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 space.com, 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?

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[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.

Update Morton:
        ufowatchdog reports that Morton has filed a motion to change his plea from "not guilty" to "no plea." If this is the best "the guy who knows how to get the verdict vacated" can come up with, he's as hopeless at law as Morton himself. You can't change a plea once you're convicted.

        Meanwhile, the crowdfunding total stands at $1,030--$320 from Indiegogo and $710 from Gofundme. A Gofundme donor named "Dominique A" wrote this:
"Dear Sean, I have been listening to you for years and when it comes to the legal stuff clearly you know your stuff. I see you have an exceptionally good heart, and are kind. Do not falter, and please ask for help on your radio show. You are both in my prayers as are all the cats. This craziness will pass."
No he doesn't. No he hasn't. No he isn't. No it won't. Sean and Melissa are going down.

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:
"A TOTAL ECLIPSE OF THE SUN & MOON CROSSING OVER THE NEW MADRID FAULT ZONE COULD CAUSE EARTHQUAKES DURING & AFTER PASSAGE on August 21st, 2017.

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."
Rubbish
        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.

Update:
        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)


Calculation:

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.

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