Tag 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:

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) – – –

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

By Amy Shira Teitel via YouTube

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 – – –

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

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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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The Mystery of the Sailing Stones in Death Valley

Benjamin RadfordBy Benjamin Radford via LiveScience

California’s remote, beautiful, and foreboding Death Valley has held a mystery for almost a century: it has stones that seem to move on their own, when no one is looking. It happens at Racetrack Playa, a dry lakebed known for its “sailing stones.” This effect occurs at a few other places as well, though Death Valley is the most famous spot.

Heavy rocks like these seem to slide across the surface of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park.

Heavy rocks like these seem to slide across the surface of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley National Park.

In their book “Mysteries of the World: Unexplained Wonders and Mysterious Phenomena,” Herbert Genzmer and Ulrich Hellenbrand state that “the perfectly flat, dry ground is scoured and scraped with paths that suggest these boulders are being moved along the ground… there is no indication of how this movement could have been brought about by outside forces, and no stone has ever been observed actually making its way across the ground.”

Not all of the stones in Death Valley move. Those that do only move every two to three years, and they don’t all move at the same time or in the same direction. In fact, some seem to have made abrupt 90-degree turns, judging from the tracks, which range from tens of feet to hundreds of feet long. Most of the stones are not huge boulders but instead range from about 6 to 18 inches (15 to 45 centimeters) in diameter.

Several theories have been proposed to explain this curious phenomenon, including some sort of localized, unknown magnetic effect. This theory has been discounted for a variety of reasons including that many of the stones do not contain significant amounts of magnetic elements such as iron, and that the stones should gradually assemble in one place — which they don’t. Some have suggested that the strong winds that blow through the area might move the rocks after the lakebed has become slick.

The most likely solution to the mystery involves a combination of wind, temperature and water. Although Racetrack Playa is a dry lakebed, it is not always dry; in fact, water collects on the surface after rainfall or when snow from surrounding peaks melts. Brian Dunning, a California researcher who discussed this mystery on his Skeptoid podcast, notes that when water is present and the temperature falls below freezing — as it sometimes does — a thin sheet of ice is created: “Solid ice, moving with the surface of the lake and with the inertia of a whole surrounding ice sheet, would have no trouble pushing a rock along the slick muddy floor… As the wind shifts and the flow ebbs, these ice floes drag the rocks across the slippery mud surface in zig-zagging paths, even moving heavy rocks and sometimes dragging some but washing past others nearby.”

NASA researcher Ralph Lorenz became intrigued by the enigmatic stones while studying Death Valley weather conditions. He developed a tabletop experiment to show how the rocks might glide across the surface of the lakebed.

Ralph Lorenz’s home experiment

Ralph Lorenz’s home experiment

“I took a small rock and put it in a piece of Tupperware, and filled it with water so there was an inch of water with a bit of the rock sticking out,” Lorenz told Smithsonian.com.

After putting the container in the freezer, Lorenz ended up with a small slab of ice with a rock embedded in it. By placing the ice-bound rock in a large tray of water with sand at the bottom, all he had to do was gently blow on the rock to get it to move across the water. And as the ice-embedded rock moved, it scraped a trail in the sand at the tray’s bottom.

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Video via inFact with Brian Dunning (YouTube)

Strange Lights in Mars Photos Are Not Alien Bonfires

Click image for larger view

Click image for larger view

By Nadia Drake via National Geographic

Recent photos taken by NASA’s Mars rover might appear to show a gleaming alien bonfire burning in the distance—at least according to some Internet loonies—but that’s not exactly what’s happening.

Fact is, there still isn’t any evidence for life on Mars. None.

MarsPhoto2_300pxThe provocative, shiny smears of light appear in two images snapped by rover Curiosity’s navigation camera, one on April 2 and the other on April 3, provoking excitement among some in the UFO-spotting crowd.

The photos come courtesy of the camera’s right eye and show nearly vertical bright smudges emerging from a spot near the horizon. Photos of the same spot shot by the camera’s left eye, meanwhile, show no such things.

Rather than emanating from an underground Martian disco, the bright spots are probably caused by cosmic rays colliding with the rover’s camera or by glinting rocks reflecting the Martian sunlight, said NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory’s Justin Maki, lead imaging scientist for the Curiosity team.

He said that glimmers appearing in similar spots on two consecutive days are oddly coincidental.

Cosmic Rays

It turns out that both cosmic rays and glinting rocks are pretty common on Mars. They’ve been spotted before. Such rocks have been seen in images sent by several of NASA’s Mars rovers, and cosmic rays appear in images that Curiosity sends to Earth each week.

CosmicRays_225pxMaki said that one percent of those hundreds of weekly images might include cosmic ray-induced bright spots. But the junked-up pixels normally don’t cause much of a stir.

“You’ll see cosmic rays every two or three days. Certainly at least once a week,” Maki said. “The reason we see so many is because Mars’s atmosphere is thinner: It doesn’t block as much cosmic radiation as Earth’s does.”

Cosmic rays are charged particles that fly through the universe in every direction all the time. Every so often they’ll collide with something like a camera. One sign of a cosmic ray hit, Maki said, is the appearance of the ray in images taken by one of Curiosity’s eyes but not the other.

Glinting rocks, on the other hand, could easily reflect Martian sunlight.

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10 Insane Conspiracy Theories About Stanley Kubrick

By Morris M. via Listverse

You know how the world occasionally seems to pick a celebrity to project all its insecurities and collective insanity onto? Stanley Kubrick was that guy on steroids. Ever since his death in 1999, conspiracy theorists have been working overtime to implicate the portly genius in all sorts of shady shenanigans. We’ve already told you about the guys who think Kubrick faked the moon landings and hid clues in his film The Shining. Little did we know that was just the tip of the world’s craziest iceberg.

10 • His Films Are Warnings About A NASA Sex Cult

147087233_250pxIf you’ve never heard of the Saturn Death Cult, prepare to have your mind blown. A sort of hyper-evil Illuminati crossed with whatever it is David Icke keeps going on about, they’ve infiltrated every organization on Earth to prepare us for the next stage in interstellar evolution—an evolution they intend to bring about by having sex with lots of children. Sound insane? Well get this: Stanley Kubrick supposedly spent his entire life warning us about them.

The theory goes that while faking the moon-landings for NASA, Kubrick became aware of the fiendish, Saturn-worshipping sex cult at the heart of America’s space race. He then set about littering his films with coded warnings alerting us to their existence. 2001: A Space Odyssey was supposed to contain references to the planet Saturn before Warner Bros changed it to Jupiter; Eyes Wide Shut deals with an evil, worldwide sex-cult; AI was originally about the “sort of person” who would want to buy a non-aging, 12-year-old robot boy slave; Lolita warns us about the existence of a child-grooming network.

Sure, that last one was released years before Kubrick allegedly became aware of all this, but why bother with stuff like chronology when we’ve got a salacious cult on our hands?

9 • The Shining Is About Abandoning The Gold Standard

122434924_250pxThe film Room 237 recently made waves by exposing a whole host of the crazy conspiracy theories focused around The Shining. But there were a couple of theories too insane even for a documentary about insanity. Our favorite is the theory that the entire film is a secret mockery of Woodrow Wilson for abandoning the gold standard.

Let’s back up and look at the clues. Several of The Shining’s key scenes are set in something called “the Gold Room.” In one such scene, Jack Nicholson tries to buy a drink from the bartender, only to be told his money is no good and it’s “orders from the house.” Colonel Edward Mandell House is the man who convinced Woodrow Wilson to drop the standard and make American money worthless. But wait, how do we know Jack is meant to represent Wilson? Simple: Jack has terrible typing skills and in 1913 the New York Times mocked Wilson for that very same defect.

But the real kicker comes in the film’s final shot. In a photograph dated July 4th, 1921, we see Jack Nicholson surrounded by people waving at the camera. July 4th, 1921 also happens to be exactly two months after Wilson retired, and the guy standing behind Jack in the photo looks just like Wilson (sort of, if you squint). There you have it: final proof that the Shining is really a satire on economics.

8 • 2001: A Space Odyssey Proves The Existence Of Aliens

Star-Child_250pxFor a film ostensibly about aliens influencing mankind’s development, 2001: A Space Odyssey doesn’t actually have much in the way of space creatures. But that hasn’t stopped some people from seeing it for what it really is. Far from being a seminal sci-fi masterpiece, 2001 is secretly proof of the existence of extra-terrestrials.

This particular theory is an offshoot of the “Kubrick faked the moon landings” one. Starting with the premise that Neil Armstrong was really bouncing around a soundstage somewhere, it asks why a great director might fake one of the most important events in history and comes up with a suitably bizarre answer—aliens beat us to it.

That’s right, the moon landings were really a reconnaissance trip to find evidence of alien tech, hence the need for a fake “public” version. We know Kubrick knew about this because 2001 is chock full of hidden references to alien abductions. The hyper-60s LSD trip taken through the monolith at the end is really a metaphor for people being kidnapped by space aliens, taken from government files which were still top secret at the time. Somehow (while faking the moon landings, no doubt) Kubrick got hold of these files and placed the experiences in 2001 as a “big reveal” for mankind. And we all thought it was just a revolutionary blockbuster.

7 • His Final Film Was Re-edited By Evil Cultists

100119225_250pxWhen Kubrick died in 1999, he’d only just finished editing his final film. Released after his death, Eyes Wide Shut has gained a reputation as the “unfinished” Kurbrick film, despite its creator hanging on just long enough to oversee the final cut. Or at least he would have, if occult New World Order types in league with Warner Bros hadn’t secretly re-edited it after his death.

Yep: The slightly perplexing/disappointing film we saw at the cinema wasn’t Kubrick’s original cut. In scenes that Warner Bros now refuses to release, the director apparently expounded at some length on the existence of real messed-up cults just like the one in the film. To protect the nefarious leaders of these cults, Warner Bros quietly had the picture re-edited—and now denies this ever happened.

But what sort of crazy cult could wield its power like that? What sort of insane organization would be so precious over a simple movie? We’re glad you asked:

6 • Eyes Wide Shut Is About Scientology

Eyes-wide-shut_2_250pxWe’re going to go out on a limb here and guess you’ve heard of Scientology. Hollywood’s biggest “religion” is everything a creepy cult should be: secretive, convicted of international fraud, and seemingly fronted by Tom Cruise. The same Tom Cruise who just happened to be the star of Kubrick’s final film.

Thanks to this Cruise connection, a lot of people are convinced that Eyes Wide Shut is really a thinly-veiled warning about Scientology. Aside from the film featuring a shady society of no-good rich types, there’s the fact that Kubrick himself had a personal interest in the cult—his daughter Vivian vanished into its clutches in 1998 and hasn’t spoken to her family since. In a long article on the subject, critic Laurent Vachaud has even gone so far as to say everything that happens in the film is a metaphor for Kubrick losing his daughter, right up to the apparent kidnapping of Tom Cruise’s daughter at the end of the film.

Unfortunately, the claims don’t stand up to much scrutiny. Vivian didn’t abandon her family until Eyes Wide Shut was already underway, far too late for major rewrites. Even then she was still in contact: Kubrick wanted her to write the score and she only dropped out at the very last second. It’s an interesting little theory, but a theory is definitely all it is.

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1969: A Space Odyssey: screenplay about Kubrick faking moon landing

By via slate.com

Conspiracy theories about Kubrick and the moon landing started circulating after the Apollo 11 mission, thanks to his film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Publicity shot for Barry Lyndon via Wikipedia

Conspiracy theories about Kubrick and the moon landing started circulating after the Apollo 11 mission, thanks to his film 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Publicity shot for Barry Lyndon via Wikipedia

Yesterday, when I saw the latest “Black List” of unproduced screenplays beloved by Hollywood execs, one title leapt off my computer screen: 1969: A Space Odyssey, or How Kubrick Learned to Stop Worrying and Land on the Moon. As anyone who has seen Room 237 knows, there is a conspiracy theory of long standing that Stanley Kubrick helped fake the moon landing. Here, to judge from its title—which, of course, pays homage to two Kubrick classics—was a screenplay that took that crazy notion and ran with it. Sounds fun!

So I emailed the screenwriter, Stephany Folsom.

“The theory that Stanley Kubrick faked the moon landing started circulating right after we landed on the moon in 1969,” Folsom told me, adding that she has “always been fascinated by conspiracy theories”—but also noting that “fascination” is very different from “belief.” “I love the idea that a group of people could be so organized to orchestrate what essentially is a giant con job, but I just don’t buy that people are that competent to execute something on so large a scale without someone dropping the ball or spilling the secret.”

Moon-Landing-Hoax_200pxShe began researching this particular theory after seeing the Stanley Kubrick exhibit at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She had “just participated in a NASA Social event, where members of the public can meet with astronauts and NASA scientists to learn about the latest space missions,” and these two “seemingly unrelated events” got her going. She wrote the script as “an homage to Stanley Kubrick’s work and space exploration.”

The title led to me to assume that the movie would be a comedy, perhaps a Dr. Strangelove-esque satire. But Folsom says it’s “mostly a drama,” albeit one with “some comedic moments.” The main character is “a female public affairs assistant in the Nixon administration” named Barbara, who is a composite of several women that were hired “as part of Nixon’s Task Force on Women’s Rights. Kubrick is the driving force of the script,” Folsom adds, “but the movie is really Barbara’s journey.”

I asked Folsom if the Kubrick estate might pose an obstacle to getting such a movie made. She replied simply that the script is “a cinematic love letter to his work.” And while she couldn’t tell me too much about where the screenplay stood in the development process, she did say that “things are happening.”

I hope so. This is a movie I would like to see.


[END]

Slow-Witted Conspiracy Theorist Convinced Government Behind NASA

Via The Onion


(Above video: The indescribably stupid conspiracy theorist says the U.S. government has been funneling money to NASA for years.)

BARRINGTON, RI — Calling it the most scandalous cover-up of the past half century, dim-witted conspiracy theorist Daniel Burgess told reporters Thursday he believes the U.S. government has, for years, been clandestinely exercising total control over the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The 34-year-old dullard cited a wealth of evidence he said proves “beyond a doubt” that every NASA project—from Project Mercury to the moon landings to the shuttle program—has been approved and bankrolled by the federal government.

“Follow the money and you’ll find out who pulls NASA’s puppet strings: Washington, D.C.,” the unfathomable moron said. “The arrangement goes way back, too. Do you think it’s a coincidence that when NASA went to the moon they just happened to plant an American flag there? Don’t tell me the feds had nothing to do with that. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were on the government’s payroll. All astronauts are.”

“Think about it: The funding has to come from somewhere,” continued Burgess, mentioning records he found online that suggest the federal budget included $16.9 billion for NASA in the year 2013 alone. “And they’ve been careless enough to leave a massive paper trail.”

Look very closely at the Apollo 7 Lunar Module Adapter and you can make out the initials “U.S.A.”
Just a coincidence?
Or further proof the U.S. government controls NASA?

The simpleminded dope said he also finds it “highly suspicious” that so many astronauts have been ex-military personnel who came up through the U.S. Air Force.

According to Burgess, all the evidence linking the government to the space program is “hidden in plain sight.” Speaking to reporters from the basement of his home, where he waded through copious binders of documents representing more than a decade’s worth of research, he alleged that “every single president since Dwight Eisenhower” has been complicit in NASA’s operation. Richard Nixon approved the development of Skylab, he said, and Bill Clinton conspired to allow the International Space Station to move forward.

“Kennedy was in on all of it, too—he was actually one of the main guys, right from the start of his presidency,” said Burgess, pointing to several pictures of NASA administrator James Webb meeting with John F. Kennedy. “I’ve seen transcripts of his speeches, and I’m convinced: Kennedy knew. He knew about NASA the whole time. In the early ’60s, he talked about wanting to see a man on the moon ‘before this decade is out,’ and guess which organization did exactly that?”

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What is Project Blue Beam?

Via Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know – YouTube

For decades conspiracy theorists have accused the government of hiding evidence of aliens or imminent world disasters, but could the governments of the world actually be planning to fake an apocalypse? Tune in to learn more about Project Blue Beam.

Remember the 13th: Viral marketing silliness.

By via slate.com

[UPDATE (Oct. 4 at 21:00 UTC): WARNING: The “Remember the 13th” web page discussed below may be a scam, used by a company for phishing, a way to collect email addresses from people to sell to spammers. The site Android Malware Dump has the scoop. DO NOT ENTER YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS AT the “Remember the 13th” web page! In fact, don’t even visit the site; I’ve removed all links to it to be safe. Thanks to my friend James Kerwin for letting me know.]

I’m getting a lot of tweets and emails asking me about a mysterious website that’s popped up in the last few days. Called “Remember the 13th”, it purports to have huge news from NASA it will reveal:

“The biggest discovery that will shake the Earth, it will never be the same again. [sic]”

Photo from "Remember the 13th" web page.

Photo from “Remember the 13th” web page.

A lot of folks are assuming this is an official NASA webpage, because it uses the NASA logo, and says, “NASA has made a historic discovery that will shake the entire planet.” But note that nowhere on the page does it actually say it’s an official NASA page.

The one thing we can know for sure is that this is not an official NASA site. Being a government agency, NASA has to follow certain rules about websites, and this one has a few key indicators it’s not legit:

  • Official NASA sites are all part of the nasa.gov network, and this one isn’t.
  • WHOIS reports it’s registered through Panama. Hello. [UPDATE (Oct. 4 at 18:00 UTC): The actual ownership of the site is hidden using an anonymizing service, and it’s that service that reports the site is in Panama. But NASA would never use a service like this, so the argument stands.]
  • Official NASA sites don’t use the “.com” top-level domain.
  • All NASA sites are inaccessible right now due to the government shutdown.

Any one of those is enough to show this ain’t NASA.

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Is that a FEMA Camp? – September 22, 2013

Is that a FEMA Camp? is a blog dedicated to investigating claims of FEMA camp locations.
transparent
Below is some of their findings. Enjoy🙂
escape_to_camp_fema_sticker_250px

September 22, 2013 Edition

AFMETCAL_200pxNewark AFB, Ohio

The claim: Newark, 70

What it really is: The actual name of the facility is the Air Force Metrology and Calibration Program Office, and it is the primary manager of metrology services for the Air Force.

Mound Laboratory, Ohio

The claim: Miamisburg, 306

What it really is: Mound Laboratories was a Cold War nuclear weapons research facility. The facility was declared a Superfund site in 1989, and was eventually cleaned up.The facility has since closed and is now open for commercial development.

Fernald Environmental Management Project, Ohio

The claim: Fernald, 1,050

LogoRock8197D96_0_200pxWhat it really is: The Fernald Feed Materials Production Center was a uranium processing plant that made uranium fuel cores for nuclear weapons. The facility closed in 1989 and the surrounding area has since been turned into a nature preserve.The facility gained notoriety in 1984 when it was learned that the plant had been releasing millions of pounds worth of radioactive dust into the atmosphere, contaminating the surrounding area and costing $4.4 billion to clean up the site.

Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota

The claim: 25 B61-7 gravity bombs; 60 B83 gravity bombs, Emerado, 5,418 (missile field covers an additional 8,500 sq. miles)

What it really is: The Grand Forks Air Force Base is your typical Air Force base out in the middle of no where with nothing that you wouldn’t typically find on any other Air Force base.

Cavalier AFS, North Dakota

621px-Air_Force_Space_Command_200pxThe claim: Concrete, ?

What it really is: Cavalier Air Force Station is a small Air Force facility with both members from the US and Canadian military stationed there, as well as civilian employees.The station monitors for and tracks potential missile launches against North America, as well as tracks half of all Earth orbiting objects.

Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina

The claim: Goldsboro, 3,233

What it really is: Seymour Johnson Air Force Base is basically your typical Air Force base.After looking at the base via Google maps I can find nothing there that resembles a prison camp or anything that one would not find on an Air Force base.

Seneca Army Depot, New York

The claim: Romulus, ?

11730132-large_200pxWhat it really is: Seneca Army Depot was closed in 2000, and is now under control by numerous private industries, and as for the state the site hosts the Five Points Correctional Facility and the Seneca County Law Enforcement Center.Currently there is much discussion on what to do with the rest of the land, being that much of it is dotted with concrete storage bunkers that were used to store munitions.

Plattsburgh AFB, New York

The claim: Plattsburgh, 4,879

What it really is: Plattsburgh Air Force Base was closed in 1995 and is now a civilian airport called the Plattsburgh International Airport, and a industrial complex.

Niagara Falls Storage Site, New York

niagarafallsThe claim: Lewiston, 191

What it really is: The Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station (it’s actual name) is an Air Force reserve base that shares runways with the Niagara Falls International Airport.Currently the only aircraft stationed at the base are C-130 transport planes.

Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory, New York

The claim: Niskayuna and West Milton, 4,070

What it really is: The Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory is a research and development facility dedicated to the research, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the US Navy’s nuclear powered warships.

Click here for the latest findings at “Is that a FEMA Camp?”

The chemtrail conspiracy nonsense

by via Scripturient: Blog & Commentary

chem trails unveiled_250pxScientists need not apply for membership in the Chemtrail Conspiracy. In fact, scientists will probably be booted out for even walking on the same street where the meeting is being held. That’s because scientists would shine a light into the utter darkness of this nutty conspiracy. According to Wikipedia:

The chemtrail conspiracy theory holds that some trails left by aircraft are chemical or biological agents deliberately sprayed at high altitudes for purposes undisclosed to the general public in clandestine programs directed by various government officials.[1] This theory is not accepted by the scientific community, which states that they are just normal contrails, as there is no scientific evidence supporting the chemtrail theory.

Okay, so does it make sense to you that millions of people are involved in some bizarre worldwide conspiracy that involves every level of government, the military, the medical community, meteorologists, scientists AND private industry in numerous countries simultaneously, and not ONE has ever become a whistle blower? Not ONE has ever gone public with PROOF?

As Skeptoid notes,

Like all conspiracy theories, chemtrails require us to accept the existence of a coverup of mammoth proportions. In this case, virtually every aircraft maintenance worker at every airport in the world needs to be either part of the conspiracy, or living under a threat from Men in Black, with not a single whistle blower or deathbed confession in decades. Or that for all the thousands of traditional media outlets around the world that have the resources and willingness to do solid investigative journalism, not a single one has dredged up as much as a single provable fact that this isn’t just a self-inflicted mass delusion?

chemtrail UFO culprit_250pxCome on – this chemtrail stuff is so wacky it makes creationism and Scientology look smart. But hey, silliness was never a barrier to joining the tin foil hat brigade:

Due to the popularity of the conspiracy theory, official agencies have received thousands of complaints from people who have demanded an explanation. The existence of chemtrails has been repeatedly denied by scientists around the world, who say the trails are normal contrails. The United States Air Force states that the theory is a hoax which “has been investigated and refuted by many established and accredited universities, scientific organizations, and major media publications.” The United Kingdom’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has stated that chemtrails are not scientifically recognized phenomena.

In case you wonder where all those folks who believed in the Mayan apocalypse have gone, look no further. They’re filling the internet with more pseudoscientific-conspiracy drivel about how the government is trying to sterilize you, pacify you, experiment on you, make you sick, control the weather, vaccinate you, infect us with nanobot implants, fight global warming, cause global warming, geo-engineering, or make us mindless slaves to the New World Order – or maybe a combination of them, since no two conspiracy theorists seem to agree on WHY anyone would do this (let alone how).

chemcloud_200pxBut the wingnuts are True Believers even if what they believe in is clearly outside the realm of common sense:

So here we are in 2012 and the level of verifiable evidence of Chem Trails and their effect on humanity is staggering, and as more of us become more sophisticated , more awake , more expanded in our ability to see the larger picture , we are starting to put the pieces of the puzzle together as to “Why” they are doing this.

The reason of course is money , profits, and control , so nothing new here, just more sophisticated control mechanisms to manipulate markets, food sources and ultimately the ability to produce food. It turns out that the main reason for the development of weather modification , Chem Trails, HAARP , is to create a situation that puts normal crops at a sever disadvantage through droughts and other extreme weather.

chemtrail cat_250pxEvery expert in aviation and, weather must be in on the cabal, because they only make statements about how ludicrous the theory is:

Experts on atmospheric phenomena deny the existence of chemtrails, asserting that the characteristics attributed to them are simply features of contrails responding differently in diverse conditions in terms of the sunlight, temperature, horizontal and vertical wind shear, and humidity levels present at the aircraft’s altitude. Experts explain that what appears as patterns such as grids formed by contrails result from increased air traffic traveling through the gridlike United States National Airspace System’s north-south and east-west oriented flight lanes, and that it is difficult for observers to judge the differences in altitudes between these contrails from the ground. The jointly published fact sheet produced by NASA, the EPA, the FAA, and NOAA in 2000 in response to alarms over chemtrails details the science of contrail formation, and outlines both the known and potential impacts contrails have on temperature and climate. The USAF produced a fact sheet as well that described these contrail phenomena as observed and analyzed since at least 1953. It also rebutted chemtrail theories more directly by identifying the theories as a hoax and denying the existence of chemtrails.

I suppose people who can readily believe that crop circles are alien messages, aliens crashed at Roswell, or that flu vaccines cause autism, can believe in chemtrails. Once you start drinking the pseudoscience Kool-Aid, it’s hard not to drain the glass and ask for more.

Here’s a quote from one of those crazy Kool-Aid drinker sites:

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The UFO that buzzed the ISS yesterday has been identified

via The UFO that buzzed the ISS yesterday has been identified.

Early yesterday morning, NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy was peering through a window aboard the International Space Station when he spotted something strange and unidentifiable coursing through space alongside the orbital outpost.

When he couldn’t discern for himself what the mysterious object was, Cassidy phoned home to mission control. At first, they didn’t know either, but NASA reported later that day that they’d sussed it out.

“Earlier this morning (Aug. 19), Chris Cassidy had noted an object that was floating past the station near the station’s Progress 52 cargo ship,” said the NASA TV narrator. “That object has been identified by Russian flight controllers as an antenna cover from the Zvezda service module.”

h/t Ian O’Neill, who originally had his money on a Tribble invasion.

Five Stupid Things About Moon Landing Conspiracy Theories

I must issue a mild language warning – PG rating🙂


By Steve Shives via YouTube.

Is there a group of conspiracy theorists more deluded and irritating and offensively irrational than the 9/11 Truthers? I think so. Their name? Well . . . I don’t know all their names, there’s too many of them — collectively, let’s call them the Moon Landing Hoaxers. And they believe some pretty stupid things.

Extensive film and video footage of the Apollo Moon landings is available from NASA at:

http://www.hq.nasa.gov/alsj/frame.html

Lunar Anomalies (Stuff They Don’t Want You to Know)

Most people have already heard the most popular lunar conspiracy theory — that no one actually landed on the moon — but what about the rest? Tune in to learn more about other moon-based conspiracy theories, including lunar structures and UFO sightings.

MORE . . . Lunar Anomalies – CLASSIC – YouTube.

Don’t Fear the Supermoon, NASA Says | Biggest Full Moon 2013

by Miriam Kramer via Space.com

Seen from West Orange, New Jersey, the full moon hangs over the Manhattan skyline like a celestial clementine Sunday night. In general, the moon appears redder near the horizon, because its light is passing through more of our planet's thick atmosphere than when the moon is higher—the atmosphere tends to scatter blue light, letting mostly red wavelengths through. CREDIT: Gary Hershorn/Reuters

Seen from West Orange, New Jersey, the full moon hangs over the Manhattan skyline like a celestial clementine Sunday night. In general, the moon appears redder near the horizon, because its light is passing through more of our planet’s thick atmosphere than when the moon is higher—the atmosphere tends to scatter blue light, letting mostly red wavelengths through.
CREDIT: Gary Hershorn/Reuters

There is no reason for anybody to dread the largest full moon of 2013, known as the “supermoon,” a NASA scientist says.

On Sunday (June 23), the moon will reach perigee — the closest point to Earth in the rocky satellite’s orbit around the planet. Although some people have suggested that the supermoon might drive people crazy, cause natural disasters and wreak havoc on the tides, there is scant evidence in support of those claims, NASA assures.

NASA planetary geologist Noah Petro said today (June 21) that while the tides might be slightly higher because of the moon’s close approach, it won’t make a noticeable difference for the average observer. The only thing that humans might experience this weekend is a good lunar show. [Amazing Supermoon Photos of 2012]

“There should be no impact on anybody on the Earth,” Petro said during a series of televised interviews on NASA TV. “There should be nothing unusual except maybe for more people staring up at the moon, which should be a wonderful thing.”

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10 Astounding Examples of Pareidolia In Outer Space

Patrick Weidinger via Listverse

Ever look at clouds and see a rabbit or a dog?  Or pop out a piece of toast and see the partially burnt face of Jesus looking at you? 

This bizarre experience is called pareidolia—a psychological phenomenon whereby a sight or sound triggers something in your brain, persuading you that what you hear or see is something recognizable.

One well-known example of pareidolia involves seeing “the man in the moon”. But there are many more examples of pareidolia in space—and as our robots, spacecraft, and telescopes take more and more images, we’re discovering more space pareidolia daily. Here are ten of the most astounding examples:

10 • Horsehead Nebula – Orion

ic434_mtm_200pxOne of the oldest and most familiar examples of space pareidolia is the horsehead nebula, or Barnard 33, which is a cold and dark cloud of dust and gas silhouetted by the bright nebula IC 434. The Horsehead Nebula is located in the constellation Orion, and appears to be a side-on view of a horsehead.

First noted in 1888, it is 1,500 light years from Earth. The dark shadowing of the Horsehead Nebula is created by dust, but at the base of the nebula you can see bright spots which are young stars just being formed. The bright star just visible in the top left side of the horsehead is a young star still embedded in the stellar nursery of gas and dust. The radiation from this young star is so powerful that it s starting to erode the cloud – so millions of years in the future, the Horsehead Nebula may not bear any resemblance to its current form.

9 • The Face on Mars – Mars

pio_med_200pxAnother very well-known example of pareidolia in space is Cydonia Mensae, or “The Face on Mars”. On July 25, 1976, NASA released a series of images snapped by the Viking spacecraft orbiters. These images depicted the Cydonia Mensae region of Mars—a region of flat-topped mesa-like formations. The first image showed what appeared to be a human face looking skyward. This was originally dismissed as a trick of shadowing on the Martian rocks; a subsequent image, however, likewise showed what would become known as The Face on Mars—even with the sun at a different angle.

These images sparked decades of speculation about the possibility of life on Mars, and prompted talk of advanced civilizations which may have left behind giant, human-like memorials on the planet.

Twenty years later, however, Mars was visited by three more spacecraft which orbited the planet and took higher resolution images.  These better quality images proved that what appeared to be a giant statue of a human face was simply a normal Martian mountain, which—when seen with the correct shadowing and illumination—created pareidolia in the minds of the observers.

8 • Tinker Bell or The Space Hummingbird – Three Galaxies

eso0755a_200pxIn an amazing image captured by the European Southern Observatory (ESO) Very Large Telescope, we can observe the collision of three different galaxies. Most interestingly, we can note the effect that each of them is having on the others. As the three galaxies collided, they have twisted, stretched, and pulled one other into a recognizable shape.  Is it Tinker Bell or a Space Hummingbird?  Whichever you decide, it is certainly a beautiful image.

7 • The Elephant on Mars – Mars

Screen-Shot-2013-06-09-at-7.43.51-PM_200pxMars is home to many examples of pareidolia, largely due to the fact that—like the moon—it is so highly photographed. Either that, or Martians have just been busy creating human-like structures for such a very long time. You decide.

Another example is the “Elephant Face”, which resembles an elephant head in profile, complete with an eye and an elongated elephant trunk. The image was taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and was intended to capture a lava flow in Elysium Planitia.

6 • The Crowned Face – Mars

Screen-Shot-2013-06-09-at-7.45.11-PM_200pxIt seems to me that “The Face on Mars” looks more like the human alien in the film “Prometheus” than any real human. But another pareidolia on Mars, located in the Libya Montes region, looks more genuinely human.

It appears to be an almost classical Greek or Roman face, complete with a crown, and it is often imaginatively referred to as “The Crowned Face”. Remarkably, most people can “see” the Libya Montes face in many different kinds of light.

MORE . . .

10 Interesting Attempts To Communicate With Aliens

By S. Grant via Listverse

alien-contact_125pxFor hundreds—if not thousands—of years, people have had a fascination with trying to make contact with extra terrestrials. So far, all the messages we’ve sent into the universe have gone unanswered—and judging by the confusing, random, and downright weird transmissions you’ll find in this list, it might be a good thing if our communications continue to go unnoticed. If any intelligent life does intercept these varied signals, it’s difficult to know what kind of impression they’ll have of humanity—but it’s a fair bet they’ll think we’re pretty strange.

10 • Crop Triangles and Burning Canals

crop circle_250pxWhile people often associate crop circles with communication from aliens, some of the earliest forms of crop circles were actually made by people trying to contact extraterrestrials. For instance, in the 1820s, German mathematician Carl Friedrich concluded that the best way to converse with aliens would be to make a message they could see from above. Naturally, he ventured into the Siberian forest and systematically cut down trees to make a massive triangular shape, and inside the triangle he planted wheat. He also transmitted multiple “sky telegraphs,” which involved using a heliotrope (his own invention) to reflect sunlight towards other planets.

Two decades later, astronomer Joseph Von Littrow, who thought the moon was inhabited, came up with the idea of digging huge symbol-shaped trenches in the Sahara Desert, filling them with oil, and lighting them on fire at night. He hoped that the bright flames would alert space beings of our presence on Earth. Both Littrow and Friedrich assumed that geometric shapes were the ideal way to connect with an alien, since it’s believed that mathematical principles are consistent throughout the universe.

9 • Concentrated Light

Concentrated Light_250pxAfter seeing pinpoints of light on Mars and Venus (probably meteorological phenomena), French inventor Charles Cros came to believe he had witnessed lights from distant, other worldly cities. So in 1869, he took Carl Friedrich’s ideas a step further by using parabolic mirrors to direct light from electric lamps towards other planets. Using something like Morse code, Cros flashed his lights on and off in an intentional pattern which he hoped would be recognized by another intelligent being.

He was doubtful that the small mirrors would be effective, but said that if they did happen to work, “It will be a moment of joy and pride. The eternal isolation of the spheres is vanquished.”

Not unexpectedly, Cros didn’t hear back from the Martians. Despite this setback, he repeatedly petitioned the French government to build a massive mirror capable of burning giant shapes into the deserts of Mars and Venus. For more than one reason (mainly because it was impossible, and also because starting a fire on another planet probably isn’t the best way to say “hello”), the French government didn’t honor Cros’ request, and he was never able to fulfill his dream of alien contact.

8 • Pioneer Plaque

Pioneer10-plaque_250pxIn the early 1970s, NASA launched two space probes, Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, with the mission of exploring the large gas planets, the asteroid belt, and the outer reaches of the solar system. In addition to outfitting the spacecrafts with an array of scientific instruments, the astronauts also thought it would be a good idea to tack on a message to extraterrestrials—because after all, you never know.

Famed astronomers Carl Sagan and Frank Drake designed the Pioneer Plaque. The plaque is a six inch by nine inch gold anodized tablet, depicting diagrams of the universe (just in case the aliens need a map), a schematic of hydrogen (the most plentiful element in the universe), as well as pictures of a couple of naked people—once again, why not? Identical copies of the plaque were bolted to the frames of each spacecraft.

NASA lost contact with Pioneer 10 in 2003 and then Pioneer 11 in 2005, and while they both provided loads of insight about our solar system, we’ve yet to answer the big question: can aliens understand our bizarre drawings? Some argue that the symbols are too abstract for an alien intelligence to comprehend, while others worry that we’re giving potentially dangerous life forms a direct map to our planet. Indeed, some also fear that the nude images make humans seem a little pervy. And of course, all of the above groups are outnumbered by those who believe that the whole business is a big waste of time and taxpayer money. Until a little green guy shows up, plaque in hand, thanking us for the directions—we’ll never know.

7 • Arecibo Message

arecibo at-6.51.00-PM_250pxAround the same time as the Pioneer launches, astronomers were also toying with the idea of using focused, amplified radio waves to connect with unearthly beings. They knew that radio waves were less affected by cosmic dust than light, and they also figured out how to direct radio waves at targeted points many light years into space. For these reasons, it seemed that radio was the best way to reach out into the depths of the universe and deliver a message.

Once again, Frank Drake and Carl Sagan teamed up to concoct another human-to-alien communication. This time their message consisted of seven parts, including an image of a human, the structure of DNA, atomic numbers of common elements, and the numbers one to ten. They transmitted the communication in binary digits, with all the zeroes and ones represented by two different frequencies. Incidentally, the images ended up looking like something out of an Atari game, so if the aliens ever decode the signal they may simply think we’re big fans of 80s video games, and decide to avoid us.

In 1974, astronomers used the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico to direct the message towards star cluster M13, which is home to an abundance of stars and therefore has a better chance of containing intelligent life. The only downside to M13’s location is that it’s 21,000 light years away—so if an alien ever does send a radio reply, it will take us more than forty thousand years to get it.

MORE . . .

‘Mars Rat’ Takes Internet by Storm

by Mike Wall via Space.com

A Mars rock that bears a passing resemblance to a rodent is scuttling across the Internet with gusto, even inspiring some fans to set up a Twitter account in its name.

UFO buffs spotted the purported “Mars rat” in a panoramic photo snapped in September 2012 by NASA’s Curiosity rover. Zooming in on a portion of the image reveals what appears to be a rodent crouching between two rocks, its nose to the ground.

Once seen, it cannot be unseen. The “Mars rat” captured by Curiosity’s lens.
CREDIT: NASA | View full size image

“It’s a cute rodent on Mars. Note its lighter-color upper and lower eyelids, its nose and cheek areas, its ear, its front leg and stomach,” Scott Waring wrote at UFO Sightings Daily back in December. “Looks similar to a squirrel camouflaged in the stones and sand by its colors.”

In an update to that post, Waring raised the possibility that NASA flew the rat/squirrel to Mars secretly, as part of an experiment testing out the Red Planet’s ability to support life as we know it.

“Why would they not tell us about it?” Waring wrote. “Because the squirrel would be expected to die eventually and that would get PETA [People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals] to fight against them in a court of law.”

The Mars rat has now gone viral, jumping from the pages of UFO Sightings Daily to more mainstream publications such as Discovery News, Fox News and a host of other outlets (including, of course, SPACE.com).

The rodent has even picked up its own Twitter account, @RealMarsRat. Just 49 people were following the rat as of Friday afternoon (May 31), but that’s still pretty good for a rodent.

While some people seem to really believe that a squirrel is crawling around on the Red Planet (or was in September, anyway), the Mars rodent is actually an example of a psychological phenomenon called pareidolia.

Pareidolia refers to the tendency of the human brain to perceive animals or other familiar shapes in vague or random images. The phenomenon has fueled a great deal of excited speculation about the Red Planet over the years, most famously after some people saw a humanoid face on Mars in photos taken by NASA’s Viking 1 orbiter in 1976.

And just this March, UFO Sightings Daily reported that an apparent animal, perhaps a rat or a lizard, lurked in another one of Curiosity’s photos.

It’s highly unlikely that a rat, squirrel, lizard or any other organism could survive on the cold, dry Martian surface today, researchers say, though some scientists think the Red Planet may still be able to support microbial life in select underground pockets.

Things were likely different in Mars’ wetter and warmer past, however. Curiosity’s observations led mission scientists to announce earlier this year that microbes could have survived on the Red Planet billions of years ago.

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally published on SPACE.com.

The Face on Mars

A great example of pareidolia

face-on-mars2

Via Relatively Interesting

Back in 1976, the Viking Orbiter 1 acquired some images of the Cydonia region of Mars as part of the search for a potential landing site for the Viking Lander 2.  One of the images included a shot of a region that looked remarkably similar to a face. The image was released to the public by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory as part of their public relations effort.

Here it is:

face-on-mars_250px

Shortly after the images were released, some people (mostly in lay literature) argued that the face was artificially created, and that this was concrete evidence for either past or present intelligence on Mars. The rock formation looked so similar to a face – how could it not have been designed by an intelligent architect?

Some believe the face was created by Martians, others say it is a tomb, or part of an ancient city. Others believe that NASA is involved in a conspiracy to cover up the true nature of the Face – all part of a secret space program (then why would they have released the picture in the first place?).

Mac Tonnies goes so far as to say that the Face is a “genuine scientific enigma”. After NASA released new images of the Face in 1998, he claims that the “experts either don’t understand the workings of their own instruments or else feel somehow threatened by the Face’s enduring mystery.” (you can check out his very centered site here)

“Scientific enigma”, the Face is not.

Introducing…. Pareidolia

Humans – all humans – have an innate ability to detect patterns out of seemingly random noise. This ability is particularly strong when it comes to faces. As David Hume once said, “There is an universal tendency among mankind to conceive all beings like themselves, and to transfer every object, those qualities, with which they are familiarly acquainted, and of which they are intimately conscious. We find human faces in the moon, armies in the clouds; and by a natural propensity, if not corrected by experience and reflection, ascribe malice or good will to everything, that hurts or pleases us.

This phenomenon – detecting something clear and distinct from an apparently obscure stimulus – is called “pareidolia“. Carl Sagan hypothesized that, as a survival technique, human beings are “hard-wired” from birth to identify the human face. This allows people to use only minimal details to recognize faces from a distance and in poor visibility but can also lead them to interpret random images or patterns of light and shade as being faces.

pareidolia-collage_600px

Pareidolia not only applies to the detection of faces, but also to the perception of religious imagery and themes. In 1978, a New Mexican woman found that the burn marks on her tortilla she had made appeared similar to the face of Jesus Christ. Thousands of people came to see the burnt tortilla. Do think that if Son of God wanted to be seen, he would appear on a tortilla? Or the Virgin Mary, on a grilled cheese sandwich? Wouldn’t they pick something a little more majestic?

Revisiting the Face on Mars

But first, let’s revisit the Face on Mars. Back in 1976, the imaging technology was inferior to today’s, and the resolution of the images was significantly lower. Even compared to 1998, the resolution of space images has increased dramatically. Let’s compare the Face from lowest to highest resolution:

MarsFaceComparison

The 1976 version sure does look like a face, and if you strain your eyes, you might still see a face in the 1998 version. But what about the 2001 version?  Not so much.

Let’s look even closer at the 2001 version, just to be sure . . .

MORE . . .

UFOs Over Texas: Unidentified Floating Fireballs?

By Benjamin Radford via LiveScience

aliens-ufo_300pxA strange sight in the Texas night sky over the weekend had many people talking about fireballs and alien invasions. But, alas, the real culprit has been identified, a much more Earthly one.

Police in East Liberty County got a 911 emergency call at around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday from a person reporting “red fireballs in the sky.” Responding police officers, along with a dozen locals, described seeing four orange lights moving slowly in a line high in the sky. Police scopes revealed that the objects looked like hot air balloons — complete with flames — but were much smaller and did not have the signature gondola at the bottom.

Even more mysteriously, the lights were estimated to only be a few thousand feet off the ground, and yet they moved silently. No known airplane or helicopter technology could fly that low and remain so quiet. Within minutes the UFOs were gone, having disappeared into the night. They didn’t fly away but instead simply blinked out of existence; some eyewitnesses thought they had vanished behind a passing cloud and would reappear at any moment, but they never did.

Even so, the sighting wasn’t over: A second batch of the strange lights soon appeared, in an identical line and in a more or less identical formation, until they too vanished in the same pattern. Baffled police contacted the National Weather Bureau, the Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies, though none of them could shed light on the mystery. No unusual aircraft appeared on radar, and though weather balloons had been launched earlier that day, they were not aloft in the area at that time — and in any event did not match the UFOs description. The National UFO Reporting Center was also contacted, though they had no information to offer.

The Unidentified Flying Objects became IFOs when members of a nearby wedding party informed police that the floating, flaming objects were paper lanterns lit just after their ceremony. Such Chinese lanterns are made of lightweight paper and a candle that provides the heat that lifts the lanterns as well as the light that makes them glow.

That explains why there was no aircraft engine sound, and the flame-like appearance. Each lantern represented a wish made by each of the guests for the new couple. The newlyweds apologized if their wish lanterns scared anyone, and the sheriff took it in stride but noted that the lanterns might pose a fire threat, and asked the public to notify police before lighting such lanterns in the future.

This is not the first time that paper lanterns have sparked UFO reports.

MORE . . .

Also See: UFOs & Psychic Powers: Top 10 Unexplained Phenomena

Surface of the Sun As You’ve Never Seen It (Geek Alert!)

Yes. I am geeking out.🙂

To help you appreciate the sheer awesomeness of the following video, consider just how large the Sun is compared to our humble earth. Do note this image only compares the sizes of the Earth and the Sun, it does not depict how close the Earth is to the Sun. If we were actually this close to the sun our popcorn would be popping whether we wanted it to or not.

If the Sun were hollow, it would take approximately 1,000,000 Earths to fill the Sun!
[Source: NASA]
(Click image for larger view)
Click here for another great comparison image.

I recommend viewing fullscreen in HD. Enjoy🙂

This extraordinary video looks back on the 3rd year of operation of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. Since its launch in 2010, SDO’s data and imagery have exceeded everyone’s hopes and expectations, providing stunningly detailed views of the sun. The observatory has continued to return breathtaking pictures and movies of eruptive events on the sun. These images are more than just pretty. By highlighting different wavelengths of light, scientists can track how material on the sun moves. Such movement, in turn, holds clues as to what causes these giant explosions.

SDO is the first mission in a NASA’s Living With a Star program, the goal of which is to develop the scientific understanding necessary to address those aspects of the sun-Earth system that directly affect our lives and society.

On YouTube: Surface of the Sun As You’ve Never Seen It.

Why do some people believe the moon landings were a hoax?

moon_dog_600px

via How Stuff Works

Ever since NASA broadcast its visits to the moon between 1969 and 1972 to millions of people around Earth, conspiracy theorists have debated endlessly over ph­otographs and video of the journey. Judging by the dedication some have to the cause, the subject of whether or not the moon landings were a hoax rivals only the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the presence of Area 51 in popularity. The Fox Network even aired a television special in 2001, nearly 30 years after the last Apollo mission, titled “Conspiracy Theory: Did We Land on the Moon?”

Moon-Landing-Hoax-250pxPoring over every single detail for inconsistencies and potential government tampering, people who buy the moon landing conspiracy theory strive to prove NASA never went to the moon — instead, they believe the organization filmed a series of fake moon landings in a studio, complete with props, astronaut costumes and intricate lighting setups.

But why would NASA and the U.S. government pull off such a strange stunt? The moon landings took place during the Cold War and a tense point in the nuclear arms race, an era in which the two world superpowers, the United States and the Soviet Union (or what is now Russia), competed for technological superiority. Some believe that because sending astronauts into outer space and onto the moon would be incredibly expensive, the U.S. didn’t have enough money to complete the project. According to the conspiracy theorists, faking the moon landings would be much cheaper — if it were convincing enough, it could still send a message to Russia that the United States had the better technology.

What are some of the claims by the moon landing conspiracy theorists? What have they pointed out, and do their arguments have any validity? And what do scientists have to say about these conspiracy theories? To get answers to these questions and more, put on your tin foil hats and read the next page.

Discovery NASA: Apollo 8 Mission Overview

The Moon Landing Hoax Evidence

So what sort of evidence have conspiracy theorists gathered that might suggest the whole event was a fake? Nearly 40 years of research has given them some interesting points:

1. There aren’t any stars in the background.

One detail doubters often point to is the background of many of the NASA photos. In pictures of the moon’s landscapes, there aren’t any stars in the sky — it just looks like a big, black void of space. Since the moon has no atmosphere, shouldn’t there be millions of stars dotting the background of these photos? If the landings were faked on a studio stage, did the photographers make a huge mistake and just forget to “turn on” the stars?

Unfortunately for conspiracy theorists, the nature of photography strikes down their argument.

MORE . . .

Related: Conspiracy Theorist Convinces Neil Armstrong Moon Landing Was Faked

Meteorite Fall in Russia Hurts More than 500 People

via LiveScience

Hundreds of people are reportedly injured, and hundreds of buildings damaged, after a meteorite streaked across the sky above Russia’s Ural Mountains Friday morning (Feb. 15) and exploded in a massive blast.

The meteor explosion was centered around the Chelyabinsk region, which is about 930 miles (1,500 kilometers) east of Moscow.

Meteor_300pxMost of the hundreds injured were reportedly hurt by falling glass in the blast, 112 of whom have been hospitalized, due to cuts from the shattered glass resulting from the blast. In addition, an estimated 297 buildings were damaged, including six hospitals and 12 schools, according to translations of updates by the Russian Emergency Ministry.

Scientists think a meteoroid entered the atmosphere above Russia’s southern Chelyabinsk region, where it exploded and broke up into meteorites scattered across three regions of Russia and Kazakhstan, according to news reports. [Photos of Russia’s Meteor Fireball Blast]

“I would think that this is likely an exploding fireball (or bolide) event caused by the atmospheric impact of a small asteroid,” Don Yeomans, head of NASA’s Near-Earth Object Program, told SPACE.com. “If the reports of ground damage can be verified, it might suggest an object whose original size was several meters in extent before entering the atmosphere, fragmenting and exploding due to the unequal pressure on the leading side vs. the trailing side.”

Basically, Yeomans added, the meteor “pancaked and exploded.”

(A bolide is an extraterrestrial body ranging in size from 0.6 to 6 miles, or 1-10 km across that hits Earth at velocities faster than a speeding bullet, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.)

“This bolide event probably had nothing to do with the upcoming close Earth approach of asteroid 2012 DA14, which is due to pass closely (and safely) past the Earth at 19:24 GMT today,” or 2:24 p.m. ET, Yeomans wrote, adding that the Russian bolide trail did not travel south to north as the asteroid will.

“And the separation in time between the fireball and 2012 DA14 close approach is significant,” Yeomans said.

A large chunk of the space rock has reportedly been discovered in a lake in the Chelyabinsk region, CNN reports.

A report by the Russian television news agency Russia Today showed video of the meteor, which included what appears to be a fireball streaking across the sky from several vantage points. At times the object is so bright it casts shadows.

MORE . . . (includes more video)

Kepler Space Telescope Data Reveals Billions Of Earth-Like Planets Near Earth

r-REDDWARFANDEARTH-large570

via The Huffington Post

alien 1209_200px_200pxIf ET phones home today, his long distance charge might not be as much as people believed when Steven Spielberg‘s classic film came out three decades ago.

That’s because recent data from NASA’s Kepler space telescope suggests that billions of Earth-like planets are much closer than ever before imagined.

“The information we presented today will excite the general public because we now know that the nearest potentially Earth-like world is likely within 13 light years of the sun,” astronomer Courtney Dressing said in an email to The Huffington Post.

“Astronomically speaking, 13 light years is practically next door.”

While we don’t know if intelligent life exists on any of these planets, it raises the chances of that possibility.

Watch this video about the red dwarf suns and Earth-like planets:

The scientific team studied the huge number of red dwarf stars in our galaxy — stars that are smaller and have a longer life span than our own sun.

Just doing the math, the odds of Earth-like planets in our galaxy are, well, astronomical.

alien-photo_200pxScientists estimate 6 percent of the 75 billion red dwarf stars may have Earth-size planets orbiting them at a possible habitable distance. That works out to approximately 4.5 billion Earths out there.

“Before today, it could have been that Earth-like planets did not exist, or that they were so rare that the closest one would be beyond the reach of any telescope we might construct. Thus we would never know whether or not we were truly alone,” astronomer David Charbonneau told HuffPost in an email.

Charbonneau, co-author of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics study, acknowledges the intense interest the public has in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.

“I would say that the single greatest question in all of science is ‘Are we alone?’ The announcement today moves the ball downfield significantly toward answering this question.

MORE . . .

Also See: DUI Suspect, Tells Cops ‘Aliens’ Transported Him To Crash Site

Did NASA delete evidence of UFOs from its photo archive?

By Annalee Newitz via io9.com

UFOlogists are freaking out today over the removal of several photos from a NASA archive. These photos, which you can see here, have been used by various UFO groups to support their belief that aliens have been visiting Earth and governments are covering it up.

According to The Examiner:

The UFO photos first appeared on the NASA Johnson Space Center website in May 2011 and clearly showed a spacecraft of some advanced design. Without any fanfare, the photos were uploaded and stayed on the NASA website for over a year and half until being recently removed.

alien2Believers say the removal of the photos is tantamount to admitting that NASA is trying to cover up extraterrestrial vistors.

The pictures are gorgeous, by the way. I’m guessing they are pictures of a few satellites, and possibly the Hubble.

If NASA really were involved in an elaborate cover-up, though, it seems unlikely that they’d leave the photos up for over a year before noticing that their ultra-super-top-secret alien ship snapshots were on a public website. Slightly more likely is that they were removed after the space agency realized that they were fueling alien conspiracy theories.

More photos on UFO Sightings Daily

[…]

UPDATE 2: Commenter metoposaurus notes that at least some of these photos are still available on NASA’s websites, just in a different location. NASA identifies these as images of “space debris.” If you want to have a lot of fun, try searching this NASA database for “space debris.” Tons of potential UFOs, people!
Note from iLLumiNuTTi:

As the writer of the above article points out, all these “UFO” pictures weren’t removed by NASA, they were simply moved to another location on the NASA website. I did some digging and they were indeed relocated (links below the images):

Space debris being misidentified as alien craft.

Space debris or a satellite being misidentified as an alien craft by conspiracists.

These images have been relocated to here, here, here, here, here and here.

As usual, conspiracists come up short on research. NASA is not hiding these photos.

Mason I. Bilderberg (MIB)
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Why the Moon Landings Could Have Never EVER Been Faked: The Definitive Proof

via gizmodo.com

This video is so good, so incredibly brilliant, solid and simple, that you will want to paste it all over your Facebooks and Twitters just to piss off all the IMBECILES who still claim that the Moon landings were faked (those idiots exist, yes). The reason is simple: the technology to fake it didn’t exist.

It’s a very simple argument. It’s not about showing how ignorant the hoaxers demonstrate to be with their idiotic “proofs”, which actually show they don’t know anything about physics, photography or even perspective. Or the fact that simple there’s tons of physical proof that we were there. Or the fact that the Soviet Union was monitoring it too and accepted the American victory in the Space Race.

No, it’s something even more obvious. This video explains why there was absolutely no way to fake it at the time. Even the cameras needed to fake it didn’t exist back then.

It’s completely convincing and undeniable argument and worth watching from beginning to end. I enjoyed it so much that I was giggling at some points. Especially one of them: we have gone from a world in which we couldn’t possibly fake a landing on the Moon but we went there for real to a world in which we are no longer going to the Moon but we can easily fake it.

OH. YOU. IRONY. [Thanks Karl!]

Sacramento ‘UFO Explosion’ Mystery Revealed

By Lee Speigel via The Huffington Post

The explanation for what many people thought was an exploding UFO above Sacramento is no longer a mystery — it was a weather balloon.

After HuffPost reported how Elijah Prychodzko videotaped a circular, bright aerial object through his telescope over Sacramento on Dec. 20, 2012, the volume of explanations began rolling in for the possible identity of the object.

Those included alien spacecraft, military weapons test, a runaway planet, Doomsday rock headed to Earth and shot down by the Air Force, North Korea’s satellite, and, even, a hoax.

This exploding weather balloon over Tampa Bay, Fla., was recorded on July 2, 2012. It looks nearly identical to the object that exploded over Sacramento, Calif., on Dec. 20, 2012.

This exploding weather balloon over Tampa Bay, Fla., was recorded on July 2, 2012. It looks nearly identical to the object that exploded over Sacramento, Calif., on Dec. 20, 2012 (below).

If the images above and below look similar, it’s because they both show the same type of event as seen through telescopes — the difference being that the picture above was taken over Tampa Bay, Fla., on July 2, 2012, and the one below was the object photographed over Sacramento on Dec. 20.

o-SACRAMENTOUFO-570

This object exploded over Sacramento, Calif., on Dec. 20, 2012.

Many readers speculated that what Prychodzko captured on video was a weather balloon and not something that occurred in deep space.

“Obviously, something of this magnitude (planetary-size space explosion) would have been noticed by government (NASA) and or professional astronomers along with a host of amateur astronomers,” 40-year veteran UFO researcher Frank Warren told HuffPost in an email.

Warren, editor and publisher of The UFO Chronicles website, did a follow-up investigation of the Sacramento video and concluded the object was clearly terrestrial in origin.

“After reviewing several videos of ‘weather balloons bursting’ at altitude, it leaves no question as to what the image in the Prychodzko video really is. Like any case we dig into, one either finds ancillary evidence in support of a claim, none, or just the opposite. This one fell apart rather quickly — research 101.”

In videos of weather balloon explosions — which can be found on the Internet — it looks like something is “orbiting” the main balloon, when, in fact, it’s an instrument package called a radiosonde that swings under the balloon, giving the appearance of being in orbit around the balloon. As the balloon rises, the decreased air pressure causes it to expand until it eventually bursts.

According to NBC News.com . . . MORE . . .

The Hollow Earth Theory

via skeptoid.com

Podcast Listen | Subscribe

hollow_earth_250pxToday we’re going to point the skeptical eye at yet another alternative science that has managed to hang around for centuries despite being obviously wrong, the hollow Earth. There are many different models of hollow Earth theory, and support from equally diverse communities. It is a mind-bending example of how people can mold their world views to fit their beliefs, and then mold science itself to fit the world view.

Today, the prevailing hollow Earth theory states that the Earth is a hollow shell, with its inner surface being much like the outer surface where we live. It has oceans, mountain ranges, and clouds; and hovering at the very center of this hollow ball is a miniature sun that warms the inner-surface residents. Slightly offset from the North Pole and the South Pole are holes that allow travel between the outer and inner worlds. The civilization that lives on the inner surface is more advanced than ours, and they fly in and out through the polar openings in flying saucers, which explains UFO sightings by the outer surface civilization. Only the government knows about the polar openings and the inner civilization, and they suppress this information; ostensibly to prevent other governments from finding out about it and claiming the territory.

To most of us, this sounds like a pretty far-out concept; so many applications of various sciences prove it wrong. Nevertheless, even today, it has its supporters. Many books are available earnestly promoting the theory. Websites such as OurHollowEarth.com, HollowEarthNetwork.com, and HollowEarthTheory.com provide only a starting point for active communities who firmly believe this.

Conspiracy mongering is a big part of most of today’s hollow Earth writings: familiar assertions that the government is covering it up, the proverbial “they” don’t want you to know about it, and that we should all “wake up” and see the truth. But this is the least interesting part of hollow Earth theory, and only its most recently introduced aspect. There is a rich and surprising history behind how this all came to be

MORE . . .

Magnetic myths

by Donald Prothero via Skepticblog
Dec 26, 2012

608139main1_geomagnetic-field-670-560x420
All throughout the long buildup up to last week’s latest failed prediction of an global apocalypse, you would hear people claiming that the earth-shattering catastrophe of Dec. 21 would include “pole shifts” or “changes in the earth’s magnetic field” and all sorts of other sciencey phrases, proclaimed by people with absolutely no idea what they were talking about. The idea of “magnetism” is one of the most popular memes in the lexicon of pseudoscientists and New Agers, since magnets operate “mysteriously” and exert a force at a distance. From the days of Franz Mesmer claiming he had “magnetism” over people, to the trite phrase “animal magnetism,” the concept of magnetism has always been mysterious and misunderstood. Hence the big market for sticking magnets on various parts of your body to “cure” you. All they do is waste money, and possibly demagnetize the magnetic strip on your credit cards. The idea that somehow the earth’s magnetic field will shift abruptly or that the earth’s core will stop rotating (as in the idiotic Hilary Swank movie “The Core”) or even more wildly, that the earth’s rotational pole will change, are all common ideas out there in Wacko-Land.

Among the crazy ideas out there is that somehow the magnetic poles will shift and destroy all electrical devices (this web site), thus destroying civilization. Or this site, which claims that pole shifts will cause earthquakes and hurricanes, and NASA is covering up what’s happening. Or this bizarre post, which freely uses the words “gruesome” and “horror”. Or this site, which cherry-picks items from actual science posts and then completely misinterprets what they mean.

This is just a small sampling of the pseudoscientific garbage all over the internet posted before Dec. 21. Most of us know enough about science and apocalyptic predictions to guess that they are not worth taking seriously, but very few people have bothered to debunk this stuff. Unfortunately, we saw lots of sad consequences of people who did take the ridiculous apocalyptic predictions seriously, often with tragic results.

Among my other specialties, my professional training is in paleomagnetism, and I’ve conducted over 35 years of published research in the field, so I’m pretty familiar with what we do and don’t know about the earth’s magnetic field and how it behaves.

First, some science. The earth’s magnetic field has at least two components, the dipolar field (illustrated above), which makes up about 90% of the magnetism we normally feel, and a non-dipole field, which is normally hard to detect beneath it but makes up at least 10% of the earth’s field. The dipole field is not exactly lined up with the rotational axis of the earth (i.e., there is a small angle between magnetic north and true north), but over geologic spans of time, magnetic north wanders around the vicinity of the rotational pole; this movement known as secular variation. Studies have shown … MORE . . ..

Scientists suggest we might be overlooking alien communications

via www.digitaljournal.com

grey1_1A new theory has been put forward in the astrophysics world suggesting people have assumed too much when looking for alien attempts to communicate with Earth.

The theory, proposed by James Benford, his son, Dominic Benford, and Jame’s twin brother Gregory Benford, published in two papers in June, have generated a great deal of excitement in the science world. The Benfords looked at the issue of communications and concluded that aliens, much like humans, would want to economize their resources where possible, and thus they would not send out communications resembling what scientists have expected would be sent. Instead, the scientists suggest, aliens might be as frugal with expensive resources as humans are.

The University of California Irvine said extraterrestrials might have been trying to contact Earth all along, but because scientists were looking for something different, the messages were missed. The trio of scientists believe extraterrestrials might send out short messages, or pulses. James explained, saying

“This approach is more like Twitter and less like War and Peace.”

James is a physicist as well as the founder and president of Microwave Sciences Inc. in Lafayette, California. Dominic is a scientist with NASA, and Gregory is an astrophysicist with the University of California Irvine. The new hypothesis is based on an old adage. Gregory explained …

MORE . . .

Why the World Didn’t End Yesterday

NASA is so sure the world won’t come to an end on Dec. 21, 2012, that they already released a video for the day after.

Pretend it’s 12/22/12 and enjoy🙂

More questions about December 21, 2012? http://www.nasa.gov/2012/

Visit http://science.nasa.gov/science-news/science-at-nasa/2012/14dec_yesterday/ for more.

Via ScienceCasts: Why the World Didn’t End Yesterday – YouTube.

Mayan_018889_200pxNASA recently released a press release and video for December 22, explaining why the world didn’t end, since they are so confident it will not occur. This video was released several days before the supposed apocalypse that some believe will occur on December 21. This date refers to the “end” of the ancient Mayan calendar that many think signifies the end of the world due to a Mayan prophecy.

NASA already debunked every single possible doomsday and apocalypse claim in a video released earlier this year. But NASA wants to make sure that they are clear the Mayans will be wrong this time and say the entire doomsday scenario is a misconception from the very beginning.

More via Examiner.com.

Conspiracy: The color of Mars is a government coverup!!!!

By Mason I. Bilderberg

Did you know Mars is NOT reddish in color? It’s true. It looks just like earth!!! Mars has earth colored soil and a beautiful blue sky – just like Hawaii!

I know this because it says so on this conspiracy website:

«This is very interesting. It may come as a surprise to many readers that Mars looks very much like Earth. It’s not red or orange – NASA applies a lens to tint the pictures or they release black and white photos… here’s a real color picture of Mars… blue sky and all… it gets to the point where you ask yourself “what does the government not lie about?”»

They included this image as proof:

marslike earth

Conspiracists believe Mars looks like earth, to include a blue sky – just like Hawaii! The real reason we believe Mars appears reddish is all part of a NASA/government conspiracy.

I can’t believe anybody would believe Mars looks like earth. But i’ll push forward simply for the entertainment value and because there is some interesting facts to be learned – stuff i didn’t know. I love everything space related.

Two facts about Mars:

• Why Does Mars Appear Red?

Mars often appears reddish due to a combination of the fact that its surface is comprised of iron-rich minerals that essentially rust (or oxidize) and that the dust made of these minerals is kicked up into the atmosphere, giving the atmosphere a reddish hue as well. [SOURCE]

• How Did Mars Get its Name?

Mars was named by the Romans for their god of war because of its red, bloodlike color. Other civilizations also named this planet from this attribute; for example, the Egyptians named it “Her Desher,” meaning “the red one.” [SOURCE]

So while the Romans and the Egyptians knew Mars appeared red simply by looking up into the night sky, today’s conspiracists insist our belief that Mars is red is actually a false belief perpetuated by a government coverup.

Maybe i am endowed with an abundance of common sense but couldn’t these conspiracists step outside their mother’s basement, look up into the night sky and see what Mars looks like to the naked eye? I’m just saying.

But i digress …

So i decided to pursue this absurdity to another level. I took the photo featured on the conspiracy website and i decided to find out where it came from. I found the original photo at the NASA website. It really wasn’t hard to find (Even a conspiracist could have found it). I then superimposed the conspiracy picture next to the original NASA photo. The conspiracy photo is on the left, the original NASA image is on the right:

Columbia_Hills_03_small

The conspiracy photo is on the left, the original NASA image is on the right. The NASA image confirms what even the Egyptians knew – Mars has a reddish appearance. So much for that Hawaiian vacation to Mars. [Image Source: (NASA)]

I added the phrases “False Color” and “True Color” to the above image because these are two terms used by NASA to describe how they color correct photos taken by their landers and satellites. They have good reasons for making different color corrections to their photos, but first, let’s understand how NASA calibrates the colors in these Mars photos:

Calibration Targets

via NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

When you adjust the color on your television set, you do so by picking something on the screen that you know should be a certain color (such as grass should be green) and you adjust your set accordingly. This is a form of calibration. You used the color of the grass as a reference point.sundial1_250 Instruments that go to Mars also need to be calibrated so that scientists receive accurate information. There has to be a known reference — a calibration target.

The rover’s calibration targets are objects with known properties. For example, the Pancam calibration target. It is in the shape of a sundial and is mounted on the rover deck. Pancam will image the sundial many times during the mission so that scientists can adjust the images they receive from Mars. They use the colored blocks in the corners of the sundial to calibrate the color in images of the martian landscape. Pictures of the shadows that are cast by the sundial’s center post allow scientists to properly adjust the brightness of each Pancam image. Children provided artwork for the sides of the base of the sundial.

Clapboard-ColorThis is the same process used by Hollywood movie makers. They use a device called a “clapper board” to mark the beginning of a scene or a “take.” I’m sure you’ve seen this used in the movies. Well, at the top of some clapper boards you will see a rainbow of colors. Like the Pancam calibration target on the Mars rover, the colors along the top of the clapper board provide a known color reference that can be used in post production by movie editors to ensure the colors in the final cut are “true” to what was recorded on the movie set.

Speaking of “true colors,” let’s get back to why NASA would choose to creat “false color” photos along with “true color” photos. It’s really not as mysterious as it might sound. Let’s start with a technical definition of both:

True Color

«An image is called a “true-color” image when it offers a natural color rendition, or when it comes close to it. This means that the colors of an object in an image appear to a human observer the same way as if this observer were to directly view the object: A green tree appears green in the image, a red apple red, a blue sky blue, and so on.[1]» [source]

False Color

«False color refers to a group of color rendering methods used to display images in color which were recorded in the visual or non-visual parts of the electromagnetic spectrum. A false-color image is an image that depicts an object in colors that differ from those a photograph (a “true-color” image) would show.» [source]

flir small

Forward looking infrared (FLIR) image.

Here is a classic example of a false color image: A forward looking infrared (FLIR) camera (the image to the right). By creating a representation of wavelengths normally invisible to the human eye, we are able to discern the different temperatures present in this scene.

But there are a multitude of reasons for creating false images. Sometimes colors are enhanced, or even added, to represent some characteristic in the image, such as chemical composition, velocity, distance or to simply enhance the differences between materials. Have you ever increased the contrast on your television or an image on your computer so you can better discern some detail? You’ve just created your own false image!!

The same goes for the moon and Mars. With both planets being mostly uniform in their respective colors, creating false images can help us distinguish something as simple as peaks and valleys. Here is an example using the moon:

MoonTrueFalse02

On the left side is the true color image of the far side of our moon, a mosaic constructed from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter images. This is what you would see if you were to directly observe the terrain. Given the uniform color it is very difficult, if not impossible, to accurately judge the peaks and valleys.

On the right side is a false color image of the same side of our moon, a topographic map of the altitude of the Moon’s surface obtained by the Clementine orbiter mission (1994). Measurements made with a laser altimiter. Redder areas are higher, blue/purple areas lower. [source] (more Clementine images here)

In this instance a false color image was generated of the moon to provide a clear, visual representation of the lunar topography.

In the false color Mars image used at the conspiracy website, it’s very possible NASA color corrected the image for no other reason than to better distinguish the size, shape and locations of the rocks.

So to wrap things up, the bottom line is Mars is reddish in color and the moon appears gray. Period. End of story.

I guess my bigger question concerning this conspiracy is, why would the government have any interest in covering up the real color of Mars or the moon (yes, there is a conspiracy out there that the government is covering up the real color of the moon)? I suspect it has something to do with the belief Mars and the moon are actually inhabitable and the Mars/moon color coverup is part of the government’s alien/UFO coverup.

Unbelievable.

Conspiracy Source:

Research Sources:

MOLA-Mars Water_map_wblack_small

No, Mars is not colored like the land of Oz, this is a false color (blue) image created to
show where water ice is buried beneath the martian surface in this Mars Odyssey map. [source]
Click the image to view full size.

City Lights of the United States 2012

I am fascinated by anything space related. For a real treat, download the original 6MB image and zoom in on the details. Do this by right-clicking on the image below and “save as” to your computer. Now open the image file with your favorite image viewing program. Zoom in!!! Amazing! Enjoy🙂

via The official NASA flickr

Click image to view full size

Click image to view full size

This image of the United States of America at night is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012. The image was made possible by the new satellite’s “day-night band” of the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe dim signals such as city lights, gas flares, auroras, wildfires, and reflected moonlight.

MORE . . .

via The official NASA flickr

The night side of Earth twinkles with light, and the first thing to stand out is the cities. “Nothing tells us more about the spread of humans across the Earth than city lights,” asserts Chris Elvidge, a NOAA scientist who has studied them for 20 years.

This new global view and animation of Earth’s city lights is a composite assembled from data acquired by the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite. The data was acquired over nine days in April 2012 and thirteen days in October 2012. It took satellite 312 orbits and 2.5 terabytes of data to get a clear shot of every parcel of Earth’s land surface and islands. This new data was then mapped over existing Blue Marble imagery of Earth to provide a realistic view of the planet.

MORE . . .

NASA Takes on 2012 Doomsday Hokum

via PCMag.com

366427-2012-end-of-earthNASA wants us all to know that it feels very confident in predicting that the world won’t end in 2012, despite what we may have read on the Internet.

The space agency recently saw fit to take its debunking hammer to persistent online tales of a fictional dwarf planet that is supposedly on a collision course with Earth, popular prophecies associated with the Mayan calendar, and other doomsday scenarios that fall apart under minimal scrutiny.

“Contrary to some of the common beliefs out there, Dec. 21, 2012 won’t be the end of the world as we know it. However, it will be another winter solstice,” NASA associates behind a new website called Beyond 2012 wrote Wednesday in a Google+ post.

Some of the more popular apocalyptic theories revolve around a rogue planet called Nibiru supposedly discovered thousands of years ago by the ancient Sumerians, which some believe is going to collide with our planet next month. Variations on this theme call the doomsday rock Planet X or peg the real dwarf planet Eris as the harbinger of death from the skies, while a recent strain of this myth tries to tie the whole thing in with the supposed end of the Mayan calendar on Dec. 21, 2012.

Beyond 2012 is dedicated to debunking such pseudo-science. There is no Nibiru or Planet X that’s been observed by astronomers and if they really were on a path to hit the Earth in a couple weeks, they’d be visible to the naked eye by now. Eris “is real, but it is a dwarf planet similar to Pluto that will remain in the outer solar system; the closest it can come to Earth is about 4 billion miles,” the site explains.

The supposedly abrupt end of the Mayan calendar at the upcoming winter solstice? It’s not “evidence” that ancient Mesoamerican chronometrists had some mystic knowledge of when the world would end—it’s actually just the end of one of the cycles they used in devising their calendar.

Other doomsday hokum countered on the Beyond 2012 site includes a supposedly imminent reversal in the Earth’s rotation, the onset of giant solar storms, and a fanciful array of disastrous events somehow set in motion by a rare alignment of the planets.

MORE (video) . . .

Now lets visit the “higher dimensional” (crazy) side of 12/21/2012 …

Just when you think the 2012 crazy train couldn’t fly any further off the rails, i bring you Tolec from the Andromeda Council. He sets the record straight on all this 2012 stuff (I really love the part where he says “Time will begin to go away throughout all of 2013”). From his video description:
BullShit

The electromagnetic particles that will be flowing & interchanging between the planets during the 12.21.12 alignment will be highly magnified and highly supercharged when they reach Earth. They will penetrate the crust, through the Earth and down into its core. At the actual moment of alignment it will cause the Earth to pause, for only a moment, and this process will completely transform the core of our planet to a completely new kind of energy form & source. This new energy form, in the language spoken on the Andromeda Council biospheres, the language of the Mirach star system in the Andromeda constellation, by the Andromeda Council scientists, is called: “sar”.

This will be the first time cosmic transformational event of this type ever… for a planet. Time will begin to go away throughout all of 2013. And Earth will continue her evolution & transformation process into becoming a higher dimensional world in January 2014.

If you’re still in need of even more crazy, i suggest going over to Tolec’s web page and scroll down to “Time of Transition for Planet Earth.”

There you will learn all about the “vibrational changes” the earth will begin going through starting on 12/21/2012, how the earth will experience “continued geophysical changes, earthquakes, volcanoes going off, wave events, [that] will all continue to happen throughout the last months of 2012, into March 2013 [and beyond] when the final rotation of the 90 degree shift of Earth’s crust happens with the present day East/West orientation of the continents moving into their new North/South orientation” and how, during the year 2013, “every living thing from the largest to the smallest will be offered the opportunity to change, to evolve, into 4D, fourth dimensional life.”

Check it out and enjoy the world of crazy.🙂

No Huge Discovery by Mars Rover Curiosity Yet

via LiveScience

NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity used its Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) to snap a set of 55 high-resolution images on Oct. 31, 2012. Researchers stitched the pictures together to create this full-color self-portrait.
CREDIT: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Malin Space Science Systems
View full size image

Contrary to rampant speculation, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity has not made an earth-shaking find just a few months into its Red Planet mission, agency officials said today (Nov. 29).

Rumors of a big discovery began swirling earlier this month, after an NPR story quoted Curiosity chief scientist John Grotzinger as saying that the rover’s Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument had recently gathered data “for the history books.”

SAM is capable of identifying organic compounds, the carbon-containing building blocks of life as we know it. So many people assumed that Curiosity had detected organic compounds in the Martian soil.

But that’s not the case, officials said.

“Rumors and speculation that there are major new findings from the mission at this early stage are incorrect,” officials at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., which manages Curiosity’s mission, wrote in a mission update today. “At this point in the mission, the instruments on the rover have not detected any definitive evidence of Martian organics.”

Grotzinger, who is a geologist at Caltech in Pasadena, and several other members of the Curiosity team will hold a press conference Monday (Dec. 3) at the annual fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.

Don’t expect a bombshell announcement.

“The news conference will be an update about first use of the rover’s full array of analytical instruments to investigate a drift of sandy soil,” JPL officials wrote.

MORE . . .

Doomsday 2012 Hoax: NASA Scientist David Morrison Debunks End Of World Theories

via huffingtonpost.com

Is the world going to end right in the middle of the upcoming holiday season? While that wouldn’t be good for retail sales, many people feel that Dec. 21, 2012 is a date that will linger in our minds forever — assuming we all survive the calamities that are supposedly headed our way.

The ancient Mayan civilization calendar is believed to end this year on Dec. 21. And somehow, through word-of-mouth, movies, books, the Internet, etc., a cult-like belief system has sprung up in our culture suggesting any number of awful things will take place on that date.

Some of these include:

  • An unknown planet on a collision path with Earth.
  • A close encounter between Earth and a black hole in deep space.
  • More natural disasters around our planet.
  • A shifting of Earth’s magnetic poles.

But where did all of these rumors actually start?

Many believe it goes back thousands of years to the ancient Sumerian culture who reportedly discovered a twelfth planet they called Nibiru — aka Planet X — which was predicted to have a close encounter with Earth in 2003.

When that didn’t happen, a new Doomsday was moved to December 2012.

On the other hand, there are some who believe the December date heralds not doom and gloom, but a more positive transformative experience for Earth and its inhabitants.

It all sounds rather sketchy, especially to a scientist.

“It’s all a hoax, and it’s based on absolutely no factual information. None of the things that are supposed to happen are real, and so it’s kind of hard to even have a scientific discussion about what they’re worried about because there’s no science there,” said David Morrison, a leading space scientist and director of the Carl Sagan Center for Study of Life in the Universe at the SETI Institute in California.

Watch this Doomsday video with David Morrison

While SETI scientists are involved with the ongoing search for extraterrestrial intelligence, they also want to quiet any fears the public has about the alleged Doomsday.

To that end, Morrison created a special Doomsday 2012 Fact Sheet in September that’s posted on both SETI and NASA websites.

According to this fact sheet, “opinion polls suggest that one in 10 Americans worry about whether they will survive past December 21 of this year.”

“Think about that. It means when you walk down the street and look around, there are 25 million people who presumably have no stake in anything because their world’s going to end in [December]. That is scary,” Morrison told The Huffington Post.

When Morrison was researching information for his Doomsday fact sheet, he didn’t find anything that confirmed that the Mayans left us any dire predictions.

MORE (VIDEO) . . .

Are Flat-Earthers Being Serious?

via LifesLittleMysteries.com

A Flat Earth model depicting Antarctica as an ice wall surrounding a disc-shaped Earth.
CREDIT: Creative Commons 1.0 Generic | Trekky0623
View full size image

Members of the Flat Earth Society claim to believe the Earth is flat. Walking around on the planet’s surface, it looks andfeelsflat, so they deem all evidence to the contrary, such as satellite photos of Earth as a sphere, to be fabrications of a “round Earth conspiracy” orchestrated by NASA and other government agencies.

The belief that the Earth is flat has been described as the ultimate conspiracy theory. According to the Flat Earth Society’s leadership, its ranks have grown by 200 people (mostly Americans and Britons) per year since 2009. Judging by the exhaustive effort flat-earthers have invested in fleshing out the theory on their website, as well as the staunch defenses of their views they offer in media interviews and on Twitter, it would seem that these people genuinely believe the Earth is flat.

But in the 21st century, can they be serious? And if so, how is this psychologically possible?

Through a flat-earther’s eyes

First, a brief tour of the worldview of a flat-earther: While writing off buckets of concrete evidence that Earth is spherical, they readily accept a laundry list of propositions that some would call ludicrous. The leading flat-earther theory holds that Earth is a disc with the Arctic Circle in the center and Antarctica, a 150-foot-tall wall of ice, around the rim. NASA employees, they say, guard this ice wall to prevent people from climbing over and falling off the disc. Earth’s day and night cycle is explained by positing that the sun and moon are spheres measuring 32 miles (51 kilometers) that move in circles 3,000 miles (4,828 km) above the plane of the Earth. (Stars, they say, move in a plane 3,100 miles up.) Like spotlights, these celestial spheres illuminate different portions of the planet in a 24-hour cycle. Flat-earthers believe there must also be an invisible “antimoon” that obscures the moon during lunar eclipses.

Furthermore, Earth’s gravity is an illusion, they say. Objects do not accelerate downward; instead, the disc of Earth accelerates upward at 32 feet per second squared (9.8 meters per second squared), driven up by a mysterious force called dark energy. Currently, there is disagreement among flat-earthers about whether or not Einstein’s theory of relativity permits Earth to accelerate upward indefinitely without the planet eventually surpassing the speed of light. (Einstein’s laws apparently still hold in this alternate version of reality.)

As for what lies underneath the disc of Earth, this is unknown, but most flat-earthers believe it is composed of “rocks.” [Religion and Science: 6 Visions of Earth’s Core]

Then, there’s the conspiracy theory: Flat-earthers believe photos of the globe are photoshopped; GPS devices are rigged to make airplane pilots think they are flying in straight lines around a sphere when they are actually flying in circles above a disc. The motive for world governments’ concealment of the true shape of the Earth has not been ascertained, but flat-earthers believe it is probably financial. “In a nutshell, it would logically cost much less to fake a space program than to actually have one, so those in on the Conspiracy profit from the funding NASA and other space agencies receive from the government,” the flat-earther website’s FAQ page explains.

It’s no joke

MORE . . .
Also see The Flat Earth Society

Illusionist David Blaine’s Electrifying Stunt is Shockingly Safe

via LifesLittleMysteries.com

In his latest stunt, illusionist David Blaine plans to make his body a conduit for an electric current flowing between two high-voltage electrodes for three days straight. The magician says he’ll face off with 1 million volts in what he told the Daily News would be his “most dangerous” feat ever, but at least one MIT physicist won’t be losing sleep over Blaine’s safety, saying the trick seems mostly risk-free.

A trailer for the stunt, which is set to begin on Manhattan’s Pier 54 on Oct. 5, shows Blaine standing at the center of a dark room, his mesh bodysuit lit only by two fluttering arcs of electricity emanating from his outstretched arms.

If the teaser gives any indication of what will actually transpire next month, Blaine’s odds of besting death in the trick he calls “Electrified: One Million Volts Always On” are pretty good.

“He has a conducting suit, all the current is going through the suit, nothing through his body,” said John Belcher, a physics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a co-investigator on a plasma experiment aboard NASA’s Voyager 2 craft. “There is no danger in this that I see. I would do it, and I am 69 years old and risk-averse. I just would have to take a nap.”

(MORE . . . )

Curiosity Photos of Mars Teeming with ‘UFOs’ | Mars Anomalies

By: Natalie Wolchover via LifesLittleMysteries.com

According to the fringe sector of the Internet, Mars is practically teeming with aliens.

“Mars animal” spotted by one YouTube user.
CREDIT: YouTube | StephenHannardADGUK

Since NASA’s Curiosity rover touched down on the Red Planet two weeks ago and powered up its cameras, it has already managed to photograph several alleged UFOs and other “anomalies” in the surrounding landscape.

From classic flying saucers to an absurdly out-of-place fossilized human finger, here’s a rundown of what UFO believers claim to have found in Curiosity photos so far. [Gallery of Mars ‘UFO’ Photos]

Horizon anomaly (aka impact cloud)

Speculation about Martians in Curiosity’s midst got off to a running start when the very first sequence of photos taken by the rover raised questions. A hazy, distant object mysteriously appeared and then disappeared in consecutive images of the Martian horizon, perplexing even NASA scientists at first.

But the much-discussed “anomaly” turned out not to be a sign of alien activity, but rather the plume of dust kicked up by the sky crane that delivered the rover close to the Martian surface, then veered off and struck the ground some 2,000 feet (600 meters) away.

“We believe we’ve caught what is the descent stage impact on the Martian surface,” said NASA engineer Steven Sell, sky crane specialist on the Curiosity mission.

Flying saucers (aka dead pixels)

In footage posted to YouTube Aug. 18, user “StephenHannardADGUK” applies a series of filters to a Curiosity image of the nearby rim of Gale crater, revealing what he says are four flying saucer-like objects stationed in the sky. More than 700,000 people have since given the video a gander.

“Four objects caught by Mars Curiosity, very difficult to make out on original image so I have used a few filters to highlight,” he said in the video description. “What are these four objects? UFOs, Dust particles, or something else? As always you decide.”

Experts say the four “objects” are actually just dead pixels in the rover’s CCD camera — single points in the camera’s imager that have lost functionality and register as white.

Keep Reading: Curiosity Photos of Mars Teeming with ‘UFOs’ | Mars Anomalies | LifesLittleMysteries.com.

Mars Attacks! Well, Maybe… – An Assortment of Mars Conspiracies

By Patrick Fennelly via Who Forted? Magazine

Is there something on Mars they don’t want us to see, or is it just a big old red desert, as we’re led to believe?

Last week the latest in tip-top technology NASA have soldered together landed on the red planet safely in the latest bid to provide us earthlings with information from our neighbors. Yet, only moments after the Curiosity rover landed, the conspiracy world went abuzz once more with stories about the Martian landscape. Our intrepid robot explorer seemed to photograph a massive crash or explosion in the distance, sparking rumors that it was an alien craft that Curiosity had caught crashing into the Martian surface. But engineers were soon out with their pens and rulers and supercomputers trying to explain what the photographs had shown. And they came back with this explanation; the ‘explosion’ captured by Curiosity was actually its landing device, or ‘Sky Crane’ which helped to lower the rover into the Mars atmosphere, which had severed itself from Curiosity and purposely crash landed, some 2,000 feet away, in the distance, thus causing this pyramid shape of soil and debris flung into the air by the craft. The fact that gravity is 38% less of that on Earth was the reason that Curiosity managed to capture the event. Yet many scientists still claim that it was statistically impossible for the rover to capture its own crash landing. And so more doubt has been cast over what is really going down on the Martian surface, hmmm…

Of course, this isn’t the first theory that Mars was or is inhabited by some extraterrestrial beings. The theories go way back, and involve a whole plethora of dubious yet somewhat enthralling research and imagery, mainly thanks to our recent ‘human’ presence on the red planet. Of course this ‘research’ goes from being in the ‘hmm, that’s kind of interesting’ variety to the, ‘wow that person should be in a padded cell’, end of things. The classic example is the face on Mars in the Cydonia region of the planet as snapped by the Viking 1 Orbiter back in 1976, which has sparked many a debate surrounding the idea that our neighbor Mars was once inhabited. And then the monumentally less impressive ‘skull’ which was just laying about the surface, and not to mention the dead storm trooper that somehow strayed from his pals, a deserter of the Empire, perhaps. My personal favourite though, is what has been dubbed the Mars mermaid, or the ‘Woman of Mars’. What is more than likely an oddly weathered rock formation does look creepily like a woman pointing to something, but to what!? Sadly no follow up pictures were ever snapped, so we’re left wondering.

But it doesn’t end there, oh no. Near the ‘face’ in the same region, Cydonia, the Viking orbiter also photographed what appear to be pyramids.

more: Mars Attacks! Well, Maybe… – An Assortment of Mars Conspiracies | Who Forted? Magazine.

Will The World End In 2012?

A NASA Scientist Answers the Top 20 Questions About 2012

PUBLIC CONCERN ABOUT DOOMSDAY IN December 2012 has blossomed into a major new presence on the Internet. This fear has begun to invade cable TV and Hollywood, and it is rapidly spreading internationally. The hoax originally concerned a return of the fictitious planet Nibiru in 2012, but it received a big boost when conspiracy theory websites began to link it to the end of the Mayan calendar long count at the winter solstice (December 21) of 2012. Over the past year, many unrelated groups have joined the doomsday chorus, including Nostradamus advocates, a wide variety of eschatological Christian, Native American, and spiritualist sects, and those who fear comet and asteroid impacts or violent solar storms. At the time of this writing there are more than 175 books listed on Amazon.com dealing with the 2012 doomsday. The most popular topics are the Mayan calendar and spiritual predictions that the disaster in 2012 will usher in a new age of happiness and spiritual growth. Quite a few authors are cashing in with manuals on how to survive 2012.

As this hoax spreads, many more doomsday scenarios are being suggested, mostly unrelated to Nibiru. These include a reversal of the Earth’s magnetic field, severe solar storms associated with the 11-year solar cycle (which may peak in 2012), a reversal of Earth’s rotation axis, a 90- degree flip of the rotation axis, bombardment by large comets or asteroids, bombardment by gamma rays, or various unspecified lethal rays coming from the center of the Milky Way Galaxy or the “dark rift” seen in a nearby galactic spiral arm. A major theme has become celestial alignments: supposedly the Sun will align with the galactic center (or maybe with the Milky Way Dark Rift) on December 21, 2012, subjecting us to mysterious and potentially deadly forces.

Unlike most pseudoscience stories, there seems to be no factual core on which the Nibiru- 2012 hoax has been constructed. This is different from, for example, the claims of aliens and a crashed UFO at Roswell, New Mexico. The alien stories are a fabrication, but the core fact is that an instrumented balloon did crash in Roswell on July 7, 1947. There is no similar factual core to Nibiru—just dubious “predictions” from psychics, or the Mayans, or Nostradamus. The rest is pure fiction.

I answer questions from the public submitted online to a NASA website, and over the past two years the Nibiru-2012 doomsday has become the dominant topic people ask about. Many are curious about things they have seen on the Internet or TV, but many are also angry about supposed government cover-ups. As one wrote “Why are you lying about Nibiru? Everyone knows it is coming.” Others are genuinely frightened that the world will end just three years from now. My frustration in answering questions piecemeal motivates this “Twenty Questions” format to organize the facts and shine a skeptical light on this accumulation of myths and hoaxes.

1. What is the origin of the prediction that the world will end in December 2012?

The story started with claims that Nibiru, a supposed planet discovered by the Sumerians, is headed toward Earth. Zecharia Sitchin, who writes fiction about the ancient Mesopotamian civilization of Sumer, claimed in several books (e.g., The Twelfth Planet, published in 1976) that he has found and translated Sumerian documents that identify the planet Nibiru, orbiting the Sun every 3600 years. These Sumerian fables include stories of “ancient astronauts” visiting Earth from a civilization of aliens called the Anunnaki.

Keep Reading: Skeptic » Reading Room » 2012 and Counting.

Martian Sighting? Strange Pics From Mars Rover Explained

Via TheBlaze.com.

Over the last couple days, UFO enthusiasts have rallied behind pictures of four orbs that were taken by NASA’s rover “Curiosity” on Mars. But as many of these UFO stories often come to pass, a reasonable explanation has been cited and it could be one that has even caused problems for photographers here on Earth. It’s called “dead pixels.”

The Washington Post reported the group Alien Disclosure Group believed that photos beamed back from Curiosity earlier this week could possibly have captured four flying saucers. They put together this video with all the image and it enhanced with different filters:

Gizmodo describes out what is being seen here …

Keep Reading:: ‘UFOs’ in Curiosity Picture Caused by ‘Dead Pixels’ According to Experts | Video | TheBlaze.com.

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