Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Point-by-point critique of 'Ancient Aliens on Mars' PART TWO

        As before, comprehension will be enhanced by loading the Picasa image gallery. Unfortunately the frame numbers aren't visible when the full gallery is displayed -- you have to select a specific image in order to see its frame number.

        I didn't plan it this way, but I'm picking up Part 2 at the exact mid point of the book -- p.107 of 214, chapter 4 of 8. A simply enormous majority of the second half is a straight lift from Hoagland. I wouldn't know what arrangements (if any) those rascals Hoagland & Bara have for profit-sharing but, at a rough guess, I'd say 40% would be a fair share for Hoagland. Not that there will be truckloads of money anyway. When first listed the Amazon ranking was 1,040,783. The day after Mike Bara's appearance on Coast to Coast AM it improved to 6,055 (and #1 in Books > Professional & Technical > Profesional Science > Astronomy & Space Science > Mars). When it actually went on sale it improved further to 4,666. Today it has slumped to 9,228 (still no competition in > Mars) and it's discounted from $19.95 to $16.50.

8. pp. 107-120 You might think that Ralph Greenberg, professor of mathematics at Univ. Washington, had killed off the sheer insanity of Richard Hoagland's pseudo-mathematical analysis of Cydonia with his 2002 epic debunk. Apparently not, for here it is resurrected in its entirety by Hoagland's acolyte Mike Bara, and Bara even attempts to refute Greenberg. He's outclassed. Picasa frames #106-132 tell the story, and if they don't leave you utterly confused I don't really know what would. What's going on here is that Hoagland starts off with a presupposition that the marsography of Cydonia contains a hidden mathematical message, and then "proves" it by cherry-picking features and angles, and in some cases outright cheating.

What would Hoagland know about math anyway? This is the man who abjectly failed to apply the Tsiolkovsky rocket equation correctly and consequently produced a huge web page that was totally useless and invalid. He refuses to correct it, so you can still see it. Read it and weep.

There are mathematical absurdities here, like declaring that 2.720699, which is π × (√3)/2, is close enough to e, the base of natural logarithms, that it can be used as a substitute. The value of e is actually 2.71828.

What strikes me as I see all this nonsense again is not just that kind of comedy performance, but the overall sloppiness of the diagramming. Compare Picasa frames #107 and #113. In #107, a vertex of the D&M pyramid is shown to be pointing fairly accurately at the "face." Fair enough. But then the pointer to the center of the "tholus" does not follow a vertex and appears to be random. In #113 the whole pyramid has been rotated and suddenly one of the vertices is pointing directly at the "tholus." In #130 the same vertex again points at the "tholus" but suddenly the important point is not the center of the tholus but a spot on the north-west crater rim.

Better men than me have rejected this entire exercise because an orbital photograph has too much unknowable distortion to treat it as though it were a product of an accurate survey. Hoagland & Bara maintain that it's all OK because their images have been meticulously orthorectified. Actually, on p.107 Bara writes "orthographically rectified." That made me giggle -- it can only mean that the images were spell-checked. Mike Bara's spelling of the word "foreword" needs some orthographic rectification. Huuuurrrr...

9. pp.121, 125 (Picasa #123-127) Oh, here we go again. Another straight "lift" from Hoaglandiana. They want us to believe that there's something magic about the 19.5° latitude, and in support they cite all the wonderful instances of "energy upwelling" at that latitude throughout the solar system. On p.121 Bara specifically makes the claim that Jupiter's red spot, the giant Martian volcano Olympus Mons, and Mauna Kea are all at that latitude. Usually Hoagland writes "at or near," but here Bara says "at."

Such a pity that their data is dead wrong::
Jupiter's red spot is at 22°S
Olympus Mons is at 18°N
Mauna Kea is at 19° 49' N (if he'd written Mauna Loa he'd have been almost spot on)

On p.125 he makes the same claim about the Great Dark Spot of Neptune, adding for good measure that Hoagland specifically predicted it would be found at that latitude. Well, guess what? It's not true. Neptune's dark spot was first observed at about 25°S and it then wandered northwards before disappearing altogether. I believe there's a new one now, in the northern hemisphere.

What neither Hoagland nor Bara have ever addressed is the sad (for them) fact that NONE of history's top 100 volcanic eruptions or top 100 earthquakes has been at 19.5°.

10. pp.130-2 Here we go again, again. The claim that NASA suppressed the positive results of the Labeled Release biology experiment on both Viking landers. Untrue. The judgement of the experts (Gerry Soffen, again, and Harold "Chuck" Klein) was that, on balance, the enigmatic LR data could not prevail in the face of decidedly negative results from three other tests for life. That's not the same thing as suppressing the data -- in fact, the entire data set has been available on a NASA web site for 30 years. To be sure, Dr Gil Levín, the PI of the labeled release experiment, has protested pretty loudly over the years. Good luck to him, he's made some good points. His view has not found acceptance, particularly since the Phoenix lander found so much perchlorate hanging around Mars in 2008.

11. pp.132-5. More recycled anti-NASA propaganda. This is the one about how Mars really has a blue sky and sandy soil, but NASA artificially reddens it all. In particular, Bara tells the old, old story about the day JPL changed its mind and re-issued a bunch of Viking surface images making them redder.

I dunno, are these old fables really worth trotting out again today? Look -- here's what happened. The first few Viking images didn't capture the color wheel so the camera team just had to make a wild guess (Jim Bell has written about this.) When they were eventually able to get a look at the color wheel they realized the images they'd distributed were way off. So they reissued them with the correct color balance. It's as simple -- and as scientifically justified -- as that.

The space artist Don Davis has a very nice online resource dealing with the difficulties inherent in representing color on Mars. He knows what he's talking about. Mike Bara doesn't.

12. pp.147-67, Chapter 6, Picasa #151-182. Mars Pathfinder. Up pops the magic number 19.5 again, and also the almost equally magic 33. It's magic, you see, because of the masonic significance of the 33rd degree, and also because the sine of 19.5 is 0.333. Don't shoot me, I'm just the messenger.

Up pops another example of the blatant dishonesty of Hoagland & Bara. We see on p.148 that the designated landing site of Pathfinder was 19.5°N, 33.3°W. Actually according to the Press Kit it was 19.4°N, 33.1°W. OK, it's pretty close, but Bara's text is still a lie. And there's not the slightest reason in the world to think that there were any masonic or tetrahedral reasons for the choice. All planetary landing sites are a compromise between safety and scientific value. The actual landing site was 19.13°N, 33.22°W (and Bara reports that correctly.)

Take a look through the Picasa frames. Most of them are features Bara wants to persuade us are Martian technology. I want to persuade you that that's bullshit. #166-171 and #174-5 depict what Mike Bara calls the Sphinx. He writes (p.160) "this Martian sphinx has all the classic earmarks of its Egyptian counterpart." No it doesn't. He also writes that it faces due East, like the one at Giza. No it doesn't, it faces North.

("earmarks"???? Maybe he meant "hallmarks." Is anybody editing this rubbish?)

13. pp.169-179, Picasa #187-191. The famous catbox. I'm not going to write much about this because, frankly, it gets me annoyed. Mars Global Surveyor arrived overhead the so-called "face" at the worst possible moment for imaging. The mesa was basically fogged in. Picasa #187 is what came back from Mars. What gets me annoyed is when people like Hoagland & Bara fail to appreciate the effort Malin's boys exerted to process the image to #188. Instead they scream that it was a deliberate cover-up.

Ask yourself these simple questions: If Malin couldn't bear to let us see what was really down there at Cydonia, how come he was happy to go back when the fog had cleared and shoot a clear picture (#198)? The maximum resolution of the camera was 1.5 m/px. If NASA/JPL/Malin are so desperate to keep the "face" a secret, how come they later presented us with the magnificent image from Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, at 0.5 m/px?

Well, I will just make one other comment because it's amusing. On p. 177 Bara protests that only 42 of a possible 256 levels in the gray-scale were present. My mind went back to that night on the Art Bell radio show (it was Art who christened the image "catbox") when Richard Hoagland was practically screaming "Somebody stole 200 gray levels!!!!"

Dear Richard Hoagland and Michael Bara, I have some information for you. Not every gray level has to have a value for an image to be faithful. It's perfectly possible for many gray levels to have a value of zero, in fact it's expected for an ultra-low contrast scene such as MGS saw that day.

Here's an actual concrete example of gray levels in a space image:

Levels 0-11 and 170-256 are zero. Only 157 of a possible 256 levels have information in them. Yet the image is perfectly readable, if low contrast.

Know what that histogram comes from? Thank you Stuart Robbins, it's the histogram of the original "ziggurat" image that Mike Bara got from Call of Duty Zombies.


Chris Lopes said...

Does Bara even credit Hoagland for the material he's using?

expat said...

Sort-of. RCH gets mentions especially in the "Geometry of Cydonia" pages.

Here's the ded:

This book is dedicated to my friend and former co-author, without whom the many mysteries of Mars would have remained forever buried in the sands of time."

And you'll be charmed to know that he acknowledged all the pets: "Bailey and Barkley, Sebastian and my little lights The Lady Aurora and Miss Fluffy-Muffy."

Anonymous said...

It's a pre-requisite when such as Bara need to (try) and add gravita to their bollox, that "of time" is the suffix to "sands". The latter pretty much sums of the foundation of their "research". I can't wait to hear Stuart going on air in a discussion about messrs Haoxland and Bad ass.


Chris said...

Thankyou for your continued efforts in debunking this charlatan.

Chris Lopes said...

Bara hasn't read as much science fiction as Hoagland, so he doesn't have as many stock phrases stolen from people with real talent as he does. That "the sands of time" sounds like the title of a bad 1930's pulp sci fi story would never occur to him. I expect his writing to become even more worse than Hoagie's.

Trekker said...

He has a new blog about you getting the weight of Apollo 10, and its not landing on the moon, wrong.

Have you seen it?

expat said...

Sure I've seen it. I posted the following comments to the blog, which of course he will not allow to be seen:

"Our lander, LM-4...was still too heavy to guarantee safe margins for a moon landing."

--Gene Cernan, in "The Last Man on the Moon" page 184

Please read this:
Then read this:
Then read this:

There's a good technical discussion here:


With Apollo 9 having successfully tested the LM in Earth orbit, the next issue was whether to fly the 'F' mission or to push on and attempt the lunar landing. In fact, it would be impossible for LM-4 to attempt the 'G' mission, as the software to conduct the powered descent was still under development. Furthermore, owing to propellant restrictions in the ascent stage of this somewhat overweight LM it would be unable to lift off and rendezvous."

"NASA's Moon Program: Paving the way for Apollo 11" by David M. Harland, p. 452


There's another consideration, which is hinted at in the collectspace discussion but not fully developed. Since Snoopy's Ascent Stage separated at 47,400 ft, then lit its engine for re-rendezvous with the CM, it was important for its weight to be the same as it would have been at that altitude if it had landed. To simulate this correctly, only the amount of fuel that would be residual at 47,400 ft after a lunar takeoff could be loaded. Bet you didn't think of that -- I must say I hadn't either.


Bob Zimmerman confirms that my account is correct. In fact he calls the idea that Snoopy was short-fueled to forestall any hot-dogging "patently absurd."

Dee said...

Bara on his blog: "No matter what the source or medium, he tries to take issue with what we say or propose".

It's called critical review. But he's not used to it as in the whole of his waking life he has never been near any scientific process.

Bara just writes and fact-checks himself! That's why he gets it wrong on each and every turn as error only invites more error if left unchecked. And he's so emotional and financially invested in being "right" that he'd rather die than retract anything.

If his output would be just permanently classified under "Entertainment" or "Space Religion", it would not bother anyone that much. But like a snake oil salesman, he's selling something blatantly mislabeled to the gullible and needy, the untrained of the world. Thereby abusing the trust the system puts in retailers and broadcasters to maintain some standards. Unfortunately excitement sells and trumps all scrutiny.

Chris Lopes said...

Again, Bara is the victim of Hoagland's folly. He doesn't understand the difference between dry and wet weight when it comes to spacecraft. The Apollo 10 LM dry weight (weight without fuel) was considerably greater than the Apollo 11 LM dry weight. It ended up being lighter because they used less fuel. If the Apollo 10 LM had been fully fueled, it would have been too heavy to leave the surface of the Moon. Not much chance of anyone even thinking about "hot dogging" in that situation.

expat said...

I just added another comment to Mike's blog:

Please follow the same link you cited for your tables, http://history.nasa.gov/SP-4029/Apollo_18-13_Launch_Vehicle-Spacecraft_Key_Facts.htm

Please look at the row "Ascent stage/Maximum rated thrust, lb"
Please note Apollo 10 1650 lb cf. Apollo 11 3218 lb.


Anonymous said...

Expat says:
Please look at the row "Ascent stage/Maximum rated thrust, lb"
Please note Apollo 10 1650 lb cf. Apollo 11 3218 lb.


Now we all know it's thrust demons and lift pixies.. Doesn't EVERYONE know that? No wonder Mike "bad ass" Bara is frustrated with all the non believers not erm, believing the trooof. They simply don't want to understand. :-)


Chris Lopes said...

You can't just go by the dry weights, as the assent stage has to carry its fuel with it as it leaves the lunar surface. That weight doesn't magically disappear because you don't want to do the math. Maybe someday Mikey will learn that reality has no obligation to match one of Hoagie's BS talking points, but today is not that day.

Chris Lopes said...

If you don't already know, Hoagie (thru "Greg Ahrens") is asking his FB page groupies (those that are left anyway) to email George Noory for some airtime so he can discuss his model of what is really going on with P/2013 P5. You'd think the science advisor to C2C wouldn't have any trouble getting Noory's attention on such an issue. I guess trying to kiss Art Bell's butt by helping him diss Noory wasn't such a good idea after all.

expat said...

I'm sooooo hoping that the former science advisor is now persona non grata around Sherman Oaks. I really like Bob Zimmerman (although we clash like Israel vs. Palestine in all matters political,) and certainly the last few astronomy/space topics have gone to him.

Chris Lopes said...

Now that Art Bell is no longer working for SiriusXM, Hoagie is in a bind radio-wise. My guess is he bet Bell would be crushing C2C ( a not unreasonable bet), so he could afford to tweak Noory a bit. Sucks to be wrong like that.

Robert Ghostwolf's ghost said...

I wonder if Mike has seen the Martian iguana yet.


David Baltzer said...

When there is an opportunity to get more and better views of the Cydonia region I will be interested to see them, but at this point that's as far as it goes for me. When this whole thing started it was interesting, but the farther they take it the more silly it becomes. Every warped and twisted hunk of rock is suddenly an 'artifact'. It's amazing how ridiculously far they go with their 'interpretation' of images. Thanks for setting the record straight regarding the big batch of fudge they made with the math as well.

expat said...

Thanks for the comment. Actually, it's hard to imagine any better photography of the so-called face than we already have from HiRISE. Mike Bara has already tweeted that he'll be doing an analysis of that image in the book he's writing now.

Surprise, surprise -- he still thinks it shows "unmistakable" signs of artificiality.