Saturday, April 22, 2017

Open letter to Richard Hoagland

Dear Mr. Hoagland,

        Your recent re-iteration of a claim to have originated the idea of oceanic life on Europanote 1 prompts me to remind you, and others who may be seeing this text, that this and several other claims you have made are false.

1. Ocean on Europa
In March 2004, in a message to Rob Roy Britt of, you wrote:
"Clearly, I was NOT the first (nor have I ever claimed to be) to propose an original liquid ocean for Europa."
On 4 December 1997, on Coast to Coast AM, you said this:
"[W]hen I was covering the Voyager story out at JPL in the Summer of 1980, actually the Spring of 1979 and the Winter of 1980, we flew this extraordinary spacecraft, NASA did, by Jupiter for the first time and encountered the four moons, you know, Io, Ganymede, Europa, Callisto, and Jupiter itself, and it was as part of that observation that I began work on essentially what turned out to be the first scientific paper, which ultimately appeared in Star and Sky Magazine in the beginning of 1980, which was a prognostication, pulling all the data together, that there might be a global ocean under the ice cover that Voyager had revealed and that in that global ocean there actually might be some extant living life forms." (emphasis added)
        That looks very like a prior claim to me. It is certainly not justified--Lewis (1971)note 2 and Consolmagno (1976) were ahead of you, as were Cassen, Reynolds, and Peale (1979).note 3 I think you know this.

2. Life in Europa's ocean
        This is, of course, a separate question, and there is no doubt at all that you have  repeatedly claimed to have been the first to publish on this conjecture. However, as Greenberg notes:note 4
"On June 19th and 20th, 1979, the conference  "Life in the Universe" took place at NASA's Ames Research Center. Benton Clark gave a lecture Sulfur: Fountainhead of Life in the Universe at that conference in which he discussed the biochemistry of those deep-sea vent communities discovered on Earth, pointing out that they do depend indirectly on sunlight: Photosynthesis near the surface of the oceans produces the oxygen that those communities require. Clark then explained how sulfur could play the role of oxygen, and that deep-sea volcanic emissions could potentially provide all the necessary ingredients for a self-sustained ecosystem. In the final part of his lecture, Clark raised the possibility that life might exist in undersurface oceans on the icy satellites in our Solar System, including Europa, Ganymede, and Callisto in particular." (emphasis added)
In the written version of his lecture, Clark wrote:
 "Consider H2O-rich bodies. In our Solar System, this includes not only Earth, but quite possibly Mars and Triton, and certainly Ganymede, Callisto, and Europa.  Liquid water does not exist at the surface of any of these bodies, except Earth,  but we should not discount the existence of "buried" liquid water reservoirs.  ... Habitable zones include not only the surface ocean environment, but also the much more probable subsurface oceanic regions. Earth-like environments as abodes for life may be the exception rather than the rule. Occupation of the much more abundant buried zones is possible, and these should ultimately become an object of exploration. Whether such environments can support life long enough and at a sufficient level of activity to permit the evolution of highly encephalized forms (intelligent life) is conjectural." (emphasis added)
        Prof. Greenberg notes other prior work. You have characterized his comments as political, but in fact they are purely scientific. Claiming credit for other peoples' work is an unattractive trait in anybody, but for somebody who calls himself a scientist,note 5 it is particularly deplorable because of the importance of intellectual priority in that domain.

3. Creation of the Pioneer "message to the Universe"
        On your website you refer to yourself as "co-creator of the 'Pioneer plaque'." (scroll all the way to the bottom of the long page). On 13 July 1990 you said "Carl [Sagan] for many years has been taking public credit for the Pioneer plaque which, of course, Eric Burgess and I conceived." In fact you had no part in the design or creation of the plaque, which was done by Sagan, his then wife Linda, and Frank Drake. As for "conceiving" it (as distinct from "creating" it,) that was overwhelmingly to the credit of Eric Burgess, was it not?

4. The "hammer and feather" stunt on Apollo 15
        On 2 July 2013, on Coast to Coast AM, you claimed that this was your original idea. The truth is that it was, in fact, dreamed up by Dave Scott, Jim Irwin, and Joe Allen.note 6

5. The catchphrase "On the internet nobody knows you're a dog."
        On 11 November 2015, on your digital radio show, you claimed to have "coined" this bon mot. You repeated the claim much more recently, on Howard Hughes' radio show, 11 November last year. The original was a caption to a cartoon in New Yorker published on 5 July 1993. Credit for the phrase belongs to cartoonist Peter Steiner, not you.

         Would you kindly make an early opportunity to withdraw your claims and apologize to those whose work you have falsely taken credit for?

======================/ \=====================
[1]  The Other Side of Midnight (notice)
Partial text: Thirty-seven years ago, in December 1979 (published in January, 1980), I wrote a seminal article in “Star and Sky Magazine” — picked up and sent around the world by AP, lauded by Dr. Robert Jastrow (one of the founders of NASA), and Arthur C Clarke and (later) Ted Koppel — scientifically PREDICTING, decades BEFORE NASA: “The oceans of Europa [one of the four “Galilean Moons” of Jupiter] are the PERFECT habitat [beyond the Earth] for CURRENT non-terrestrial life! ... My article only dealt with the specifics of Europa’s habitability, but it foreshadowed the existence of an entirely new CLASS of habitable worlds, DECADES before scientists or NASA missions had discovered them — “Ice-covered moons … housing ‘world oceans’ … protected by a tens-of-miles-thick covering of ice!”

[2] Icarus, vol. 15

[3] Geophysical Research Letters, vol. 6

[4] An ocean on Europa? by Prof. Ralph Greenberg, 2002

[5] Dark Mission, 2nd edn, p. 224

[6] See this transcript, notes at 167:22:58

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sean and Melissa try crowdfunding their legal predicament

        This is scarcely believable. The Mortons have turned to Indiegogo for funding.

The pitch is as follows:
"Sean is getting ground by the gears of the Department of Justice! Help Sean lawfully stop the DoJ in their tracks and reverse the VOID unconstitutional 650 year sentence! "
        This went up on Friday, and it's attracted two donations totaling $120 so far. Quite how money is going to help is not clear. They face a possible 650 and 625 years in jail when sentenced on 19th June. Perhaps Sean thinks everyone is as corrupt as he is, and a little silver in the judge's palm will make all this go away. Lots of luck with that.

As UFOwatchdog quite rightly says:
"How about raising money for all the people these convicted felons defrauded? Don't give these wanna' be martyrs a penny. This isn't about government tyranny or freedom, this is about two people who ripped off others for countless thousands, got caught, and now they don't want to pay the price for their misdeeds.

I'm sure the people who paid Morton and his wife $10,000 or the person who paid $2500 for bogus bonds and empty promises of resolving their financial problems would like their money back.  Or how about the elderly lady who lost her entire life saving in their psychic investment scheme?  These two have sadly left a path of human wreckage in their wake."
        The rational wikipedia article on SDM has been updated, and is now a readable primer on the whole mess, for those who haven't been tracking this fraud.

Update Shrout:
        Winston Shrout, that other tax protestor  and also a taxation lecturer on the ConspiraSea cruise,  was found guilty in Federal court in Oregon of 13 counts of issuing false financial statements and 6 counts of willful failure to file a tax return. Sentencing is set for 1 August, so the Mortons will go to jail first.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Robert Morningstar predicts, again

James Concannon writes...

        Robert Morningstar's record on earthquake prediction is abysmal. His prediction that a planetary alignment would cause a monsta quake in June 2015 was a fail. On April 3rd 2014 he posted this warning:
"The 8.1 magnitude EQ in Chile yesterday is merely a harbinger of many more to come within the next 3 weeks, with the most severe quakes, volcanic activity and electrical storms to come between Mars' opposition to Earth on April 8th and the Lunar Eclipse of April 14-15 when Mars and Saturn will be in line with the Moon, Earth and Sun."
        Not very much happened. Morningstar claimed a hit on the basis of a swarm of quakes magnitude less than 3 up the California coast. But is there ever a time when there isn't a swarm of little ones in that area?

Today he stepped up to the plate once more with this scary prediction:

I spoke with Angel Espino & Seth Weiler on Skywatchers Radio at length on Monday 4/11 about the earthquake triggering potentials of forthcoming total eclipse of August 21st, 2017.

I've attached a link below with a map of the Earthquake prone fracture lines across the continental United States so that we can plot the course of the eclipse over the US EQ fault line system.
This is in keeping with my theory that the growing strength of the gravitational forces of Sun and Moon at the moment of a total solar eclipse and their subsidence afterward can trigger earthquakes on both in the area of totality and on the other side of the Earth with [sic; presumably he means within] 36 hours of the event.

The article provides a good map of the continental US with the Eclipse track delineated. The link below in the comment section provides the EQ Fault Line map so that you can determine whether or not you are living adjacent to one of the fault zone in the area of totality.

My main concern is that the pinnacle point of totality will occur as the Sun and Moon line up over the New Madrid Fault lines as it passes over Missouri, Tennessee, Kentucky and points East as it they head toward the South Carolina coast, which is a massive coastal fault zone."
        It should not surprise us that Morningstar's predictions of geo-activity are not very good. He has no training in either seismology, geology or planetary astronomy. His credentials are in psychology, which perhaps makes him think he has a gift for scaring people.

        Specifically, there is no reason to believe that a solar eclipse occasions a danger of large quakes at the sub-solar point. It is true that the gravitational vector from the combined Sun-Moon system at conjunction is very slightly greater than when the Moon is in opposition,note 1 but then, the Moon is in conjunction every month without causing an eclipse, and without noticeably causing seismic activity either. It causes spring tides, so the effect is not zero, but the point is that it happens every month. We do not get scary earthquakes on a monthly basis, no matter what a New York psychologist and frisbee expert might wish upon us. Back in October 2012, Stuart Robbins of Exposing Pseudoastronomy performed a statistical analysis and found no correlation between lunar phase and major earthquakes. He was also looking for a possible connection to lunar perigee, which slightly increases the lunar gravitational vector, and didn't find that either.

        But anyway, I put this on record now so that this blog can assess AM*'s prediction skills when the time comes. 21 August plus 36 hours is 24 August, at 20:01:35 UTC (when totality ends.)

See you then.

        I came across this article from Nature, 12 September 2016, allowing for some correlation between spring tides and earthquakes. It's a rather subtle effect, not working the way Robert Morningstar imagines it at all. Put simply, the increased load on a coastal region cause by a high tide can convert what would have been a small quake into a much larger one. There is still absolutely no reason to think that a lunar eclipse has any more powerful effect than the regular monthly lunar conjunctions.

====================/ \====================
 [1] Here are the actual figures:

Gravitational attraction Sun-Earth: 3.6 x 1022 newtons
Gravitational attraction Moon-Earth: 0.0189 x 1022 newtons

Friday, April 7, 2017

More recreational math

        I like math, and I strongly suspect Bret Sheppard does not, so I thought I'd do Bret's homework (assigned by myself) for him.

To prove:
In a two-body system in which the smaller body is in tidal lock with the larger body, the radius of a synchronous orbit around the smaller body will always be greater than the distance to the L1 libration point.

Consider a two-body system separated by distance D.

Let M be the mass of the larger body (kg)
Let m be the mass of the smaller body (kg)
Let T be the orbital period of the smaller body about the larger body (sec)

Let r be the radius of a synchronous satellite orbit round the smaller body (m)
Let d be the distance from the smaller body to the L1 libration point (m)


For the smaller body's orbit, by Kepler's third law:
T = 2π √ (D3/GM) where G is the gravitational constant

Since the smaller body is in tidal lock with the larger body, the rotational period of the smaller body must also be T, and so must be the orbital period of a synchronous satellite.
So for the synchronous orbit:

T = 2π √(r3/Gm)
r3/Gm = T2/4π2

Substituting for T
r3 = 4π2GmD3/4π2GM
r = 3√(D3Gm/GM) =  D 3√(m/M)

By a simplified formula for d, the distance of the  L1 libration point

d = D 3√(m/3M) reference

Therefore d < r, Q.E.D.

        The significance of this is that, for a tidally-locked moon, a synchronous orbit is impossible since a satellite would prefer to orbit the parent body. Therefore, anyone who claims to have found a satellite dish on the moon is mathematically full of shit. Thank you.

For the Earth-Moon system, m/M = 0.012 r = 88,465 km d = 61,135 km

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Bret Sheppard, the satellite dish on the Moon, and the meaning of "acquisition"

        Bret Sheppard was invited for a long interview on something called Spaced Out Radio last night. He gave an insight into his motivations, and more important for me, his misunderstandings. He related how, as a young art student, he stayed after class one day to hear a presentation by someone from the Stanford Research Institute. He thinks now it must have been in connection with Ingo Swann's remote viewing experiments, that were ongoing at the time. Something about a photograph taken on the Moon impressed him sufficiently that he became something of an expert in the strange field known as "lunar anomalies," and he spent literally years, off and on, scouring Apollo photography. Then he continued...
26:54 "I almost gave up. I almost said "Know what? I'm done with this lunar garbage." I was in there getting all of the anomalies out of them. You know... basically, the reason why I was doing that was to eliminate them from what I was seeing in the image that I remembered when I was 15 years old. You know, so that's what I was doing. And I was hitting a wall because I needed a control image, and the first image I got was actually from Donna Hare.note 1 And she had, er.. I wanna tell this right... she had gotten it out of the Dempsey Dumpster as part of her portfolio. She was allowed to keep that as part of her portfolio. So she had a few.. you know, mostly Apollo 12 images. You know, from Pete Conrad and Alan Bean. And this... this particular image showed the LEM and a satellite dish on the horizon of the Moon. And.. and there's Surveyor in the foreground, and Alan Bean posing next to Surveyor. I believe Pete Conrad was taking the picture. basically this ...what this image showed me... it was very clear, much clearer than the NASA image that they put on line. I mean, wiki-clear, you know. It was like "Wow! That is a picture!" So, there was this satellite dish in the background. You know, that they couldn't possibly fit in the LEM."
        Well, he must be referring to either AS12-48-7135 or AS12-48-7136, because they are the only shots showing Al Bean beside Surveyor 3.

        As for the satellite dish--well, could it be the S-band antenna that the astronauts erected as soon as they got off the ladder? Here's the actual Apollo 12 dish:

         "They couldn't possibly fit it in the LEM." Sure they could..

Ken was like a father to me
        A little later, Bret got around to talking about his association with Ken Johnston and the whole issue of the (non-existent) 16mm film of crater Tsiolkovsky shot by Ed Mitchell on Apollo 14. The topic of this blog from 19th March. He said he was living in Texarkana, in a house that was falling down, when he met up with Ken. He said Ken was a role model, "like a father to me." Some kind of deal was struck whereby Ken helped Bret move to Belen, NM in return for his and Karen Patrick's help finishing Ken's autobiography.
33:00 "The thing was, that there were a couple of issues with it... with the story. He didn't know at the time what... ahhm... what mission he saw that 16mm film. And so one of the things that I decided to do was to investigate his story. Thoroughly, you know. So anyway I started getting attacked by James Oberg and everything else, for even attempting this. So what I found was... James Oberg said that they never flew over Tsiolkovsky crater. And semantically he's right--the Command & Service Module never really flew over Tsiolkovsky crater, near it, or whatever. They never really filmed except I found a 70mm shot of Tsiolkovsky crater showing the exact sun angle that Ken was talking about from memory. And then, I found out that there were two 16mm cameras in the Lunar Module, and one in the Command Module. [He's right about that] The one in the Command Module was sort-of pointed down and going really fast, skitching across the lunar surface. And it looks just exactly like that... skitching over the lunar surface and grabbing some film. This is the one that Oberg showed Ken at one of the conferences. And that really got me thinking "What did Edgar Mitchell film in the Lunar Module?"
I looked up the Apollo 14 onboard voice transcription, because they say everything in those, even when they go to the bathroom. They say everything. [He means the recordings made by the Data Storage Equipment while the astronauts were out of contact with Houston, on the back side of the Moon.] So I looked that up, and I scoured this ... data, you know. And what I found that basically right inside this... this transcript, on... let's see. it's... er...on the third day, around 2:29 p.m. and 26 seconds, that's how detailed this is. [He's misunderstood the notation. 03:14:29:26 is the Mission Elapsed Time, not the time of day.] And the Data Acquisition Camera, the 16mm, er... Edgar Mitchell said "I'm going to see... I'm going to see that.. I'm all set up for this acquisition." That doesn't mean anything else but a camera."

        Well, he's totally wrong. It has nothing to do with the camera. They were on the far side, remember, out of contact. "Acquisition" means acquisition of the radio signal from Houston, as they come around the Moon. It was known in NASA-speak as AOS, for Acquisition Of Signal. This becomes totally clear very shortly, although Bret doesn't see it. He continues:

"And then it says minus 39 plus 325..  He said "OK, HIGH GAIN, MANUAL, and WIDE." Those are camera settings."

        Once again, he's wrong. Those are antenna settings, required to get the best possible radio contact. If Bret had continued reading from the transcript, he would have seen this immediately following: "And 6 minutes away from it." Yes, six minutes until AOS. Here it all is, from the actual document:

        And sure enough, a couple of pages further on, we see:

        Another of  Sheppard's misconceptions is that this conversation took place in the LM. Actually, undocking didn't take place until M.E.T. 04:07:47:58, so all three astronauts were still in the CM at that time. Here's the part of the CM control panel concerned with the high gain antenna:

        It's a little hard to see, but the leftmost switch is for antenna tracking. The mid position is for MANUAL. The next switch controls the beam width: up for WIDE, down for NARROW. The two large dials control the pitch and yaw angles of the antenna. Mitchell was reading from the Flight Plan: Yaw -39, Pitch  +325. Those angles are much clearer on the LM control panel.


       So that completely explains the above dialog--nothing to do with cameras at all. I don't want to be too hard on Bret Sheppard, but he just keeps revealing his ignorance of Apollo hardware and history. And honestly, if he thinks there is 16mm film of Tsiolkovsky, why doesn't he show it? If he thinks there's an alien base there, why won't he look at the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter image, which is 40 years newer and 0.5 meters/pixel resolution?

        Using Google Moon, OneBigMonkey has derived this simulated view representing what Ed Mitchell could see as he spoke the words "That's Tsiolkovsky. OK, I've got it." OBM set the altitude at 90km, somewhat below apolune. Very useful.

Tsiolkovsky is on the horizon. No view inside the crater is possible.

===================/ \=======================
[1] Donna Hare is an important figure in the mythology of lunar anomaly hunting. A so-called whistle-blower, Donna was actually employed on image processing for NASA JSC and alleges that one of her duties was to airbrush out alien structures.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Richard Hoagland comes up worse than empty

        Only Hoagland himself knows how many suckers are still paying him five bucks a month for membership in "Club 19.5," whose sole benefit is access to the archives of his radio show. Since there have been no new shows since last October, it's a rapidly vanishing resource--I imagine that members must have, by now, heard all the shows they have any interest in.

        The Great Mr. Hoagland seems to be feeling just a teensy bit guilty about taking their money, since he feels they deserve some collateral compensation. On the Other Side of Midnight web site, this notice appeared last November:
"[W]e are giving the loyal Club 19.5 members that have stayed with us during our recent hiatus, Richard C. Hoagland’s latest and most anticipated work – just recently completed with The Imaging Team from the show. This gorgeous and pioneering new book, “The Hidden History of Mars: A War In Heavennote 1 with a foreword by Dr. Joseph P. Farrell, chronicles the Human Race’s Ancient History on the Red Planet with groundbreaking information that has largely been hidden from the world until now."
Last Friday, this appeared on the Book of Fools:
"Club 19.5 Members!! You've been patient, you've been faithful, and now - the GIFTS will begin! There is a broadcast coming up in the next few days that to even KNOW about you need to be in Club 19.5."
        The chutzpah of the man is world-class, isn't it? He manages to make a notice of an upcoming interview seem like a gift. I hope all those "club members" laughed, as I certainly did.
        Well, obviously I'm not a loyal member, but it was not hard to grasp the grapevine and learn that the "gift" was notice of yet another interview with Howard Hughes on Added to the hyperbolic adjectives "gorgeous,"  "pioneering" and "groundbreaking" we now had "vitally important new discoveries," "revelations,"  "new insights, new information," and "the Ultimate Game Changer." WOW--this must really be something, right?

A Major Let-down
        The interview went on as planned at 11pm BST (Euro-clocks went forward this last weekend, hooray) and I tuned in. I even sent a couple of SMS messages, but they were ignored. Obviously, HH wanted to know right off what amazing revelations this new book contains. My lower jaw hit the ground as Richard Hoagland, instead of showing us game-changing marvels, recounted the whole history of his involvement with pseudoscience, decorated with the name-droppings of Cronkite (3 times,) Roddenberry (twice,) and Sagan (once.) He gave us the detailed history of the so-called Face on Mars (yet again,) and the blow-by-blow drama of the landing of Viking 1 in July 1976 (he was accredited to that event as a writer for an airline magazine.) Pioneering? Insights? Revelations? Not a bit of it. He gave us "The Brookings Report told NASA to hush up evidence of ETs," and "NASA is really an adjunct of the Department of Defense," both well-worn claims, and both wrong. He even repeated his false claim to have coined the phrase "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog" (the bon mot rightly belongs to New Yorker cartoonist Peter Steiner.)

        Considering its build-up, this was a lame, lame failure. I took heart from the few tweets that HH allowed. One said quite frankly, and correctly, that there was nothing new here. Another said basically that Hoagland's well-known conclusions from all this are disputed. At that, Hoagland said "This person is obviously refusing to look at the data. It's all there on, all free. If you don't do your homework, you'll end up in the dust of history."

        At that, I got mighty annoyed. It's a repeat of what he asserted in September 2013-- "I am sick to death of my stupid critics saying I'm nuts because they won't look at the data." On that occasion I had a sharp riposte for him. Hoagland, if you're listening, it applies just as much today.

==================/ \====================
[1] I think the title has now been changed but I can't remember the new one

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Sean and Melissa Morton have a court date

"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."
        The above text is Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, adopted on July 9, 1868. Sean David Morton was born in Texas and accordingly his citizenship is established by that law. Yet, when interviewed by Kerry Cassidy a year ago Morton maintained that the charges against him were sure to be dropped because he is "not a 14th amendment citizen."

        Tell that to the judge, as they say. Morton will have his chance to do just that on 4th April, when he and Melissa come up in the Federal Courthouse in Los Angeles on 56 counts including conspiring to defraud the United States, filing false claims against the United States, passing/presenting and/or offering false or fictitious financial instruments.note 1 I hope to blog more on this when the time comes. I also hope on behalf of the Mortons' financial victims that they lose in court and both go up the river.

        Morton has filed 22 pre-trial motions  to dismiss the charges against him, allof which have been denied.

Update: Day 1 of the trial
        A jury was empaneled and both sides made opening statements. ufowatchdog has all the details but here's the nub of SDM's testimony:

During his discursive opening statement, Sean Morton told the court that he was being falsely accused of doing something wrong when he did nothing more than “follow the advice of people I respected, who had a deep understanding about the financial system.” He also lauded the first Americans, who wished to “live free from the burdens of the crown” and who wrote the Constitution; said that he and Melissa Morton were not married by law because “that puts more than one person in bed with you”; and exclaimed he’s a film producer and investigative reporter, “who exposed Area 51,” the military site where there’s been claims of UFO sightings.

The government wants to throw the couple in jail for the rest of their lives, he said, “for filing paperwork that didn’t harm anybody,” he said.

Here's the statement on behalf of Melissa:
An attorney for Melissa Morton, Steven Brody of the Law Offices of Steven A. Brody, told the jury that the government has no evidence that his client set out to defraud the IRS or that she “didn’t believe 100 percent in the legitimacy” of the documents she filed. The government has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the Mortons acted in bad faith, he added.

“They have to prove to you that they set out to lie, cheat and steal,” Brody said. “And you’re not going to see that evidence.”

Update: Days 2 & 3
ufowatchdog reports that the prosecution case is rested. SDM made a motion to dismiss, which was denied.

Update: GUILTY on 51 counts
Details at ufowatchdog. Sentencing 19 June. Bye Sean, bye Melissa.

Thanks to ufowatchdog for the information.

==========================/ \=====================
[1] Here's the full Grand Jury indictment

Friday, March 24, 2017

Mike Bara gets it wrong as usual

        Mike Bara, the world-renowned geneticist and physiologist, was invited once again to blather for three hours on Jimmy Church's podcast Fade to Black this week. 90% of it was discussion of a series of images of odd-looking artifacts on Mars. There was the pistol, the sarcophagus, the fossilized dinosaur, and my personal favorite the 20ft high cat playing air guitar.

        This was just the standard Bara performance. He consistently confuses "looks a bit like" with "actually is," all the while insisting that there's no such thing as pareidolia. The supreme example of his delusion came last May, when in a different podcast he said he knew these exhibits weren't just rocks because "rocks have very specific shapes." Er... I don't think that's really true, Mike.

        It was such standard stuff that I wouldn't be writing it up at all if Bara hadn't strayed off the over-beaten path of Martian artifacts into areas of genetics and physiology. "The human race originally came from Mars," he said, and produced two items of pseudo-evidence. The genetic part was "Our DNA is alien." How does he know that? Well, it's simple. It's often said that human and chimpanzee genomes differ by only 10% (actually it's more like 4%note 1) but 10% amounts to 650 billion base pairs, and you can pack a lot of alien information into that. He didn't get around to actually saying how he knew that the extra genetic information came from Mars rather than, say, from seven million yearsnote 2 of adaptation to life on the ground instead of in the trees, and/or exposure to very different food sources and disease threats.

Adapting to Mars
        The physiology part was this: Astronauts in space, he claimed, tend to adopt a Martian-style circadian rhythm 40 minutes longer than 24 hours. I don't know where he got that pseudo-data from, and it's highly suspicious because astronaut circadian cycles are highly controlled. By default, NASA astronauts stick to Houston time simply because that makes life easier for ground controllers. Unless there's some compelling reason to do something at what would be 3 a.m. in Houston, sleepy time is scheduled in synch with Central Time. The fact that astronauts very seldom sleep the full eight hours is a slightly different story.

        I can say with certainty, moreover, that there's absolutely no evidence that humans are more comfortable with the Martian day length rather than the boring old 24 hours of Mother Earth. The truth is the converse--and I know that because the science teams controlling Martian rovers from Pasadena have a very hard time adjusting, as they must, to the Martian day. Shifting through two time zones every three days turns out to be a very hard routine to keep up: It leads to irritability, lack of concentration and all-around decreased performance. I remember reading an excellent article in Scientific Americannote 3 about this. Seems it became a serious problem at JPL, especially when rover operations stretched longer than expected.  The Pathfinder mission, for example, was initially expected to last seven days but ultimately ran to 85. Nobody had planned for it. Joy Crisp, now a principal scientist at JPL, said  "I just remember getting to day 30 and thinking, 'I can't keep this up.'"  The article continues:
NASA leaders claim they have become more sensitive to the issue over the years. Andrew Mishkin, who helped plan the Curiosity mission, says that for the first time NASA officials decided to put a definitive three-month cap on Mars time. They also scheduled people to work no more than four days in a row, encouraged employees to monitor their own and their colleagues' fatigue levels, and had Human Resources prowl the lab for zombied workers to send home. "But everybody was pretty tired of it by November," when the 90th sol finally set, Mishkin says. And when NASA officials wanted to extend the Mars schedule past the 90th sol because the rover was running behind schedule, they put it up to a democratic vote: The answer was a resounding "No."
        So I reject Mike Bara's idea, on technical grounds. I'm not even going to mention how totally daft it is to hypothesize an intelligent race of Martians who escaped catastrophe by emigrating to Earth. Oh well, perhaps I'll mention it after all. IT'S BUNKUM, MIKE BARA.

[1] ref: Comparing the human and chimpanzee genomes: Searching for needles in a haystack. Ajit Varki and Tasha Altheide in Genome Research:2005. 15: 1746-1758
[2] The common ancestor was between five and seven million years ago.
[3] Step into the Twilight Zone: Can Earthlings Adjust to a Longer Day on Mars? Katie Worth, Scientific American 29 January 2013

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Balloons on the Moon... and other errors by Bret Sheppard

        Bret Colin Sheppard is the artist-type from New Mexico who was so massively impressed by Ken Johnston that he became Johnston's publicist--probably without compensation, although we don't know that for sure. This blog took a critical look at what Sheppard and his squeeze Karen Patrick came up with last June, and a lively discussion including comments from BCS himself ensued. So there's no need to flog the dead horse of Sheppard's "lunar anomalies" here.

        Sheppard has now self-published a 104-page book, Flyover Tsiolkovsky Crater: A Secret Base on the Moonnote 1. I just had to giggle when I came to this bit:

        This is Apollo 12 Hasselblad image AS12-47-6890, and that little white blemish in the large crater lower right is what Sheppard thinks is a balloon. He even wonders if Apollo Lunar Modules benefited from a secret balloon-assist to ensure gentle touchdowns. Hilarious. I like to think that my readership is sufficiently au fait with fundamental principles of physics that I don't need to spell out why the idea of a balloon on the Moon makes me giggle. Hint: There's no atmosphere on the Moon.

"Tsiolkovsky... Okay, I've got it"
        But the central thesis of the book is that Apollo 14 shot 16mm footage of crater Tsiolkovsky which revealed a lunar base, exactly as Ken Johnston has claimed. Sheppard's thesis fails, however, because he can not overcome the following objections:

1. The entire 01:29:12 film is available online and Tsiolkovsky does not even have a walk-on role.
2. An index map identifying all Apollo 14 terrain filming targets is also online. Tsiolkovsky is the large dark blotchy crater very far to the lower right.
3. Modern digital images of Tsiolkovsky, from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, show no lunar base, even at the best resolution of 0.5 m/px (the images Sheppard  uses are about 100 times worse.)
4. The dialog Sheppard considers clinches the case does not clinch anything. Ed Mitchell says "..that's Tsiolkovsky. Okay. I've got it." But that was during only the third lunar orbit, and Mitchell was not shooting film but merely sighting in the navigation sextant.
5. Apollo 14 never flew directly over Tsiolkovsky. The crater is at latitude  20.4° S, and the orbital inclination of Apollo 14 was 14°. The Apollo 14 crew captured Tsiolkovsky in four still frames, all of them very wide angle. Here it is in frame 10301 (with brightness boosted,) its very steep central peak catching the sunlight in a way that a layman might think was a sign of life. This shot was taken after the lunar surface mission was over and they were headed home.

6. Sheppard keeps insisting that the navigation sextant was an integral part of the 16mm Data Acquisition Camera, but that's not true. The normal use of the sextant was through an eyepiece--an adapter was provided to attach the DAC if needed. This is plainly stated in a handbook and several examples of this are seen in the film.

        Karen Patrick is credited as editor of this garbage. In which case, I hold her responsible for the following text, which I swear I have transcribed exactly as printed. I'd cite a page number but I can't because Karen forgot to provide pagination:
"The image was analized for any known possibilities of mechanical artifacts and found to be part of the image and not an affectation of poor scanning by a proffessional photographer. It is truly a subject in the image as oposed to a reflection. It is exactly what it looks like, an un-natural structure or engineered structure as oposed to natural geological lunar formations on the surface due to the array which woulld be considered beyond coincidence in nature. In the same way a crop of corn would be considered engineered on Earth."
        I make that five keyboard errors plus one incomprehensible sentence. Since we live in an age of self-publishing, I guess we have to brace ourselves for more and more of this kind of crap.

Update: Was Karen Patrick dreaming of Paris when she composed this crap?
        A page from the book. Who knew they had boulevards at the Space Center?

Update, late April 2017
        The book is now listed OUT OF PRINT, a mere four months after its publication date. I can't help wondering if Bret Sheppard recalled it, after the devastating errors were pointed out by this blog and others.
[1] ISBN 978-1541162624

Sunday, March 5, 2017

This just in--Ken Johnston kicked out of India. Yes, really!

        This might make more sense if read in conjunction with my previous bloggeranza, "Embroidery by Ken Johnston."

        It seems that James Oberg was annoyed enough by Ken's imposturing in India that he informed NASA, who in turn informed the State Department that someone was posing as an astronaut and "chief trainer at NASA." Quicker than you can say "Glass domes on the Moon," Ken became persona non grata and was quite firmly asked to go home last Saturday. It became a big story on Assam TV, and the report found its way onto Youchoob. Since Bengali and English are both official languages (along with Assamese and Bodo--wow, confusing!) the report was in Bengali but they had no problem interviewing Ken in English. It had its comic side--the interviewer simply phoned Ken and held his Smartphone up to the studio camera. Amazingly, the audio was pretty good, although I had a hard time hearing the questions. Here's what transpired.

KJ: I was taken by [?] by this woman... It's... looks like it's "Hanakeshi" [phon] ... took me to the airport and er..  sent me to, um, the capital of India, and said I should.. I should get me a ticket and go back to the United States, so I was or... I was ordered to leave.
Q: ...
KJ: That's correct.
Q: were sent back to New Delhi then you went back to the United States?
KJ: I was sent back to... I was sent to New Delhi under orders to fly back to the United States.
Q: ...
KJ: The way they did that is I thought I was being evicted early but, erm... what's the term when you're kicked out of a country? I was told to get a ticket and leave the country.
Q: ...did they give you any kind of reason Sir? Why they were sending you back?
KJ: No. The only reason was that...ahhh... they... they did not want to get involved in a big... a big mess or something ... I don't know how she said it, but, er... it was [instructions to someone]... OK. The only thing I could get out of them was that.. ahh... they did not want to be involved in any kind of a conflict, and even though I gave them copies of all of my documents and everything else, proving that I am who I am.. that I was a civilian astronaut consultant pilot. But they apparently were dealing with a letter or something from a guy by the name of James Oberg from... ah, from the United States. And I guess they were just taking his word over... over the documents that I provided.
Q: ...are you going to write a letter to the Prime Minister of India...
KJ: Yes, I do plan on getting a letter written, probably today.
KJ: Well, the only thing is that my role [..] in India was to talk to young people, like I do here in the United States, and motivate them to get the education and be involved in ... in space travel, everything that we're doing. And it.. it was going just fine until this idiot James Oberg comes in and accuses me of all kinds of stuff. I've dealt with him before, and each time I... we provide documents and everything, and shoot him down, and, you know, show that he's the one that's causing all this trouble. whole thing is that I really did enjoy going and dealing with the young people, and, um, promoting India's space program. And to be evicted or barred from India was horrible and you know I don't know if I ever even will be invited back to India, not the way in which I was rushed out, shipped off, and gotten rid of like.. I don't know what the deal was. It was just... it was extremely embarrassing, frustrating, and I hope that we can do something that we can restore my... umm.. my reputation. Because reputations are all that we have.

James Oberg comments:
 I could care less if anybody claims to have invented Saran Wrap or swam the Atlantic or was trained by space aliens in childhood, but when somebody smears the reputations of men I've worked with at NASA as liars and frauds, and invents imaginary 'credentials' to lend credibility to those baseless smears, I draw the line. I figure my debt to those now-dead colleagues, and to history, compels me to defend reality and protect future generations from cultural toxins like those smears. But not by responding with symmetric personal attacks, instead by finding and presenting documents contrary to the claimed expertise of the original accuser.  Johnston served honorably in the US Marines and during the Apollo and early shuttle program, and subsequently as an inspiration to young people for aerospace careers, for which we all can be grateful.  His complaint over having to pay for his own ticket home confirms that he had bamboozled two free round-trip excursions from his hosts, and the second one found out his identity wasn't what he claimed -- he may be liable for charges of fraudulently obtaining government funds in India.
        Ken was certainly being disingenuous when he protested that he really, really was a civilian astronaut consultant pilot. As he well knows, he was content to be described falsely as a NASA astronaut everywhere in India, and have an image of himself displayed in an Apollo spacesuit (actually he was shopped into a pic of Mike Collins, CMP of Apollo 11.)

 Johnston lecturing at Hindustan University, 7thFebruary

        Not to mention that his use of the title "Doctor" is also false labeling. Tut tut, Ken Johnston.

Update 8 March
Seems  Ken got his letter of protest off to the Indian PM. Here's part of it:
 "I was sent to New Delhi without even being given a chance to defend myself. I had to purchase my own ticket back to the US for over $1,200, even though I had been brought to India (Assam) and had been promised airfare home ... This would be an international crime that you deported a foreign passenger, just as such, based it on a single email ... please register this as a complaint and take severe action. I was told that a GUEST IS A GOD in your country but thugs like these are ruining your country's reputation. I hope that concerned actions will be taken soon and justice will be done to me and financial accommodations promised will be fulfilled."
        The India Telegraph published an updated account of the scandal two days ago, but its sequence of events is wrong. The article says "[ASTEC] decided to send him away when it received an email from another former NASA associate named James Oberg claiming that Johnston was a "'cheat.'" Oberg did indeed e-mail ASTEC, but not until 2 March, by which time Johnston was already gone. Oberg never used the word cheat, either. His message said, in part:
"I am seeking further information about the visit to your society off Ken Johnston, who often describes himself as a NASA Apollo consultant astronaut and training leader for the Apollo program. This is all untrue. He is well known in the United States as an imposter with a fake "PhD" and wild stories about secret astronaut photographs of aliens on the moon."
        The bottom line, for me, is a brief statement from Arup Kumar Misra, ASTEC director, "We were informed that NASA denounced him so we had to send him back." Oberg did stick his nose in but it was NASA who pulled the plug on Ken Johnston.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Jimmy Church says he knows they're here

        Jimmy Church, guest-hosting last night on Coast to Coast AM (and interviewing that prize con-man Corey Goode, but that's another story) made an interesting comment. He said that he wasn't interested in "Disclosure." Disclosure has nothing to offer him, because "I already know they're here."

        Without being specific as to time and place, he related the UFO sighting that was good enough proof for him. Accompanied by hundreds of other witnesses and a Canadian documentary film crew, he saw a very large shiny metallic sphere at a distance of about a mile rising slowly from the surface of the Earth, then accelerating and vanishing "into the solar system." This might be a garbled version of the mass sighting at the 2016 Contact in the Desert conference.Jimmy's original report of this event, when it was fresh in his mind, is here (at 01:17:48.)

        Well, as I've written before, I do have some respect for Jimmy Church. He's good at what he does, unlike Richard Hoagland and George Noory. But his reaction to that event really isn't rational. The proper reaction, to my way of thinking, would be not "OOooo look, extraterrestrials!" but "WTF is that??" Being a methodical type, I'd then investigate what was over there where the object was first seen. Any type of military establishment? Anything scientific that might have released a weather balloon, say? If it was the Joshua Tree event, I think I'd show great interest in the enormous military installations at Twentynine Palms, about 10 miles due East.

        Beyond that, it seems odd to me that personal conviction that "they're here" would suffice to kill any interest in disclosure. Disclosure might mean many things, but surely to be really useful it would include details of ET communications, what they look like, how they communicate, where they come from... all the stuff that charlatans like Corey Goode and Linda Moulton Howe give themselves permission to guess at.

        So I don't really believe Jimmy on this. If it happened you can bet he'd be part of the mob of podcasters begging those in the know to come on his show. And by the way, I'd tune in with the greatest possible interest. I'd lap it up.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Embroidery by Ken Johnston

        NASA astronaut visits BM Birla Science Centre, announced the headline in the 12th February edition of the Hindu Times: dateline Hyderabad, by Our Special Correspondent.

        Well, the "NASA astronaut" turned out to be none other than Ken Johnston, described in the report as "A test astronaut, who is also chief trainer at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States of America." Ken, as regular readers will know, is the ex-marine beloved by the NASA-hating folks because he accuses NASA of tampering with the photographic record of the Apollo program, obscuring important evidence.The problem is that Ken was never an astronaut, and never chief trainer of anything. His accusations are based on photo-prints stored in a ring binder for 25 years, then scanned on a consumer-grade scanner in non-clean conditions. The Rational wikipedia article on Ken tells what I believe to be the true story, and it's quite clear from that piece that Ken has misrepresented himself on at least two important occasions, in one instance leading him to be dropped from JPL's all-volunteer Solar System Ambassador program.note 1

        Ken was in India to be an honored guest at an INTERNATIONAL SEMINAR on SPACE ODYSSEY organized by the Chennai chapter of the Aeronautical Society of India. The Chennai City News of 7th February gives the deets, introducing Ken as "Dr. R. Ken Johnston" and providing pix and vids. Again as we know from the Ratwiki article, Ken's Ph.D. is a fabrication.

        This week, James Oberg commented "I think there are two levels of disgrace, first claiming status you never earned, and second, accusing those who DID earn such status of being falsifiers and planetary traitors."note 2

And then it got worse
        The inaccurate description of Ken as a "NASA Astronaut USA" then appeared, not just in an ephemeral  newspaper story, but on a permanent plaque beside the College of Technology's Link Flight Simulator.

        The above photo appeared on Ken's Faceboo page, with the caption "I have  a flight simulator named after me. I am very honored!"note 3 There were several comments, mostly congratulatory, but the following comment from Tom Harnish struck a discordant note:
"Ken, you've done so much good, don't ruin it! I warned you once before on the Mars One debacle. Happily you escaped disappointed but untarnished. But this really is stolen honor. Please be honest with yourself and with others."
Harnish is an author and science consultant in San Diego.

        My message to the NASA haters who consider Ken Johnston a hero is this: Look at that plaque and ask yourself whether a man who is content to be so falsely described is worthy of your respect.

Update 20 February 
        Today's edition of the New Indian Express has another story about Ken's tour. Describing him as "NASA's nemesis," it reports that he "released doctored images to prove that NASA had manipulated photographs to hide unexplained structures and anomalies on the lunar surface." We must assume that they think it was NASA that "doctored" the images, not Ken himself -- in all that James Oberg  and I have written about Ken, we have never alleged that he intentionally changed his photo-prints--there's no evidence of that.

        There are basically two explanations for the anomalies in Ken's pix. One is that he noticed strange things that he thought he had the only image of, but that are in fact present in NASA's official versions. A good example would be the notorious blue flares on several frames of Apollo 14 magazine #66. I blogged about this after Ken's Christmas 2011 appearance on Coast to Coast AM. The other explanation, also lavishly documented in this blog passim, is that the anomalies are not actually on Ken's prints at all, but on the scans done by Richard Hoagland on his office scanner. See, for example, the extensive discussion of Bret Sheppard's collection from June last year.

        During that discussion, it came out that one of Sheppard's favorite examples, AS15-88-11967, is not even a scan from a photo-print but actually from a reversal (a slide, if you like.)

        Slide scans are notorious for producing multiple reflections, which can appear as dot patterns. I've seen it many times in my own scans. So I would say that this example of a "discovery" is absolutely worthless.

And by the way...
        Ken's online photo archive is not focused on anomalies at all.  It's split into nine albums which group images having something in common, but the total lack of labeling makes browsing it somewhat unrewarding. There may be some gems in there but I'm not the man to find them.

Thanks to James Oberg for alerting me to this story

[1] Folklore in the pseudo-science community has it that Ken was "fired from NASA." However, since he was never an employee he obviously could not have been fired.
[2] Private communication, quoted by permission
[3] He managed to get that wrong, too. "Inaugurated by" is not the same as "Named after"

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Srsly, is there ANYBODY who believes Kerry Cassidy?

        In her barely-literate style, Kerry Cassidy recently commented on a couple of space hardware failures. One was the failure of nine clocks on board ESA's Galileo navsats. Each sat has four clocks, and only one of the four needs to be functioning for the system to be effective and accurate. Eighteen (of an eventual 32) units have been launched so far, and clocks have failed in eight of them.

Kerry, being utterly ignorant in matters of spacecraft engineering, wrote this:
"This recent sabotage of the 9 clocks on the satellites would seem to be a warning issued by way of an Artificial intelligence it seems to me.  Although possible targeting by craft based or particle beam weapons aimed either by a competing space program, likely run by the American side is also a possible culprit for this maneuver."

        The "competing space program" would have to be either the American GPS, the Russian GLONASS or the Chinese BeiDou system (a.k.a. COMPASS.) But what possible motive would any of them have for attempting to disable a different  nav system? They serve different populations in different ways. I was going to write "There's plenty of room up there in orbit for everyone," but that may be controversial. Navsats predominantly occupy MEO (Medium Earth Orbit) centered on 20,000 kM, and there will come a point at which interference will be a problem. However, we are very far from that point right now.

credit:wikipedia commons/Cmglee own work

       Another ESA failure also caught Kerry's attention--the crash of the Schiaparelli  EDM Mars lander last October. ExoMars is actually a joint program of ESA and Roscosmos, but to Kerry, everyone is vulnerable in the space wars:
"This is likely no accident but the result of a space war that took down the craft since we know that Mars is a planet with constant territorial disputes between at least one “ET” race and the American Secret Space Program."

"You can also see how the efforts of various countries along with the so-called commercial space endeavors by independent companies such as Elon Musk and others would pose a threat to the primary Secret Space Program operated by the Americans and their allies.  Those ‘allies’ being space races such as Reptilians, Nordics, Raptors and many others according to my whistleblowers.  The recent sabotage of the Elon Musk SpaceX launch being a case in point."
        Of course, failure of Mars landers and orbiters is a not uncommon feature of solar system exploration, so nobody with any actual knowledge would have any reason to be suspicious of Schiaparelli's crash. But to a paranoid mind like Kerry's, "it seems to me" and "according to my whistleblowers" is all the evidence needed to declare anodyne reports of ESA's problems barefaced lies. What I wonder is, is anybody at all swallowing this garbage?

Friday, January 27, 2017

In Memoriam

Lt-Col. Virgil Ivan "Gus" Grissom
Lt-Col. Edward Higgins White II
Lt-Cmdr. Roger Bruce Chaffee

50 years ago today

Monday, January 23, 2017

Apollo denial on Coast to Coast AM

        Say what you like about Richard Hoagland, Mike Bara and Robert Morningstar, but at least they aren't Moon landing deniers. So, by all logic, they can't be blamed for the fact that some people are. OK, many people are. It makes me sad to report that, but it's a fact.

        However, I'd like to suggest here that in an indirect sense they are responsible for the spreading virus that is belief that Apollo was faked. The very fact that Hoagland, Bara and Morningstar ram home the message that NASA is a deceptive and untrustworthy agency feeds that mind-set even if they don't themselves believe it. If you don't believe me, read the Encyclopedia of American loons. The entry for Mike Bara alleges that he believes the moonlanding was a hoax. Hoagland's entry says, correctly, that he thinks NASA itself started the Apollo denial ball rolling. The encyclopedia is wrong about Bara, but it's an understandable mistake in the sense that whoever wrote the article felt that Bara was so obviously a doctrinal NASA hater that he surely must disbelieve Apollo.

Not from the Moon
        These thoughts came to me as I reviewed Marcus Allen's guest spot on Coast to Coast AM last Saturday night. Allen is a British photographer who publishes Nexus Magazine-- a source of "alternative, overlooked and under-reported news." His schtick on Apollo is that examination of the 5,777 70mm still photos from the Moon missions proves that these images were not shot on the Moon at all, but back on Earth during training simulations. I must say that considering he was given three hours to make his case he was remarkably unconvincing. His major points have already been well answered by among other debunkery.

photo credit: NASA

         Allen cites the above photo of Buzz Aldrin as "impossible" because Aldrin is in shadow, therefore there had to be a source of foreground light. He's not the first to grossly underestimate the intensity of the back-scatter from the bright lunar regolith.note 1 He complains that the Hasselblad photos are too good to be the work of amateur photographers under stress and hampered by heavy gloves. The composition and exposure of the photo-set, he says, are virtually perfect. Allen doesn't seem to understand that many of the images were adjusted to be suitable for general release. Such adjustments quite often included re-framing.note 2 However, there's not much that the labs could do about images like this:

photo credit: NASA (Apollo 17)

        Perfect exposure? I don't think so. Allen also thinks photography would be impossible in the temperature extremes on the Moon-- a contention that has taken care of.

        When it comes to the moving pictures, Allen's criticisms are even more dismal. He maintains that the bouncing or hopping gait that lunar gravity forced on the astronauts was simply simulated by over-cranking film. The TV show Mythbusters tried that and showed that it couldn't be done. Besides, there were many, many such sequences that were television rather than film, and seen live around the world in real time. You can't over-crank reality. There are other moving images, too, that could not possibly have been obtained on Earth. Apollo 15's hammer and feather stunt... the big "rooster tail" of lunar dirt thrown up behind the Apollo 16 lunar roving vehicle... one requiring a perfect vacuum, the other requiring one-sixth g.

        How, then, does Mr. Marcus Allen say the photographic evidence of Apollo was obtained? Ignoring the above examples, he says it was all created in a studio, in advance, during training. He says it wasn't necessary to keep this enterprise secret because the technicians involved were openly creating training and simulation materials. What they didn't realize was that their work would later be misrepresented as having been carried out by astronauts on the Moon. He doesn't, apparently, wonder why these photographers and crews don't ever yell that their work was mis-labeled.

        It seemed to me that Allen allowed the possibility that the Apollo landings did indeed happen, but only the photography was faked. That, of course, is nonsensical. He's saying that the Apollo astronauts were sent to the Moon with photographic equipment that was useless. AND THEY DID THIS NOT ONCE BUT SIX TIMES. Marcus Allen, go to your room.

        There's another reason why I think Hoagland, Bara, and Morningstar have to take some blame for all this bad information. Late in the third hour, host Richard Syrett asked about possible cover-up of alien structures in the Apollo photography. Allen replied that it would not be surprising, since the Brookings Report strongly advised NASA to STFU about any evidence it might find of extraterrestrial intelligence. Well, this contention is totally untrue, and it's all the fault of Hoagland/Bara/Morningstar that the rumor is widely believed. Hoagland started it, and Bara/Morningstar vigorously espouse it. It's the only way they can answer the obvious question "Why would NASA be shy about announcing something that would do them nothing but good?"

==================/ \=======================
[1] He stated that the albedo of the lunar regolith is typically 7%. Actually, it's a bit more than twice that.
[2] See, for example, this account of how NASA PR messed with a very famous photograph.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Maurice Cotterell is wrong about everything

        Maurice Cotterell is the dude who made me giggle back in 2011 by saying that if you lined up all the elements in the periodic table, in a row in little containers, you'd get "all the energy you'd ever need." Well, it turns out that this anti-science clown can be catastrophically wrong about more than just the periodic table. He was on Coast to Coast AM last night, and the station published a kind of cheat-sheet to help us all follow along.

        A thorough critical review of this hilarious nonsense would be fun to do but ultimately boring, so I'm just going to pick out two simple elements to mock. First, look at the text at the bottom of page 1:
"[T]here's also a problem with Newton's equation that is just too embarrassing for modern Science to talk about. It goes like this: Galileo showed that all objects fall to the ground at exactly the same acceleration and speed—which is not what Newton's equation says; for example, if we change the apple [m1] with a cannonball [M3], then his equation says that the Force must go up. And if the Force goes up then—given that Force = Mass × Acceleration—the acceleration, and the speed, must increase. Newton couldn't answer this question because he never understood how gravity works."
        So a self-taught engineer with a humanities degree thinks he knows more about gravity than Isaac Newton? Many quite young schoolboys and girls would see the flaw in this argument quite quickly. Cotterell increases the mass in his imaginary experiment from m1 to M3, then says that the force of attraction between the mass and the planet we stand on increases pro rata, and that the equation F = ma then requires that a increase. But you see, dear Maurice, since you've increased the value of m, there is no requirement for a to increase as well.

        Expressed mathematically, the force of attraction of a mass m by a planet of mass M and radius r is:

F = GmM/r2 where G is Newton's gravitational constant

        The acceleration of that mass toward the planet, when any support is removed, is given by:

a = F/m
a = GmM/mr2
a = GM/r2

        Since the m's cancel out, a is independent of the mass you're dropping off the leaning tower of Pisa in  the case of a cannonball, or your kitchen table in the case of a falling jam butty. It's a different law that dictates that a jam butty lands jammy side down.

        Cotterell is awfully wrong about gravity, but last night he went even one step more wrong than that, declaring that "when you spin an object, it becomes weightless." He cited the renowned engineer Eric Laithwaite who, according to Cotterell, demonstrated that a spinning gyroscope levitates. However, that's not what Laithwaite showed at all. He showed that if you apply a twisting force to a gyroscope, the reaction is offset by 90°. That's what gyroscopes do. Here's Laithwaite's demo, and here's a very simple confirmation that a gyro doesn't get any lighter when you spin it up. Never mind that Laithwaite himself was fooled by this phenomenon for a while—he understood it eventually. Note that if he had twisted the gyro in the other direction it would have reacted by going down, not up.

        I don't expect George Noory to be a genius at physics, but when a guest on his show makes a statement like that which is so obviously in error, I think we might at least expect something like "Are you sure about that Maurice?"

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Eugene Mallove

        Somebody on Bellgab the other day referenced the murder of Eugene Mallove, 13 years ago this year, and expressed the usual conspiradroid assumption that Mallove was murdered by agents of Big Physics and Big Energy, fearful that Mallove was on the verge of a breakthrough in free energy that would threaten their own entrenched dominance. At the time, Tom Bearden wrote "Since Mallove was increasingly successful in his attempts to make cold fusion accepted by the scientific community at large… then obviously Mallove was an unacceptable threat and he had to go." Brian O'Leary wrote "Most of us in the field believe that this murder was an assassination." Bearden and O'Leary are (or were) enthusiasts for so-called "Free Energy" who were never able to demonstrate a working device. Even Richard Hoagland said on Coast to Coast AM "I can’t believe it’s just coincidence.”note 1

        Who was Eugene Mallove? A qualified aeronautical engineer who had a prodigious talent for writing on technical and scientific subjects. He taught science journalism at M.I.T. and became a strong proponent of cold fusion and other forms of "Free Energy."  He came to believe that the original Pons & Fleischmann cold fusion experiment of 1989 was what it seemed to be—the beginning of a whole new physics. He created the New Energy Foundation and launched the periodical Cold Fusion, which became Infinite Energy but still under Mallove's editorship until his death. He was a conspiracy theorist, I suppose, to the extent that he promoted the view that Pons & Fleischmann were the victims of an organized campaign of ridicule by mainstream physicists.

What happened
        The facts of Mallove's brutal murder have been proved in a court of law by witnesses, and cannot really be disputed. He had recently evicted tenants from the home where he was raised in Norwich CT. He was in the process of junking the tenants' possessions when the tenants' son, Chad Shaffer, happened by. Shaffer was accompanied by Mozelle Brown and Shaffer's girlfriend Candace Foster. An argument ensued, and Shaffer and Brown eventually bludgeoned Mallove to death. The wheels of justice ground exceedingly slowly in this case, but Schaffer copped to manslaughter on 20 April 2012 and was sentenced to 16 years in prison. Brown was convicted of murder in October 2014 and got 58 years.

        As evidenced by the opinion expressed on Bellgab last week, conspiracy-minded people remain convinced that Mallove was offed by agents of Big Physics and Big Energy, rather than by two derelict thugs who Mallove had annoyed very grievously. There are three reasons why I reject this view of the tragedy.

ONE. To make the story work, BP&BE would have to have recruited Shaffer & Brown, and paid them enough to do the foul deed even though their entire lives would then be ruined. BP&BE would have to have known of Mallove's plan to ditch his tenants' belongings, and instructed Shaffer & Brown to show up at the time and place. This strikes me as utterly unbelievable. Of course I know that powerful people employ hit-men to off their enemies, it happens all the time. But the enemies get whacked in private, not out in the open in front of witnesses. That way the hit-men stay out of jail and are available for the next job. BP&BE would have had unbelievable good luck in finding a thug who would a) agree to the deal, and b) have a plausible motive of his own.

TWO. Mallove's rôle in the "Free Energy" movement was as a promoter and reporter of other people's work. He himself was developing nothing at all that was any threat to BP&BE. Surely, if anybody was going to feel the power of entrenched interests, it would be those engineers and physicists who were actually developing something in their labs that might actually work. The likes of Bearden and O'Leary would have something to fear, in this scenario.

THREE. If the motive of BP&BE was to suppress Mallove's strongly-expressed opinions, they were remarkably unsuccessful, let's face it. The periodical Infinite Energy lives on with a different editor. The Nov/Dec 2016 edition is currently on sale. Mallove's writings also live on, and his 1991 book Fire from Ice: Searching for the Truth Behind the Cold Fusion Furor is still in print.

        So for those reasons I find that the conspiracy theory in this case doesn't hold water. Personally I have nothing but encouragement for those who choose to try cheating the laws of physics, but cold fusion was first theorized in 1989 and we're still waiting for it to show social benefit. Mind you, you could say the same or worse about mainstream controlled fusion research, too.

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[1] Transcript of C2C-AM, 15 May 2004

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Richard Hoagland tries again for 2017

12:20 pm EST

        Richard Hoagland, whose own radio show is still off the air, popped up on The Unexplained (edn #281) on Christmas Eve. This is Howard Hughes' podcast from the UK, and Hoagland has been a fairly frequent guest, resisting all Hughes' good faith attempts to make him face up to his mathematical and scientific shortcomings (so they remain unexplained, hah-hah.)

        The primary reasons for his guesting on this occasion were to sell a book and to contribute an impromptu eulogy for John Glenn. Unlike Mike Bara, who memorialized Glenn by alleging that he was a liar, Hoagland expressed genuine admiration. "He personified the idea of the humble pioneer," he said. I think that's fairly accurate.

        As 2016 wound down to its last week, Hoagland couldn't resist making a prediction, as he has done many times before. 2010 was to be "the year we make contact." 2012 was, of course, the year of the Mayan calendar horrorshow that never quite happened. Here's what he said on Christmas Eve, word for word.
 "2017 is going to be the year of disclosure. Now I don't know whether it's going to be Obama who does it, or it's Trump does it, or we who do it. What do I mean by "we"? If you look at the web, Howard, look at all the stuff NASA's dumping, you'd have to be deaf dumb and blind not to see that there's an incredible ruins of an ancient civilization on Mars. Now, it's more complicated--it turns out there's more than one--but if NASA doesn't announce what it's giving us, if the White House doesn't announce, in the waning twilight hours of the Obama administration [...inaudible...] I've even picked a time--it's going to conform to the other stuff we've been working on for years, figuring out, kind-of like an FBI profiler...I would say the most likely time for the President to make the announcement, if he's going to and not leave it to Trump, would be on New Year's Day, probably around noon, 'cause that will be 19.5 days before he leaves office and the next administration takes over."
        Noon Washington time was about twenty minutes ago. I'm checking the news but I think the President is taking things easy today. Not that Hoagland will care at all that he's laid another stinker. To him, he can never be wrong about anything.note 1 On 2nd January 2011 he said of his 2010 failure "contact has happened. You just have to look." So I confidently expect to be hearing, a year from now, "disclosure happened, I was right. We just didn't notice." Happy new year to all.

See also Exposing Pseudoastronomy on this same topic.

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1] But see this summary of 11 busted predictions