Monday, June 23, 2014

Morningstar displays his dismal misunderstanding of microbiology

        Internet woo radio, it seems, is falling over itself in its eagerness to give a platform to Robert Morningstar and his erroneous ideas. Today it was the turn of The Higherside Chats to offer us all an hour of our lives that we can never get back.

        AM* happened to touch on two topics that I know a lot about, and in both cases showed such a calamitous misunderstanding that it almost literally took my breath away. Here's the first, in his exact words:

18:39 "About three years ago, a few NASA scientists came out and said that they had found a special form of life in Mono Lake, California, which was based on arsenic. It was a cell, or a culture, that reproduced itself and its metabolism and its life cycle was based not on carbon but on arsenic of all things ... And the premise of this revelation was --- her name was Dr. Wolf, and she had a hyphenated name, but I only remember Dr Wolf, or Wolfson. But she said a very interesting thing. She said the important thing about their finding was that the search for life as we have conducted it for the last 40 years -- life on Mars, life on the Moon, life anywhere -- has been conducted through too narrow a window. We've been looking only for carbon-based life. And this showed that there is another form of life that was based on arsenic. And then she made the most amazing statement. She said "Now this life-form cannot thrive on Earth because the temperature is too hot. It needs all of its energy just to maintain its steady state, so it cannot expand, propagate, reproduce, it just has to keep accumulating the arsenic to maintain its steady-state existence. However, on another planet where the temperature was much colder than Earth...." and she then said "perhaps on some place like Saturn's moon Titan, where the temperature is 167 below zero it might be possible for such an organism to thrive and propagate." That was [an] Earth-shattering statement. And really the important thing was pointing out that perhaps the paradigm was wrong -- that our assumption that all life, any life, must be based on carbon is a fallacy, it's an erroneous assumption. So they called for reviewing all the previous work that we've done, and to start expanding, opening the window a little wider, in order to see whether or not we missed something."
        Well, of course he's here  referring to the fetching Dr Felisa Wolfe-Simon, known as "Iron Lisa," and the extremophile bacterium she called GFAJ-1. The only things Morningstar got roughly right were "about three years ago" (actually December 2010) and "Mono Lake." The rest of it is absolute balderdash -- he managed to get the story even more wrong than Richard Hoagland did when he reported it at the time.

        Iron Lisa never made the claim that GFAJ-1 was not carbon-based. The organism is carbon-based without any question at all. The claimed arsenic substitution was for phosphorous, not carbon. Duhhhhh.... She never even claimed that arsenic was incorporated into the nucleotide bases which are the four letters of the genetic codenote 1 (that's the part Hoagland got wrong.) All she said was that, in the low-phosphorous, high-arsenic environment of Mono Lake, this organism has found a way of substituting arsenic for some of the phosphorous in its DNA structural backbone.

        I saw the whole of the press conference on 2nd December 2010, and followed the story carefully. To my knowledge Wolfe-Simon never said that GFAJ-1 was more suited to Titan than Earth, or that it could not thrive in Mono Lake. As most readers of this blog already know, her findings were later discredited by Rosie Redfield and Alex Bradley. "GFAJ" turned out to mean "Get Felisa A Job." The story is quite well told in wikipedia.

        Moving right along, here's AM* again, on a subject I really know a lot about.

21:10 "Dr Levinnote 2, who is in charge of the Mars Viking Life research project, and they think they found life, back in 1976 when Viking landed. They did an experiment, and the experiment was to scoop up some dirt and to drop in some nutrients that had a little bit of radioactivity in. And the premise was that if there were any microbial activity in the soil that it would eat the nutrient and exude gases that could be picked up because they were radioactive. Indeed they did. And an announcement was made that there was life on Mars. Then NASA quashed that finding and said that the experiment was wrong, and that they did another experiment that proved it was wrong. Well, the experiment that they did was a different experiment, and it was intentionally conducted to kill any life that was in the soil. I was watching Dr Levin on a show on the Science Channel --it was called "NASA's Secret UFO Files" And he said that what they had done was they had taken soil and cooked it. And then tested that soil for life. And he said "How can you find any life in soil that has been heated in such a way that it would kill any microbial life?" "
        I wrote that I really know about this subject. Yes, indeed -- I was personally right there at JPL as all this was unfolding, making a TV documentary about the very subject of extraterrestrial life for the BBC. So to say I was interested would be an understatement.

        First of all, Gil Levín was not  "in charge of the Mars Viking Life research project." Harold "Chuck" Klein held that position, and Gerry Soffen was overall head of Viking Science. Dr Levín was one of three PIs whose life-detection experiments were carried on each of the two Viking landers.

        Morningstar's description of the Labeled Release experiment is correct, and it's also correct that its results were arguably positive for life. However, his description of the other experiment is woefully, hopelessly, wrong. He must be referring to the Pyrolytic Release experiment -- which, by the way, was not "a NASA experiment" any more than Levín's was. Norman Horowitz of CalTech was the PI.

        Horowitz's strategy was to test for carbon fixation by micro-organisms. He fed the soil water in the presence of radio-labeled carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. After several days, he tested to see if any labeled carbon had been "ingested". The way of doing this was to heat the soil to 650°C and see if any labeled carbon was given off. To say that the experiment "killed microbial life" is thoroughly misleading. The answer to the question "How can you find any life in soil that has been heated in such a way?" is "Very easily. It was done over and over again in trials with all kinds of microbial life before Viking ever flew."

        I blogged about this as long ago as April 2008. Read it again if you want to know why Gil Levín's experiment was not considered definitive in the end.

Now for the good news...
        At the very beginning of his Higherside Chat, Morningstar allowed that he was fallible. That he might make mistakes. He correctly said that being wrong isn't a crime, and that he "welcomed corrections."

Consider yourself corrected, Robert.

1] There is no phosphorous in adenine, thymine, cytosine or guanine.
2] Small point -- Morningstar mispronounces Dr Levín's name. The accent is on the second syllable. But you have to be a real space buff to know that, not a dilettante like AM*.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Robert Morningstar misinforms the public again

        Robert Morningstar, the "civilian intelligence analyst" who doesn't spend enough time analyzing his own intelligence, popped up on internet woo-woo radio again last night, this time on Darkness Radio.

        His main motive was to promote his upcoming Secret Space Program conference, but in fact it was the usual performance, even including his ridiculous fantasy that Apollo astronauts weren't aware that the DSE (in the Command Module) and DSEA (in the Lunar Module) were recording their conversation when out of touch with Houston on the far side of the Moon.note 1

        Unchallenged by Darkness's host, he went through a buffet of the usual lunar anomalies. My face hit the desk when he stated that "NASA doesn't show" images of Ukert crater (at 7.8°N, 1.4°E) because there's a symbol in it "like the eye on the pyramid". My question to Morningstar is this: "WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK THIS IS, INTELLIGENCE ANALYST GENIUS?"

photo credit: NASA/LRO image library

        Here's a permalink so any readers can zoom around and NOT see an eye on a pyramid.

        Ukert has been photographed by NASA many times. Here's a partial list.

Lunar Orbiter frame LO-IV-102H (the white dots are photo processing errors)
Apollo 10 frame AS10-32-4822
Grail image #MK12_03

Old, old, old stories
        Morningstar claims to have a "photographer's eye." Why, then, does he say that the lack of stars in the sky of Apollo photography is a mystery, no doubt done to deliberately obscure UFOs. The answer is so simple I can't even bear to write it.

        Again unchallenged by Darkness, he told us about the "mysterious object" that followed Apollo 11 during the first two days after trans-lunar injection. Everyone in the world except AM* knows that it was one of the four panels of the LM adapter shroud, discarded after LM extraction.

Truly this man is a danger to the truth.

1] Once again, here's the CM instrument panel with the DSE switches clearly labeled TAPE RECORDER in the bottom row of Panel C. Here's the LM instrument panel with RECORDER ON/OFF equally clearly labeled on Panel 12. DSE stands for Data Storage Equipment.

Here's page 3-83 of the Apollo 11 Flight Plan. It captures the moment when Armstrong and Aldrin are preparing  to leave Tranquility Base. GET 116:00-116:36.

A task for Mission Control is 'DUMP DSE'. This is in the Flight Plan. And Morningstar claims the astronauts weren't aware of it?????

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Mike Bara never tires of being wrong

From the book and the chirp yesterday:
"There is no 'collapse' going on in Iraq. All of this stuff you are reading about took place over a week ago. It is all being staged to keep certain corrupt people in their positions. The news is being manufactured."
I believe the ISIL fighters are less than 100 km from Baghdad as we speak.

Scientists 3, Laid-off CAD technicians 0
        Meanwhile, back at science, Bara's blog is insisting that he and Hoagland have been right all along about the "glass tubes" on Mars. His gigantic arrogance blinds him to the fact that several people with infinitely more expertise than him have shot this one down.

        Dave Pieri, for one, who is as qualified as anyone in the world, commented 13 years ago, arguing that the tunnels were actually gullies, the terrain reversal being a well-known illusion. Lori Fenton, who Mike refers to as "some kind of low-level research scientist somewhere," also blogged about this recently. Lori is a senior research scientist at the SETI Institute. Her recent publications include:

Dune Morphology and Atmospheric Models: Implications for Present-Day Martian Aeolian Activity

Characterizing Daytime Aeolian Erosion Potential on Mars Using a Turbulence-Resolving Atmospheric Model

Recent Climate Shifts Circulation Patterns, and Climate Driven Erosion Recorded in the Morphology of Southern Hemisphere Sand Dunes of Mars 

        What has Mike Bara contributed to our knowledge of these phenomena? NOTHING. I don't count his testy, ego-driven bloggery.

        Finally, Bara hates Dr Phil Plait (who he calls "Dr. Phil" Plait) so much that he totally missed this excellent image from Plait's original refutation of Hoagland. See all those "glass tubes"? They're dune trains. Unmistakably. (more details here.)

credit: NASA/JPL/Malin Space Science Systems

Friday, June 6, 2014

Mike Bara reckons he's better than Neil deGrasse Tyson

From Mike Bara's Face-ache page, yesterday:

...and the insufferably arrogant text below:
"Trust me, neither you nor NDGT would like to see me debate him. He'd get beat worse than the Broncos in the Super Bowl. And BTW, science is not Truth. Scientific materialism is simply another worldview no different than the religious dogmas it and people like him seek to ridicule."
        If Mike is so confident of his chances against  Tyson, we have to ask Why did he run away from a scheduled debate with Stuart Robbins??

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

This just in: Robert Morningstar to file a complaint against Expat with FBI

From our Facebore correspondent James Concannon

        In a Fartboo message, Robert AM* informed me that he plans to file a complaint with the Computer Crimes Division of the FBI. The complaint will allege harassment of Chris Holly and Randy Maugans, "personalities" of internet woo-woo radio.

I wonder if his complaint will look approximately like this:

Suggested attachments to the complaint:

e-mail from expat to Chris Holly, 5/30/14

You might be interested in this review of the recent laugh-a-thon with Morningstar"

e-mail from Chris Holly to expat, 5/30/14
"nasty bastards like this are a dime a dozen on the net and in life. Robert Morningstar is an extremely smart man who is very accomplished and educated something obviously this man who spends his days in hatred is not   but thanks for another look at the dark side of mankind"

e-mail from Chris Holly to expat, 5/30/14
"how can anyone who does not know the on record statements of Bigelows space station be taken seriously . I stand as I first replied and want nothing to do with whoever this expat jerk is and do find him a hate filled arrogant fool who really thinks he knows what he is talking about but is very mis informed.  Expat needs a name and a punch in his nasty mouth   .  I doubt he has any personal experience at all in any of these subjects much less information that is not soaked in mean spirited rejection of things he knows nothing about due to the fact those things may frighten him poop less. I do not like his manner, his black heart or his insult to me or my peers. Expat is a walking talking nasty ass of a small closed not as educated as he may believe himself to be ass . As I said , a dime a dozen. "

e-mail from expat to Chris Holly, 5/31/14
"How can a BIGELOWS experimental habitat also be part of a SECRET space program??? How can an orbiter with a volume of only 11.5 cubic metres, which cannot possibly be crewed, be classified as a space station???
Please think more clearly before you respond with your ad hominem accusations."

e-mail from Chris Holly to expat, 5/31/14
"Look Expat , go get a life and do not annoy me with your hate and denail of things you can not deal with. How about this , man to woman, get lost I think your a jerk and a loser who I want no part of and do not care about at all what you think, do , go  none of it. I am busy and have no time for you, dime a dozen downers... lets just call you not in my life so  end it now and leave me alone please, I  have a big life with lots going on and really think you should think what you want, and I will do things my way.  Your a NASA bleiver which is hilarious , I bet you love your government and think our fighting men are fools, go away please."

comment to this blog from Chris Holly, 6/1/14 12:18pm
"I think you are rather insane James or Martin or whatever name you like to use for what ever purpose you need however I really am glad you post all your private emails and make constant personal attacks towards people who do not know you do not want to know you. You do not have one nice quality at all about you. It does not matter if you or your small amount of readers agree with you or me , it amazes me that after seeing how you stalk and name call and attack people they return to feed your sick twisted mind. You are a small little no one who hides behind fake names and computers because you do not have the brains or courage to attack people face to face. I bet you have few friends in life and without question no family to speak of as you are a cruel black hear ted angry man . You and those who feed your ill ways; As I said before men like you that hide and bully and stalk on the net are a dime a dozen. Swim on fool in your little pond big fish world but know in the real world you would be swallowed in seconds. BTW your credentials are not much compared to those of the people you attack. A big fish in his little pond or kiddie pool full of hate and anger. Sort of funny even if it is sad. Write all you want little boy, it is now old and tiresome. Maybe Robert Morinngstar can suggest a good therapist to help you with your hate and stalking issues"

comment to this blog from Chris Holly, 6/1/14 12:14pm
"    Of course , it is clear ,after I stopped and gave this fool two seconds of time to think for a second and realize that this man and his little blog are paid debunkers as it is obvious with the manner this guy is going after Moringstar, and me that we must have touched closely on something that someone else wants to debunk . Sadly they hire clowns like this one to do stabbing attacks when for whatever reason it may be people get too close to truth. That is what is going on here clearly, otherwise why would some dupe get his panties in such a twist over what someone thinks or bleieves.

    By the way I NEVER HAD AN EMAIL EXCHANGE WITH ANYONE CALLED EXPAT OR ANYONE CLAIMING TO BE FROM THIS LITTLE BLOG. How is it that a private email exchange I had with a man who identified himself as Martin Blaise shows up and is claimed by expat to be between me and him???? I never EVER had any emials or exchages with expat???

    I know expat also goes by the name James Concaonnon which proves pretty much he is simply paid to discredit those who get too close to real issues by throwing tantrums that he is right and everyone else in the world wrong.

    What a fake phoney fraud unethical lying dog this man is , ooooh I feel dirty being on his site but just wanted all 8 or his readers to know what a low life your expat pal really is."

Comment in response by Expat, 6/1/14 8:07pm
"Your invective is quite impressive, but I do wish you'd address the ISSUES. By way of encouraging you, here's a simplified list.

1. There is no second, HUGE, space station in Earth orbit.
2. There is no US Army base on the Moon. Even a small one would be visible.
3. Clark McClelland's story about a giant alien in the Shuttle cargo bay is a fantasy.
4. There is no possibility that Jupiter and Saturn were once stars. Three stars in such close proximity would merge into one.
5. Felisa Wolfe-Simon never claimed that GFAJ-1 was evidence of extraterrestrial life.
6. She was "slapped down" because Rosie Redfield and others proved that arsenic was not in fact incorporated in the DNA structure.
7. The layout of Tharsis Montes is not identical with the Giza pyramids.
8. Cairo does not translate as Mars."

Monday, June 2, 2014

Robbins falsifies Hoagland/Bara

        The tottering edifice which is the distortions and lies of Richard Hoagland and Mike Bara has been systematically demolished over the seven years of this blog's lifetime.

         First, Von Braun's Secret was falsified because of fatal mathematical errors.

        Then, the Table of Coincidence fell off its legs because 19 of 42 data points were invalid per Hoagland & Bara's own published rules. With it went the whole daft idea of NASA's worship of Egyptian Gods.

        Next was the Accutron "measurement" of the torsion field. Quite apart from the inadequacy of the protocol and the lack of key data, Hoagland accidentally revealed in Glendale that the baseline readings showed as much activity as his claimed data spikes.

Comes now Dr Stuart Robbins, with a blog and a professional-standard video that takes apart another key part of the edifice, stone by stone.

        The topic is what Hoagland (originally with co-author Errol Torun) called The Message of Cydonia. The theory -- to over-dignify what amounts to a whole lot of flim-flam -- rests on these two composite diagrams of the Cydonia area of Mars. Mike Bara recycled them, without specific attribution, in his inaccurate book Ancient Aliens on Mars.

credit: Hoagland & Torun

credit: Hoagland & Torun

        In the first, 19 angles have been created by connecting 16 marsographical features in a pseudo-random way. The authors then make the claim that nine ratios of these angles equate to simple arithmetical expressions such as √3, e/π etc. The accuracy claimed is three significant figures.

        In the second, something similar is done with the pseudo-pyramid Hoagland calls "D&M." Robbins' suspicion was immediately aroused when he noted that the list of angles and ratios in the two composites is identical. It suggests work that is so sloppy as to self-falsify.

Watch the video
For those who can't do that, here are a few bullet points:

  • No two pairs of edges of the D&M actually converge at the same apex
  • 9 angles are considered significant in the D&M, but in fact 35 angles are inherent
  • The angles are in any case projections onto a horizontal plane. In 3-D reality they would all be different
  • 595 angle ratios can be derived from the geometry
  • 94 arithmetical expressions would qualify per the authors' implicit rules
  • Only one of the nine ratios is accurate to the claimed tolerance of 0.1%
  • Generating 16,000 random pentagonal shapes similar to the D&M, and using computer analysis, Robbins creates a null hypothesis and shows that Hoagland's nine equations are no less probable
  • Re-checking the larger Cydonia map, Robbins could confirm Hoagland's data in only seven of the 19 angles, within 1% tolerance
        Neither Hoagland nor Bara has yet commented on this piece of work, and it's unlikely they ever will. In the first 36 hours the Youtube vid got 1000 hits, and the word is spreading among we lovers of the truth. I'm pleased to play a small part in that.