Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Here's a surprise, Richard Hoagland was wrong

 From this blog, March 14, 2016:

« When Gale crater was first announced as MSL's destination, Richard Hoagland announced on C2C-AM that Sharp Mountain was obviously an artificial construct, and that everyone at JPL knew that. Even President Obama knew it. ..... When Curiosity finally reveals Sharp to be just a mountain, what will he say then? Why, NOTHING, of course. Glad you asked. »

        Well, Curiosity has been on the lower slopes of Mt. Sharp for quite a while now and of course Hoagland has been silent on the topic.

        Yesterday NASA/JPL/CNES released the largest photo-mosaic of Mt. Sharp yet created. The images were from the ChemCam's Remote Micro-Imager, and the mosaic was created by a team at the University of Nantes, France from 216 overlapping images. Stéphane Le Mouélic provided the detailed explanation in a Marsblog. Here's a screen capture of one part of the huge photo-mosaic, but it's really worth looking at the whole thing.


        If you think for one moment that Richard Hoagland is going to see that and publicly announce that he was completely mistaken, you don't know your Hoagland. Admitting error is NOT what he does. Let's face it, if he did he'd be doing so much of it that he'd have no time to plan and compile his ridiculous blogtalkradio show.

        Click on the label "hoagland errors" below to see a partial listing.

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Planetary conjunctions

       The imminent Great Jupiter/Saturn Conjunction, plus a recent comment on this blog, got me wondering about gravitational forces at conjunctions. When Mars and Jupiter are in conjuction (as happened in 1836-7 and 1979-80, and will recur in 2123, 2170, 2313, and 2456) which of them exerts the greater pull on planet Earth? Mars is 8 times closer but more than 3000 times lighter. Let's find out.


G = 6.674 x 10-11 m3 kg-1 s-2 

Earth mass   5.97 x 1024 kg
Mars mass    6.42 x 1023 kg
Jupiter mass  2.00  x 1027 kg

Earth-Mars av. dist.    78 x 109 m
Earth-Jupiter av. dist 628 x 109 m


F = Gm1m2/d2


Gravitational attraction Earth-Mars:      4.2 x 1016 newtons
Gravitational attraction Earth-Jupiter 202 x 1016 newtons

         The orbit of Mars is sufficiently eccentric (0.09) that its closest approach to Earth is 55 x 109 m. It's possible for a conjunction to coincide with closest approach, but that still wouldn't be enough to overcome Jupiter's dominance.

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Congrats to CNSA (again)

        The Chinese National Space Agency is due congratulations for successfully retrieving lunar samples in its Chang'e 5 spacecraft today.

        However, unlike CNSA's brilliant achievement of January 2019, when they landed Chang'e 4 on the far side and placed a relay satellite in lunar orbit to talk to it, this was not a First. The Sovs performed this trick three times, with  Luna 16 (September 1970), Luna 20 (February 1972) and Luna 24 (August 1976).

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

More detail on Hoagland's jail time

        Jason Colavito, who does for pseudo-history what I do for pseudoscience, evidently tortured himself by listening to the whole three hours of last Sunday's Other Side of Midnight — Richard Hoagland's podcast on blogtalkradio.

        Colavito made his review into yesterday's blog, and I enjoyed his digs at pseudo-historian Scott Wolter — Hoagland's Sunday night guest and one of Colavito's perenniel punching bags. I enjoyed reading that Hoagland called the Utah monolith (now disappeared) a “hyperdimensional tetrahedron” because it's SO HOAGLAND to be that wrong about a current event.

        Perhaps most of all I enjoyed a comment from someone who labels himself "HOAGLAND HOKUM" but can only be Richard Grossman, publisher of Hoagland's 1987 book The Monuments of Mars. I reproduce Grossman's comment in full:

« Here is another little secret about Monuments: the only way the damn thing ever got written was that Hoagland went to prison for one of his inexplicable and weird scams (ostensibly something about a stolen rental car and New York Planetarium credit card)—whether it really happend or not as reported, whether it was really a scam or not, and whether he was really guilty or sentenced fairly or not (the answer to the latter is definitely “not,” as he had an attorney involved in his own weird paranoid cosmic conspiracy theories, including Hoagland). In the end he was incarcerated over a New York State warrant that he chose to flee (to the Golden State) rather than defend in situ; he was apprehended in Berkeley when stopped for having a cardboard rear license plate; refused to plea-bargain; and so got housed in L.A. County jail for over a year. Admittedly my version of the story is cobbled out of hearsay from a variety of semi-reliable sources, but it roughly tracks some event that actually happened. He was in jail; that’s where I addressed my mail to him regarding the book; and he did write much of the book there.»