foreseen over more than thirty years."

        I giggled a bit when I transcribed those words "incredible geometric detail," because incredible is precisely what the detail is. Of course an image scanner can't see what isn't there—that's ridiculous. Unbelievably, those bozos Hoagland & Bara fail to realize that THEY ADDED SOMETHING in order to make the so-called "detail" appear. What did they add? Whatever crud was on their scanner glass, that's what. Hoagland's scanner looks like there may have been hijinks during an office party.

Fig. from chapter 4 of AAotM, supposedly showing glass skyscrapers

I challenge
        Here's the challenge. Richard Hoagland, Mike Bara — I challenge you to get that print of AS10-32-4820.jpg back from Ken Johnston and scan it again. I guarantee your "glass skyscrapers" won't be there.

        Anybody reading this who has the ear of Hoagland or Bara, please pass this on. I don't think they read my e-mails these days.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Tenth anniversary of Hoagland lies

==== R.I.P. ====
Rick D. Husband, Commander
William C. McCool, Pilot
David M. Brown, Mission Specialist 1
Kalpana Chawla, Mission Specialist 2
Michael P. Anderson, Payload Commander
Laurel B. Clark, Mission Specialist 4
Ilan Ramon, Payload Specialist 1

        I've already commented about the colossal error made by Mike Bara, who asserted mistakenly that it was the decision to use "green" insulation that was the death sentence of the above seven heroes.

        Ten years ago today, Richard C. Hoagland made a bad situation worse by comprehensively misinforming the audience of Coast to Coast AM about the Columbia tragedy. This was well before the true cause was known, and his "angle" was that the likely cause was sabotage. "Somebody," he said, had interfered with the thermal protection system. He told the following lies:

All the thermal tiles are replaced between Shuttle flights
Nonsense. Some tens, or at most hundreds, of tiles are replaced.

The tile replacement is done by low-paid workers any one of whom could “easily” be a Moslem saboteur. 
Nonsense. The grade of these workers was increased in 1999 as a specific result of a review by a safety oversight committee. Background checks are carried out, and, while obviously not infallible, that procedure would make it far from easy for a saboteur to be in a position to cause harm to the Shuttle.

Tile replacers are known to have spat in the bonding compound, weakening it. 
That’s impossible — the silicon RTV bonder is not water-soluble.

Responding to a question about the possibility of meteorite damage, Hoagland dismissed it totally, declaring that “the likelihood of a meteorite strike at the exact moment of re-entry is just too remote”. 
He doesn’t understand that a meteorite strike at any time during the mission would be capable of causing failure of the thermal protection system.

        I was able to save myself some keyboard time in making the above list, since I was quoting myself in a letter to the radio show's executive producer, Lisa Lyon, dated 8th February 2003. I added the following:

I would ask you, therefore, to consider replacing Richard Hoagland with somebody who’s qualified to discuss and report on spaceflight. There is no shortage of articulate space enthusiasts, and it seems a pity to feature somebody like Hoagland who has no standing in the space community whatever. Because of his ignorance, your audience has been seriously misled on important questions.

I got no response from Ms. Lyon. Her e-mail address is