Category Archives: NASA

Did NASA fake the moon landings?

Debunking the Moon Truthers, Part 1

The history of the Apollo moon landing hoax conspiracy theory, and those who believe in it.

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By Brian Dunning via skeptoid
Read transcript below or listen here

The Life and Times of the Moon Hoax Conspiracy

moon-apollo11lm5_0350pxYes, it’s a 3-part Skeptoid episode, the first one ever, and it took more than 500 episodes to get me to finally address the moon landing hoax conspiracy. To those who follow science, the claims that we never went to the moon are the most tiresome and foolish of the conspiracy theories; but to those who believe them, they are absolute religion, and the ultimate token of their conviction that anything coming from official sources is a lie. Today we’re going to begin our in-depth analysis of the Moon Landing Conspiracy, of those who believe in it, and a survey of the facts and figures of the basic narrative.

Today we’re going to talk about the history and cultural impact of the claim; next week we’ll go into the most popular evidentiary claims said to prove that we never went to the moon (hopefully including some you haven’t heard before); and in the final installment, we’ll look at the hard physical proof that we did go.

The basic narrative of the Moon Truth conspiracy theory, as you probably know, is that NASA faked the Apollo missions and nobody ever actually went to the moon. As with most conspiracy theories, there are all sorts of variations on the claims of what actually did happen, while the only thing they have in common is that no men actually landed on the moon. moon-landing-fake_250pxSome believe the Apollo missions orbited the moon but did not land; some believe they never went farther than Earth orbit; some believe the Apollo spacecraft flew but were unmanned; some believe they never launched anything at all. The astronauts performed their moonwalks on a movie set, and fake transmissions were provided to the TV networks for broadcast. The reasons given for why the government would have gone to all this trouble range from simply distracting Americans’ attention from the unpopular war in Vietnam, to fooling the Soviets into thinking they lost the Cold War, to protecting NASA’s budget by appearing to spend it on something supremely impressive.

A big question we have to answer is what’s the point of even talking about this? The people who moonlanding02_250pxbelieve it have already heard the science-based responses to their claims a hundred times, and rejected them a hundred times. Their minds are riveted shut to anything but their preferred narrative. We’ll not be changing any of their minds today. And the rest of us aren’t in denial, and aren’t asking these made-up, shoehorned questions that try to raise doubt where none exists. So who is this episode for, nobody?

Well, maybe for somebody. Polling data has, for decades, consistently shown that some 6-7% of Americans believe the moon landings were faked; and even scarier, about four times as many Europeans agree with them. That’s a lot more people than the hardcore YouTube-obsessed serial conspiracists; it includes tens of millions of ordinary folks who are otherwise as rational as you or I. It seems there must be something deeply compelling about this odd belief.

Continue reading part 1 @ skeptoid – – –

Related:

SpaceX UFO Explosion EXPOSED!!!

Why There Are No Blast Craters Under the Lunar Module

For all those conspiracists who believe the moon landing was a hoax.

The ethics of conspiracy theories

Source: The Minefield – ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Claims that the Moon landing was faked or that lizard people are taking over the world might seem harmless and even humorous, but philosopher Patrick Stokes argues that every conspiracy theory comes with a moral cost.

The Space Shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after lifting off from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Tuesday, Jan. 28, 1986. All seven crew members died in the explosion. (AP Photo/Bruce Weaver)

The Space Shuttle Challenger explodes shortly after lifting off from Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Tuesday, Jan. 28, 1986. All seven crew members died in the explosion. (AP Photo/Bruce Weaver)

Earlier this year, the world marked the 30th anniversary of the Challenger space shuttle disaster and the loss of all seven crew. With the public captivated by the story of Christa McAuliffe, the first teacher in space, some 17 per cent of the entire American population watched in horror as Challenger exploded live on television.

Except it didn’t really happen. The tragedy was faked. At least six of the astronauts are alive and well and hiding in plain sight. Why, they’re even still using their real names, or variations thereof. Sharon Christa McAuliffe is now Sharon A. McAuliffe, an adjunct professor of law at Syracuse University. The public has been duped by a massive conspiracy for three decades, one finally exposed thanks to intrepid amateur sleuths scouring the internet for clues.

These claims are, needless to say, utter hogwash; the evidence offered is not merely flimsy, but laughable. (At least two of the people alleged to be Challenger survivors are actually siblings of Challenger crewmembers). And what sort of conspirators would fake their own deaths in front of millions of viewers but then keep their real names?

Even so, it’s yet another illustration of the pervasiveness of conspiracy theory as a social practice—and the widespread desire to believe in them. If you think this all sounds like some fringe belief that nobody could buy into, consider this: for this theory to hold, NASA would have had to somehow keep a conspiracy involving thousands of people secret for three decades. Yet upwards of 6 per cent of Americans believe that NASA pulled off the far greater feat of faking the moon landings.

Continue Reading @ ABC Radio National (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) – – –

What Really Happened When Apollo 10 Heard Music in Space?

From the video description:

One hundred and two hours and 12 minutes after leaving the Earth, the crew of Apollo 10 was on the far side of the Moon. The two spacecraft — the command-service module and the lunar module — were traveling separately, and as they plowed ahead with their flight plan and had a bit of a snack, all three men heard some “spacey music” coming in over their headsets.

Continue reading – – –

Also see: The Full Audio of the Apollo 10 Space Music (YouTube)

How We Know NASA Didn’t Fake Neil Armstrong’s First Steps

By Amy Shira Teitel via YouTube

How to Tell If Conspiracy Theories Are Real: Here’s the Math

By Taylor Kubota via Live Science

Buzz Aldrin salutes the U.S. flag on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969. Credit: NASA

Buzz Aldrin salutes the U.S. flag on the surface of the moon during the Apollo 11 mission on July 20, 1969.
Credit: NASA

A faked moon landing or a hidden cure for cancer are just a couple of large-scale conspiracies that, if true, would have come to light within five years following their alleged cover-ups, according to a mathematical formula put together by one physicist.

David Robert Grimes, a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Oxford who studies cancer, is familiar with conspiracy theorists. His mainstream writing for the likes of The Guardian and BBC News has included controversial topics that lend themselves to conspiracies, including homosexuality, climate change and water fluoridation.

Ten characteristics of conspiracy theorists - a look into the mind of conspiraloons, nutjobs and tin foil hatters“The charge that there is a scientific conspiracy afoot is a common one,” said Grimes, in an email interview with Live Science, “and almost inevitably those making these charges will descend into accusing one of shilling or being an agent of some malignant entity.” In response to his work, conspiracy theorists have threatened him, even tried to get him removed from his academic position. These interactions made Grimes curious about why conspiracies have such a strong hold on so many people, and the chances that they might be true. [Top 10 Conspiracy Theories Explained]

For this new study, Grimes considered four common conspiracy beliefs: that NASA faked the 1969 moon landing during the Apollo 11 mission, that human-caused climate change isn’t real, that vaccines are unsafe, and that pharmaceutical companies are hiding cancer cures from the public. He created an equation to figure out how long these four cover-ups would likely last (if indeed they were cover-ups), given how many people are involved, the likelihood of leaks from the inside (whether on purpose or by accident), and how much upkeep would be required to keep everything under wraps.

To estimate the chances that any one person would reveal secret activities, Grimes looked at three actual leaked conspiracies:

Continue Reading @ Live Science – – –

The Most Plausible Apollo Moon Landing Conspiracy Ever Devised

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by via Hackaday

nasa-moon-hoaxThe Internet is polluted with craziness, and there is no better example than YouTube. If you’ve ever wondered what would happen when you give everyone on the planet the power to show everyone else on the planet their innermost thoughts, desires, and insane ramblings, you need only look at YouTube.

One of the biggest offenders of incoherent ramblings is the subject of spaceflight. Simply search ‘space shuttle’ on YouTube, and you’ll find accusations of the crew of Columbia being abducted by aliens. Crazy, incoherent, and somewhat insulting. Accusations of a moon landing conspiracy are unavoidable in the ‘related videos’ section and are similarly filled with videos from people with either a tenuous grasp of reality or too much time on their hands.

A broken clock is right twice a day, a broken calendar is right every twenty-eight years or so, and every once in a while, simply from the volume of videos on the subject, one conspiracy theorist will present a new and novel idea. Here we present perhaps the only moon landing conspiracy theory that makes sense, is consistent with physical laws, and that may actually be true.

Comparing other government conspiracies

According to moon landing conspiracy theorists, President Nixon was the head of several vast government conspiracies. The largest conspiracy by several orders of magnitude – six missions to the surface of the moon involving 400,000 of contractors and government employees – is the only conspiracy that would succeed.

According to moon landing conspiracy theorists, President Nixon was the head of several vast government conspiracies. The largest conspiracy by several orders of magnitude – six missions to the surface of the moon involving 400,000 of contractors and government employees – is the only conspiracy that would succeed.

One of the best ways to figure out what it would take to pull off a project is to compare it to earlier, similar projects. If you’re building a 100-storey skyscraper and need a good idea of how long construction will take, just look at how long it took to build the last 100-storey skyscraper. If you want to build a dam and wonder how much it will cost, just look at earlier, similar dams that used the same construction methods and materials.

The Apollo moon landing conspiracy contends that 400,000 government workers and contractors would need to keep quiet, and no inquisitive journalists would be out in the trenches, digging for the truth. This government conspiracy would ostensibly be headed by none other than Richard Nixon, and fortunately we have a pretty good analog to compare a moon landing conspiracy to other Nixon-era conspiracies. Watergate-gate, with far fewer people involved, was found out. It strains credibility that a conspiracy many orders of magnitude larger would not be uncovered.

Additionally, there are many other nefarious activities sponsored by the US government that have been made public. The MK Ultra experiments dosed hundreds of people including Ted Kaczynski and Sirhan Sirhan with LSD. Not all of the records were destroyed, though, and the entire experiment was disclosed in 1977 with a FOIA request. The US Public Health Service infected people with syphilis, and the CIA is responsible for overthrowing dozens of governments around the world. All of these conspiracies were eventually found out. The very idea that researchers, academics, and journalists are unable to pierce the veil of a moon landing conspiracy over forty years strains credibility.

There is one government project on the scale of the Apollo moon landing that was, for a time, secret: the Manhattan Project. With perhaps 300,000 people involved in the creation of the first atomic bombs, it is the only secret government project with the same scale as NASA in the 1960s. Here, history tells us that secrets that big don’t stay secret for long, with the Soviet Union receiving plans for atomic weapons before the end of the war.

In comparing the scale of an Apollo moon landing conspiracy to other, real conspiracies committed by the US government, the argument completely falls apart. The Tuskegee syphilis experiments involved perhaps a few hundred people. The MK Ultra experiments perhaps a few thousand. Watergate-gate involved less than one hundred. An Apollo moon landing conspiracy would involve nearly a half million over the course of ten years, yet moon landing conspiracists say the largest conspiracy of all time would be the one that succeeded. It doesn’t strain credibility – it completely destroys it.

Continue Reading @ Hackaday – – –

NASA Faked Mars Landings: Mars Rover Photos Were Taken In Simulated Mars Environment On Devon Island, Canada, According to Conspiracy Theorists

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Via: Inquisitr

A conspiracy theory fast gaining traction online makes the astounding claim that NASA’s Curiosity and Opportunity rovers never traveled to Mars and that the images of the Martian environment being uploaded to NASA websites were actually taken on a remote island called Devon Island in Canada, the largest uninhabited island on Earth.

mars yankee go homeAccording to the rumors making the rounds in the conspiracy theory blogosphere, the pictures being uploaded regularly to NASA’s websites and palmed off as images of the Martian environment are fake images taken on Devon Island in Canada where NASA has set up a landscape identical with the “Martian landscape” we see on photos NASA scientists upload to NASA websites.

Conspiracy theorists claim that the rovers never traveled out to space, let alone land on Mars. Rovers Opportunity and Curiosity are being kept in storage in one of NASA’s facilities. Meanwhile, the agency has deployed two smaller versions of the rovers — “baby rovers” — on Devon Island in Canada.

NASA maintains permanent bases on Devon Island where NASA personnel dressed in mock astronaut suits play around with “baby rovers” fitted with cameras. Conspiracy theorists note that the terrain of the island bears a striking resemblance to the images of the “Martian environment” that NASA uploads to its websites. This makes the island an ideal location on Earth for NASA to stage make-believe Martian environment photo shoots.

There is also evidence, according to conspiracy theorists, that NASA has bases in other remote areas used for simulating Martian environment.

Continue Reading @ Inquisitr – – –

10 CRAZY Internet Conspiracy Theories

Via YouTube

The Earth is flat and ‘they’ don’t want you to know

flat_earth_youtubers_600pxBy Joseph L. Flatley via The Kernel

In the year 1543, the Pope teamed up with Copernicus, the Church of England, and possibly Aristotle (who, inconveniently, had died in 322 B.C.) to convince unsuspecting Europeans that, despite the Earth’s obvious flatness, it’s actually a sphere, and that the sun is the center of the universe. In the years since, the usual bad guys—Catholics, Jews, and bankers—have jealously guarded the secret of the flat Earth. And with the birth of the space age, NASA (basically a joint project between the Freemasons and the Nazis) got involved. That, at least, is the story according to the Flat Earth Truthers, a small but vocal group who believe that the world is flat, and that this knowledge is the key to understanding who really runs the world.

I'll take my flat earth with extra cheese and pepperoni.

I’ll take my flat earth with extra cheese and pepperoni.

Eric Dubay is arguably the most visible Flat Earth Truther. On his Blogger bio, Dubay describes himself as just another 30-something American cool dude, “living in Thailand where I teach Yoga and Wing Chun part-time while exposing the New World Order full-time.” That work involves publishing exposés like “Dinosaur Hoax – Dinosaurs Never Existed!” and “Adolf Hitler vs. The Jew World Order.” That’s right—the Jew World Order.

Dubay’s latest e-book is titled 200 Proofs Earth is Not a Spinning Ball. In it, he lays out the basics of modern flat Earth theory. The moon, he writes, is a self-luminescent, semitransparent object, not solid at all. The International Space Station, which you can actually see through a telescope, is really a drone or a hologram (like the planes that hit the World Trade Center). And the Earth itself is a disc, like the emblem on the flag of the United Nations, or an old Beatles record. The North Pole is in the center of the disc, where you secure it to the turntable, and traveling south takes you to the beginning of Track 1 (“Taxman”). Antarctica, instead of being a continent, is a wall of ice that rings ’round the edge of the disc, holding the oceans in place.

According to Dubay, this is all common sense.

Continue Reading at The Kernel – – –

Why conspiracy theories are so popular and how our suspicious minds look for big causes for big outcomes

The speed with which conspiracy theories spread can make them seem typically modern. But, Rob Brotherton, the author of a new study on the mind of the ‘truther’, says they are as old as thinking itself and tap into our darkest prejudices.

By Simon Usborne via The Independent

In the shadows: Conspiracy theorists said this photo of Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin standing by the US flag planted on the surface of the Moon on 20 July 1969 was mocked up EPA

In the shadows: Conspiracy theorists said this photo of Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin standing by the US flag planted on the surface of the Moon on 20 July 1969 was mocked up EPA

Before the victims had been identified, before any group had claimed responsibility – before the blood had been cleaned from the streets – the “truth” about the terror attacks in Paris was already taking shape online. Just hours after the last shots, one YouTube user explained what had happened in a video that has since been viewed more than 110,000 times.

“It was a false flag event aimed at destabilising Europe into New World Order oblivion,” the anonymous man says in narration laid over shaky mobile phone footage of his laptop. The computer displays images of immigration and the Wikipedia entry for subversion. “Friday 13th is not a coincidence! – it’s an occult date of evil Illuminati satanists,” he adds.

As photographs and footage of the attacks emerged, armies of “truthers” went further, describing in dozens of similar videos and on their slick websites how, among other things, the crime scenes had been staged by the intelligence agencies. The fleeing woman filmed dangling from a window at the Bataclan theatre was an actor wearing a harness.

Terror attacks are always fertile ground for conspiracy theories, none more than 9/11, but committed conspiracy theorists find “truth” anywhere. One truther, as conspiracy theorists prefer to be known (many believe that the use of the term “conspiracy theory” is part of a conspiracy theory) was arrested in Connecticut this month after confronting the sister of a teacher who died in the 2012 Sandy Hook school shooting.

Continue Reading at The Independent – – –

Mars Hoaxes: Why We Believe

by Stephanie Pappas via Live Science

Mars-Hoax_300pxFirst, let’s get one thing out of the way: Mars is not going to look as big as the moon in the night sky tonight. Or tomorrow night. Or any other night, barring some sort of unforeseen planetary catastrophe.
Any emails or Facebook messages to the contrary are, alas, nothing but a hoax. Rumors that Mars would appear as large as the moon first emerged in 2003, when the Red Planet was actually passing closer than usual to Earth. Since then, the hoax has circulated every year and is going around yet again, despite multiple attempts by NASA to debunk this myth.
Internet hoaxes are a dime a dozen, but there seems to be something about Mars that keeps this particular hoax alive. Perhaps it’s a fascination with a planet that’s so close to Earth — or perhaps the real-life discoveries from Mars are so amazing that the hoax seems believable, suggested Joshua Bandfield, a senior research scientist at the Space Science Institute and the University of Washington.

Continue Reading: Mars Hoaxes: Why We Believe

World of Batshit – #4: Fake Planets

By CoolHardLogic via YouTube

Part four in a series examining some of the most ridiculous claims. In this part, we look at a channel claiming (among other things) that the planets don’t exist.

The Astronauts and the Aliens

A close look at some of the stories of UFOs said to have been reported by NASA astronauts.

Brian Dunningby Brian Dunning via skeptoid – August 10, 2010
Read transcript below or listen here

It was 1962 and American John Glenn was orbiting the Earth in Friendship 7, his capsule on the Mercury-Atlas 6 flight. Ground controllers were mystified at Glenn’s report of fireflies outside his window, strange bright specks that clustered about his ship. The first thought was that they must be ice crystals from Friendship 7’s hydrogen peroxide attitude control rockets, but Glenn was unable to correlate their appearance with the use of the rockets. Astronauts on later flights reported similar bright specks, and eventually we learned enough about the space environment to identify what they were. Spacecraft tend to accumulate clouds of debris and contamination around themselves, and even though Glenn’s rockets sprayed jets of crystals away from the capsule, many of the crystals would gather in this contamination cloud, where they reflected sunlight and interacted with other gases in the cloud. Experiments on board Skylab in the 1970’s using quartz-crystal microbalances confirmed and further characterized this phenomenon. The case of John Glenn’s mysterious fireflies was solved.

The Apollo 16 "flying saucer", compared with a view of the spolight boom from a different mission Photo credit: NASA

The Apollo 16 “flying saucer”, compared with a view of the spolight boom from a different mission
Photo credit: NASA

The stories of our humble explorations of the space around our planet tell of courage, danger, and adventure. But do they conceal another element as well? For as long as humans have had space programs, there have been darker tales flying alongside: tales of mysterious UFOs, apparently alien spacecraft monitoring our progress. These stories come from the early days of the Soviet launches, from the Mercury program, the Gemini program, the space shuttle flights, and perhaps most infamously from the Apollo flights to the moon.

Like pilots, astronauts are often given something of a pass whenever they report a UFO, a pass that presumes it’s impossible for someone with flight training to misidentify anything they see in the sky. Most famously, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, the sixth man to walk on the moon, has long maintained that most UFOs are alien spacecraft and that the government is covering up its ongoing active relations with alien cultures. Coming from a real astronaut, Mitchell’s views are often quite convincing to the public.

NASA’s reaction to Mitchell was anticlimactic, but highlighted that their business is launching things into space, not studying UFO reports  .  .  .

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Also See: Apollo 16 UFO Identified (ufocasebook)

10 Silly Theories That Tried To Prove Aliens Exist

By Jo Rodriguez via Listverse

Is there life elsewhere in the universe? It’s becoming increasingly likely that life must exist somewhere out there, but theories on aliens closer to home have ranged from misguided to idiotic.

10 • Viking Landers Finding Life On Mars

aliens MarsPhoto2 817_300px_300pxDuring the ’70s, NASA’s Viking landers probed Martian soil, eagerly looking for signs of life on the Red Planet. While the landers did not find actual microorganisms, traces of carbon dioxide turned up in the collected samples. Some scientists looked at the results and concluded that living organisms had to be on the planet, producing the compound.

The findings have been disputed for decades. Recently, some scientists have concluded that iron particles in Martian soil could have oxidized carbon compounds that exist naturally there.

Though evidence from Viking may not point to current Martians, carbon in the soil may still indicate that life once existed on the planet. Today’s research focuses less on finding living organisms there and more on investigating if the atmosphere could preserve traces of life even after long stretches of time.

9 • Arthur C. Clarke And Martian Vegetation

0212_300pxBeloved author and screenwriter Arthur C. Clarke long believed in life on Mars. In 2001, Clarke downloaded several photos from NASA’s website captured by the Mars Global Surveyor and was delighted to see what he thought were trees.

Clarke spoke to a crowd in his home in Sri Lanka, saying that the pictures showed things that were growing on the planet’s surface. Clarke said, “I’m quite serious when I say I have a really good look at these new Mars images. Something is actually moving and changing with the seasons that suggest, at least, vegetation.” In another interview, he joked, “I’m now convinced that Mars is inhabited by a race of demented landscape gardeners.”

The images were actually simply sand dunes, covered in or affected by frozen carbon dioxide. Over time, dark sand cascades down the dunes, leaving streaks that may look like trees to the less educated eye.

8 • Crazy Experiments To Contact Martians

0312_300pxIn 1820, German mathematician Carl Friedrich Gauss sought to incorporate the work of Pythagoras in his quest to communicate with alien life on Mars. Gauss suggested clearing a large patch of Siberia and planting wheat for miles in a shape that geometrically illustrates the Pythagorean Theorem. By harvest season, the bright yellow crop-filled areas would contrast with the forest’s darker coloring. Gauss believed that Martian observers could spot this gigantic triangle on Earth with a small telescope.

Other odd ideas were also popular during the 19th century. Astronomer Joseph Littrow suggested digging trenches measuring 30 kilometers (20 mi) in length and shaped in various geometric patterns across the Sahara. We’d then fill them with kerosene and light them up. A Frenchman, Charles Cros, suggested building a huge mirror that could focus sunlight and burn messages into the very surface of Mars.

7 • Martians Contact Nikola Tesla

Tesla Aliens_300px_300pxNikola Tesla may have been one of the most brilliant scientists in human history, but he also falsely claimed to have received artificial signals of extraterrestrial origin—he said they were from Mars or Venus.

In a letter to the New York Times, Tesla wrote of how Mars, of the two planets, could support life. He viewed the distance of the planets from the Sun in terms of evolution. Venus was at a youthful stage, perhaps unable to fully sustain humanoid life. Earth was at full growth. Mars had reached old age, yet it had passed through prime biological and technological evolutionary stages.

Tesla suggested ways to improve our means to communicate with Mars, first by relocating our observatories to send clearer signals through the atmosphere. In 1937, Tesla’s work led him to believe that he could win the Pierre Guzman Prize of 100,000 francs for “the first person who will find the means of communicating with a star and of receiving a response.” The prize rules excluded contact with Mars, however, because that would have been “too easy.”

The public has never had a chance to analyze Tesla’s supposed observation, but it is likely that he actually detected the pulsing of distant stars. This was far from the intelligent transmission he had claimed to see, but it was still an impressive accomplishment.

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10 Ways The Quest For Alien Life Is Getting Real

By Heather Ramsey via Listverse

NASA predicts that we’ll find life outside our planet, and possibly outside our solar system, within a generation. But where exactly, and what type of life? Is it even wise to make contact with extraterrestrials? The search hasn’t been easy, but these questions may not be theoretical much longer. Here are 10 ways the quest for alien life is getting real.

10 • NASA Predicts Alien Life Will Be Found Within 20 Years

kepler-scope_300pxIn the words of Matt Mountain, director at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, “Imagine the moment when the world wakes up, and the human race realizes that its long loneliness in time and space may be over . . . It’s within our grasp to pull off a discovery that will change the world forever.”

Using ground and space-based technology, NASA scientists predict that we’ll find alien life in the Milky Way galaxy within the next 20 years. Launched in 2009, the Kepler Space Telescope (pictured) has helped scientists find thousands of exoplanets (planets outside our solar system). Kepler discovers a planet when it crosses in front of a star, causing a small drop in the star’s brightness.

Based on data from Kepler, NASA scientists believe that in our galaxy alone, 100 million planets may be home to alien life. But it’s the upcoming James Webb Space Telescope (scheduled for a 2018 launch) that will first give us the capability to indirectly detect life on other planets. The Webb telescope searches for gases in a planet’s atmosphere that are generated by life. The ultimate goal is to find Earth 2.0, a twin to our own planet.

9 • The Alien Life We Find May Not Be Intelligent

single-cell_300pxThe Webb Telescope and its successors will search for biosignatures in the atmospheres of exoplanets, such as molecular water, oxygen, and carbon dioxide. But even if a biosignature is detected, it won’t tell us whether the life on that exoplanet is intelligent or not. Such alien life may be single-celled organisms like amoebas, rather than complex beings that can communicate with us.

We’re also limited in our search for life by our prejudices and lack of imagination. We assume there must be carbon-based life like us, and that we’re the standard by which intelligence is judged. Explaining this failure in creative thought, Carolyn Porco of the Space Science Institute says, “Scientists don’t go off and think completely wild and crazy things unless they have some evidence that leads them to do that.”

Other scientists such as Peter Ward, coauthor of Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe, believe that intelligent alien life will be short-lived. Ward assumes that other species will have global warming, too many people, no food, and eventual chaos that destroys their civilizations. He foresees the same for us.

8 • Mars May Have Supported Life Before—And May Again

wet-mars_300px

Photo credit: Kevin Gill

Mars is currently too cold to house liquid water and support life. But NASA’s Opportunity Rover—an all-terrain vehicle that collects and analyzes rocks on Mars—has shown that about four billion years ago, the planet had fresh water and mud that could have supported life.

Another past source of water and possible life sits on the slopes of Mars’s third-tallest volcano, Arsia Mons. Around 210 million years ago, this volcano erupted beneath a vast glacier. The volcano’s heat caused the ice to melt, forming lakes in the glacier like liquid bubbles in a partially frozen ice cube. The lakes may have existed long enough for microbial life to have formed there.

It’s possible that some simple organisms on Earth may be able to survive on Mars today. Methanogens, for example, use hydrogen and carbon dioxide to produce methane, and don’t need oxygen, organic nutrients, or light. They’re able to survive temperature extremes such as those found during Martian freeze-thaw cycles. So when scientists found methane in Mars’ atmosphere in 2004, they questioned whether methanogens already inhabit the subsurface of Mars.

As we travel to Mars, though, scientists are concerned that we may contaminate the planet’s environment with microorganisms from Earth. That may make it difficult to determine whether life forms found on Mars originated there.

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Chemtrails: Puffy White Lies

Via This Week in Pseudoscience

One of my favorite conspiracy theories to debate is “chemtrails.”  The factual explanations behind the puffy white lines are so fabulously simple, you’ve got to marvel at those who harbor this preposterous notion.  Entertain no fear, intelligent reader, as this conspiracy can only be held by the least scientific among us.  To argue with chembelievers is to feel both frustration and bewilderment manifest.

contrails 01_250pxYou’ll hear the battle cry of the Chemtrailers: “Wake up!  Look up!” soliciting you to abandon your ability to research for the blind acceptance of anecdotal opinion.  We live in a world where information is so readily accessible for anyone who chooses to pursue it.  The challenge comes in vetting sources, and this seems to be the trap in to which Chemtrailers fall.  They want so badly to be right about being sprayed, they will use any source available that serves their confirmation bias.

Contrails, as they’re known by the scientifically literate among us, are quite simply explained.  In fact, NASA does quite a good job of expounding it:

“Contrails are clouds formed when water vapor condenses and freezes around small particles (aerosols) that exist in aircraft exhaust. Some of that water vapor comes from the air around the plane; and, some is added by the exhaust of the aircraft. The exhaust of an aircraft contains both gas (vapor) and solid particles. Both of these are important in the formation of contrails. Some elements of the exhaust gasses are not involved in contrail formation but do constitute air pollution. Emissions include carbon dioxide, water vapor, nitrogen oxides (NOx), carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons such as methane, sulfates (SOx), and soot and metal particles.” [1]

Now the fun part…

“THERE’S CHEMIKILLS IN MY AIR.”

chemtrail UFO culprit_250pxThe quintessential Chemtrailer will claim that there are a host of chemicals being sprayed on us.  In my experience, the most common particulates mentioned are aluminum, strontium, and barium.  If these were being littered upon us in such volume as to cause detriment to our health, they would be easily detectable in soil and air samples yet, not surprisingly, no proof has been offered from any laboratory to date.  Ask the conspiracy theorists to provide one; they can’t and they won’t.

“CONTRAILS DISSIPATE, BUT CHEMTRAILS DON’T.”

Some of the conspiracy theorists don’t want to seem as crazy and so they’ll justify their position by saying that chemtrails stay in the sky for hours while contrails dissipate quickly.

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ChemTrailer_400px

10 Unbelievably Insane UFO Conspiracy Theories

By Marc V. via Listverse

Thanks to never-ending reports of encounters and sightings, UFOs are easily one of the most recognized and well-known icons of modern pop culture. In fact, the fascination has even spawned whole religions with UFOs and aliens as the centerpiece. Of course, we also mustn’t forget the different UFO conspiracy theories being continuously peddled by people who either really want to know the truth or are just plain wacko. In any case, it’s certain that these conspiracy theories will never go out of style, especially when most of them are just downright insane.

10 • There Is An Alien Satellite Hovering Over Earth

1-black-knight_300pxThis conspiracy theory states that a 13,000-year-old satellite called the Black Knight is orbiting our planet. As the story goes, Nikola Tesla was the first man to discover its existence after he began receiving radio signals in 1899 which he believed came from space, a claim also made by amateur radio operators in the early 20th century. Later on, newspaper reports in the 1950s and ’60s detailing the discovery of a mysterious object in space coupled with supposed photographic evidence helped to fuel belief in the Black Knight’s existence.

If this supposed satellite really does exist, then why is it there? According to Scottish writer Duncan Lunan, the Black Knight satellite is actually a space probe that contains a map to a faraway alien planet called Epsilon Bootis, and the unidentified radio signals are in fact an attempt by those inhabitants to communicate with humans. Although skeptics have sought to debunk the alien satellite as nothing more than space junk or debris, believers have continued to insist otherwise.

9 • MacArthur And Alien Warfare In The Future

MacArthur aliens1024_300px_300pxDid Douglas MacArthur, the man who led the US against the Japanese and later the Koreans and Chinese, foresee a future war against aliens? According to a supposed speech he made in 1955, MacArthur warned that all countries of the Earth should unite, because the next war would involve humanity against aliens from other planets. Conspiracy theorists closely tie the general’s statements with his alleged involvement in the creation of the ambiguous Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit, a government agency supposedly tasked with investigating mysterious UFO crashes in the 1950s and which was later absorbed by the Air Force. As the story goes, the IPU’s findings that UFOs constituted a threat to national and global security was what prompted MacArthur to render his speech.

MacArthur’s statements, although somewhat sensationalized later on by the media, nonetheless manifested his belief that someday in the future, all of us might experience a real-life version of Independence Day.

8 • The US Government Secretly Sent Astronauts To Another Planet

3-serpo_300pxAccording to this conspiracy theory, the administration of President JFK—and, later, Johnson—allegedly sent astronauts to a faraway planet called Serpo. The ambitious project began after the US government supposedly saved the life of an alien whose spacecraft crashed in Roswell. In return, the grateful alien established an exchange program with the government and made arrangements for two spaceships to pick it up along with a dozen specially trained astronauts in 1965. After 37 light-years, the astronauts finally reached Serpo and spent more than a decade learning about the planet and its inhabitants, a race called Ebens.

According to them, the Ebens numbered more than 600,000 but lived in a peaceful, government-free community. After 13 years, the team finally returned to Earth four members short after two of them died and another two chose to stay on Serpo. Unfortunately, there are no surviving members of the team today, as all of them supposedly succumbed to the high radiation levels brought on by the two suns of Serpo.

7 • Jesus Was An Alien

4-jesus_300px_300pxRemember the belief that the gods that ancient people worshiped and revered were actually aliens? If that theory is to be believed, then Jesus might have also been one, a fact that is supposedly being suppressed by the Church. As the theory goes, all the circumstances surrounding Jesus’ life hinted at extraterrestrial origins. His “virgin birth,” for instance, could be attributed to aliens artificially inseminating Mary, which in turn would explain why he could perform miraculous feats as well as communicate with otherworldly beings such as angels (who themselves were actually aliens).

Believers also point to Jesus’ statements that he was “not of this world” as hints of his real heritage. The theory goes on to say that after his resurrection, Jesus was beamed up into a spaceship and that the Catholic Church later suppressed the rest of the details by marking books such as the Epistles of the Apostles as apocryphal.

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Dear Moon Landing Deniers: Sorry I Called You Moon Landing Deniers

Olivia NuzziBy Olivia Nuzzi via The Daily Beast

Supporters of conspiracy peddler Alex Jones are FURIOUS that I dared to note his dismissal of the Apollo 11 mission. Talk about a lunatic fringe.

The worst thing about being a moon landing denier is, apparently, the part where reporters call you out for labeling Apollo 11 as some kind of false flag operation.When I wrote a story about Kentucky Senator Rand Paul’s relationship with his father—and the impact it might have on his chances of getting the Republican presidential nomination—I expected some pushback. But not like this.

AlexJonesMoron_240pxMy characterization of radio host Alex Jones (a frequent promoter of the Pauls) sparked outrage among his devotees. Specifically, they got all rage-y because I referred to Jones as a “moon landing denier.” A weird thing to quibble about, considering he is a moon landing denier.

Alex Jones, I wrote, is “a noted conspiracy theorist who spreads his message on his syndicated radio show and on his website, Infowars.com. Jones is a moon landing denier who believes the government acted as a guiding hand for the September 11 attacks and the Oklahoma City bombing, buys into the New World Order—the theory that a group of so-called elites are conspiring to form a singular, totalitarian global government has accused American pop stars of being purveyors of Illuminati mind control.”

.@Olivianuzzi, in your hit piece, you label Alex Jones a “moon landing denier,” when he has repeatedly said the opposite….1/2

— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) July 29, 2014

.@Olivianuzzi what makes you believe you can get away with such brazen dishonesty?

— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) July 29, 2014

.@Olivianuzzi your job is to make up shit to smear people, I hope the Daily Beast pays you well to make up for the cost to your conscience.

— Paul Joseph Watson (@PrisonPlanet) July 29, 2014

@PrisonPlanet—aka Paul Joseph Watson—is editor-at-large of Infowars.com, Jones’ site. There is rich irony in having the editor of Infowars.com charge that your job is to “make up shit.” Infowars.com, for the uninitiated, is a very special place where ideas like the Super Bowl halftime show is an illuminati ritual, and that President Obama has called for a New World Order, are welcome. The website even sells iodine drops, called “Survival Shield,” at their official store.

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Moon Hoax Anomaly Hunting

steven_novellaBy Steven Novella via NeuroLogica Blog

Yesterday, July 20th, was the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the surface of the moon, and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin becoming the first and second humans to walk on the surface of another world. This is, to be sure, one of the greatest achievements of the human species.

Moon-Landing-Hoax-250pxThere are those, however, who claim that we never sent astronauts to the moon, that the entire thing was an elaborate hoax by the US, meant to intimidate our rivals with our spacefaring prowess. As is typical of most grand conspiracy theories, they have no actual evidence to support their claim. None of the many people who would have to have been involved have come forward to confess their involvement. No government documents have come to light, no secret studios have been revealed. There is no footage accidentally revealing stage equipment.

What the moon hoax theorists have is anomaly hunting. This is the process of looking for something – anything – that does not seem to fit or that defies easy explanation, and then declaring it evidence that the standard story if false. Conspiracy theorists then slip in their preferred conspiracy narrative to take its place. Sometimes they are more coy, claiming to be “just asking questions” (also known as jaqing off), but their agenda is clear.

Genuine anomalies are of significant interest to science and any investigation, no question. For an apparent anomaly to be useful, however, mundane explanations need to be vigorously ruled out (conspiracy theorists tend to skip that part). Only when genuine attempts to explain apparent anomalies have failed to provide any plausible explanation should it be considered a true anomaly deserving of attention.

elmer moon anomalies_300pxAt that point the answer to the anomaly is, “we currently don’t know,” not “it’s a conspiracy.”

The reason that anomalies, in and of themselves, are not very predictive that something unusual is going on, is that they represent one method of mining vast amounts of data looking for desired patterns. Conspiracy theorists, in essence, make the argument (or simply implication) that where there is smoke there is fire, and then offer apparent anomalies as the smoke. This is a false premise, however. If apparent anomalies count as smoke, then there is smoke everywhere, even without fires.

In other words, any historical event is going to have countless moving parts, curious details, apparent coincidences, and complex chains of contingency. Further, people themselves often have complex motivations contingent upon the quirky details of their lives. All of this is raw material for apparent anomalies. It would be remarkable if you couldn’t find apparent anomalies when combing through the details of an historical event.

Here are some of the alleged anomalies that moon hoax conspiracy theorists have pointed out over the years.

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Rumors of an asteroid impact in March 2014 are false.

no asteroid

No, Asteroid 2003 QQ47 Is NOT Going to Hit the Earth Next Week

By via slate.com

asteroid_250pxWell, it took three months, but we have our first notpocalypse of 2014!

Twitter, Facebook, and other social media are spreading a story that a large asteroid named 2003 QQ47 might impact the Earth next week, specifically on March 21, 2014.

Let me be very clear right away: Nope. It won’t. This story is totally wrong! Well, the asteroid does exist, but it won’t hit us next week, and in fact can’t hit the Earth for at least a century. The truth is the asteroid will safely pass us on March 26 of this year, never getting closer than 19 million kilometers (nearly 12 million miles)—about 50 times farther away than the Moon!

[…]

I’m pretty sure what’s happening here is that a very old story has been recycled and is getting spread around without anyone doing any fact-checking. It’s all over Twitter and got picked up credulously by some bigger venues like the Daily Mail, which posted it with the typically understated title of “Asteroid hurtles toward Earth.” What follows after that is a breathless and almost entirely incorrect article about 2003 QQ47 that seems to simply rehash information from more than a decade ago. Seriously.*

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For example, the Mail article says the asteroid is “newly discovered,” but in fact was first detected in 2003, 11 years ago! Hence its name, 2003 QQ47. It was found to be a near-Earth asteroid, or NEA, one that does sometimes get close to us. For a while after it was discovered it was thought to have a small chance of hitting Earth, with an impact probability in August 2014 of about 1 in 250,000. But by September 2003 new observations allowed a better trajectory to be calculated, and an impact in 2014 was ruled out. This happens quite often, where a new asteroid will have only a rough orbit calculated, and an impact has long but non-zero odds of hitting us. As more observations come in the chances of impact can actually increase briefly before dropping to zero.

This is what happened with QQ47 back in 2003. Got that? An impact in 2014, this year, was shown to be out of the question more than a decade ago and was even taken off JPL’s Sentry Risk page at that time, when it was found to have no potential Earth impacts for at least 100 years. We’re quite safe from this particular asteroid.

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Mystery of Mars ‘doughnut rock’ solved

(H/T: via skepticwars)

Scientists are baffled by the sudden appearance of a jelly doughnut-like rock that the Opportunity rover spotted in January 2014. These are images of the same location; the rock on the right was not there 12 days earlier. Researchers now believe the rover's wheels flicked the rock into its current spot.

Scientists are baffled by the sudden appearance of a jelly doughnut-like rock that the Opportunity rover spotted in January 2014. These are images of the same location; the rock on the right was not there 12 days earlier. Researchers now believe the rover’s wheels flicked the rock into its current spot.

By Elizabeth Landau via CNN.com

(CNN) — The “jelly doughnut” rock that seemed to appear out of nowhere on Mars last month did not fall out of an extraterrestrial pastry box.

The rock had been mysterious to scientists because Mars rover Opportunity photographed it in a spot where the rock had not been present just four days earlier. Steve Squyres, lead scientist of the Mars Exploration Rover mission, described it as a white rock with a dark red low spot in the middle. The rock, more than 1.5 inches wide, was named Pinnacle Island.

So where did it come from, then?

Drumroll please:

mars-marvin-the-martianResearchers now say Pinnacle Island is a piece of a larger rock, which Opportunity broke and moved with its wheel in early January. Further images from the rover reveal the original rock that the rover’s wheel must have struck.

“Once we moved Opportunity a short distance, after inspecting Pinnacle Island, we could see directly uphill an overturned rock that has the same unusual appearance,” said Ray Arvidson of Washington University in St. Louis, deputy principal directory of Opportunity, in a statement. “We drove over it. We can see the track. That’s where Pinnacle Island came from.”

No, that’s not as exciting as if the rock had crawled into view on its own or been dropped there by aliens. But now that this puzzle has been solved, the rover team plans to drive Opportunity south and uphill to look at exposed rock layers on a slope.

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