Thursday, December 31, 2009

Official DM blog officially dead

See the revised header up there. This blog will continue to comment on Hoagland's many errors as an author and Adam Parfrey's many failures as a publisher.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Point-by-point critique of "Dark Mission" 2nd Edition

        The second edition of "Dark Mission" is out, and it is no less of a paranoid fantasy than the first edition. It expresses nothing other than the authors' bizarre hatred of NASA and utter ignorance of science. Neither of them has any training in science, and neither of them has ever conducted a scientific experiment in his life. In their zeal to excoriate NASA, they have omitted a very important step in book authorship -- the one in which, having finally got all those words down on silicon, you check your facts. (A responsible publisher, by the way, would have hired a technical editor as backup to that process. Adam Parfrey, saving the nails and thus sinking the ship, did not take this step.)

        Here, then, are some of the major factual errors in this work. I apologise for the interminable length of this post -- it would have been a more reasonable length if those clowns hadn't made so many mistakes:

1 p.9. (first page of Mike Bara's "update"). Obviously stung by the total lack of attention to the first edition on the part of the US media, in particular the lack of any professional review whatsoever, Bara snipes at Dwayne A. Day, author of a comedy piece about the Hoagland/Johnston press conference of October 2007. He writes of Day as a "shameless hack" who "has so many NASA connections on his resume [sic] that he may as well be an official press officer for the agency."

FACT: Dwayne Day is a well-respected space historian who has never at any time been an employee or a contractor of NASA. He is currently serves on a program officer at the Space Studies Board of the National Research Council.

FACT: Bara makes the same petulant accusation against James Oberg. Oberg will defend his own reputation more eloquently than I could, I'm sure.

FACT: Bara was not even at that disastrous event (a "press conference" that was not attended by the press, unless you count Russian tabloids.)

2 p.14. Bara writes, elucidating this book's theory that some NASA space events are timed to coincide with "ritual" star alignments, "only five stellar objects ... have any significance ...: the three belt stars of Orion, ...Sirius, ... and Regulus." Yet on p.327 we find the planets Earth and Mars also used to support this ridiculous theory. In the past Hoagland has used other objects, too, such as the comet Encke.

FACT: That makes seven, not five, astronomical objects, and five astronomical altitudes (-33°, -19.5°, 0°, +19.5° and +33°) -- 35 chances of finding a "ritual" alignment to associate with any given space event. Yes, sometimes alignments coincide with events. It would be very surprising if they did not. Hoagland and Bara's theory is bunk.

3 p.57. "The NASA that we've known for over 50 years has been a lie."

This sentence, the very first sentence in the first edition of this book, is itself a lie.

p. 58. "The Space Agency was quietly founded as a direct adjunct to the Department of Defense..."

Hoagland offers lame support for this contention with a quote from Sec. 305 (i) of the Space Act: "The Administration shall be considered a defense agency of the United States for the purpose of Chapter 17, Title 35 of the US Code." He doesn't say how he knows the passage of this act was "quiet."

He also complains -- as though he's only just come across this fact and is "shocked--SHOCKED" -- that Sec. 205(d) of the Act allows NASA activities to be classified for reasons of national security.

FACT: Title 35 of the US Code is exclusively concerned with patent law. Title 35 Chapter 17 is concerned with patent applications filed by employees of any defense agency, hence the inclusive definition in Sec 305(i). This is purely legal language, that emphatically does not mean that the agency was founded, whether quietly or accompanied by 76 trombones, as a direct adjunct to the Department of Defense. A parade of NASA Administrators, starting with James Webb, has expended political capital asserting NASA's independence from DoD.

FACT: As every journalist who has ever covered NASA knows, the Agency sometimes engages in classified activities, and they don't get published. If Richard Hoagland did not know this when he was a consultant to CBS News, he was negligent.

4 p.60. "The Apollo crews [brought] back to NASA laboratories not just rocks, but actual samples of the ancient technologies they found--for highly classified efforts at 'back engineering.'"

FACT: There is not a shred of evidence, in this book or anywhere else, to support this wild idea. Mike Bara admitted as such in an internet radio interview on Jan 17th 2008.

5 p.62. Hoagland claims that the 'A' on the Apollo mission patch actually stands for, not 'Apollo' as the designers of the patch (and everyone else except Hoagland) think, but the Egyptian God Asar, a.k.a. Osiris. He writes that this is "redundantly confirmed because Asar/Osiris is none other than the familiar Greek constellation of Orion--which is, of course, the background ... constellation on the patch itself."

FACT: Hoagland is confused. Osiris and Orion have only incidental links. They are far from synonymous. Likewise with Horus and Apollo, which he is also confused about.

On p. 275 Hoagland develops this theory again, writing "it is distinctly possible (and Hoagland certainly believes it)." Is this code for "Bara has enough vestiges of sanity to disbelieve it"? We may hope so.

6 p.76. Writing of the so-called "Face on Mars," the authors write "NASA seemed to have an aversion to investigating what seemed to be an ideal subject for the agency's agenda. In fact, they vociferously refused to even consider making the imaging of Cydonia a priority for any new Mars missions."

The book repeats this claim -- that NASA is averse to re-photographing the so-called face -- a few more times in the book. Strangely, however, in the Epilogue on p.591 we find this: "After 30 years, and probably a hundred (yes, a hundred) repeated imagings of 'The Face'...." Perhaps when he was writing the epilogue, Richard Hoagland didn't cross-check his own book.

FACT: In 1997, when Mars Global Surveyor was in Martian orbit, Jim Garvin, chief scientist for NASA's Mars Exploration Program, said "We felt this was important to taxpayers. We photographed the Face as soon as we could get a good shot at it."


7 p.81 and Fig. 1-8. Writing about their fantasy of mathematical relationships between features on Cydonia, the authors state "these constants ...were not dependant [sic] on terrestrial methods of measurement (i.e. a radial measurement system based on a 360° circle)"

FACT: In Fig 1-8 itself, the so-called relationships clearly depend on the angles 19.5°, 60° and 90°. Notice, too, that even to achieve this fantasy geometry, facts have been fudged. The intersection at the so-called face actually just misses it, and that at Crater Tetrahedron is just barely within the crater at two o'clock, not at the center. This figure is the height of unscientific silliness.

8 p.82. Developing his mathematical fantasy further, Hoagland writes "...the value of e ... is 2.718282, a near exact match for the ratio of the surface area of a sphere to the surface area of a tetrahedron (2.720699)."

FACT: He has the value of e right, but in mathematics the qualifier "near exact" has no useful meaning. Values are either exact or they aren't. And then, if by some chance these two constants were exactly the same, so what? Hoagland doesn't say.

9 p.91. The authors claim that the following features are at, "or very near," a latitude of 19.5°:

The Great Dark Spot of Neptune
The Great Red Spot of Jupiter
The erupting volcanoes of Io
Olympus Mons on Mars
Mauna Kea

FACT: Neptune's dark spots are transient, forming and dissipating in just a few years. The one Hoagland is presumably citing, observed by Voyager 2, was first observed around 25°S and drifted north before dissipating.
The Great Red Spot of Jupiter is stable, and centered at 22°S.
The volcanoes of Io are far too numerous to be assigned any specific latitude. 12 known volcanoes are cited in the reference.
Olympus Mons is at 18°N.
Mauna Kea is at 19° 49' N - if he'd written Mauna Loa he'd have got one right. D'oh!!

Hoagland's use of the expression "very near" again reveals his ignorance of science. A layman might say "22 is very near 19.5" but a scientist would say "It's even nearer to 20, to 23.2, to 21.5, to 20.3, to 19.8... and 22 is of no help whatever to a person attempting to make the case that 19.5 is somehow special."

10 p.115/6. Hoagland's utterly spurious claims about energy at 19.5° are an essential part of another fantasy -- this time in the world of physics. After developing this for some 25 pages, he arrives at the proposition that there's a yet undiscovered massive planet in the solar system (or perhaps two smaller ones.) This, he writes, is an essential prediction of his "hyperdimensional physics" theory. He (or possibly his co-author) then writes "In 1982, a front-page article appeared in the Washington Post, ... about an object spotted in Orion by the IRAS infrared satellite, at an estimated 50 billion miles from Earth. This object fit Hoagland's prediction within very tight parameters. To date, no follow-up observations or papers have been published on this object..."

FACT: Thomas J. Chester of IPAC (the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center) at Caltech has, in a follow-up paper, debunked this canard. He wrote that not one, but several, distant IR objects were at one time claimed to be solar system objects. "Many of these observations turned out to be IRC+10216, a bright previously known source which is almost exactly in the ecliptic plane (the plane of the planets)." All others were likewise accounted for, and Chester definitively states that no undiscovered massive planet exists. Therefore Hoagland's theory is falsified.

(This report is undated but was unquestionably available before publication of "Dark Mission" 1st edn. If Adam Parfrey had seen fit to employ a technical editor this entire section would most likely have been cut.)

11,12,13 pp. 156-157, 383-387

On these pages the authors make breathtakingly ridiculous assertions that three failed Mars missions of the 1990s were deliberately sabotaged (either by NASA or by a "powerful cabal") to prevent them from returning high-resolution photography which would inevitably confirm the existence of ancient civilizations.

Mars Observer (1993)
Mars Polar Lander (1999)
Mars Climate Orbiter (1999)

FACT: James Oberg, who is mentioned on p.386 as part of this story, has exposed these allegations as utterly false in a Space Review article.

I would just add that the "powerful cabal" that supposedly nixed these missions cannot be that powerful after all, since it was apparently powerless to prevent many subsequent Mars Missions with cameras of far higher resolution from succeeding. The HiRISE telescope on Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (2006) has a resolution of 0.3 m/pixel, compared with the 40 m/pixel of the MARCI camera of the 1990s.

14 p.163. In Chapter 3, Hoagland devotes five pages to another of his perennial hobby-horses, the "Brookings Report." This 1961 paper speculated on what might happen if clear evidence of advanced extraterrestrial civilizations were ever to be found. Richard Hoagland misunderstands this document consistently and has quoted it many times as a "smoking gun" justifying NASA's "cover-up" of what he says it has found in Space. On this page he writes "So here we had the proverbial smoking gun. Not only was NASA advised--almost from its inception--to withhold any data that supported the reality of Cydonia or any other discovery like it, they were told to do so for the good of human society as a whole."

FACT: The Brookings Report offered no such advice. Here's what the report actually contained, on the subject of release of evidence:

"Questions one might wish to answer by such studies would include: how might such information, under what circumstances, be presented to or withheld from the public for what ends?"

Note that the wording of the report GAVE EXACTLY EQUAL WEIGHT to "presented to" and "withheld from."


15 p.191. On this page the authors allege that some images from the Apollo 10 image catalog have been deliberately blacked out to conceal evidence of a lunar civilization. Fig 4-4 shows a block of 12 images, in which frames 4815, 4821, 4822 and 4823 are either totally black or so underexposed as to be useless -- it's impossible to tell from this book's atrocious photo-reproduction.

FACT: Those frames are perfectly readable in the current LPI catalog. It's conceivable that the catalog now is not the same as it was when the authors reproduced it, in which case this book is merely out of date instead of mendacious on this point.

16 p.230 and color Fig 8. Chapter 4 is devoted to Hoagland's personal manipulations and interpretations of Apollo photography -- he shows us "the shard," "the castle," and other fuzzy, hard to interpret, flaws in some of the images. All of them have more probable explanations than that they are constructs of a dead civilization. Then he turns to his notoriously daft assertion that there are vast glass dome structures overarching many of the Apollo landing sites on the Moon (he doesn't ever say where the factories that produced this enormous quantity of glass and steel are.)

He cites Hasselblad frame AS17-134-20426 as an example of a photograph that, when "color adjusted," shows refraction of light through "hundreds of miles of shattered bits of glass and rebar." But his version is not the pristine version (see reference.)

FACT: He has manipulated the color, contrast, and gamma of this photograph based on a misunderstanding. In his video interview for Project Camelot (at 1:00:04) he shows this same frame and it is perfectly plain that he thinks the color patches on the gnomon are red, green, and blue. However, they are not. They are orange, green and blue. (see p. 53 of the official Press Kit.) Therefore, his adjustment of the color of this frame is a corruption rather than a correction, and valueless.

17 p.232 and color Fig 12. The authors maintain that Al Bean, LMP of Apollo 12, included the buttresses holding up the glass domes in some of his paintings. They write "...the sky above the astronauts unmistakably depicts not only Hoagland's 'battered lunar dome' but its specifically 'inclined buttresses' as well."

FACT: The angled lines across this artwork are the imprint of Bean's lunar boot. Bean gave this treatment to several of his acrylics, as he felt it added authenticity. This is made specifically clear here. So now we all know what value to place on that word "unmistakably" when its author is Richard Hoagland.

18 p.243. One of several places in this book in which the authors assert that NASA itself is responsible for the myth that the Apollo moon landings were faked.

FACT: This is so patently absurd that it needs no reference to refute it. Did Adam Parfrey EVEN THINK about this before he published such drivel?

 18a p.244. "Glass on Earth is well known to have little tensile strength, meaning it doesn't stretch easily (because it is brittle) and will not withstand even a very weak impact from a hard object (shear). ... The reason for these properties on Earth is that it is pretty much impossible to extract the water from glass as it is forming.... Water is all around us, even in the most arid deserts. ... But the Moon is a completely different story. It is airless, with no humidity to interfere with the molecular bonding of the silicates that make-up the glass that is omnipresent. The hard-cold vacuum enhances the strength of lunar glass to the point that it is approximately twice as strong as steel under the same stress conditions."

FACT: This page cites a paper by Rowley and Neudecker, but it's the wrong citation. The real citation -- J.D. Blacic -- does not support the text here. It quotes the Young's modulus of lunar glass as 100 GPa, cf. steel 224 GPa.

19 Fig 4-45 and color Fig 6. These illustrations purport to show a curve of transmission vs. wavelength for the gold solar-protective visors fitted to the Apollo EVA spacesuits. They are confused. Although the curve is prominently labeled "Spectral Transmission" the y-axis is equally clearly labeled "Absorbance," which is the converse of transmission.

FACT: The NASA reference (p. 20) shows these figures for transmittance:

UV, up to 0.38 µm: 0.01
Visible, 0.38-0.76 µm: 0.19
Near IR, 0.76-3.0 µm: 0.12
Far IR, 3.0+ µm: zero

20 p.273. Hoagland notes that the arctangent of the latitude of the so-called "D&M Pyramid" on Mars is nearly the same as the cosine of the Sphinx's latitude on Earth. He calls these "shared latitude relationships."

FACT: This so-called "relationship" has no conceivable meaning. It would be hard to find anything in this book which better falsifies Hoagland's p.224 claim to be a scientist.

21 p.280. Discussing the Apollo 10 mission, the authors apparently don't know how to read technical documentation. They write of the Apollo 10 Lunar Module "while the spacecraft was theoretically fully capable of landing on the moon, inexplicably, it was not given the capability to do so."

FACT: "Snoopy" was emphatically NOT capable of landing (well perhaps, technically, it was, but not of successfully taking off again.) Grumman engineers had not yet implemented SWIP (the Super Weight Improvement Program) and the spacecraft was too heavy. More accurately, it would have been too heavy if it had been fully-fueled for a landing and takeoff. So now we all know what value to place on that word "inexplicably" when its author is Richard Hoagland.

22 p. 286. Farouk El-Baz was "the most powerful single individual in the American space program."

FACT: The authors have Dr. El-Baz's credentials right, but his status dead wrong. He was secretary of the Apollo Landing Site Selection Committee from 1967-72.

People such as Rocco Petrone, Apollo Program Director, George Low, Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office, George Mueller, Administrator of the Office of Manned Space Flight, Bob Gilruth, Director of JSC, even the flight controllers -- all these men were far more "powerful" within the Apollo Program. Expanding the scope to the entire space program, the proposition becomes even more ridiculous because the Administrator and a whole army of Deputy Administrators outranked all of the above.

It suits Richard Hoagland to propagate this gross exaggeration because it chimes with his thesis that NASA management is influenced by Egyptian mythology, but it's a racist and bankrupt falsehood.

23 p.331 and Fig 5-42. The authors think one of the rock formations photographed by Mars Pathfinder in 1997 is a sphinx. "The resemblance is uncanny," they write. Perhaps that's merely a matter of opinion. What is not opinion, however, is the co-ordinates of the landing site. Hoagland & Bara continue "And remember -- this Martian sphinx is guarding an obvious pyramid on Mars 19.5°N by 33°W."

FACT: The landing site of Pathfinder was 19.13°N, 33.22°W.


24 p.404. "By the early 1990s, Hoagland had come to the conclusion that the Face was significantly asymmetric."

FACT: On Australian TV in 1993, in an interview whose main purpose was to allege that Mars Observer was sabotaged, Hoagland said "[The Face] has symmetry both in the center ridge line and left-and-right."

25 p.475. The authors note that some images released from the THEMIS imager on Mars Odyssey are 1947 x 333 pixels. They add "Or, 19.5 x 33."

FACT: 1947 is not 19.5. 333 is not 33. This is Grade 2 arithmetic.

26 p.514. Another of Hoagland's perennially mistaken beliefs is that NASA-JPL suppressed the fact that the two Viking Lander spacecraft (1976) actually found life on Mars. On this page he writes "What most people do not remember is that the Lander tests for life both came back positive. NASA, however, quickly moved to suppress this news and present an 'alternative' view..." and later, "NASA's determined efforts to suppress such a conclusion..."

FACT: Both the Viking spacecraft landers had identical biology experiments. Each spacecraft carried three separate experiments designed to test for biology in Martian topsoil. The experiments were developed independently by three different Principal Investigators (PIs). The experiments were:

Gas Exchange (GEX) PI Vance Oyama, NASA Ames
Labeled Release (LR) PI Gilbert Levín, Biospherics, Inc.
Pyrolytic Release (PR) PI Norman Horowitz, CalTech

In addition, a Gas Chromatograph Mass Spectrometer (PI Klaus Biemann, MIT) supported the main biology package by testing for organic molecules.

Results: At both landing sites the results were essentially identical. GEX and PR were unequivocally negative. LR initially showed strongly positive results, with the control (a sterilized sample) showing negative as expected. Subsequent nutrient injections, however, showed no response. The GCMS detected no organic molecules.

Interpretation: Responsibility for interpreting this enigma fell on the Head of Viking Biology, Harold Klein, with support from Viking Chief Scientist Gerry Soffen. Both were NASA employees. Their call was thumbs down for Martian biology. From a scientific point of view, looking at the overall picture, an absolutely correct call.


FACT: The complete LR data set, including the PI's notebook, is available to anyone on a NASA-sponsored web site. Dr. Gil Levín continues to publish evidence contesting the "official" Viking Biology conclusions. No effort has been exerted, by JPL or any other institution, to suppress him. He has some good points to make, but they have not yet prevailed. Yes, science can be a tough business. Hoagland, Bara, and Parfrey wouldn't know about that, of course.

27 p.541. "[O]n the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Apollo 11 ... [Neil] Armstrong himself had seemed frustrated. He started his highly emotional address by first comparing himself to a parrot--saying only what he had been told to say."

FACT: Armstrong said the exact opposite. His words were "Wilbur Wright once noted that the only bird that could talk was the parrot, and he didn't fly very well. So I'll be brief."

Quite obviously, he's apologizing for not being a good speaker because his talent, UNLIKE A PARROT, is for flying, not talking.

(Anybody can judge for themselves whether this speech was "highly emotional." I personally don't find it so. That's what Armstrong is always like as a public speaker.)

28 pp. 559-562, figs 12-13,14,15,16,17 and color figs. 27,28.
This section of "Dark Mission" is about EVA-2 of Apollo 17, specifically the last stop (Station 4) of this lunar trek, at a small crater called "Shorty." Shorty became famous as the place where astronauts Cernan and Schmitt discovered orange soil on the Moon. Hoagland alleges that, deep inside Shorty, the severed head of a robot can be seen in several of the Hasselblad frames taken by Jack Schmitt. Color fig. 28 is his "enhanced" enlargement of this rock.

On p.559 he writes that this was derived from "the highest resolution versions available from the Apollo Lunar Surface Journal website." That would be AS17-137-21000HR.jpg, a 2340 x 2364 pixel, 1073 kB image. An independent investigator has examined a far higher quality version of this image, derived not from the web but from a high-definition scan of the original negative. That image is a 5190 x 6175 pixel, 46.1 MB tiff image file. The finding was that Hoagland's manipulation of the lower-quality image was fraudulent. He artificially colorized the image in strips, then rotated it 45° to obfuscate that fact. The 45° strips can be seen by closely examining color fig. 28 and its equivalent on the web.

Hoagland goes further, asserting on p.561 that Cernan and Schmitt could actually have collected the rock and brought it back to Earth. He writes "...they certainly had enough off-camera time to descend the crater unobserved and bring it back."

FACT: Cernan and Schmitt had neither the means nor the opportunity to collect this rock. Here are five reasons why:

[1] It cannot be recognized as being "skull-like" with the unaided human eye from the position the astronauts were in, at the crater rim. This was their view, as recorded by the hand-held Hasselblad camera. Can you find the robot head?

[2] They had no means of descending the steep side of the crater — not to mention getting back up, carrying a rather heavy object even allowing for reduced lunar gravity.

[3] Even if they had wished to do so, they would undoubtedly have been forbidden to by Mission Control. The EVA was already running late, and the transcript shows that Mission Control reminded them more than once of walk-back constraints at this station.

[4] No discussion of robot retrieval is heard on the tapes of this station. It's inconceivable that the astronauts would have contemplated such a risky venture without discussion. It's equally impossible that such discussion was edited out because this was happening on live TV all across Planet Earth.


The archive video is not continuous, but examination of the timeline on this transcript shows no unexplained interval conceivably long enough for such a precarious venture as an unplanned descent into Shorty.

[5] They had no means of picking up a skull-sized rock. The hand-held scoop was sized for "fist-sized" rocks only, and the rake was completely inadequate.

Reference official press kit (pp 52-54)

It is not possible to bend down and pick up such a rock by hand when wearing the lunar spacesuit.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Is This Nibiru? No, Mike, it isn't

        Today Mike Bara posted a lamentably (and typically) unscientific piece on the darkmission blog, proposing that Zecharia Sitchin and Andy Lloyd may be onto something with their claim that a sinister, and inhabited, dwarf star occasionally wanders into the solar system. Bara wrote, in part:

I've always been interested in Sitchin's work because I think it is at least partially correct, and much of what he claims is in line with my own work with Richard Hoagland. Part of that was covered in Dark Mission, specifically where I mentioned my interactions with Dr. Gary Neugebauer around an object IRAS spotted in 1982 that was the subject of a Washington Post front page story. Since then, I've been trying to track down more information on the object with little success.

I posted what I thought was a helpful reply, but it was prevented from appearing on the blog.

Luckily, I'm able to help you. Research on the web lasting about ten minutes reveals what your patient work since 1982 did not -- an article written by astronomer Thomas J. Chester of IPAC (the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center) at Caltech.

Read the piece for yourself, Mike. It's not that long. Or, if you're too busy dating strippers and driving fast cars, please pay attention to these extracts:

"These [four] objects were therefore "mystery objects", at least until the mysteries were solved in short order. These sources all turned out to be distant galaxies except one which was a wisp of Galactic infrared cirrus (Soifer 1987, Annual Review of Astronomy & Astrophysics 25:187), and no such source has ever turned out to be a solar-system object."

"Nearly everyone on the IRAS Science Team who looked at the early IRAS data found at least one source that they initially thought could be "the tenth planet". Many of these observations turned out to be IRC+10216, a bright previously known source which is almost exactly in the ecliptic plane (the plane of the planets). I found a 12 µm source at high galactic latitude without an optical counterpart which was thought to be a potential brown dwarf for about a week, during which time rumors circulated through the astronomical community. The rumor came back to me in a much-changed form, as all rumors do, into a possible report of a tenth planet, so this could be another source of a "mystery object". This 12 µm source turned out to be a peculiar carbon star, quite distant."

"From Carol Lonsdale:

I may also have traced the origin of the actual rumor. It could be due to an investigation into a strange source found in the galaxy M31. Several IRAS team members identified this bright and extremely cold source close to the nucleus of M31, and studied it closely because it had such peculiar characteristics for actually being in the galaxy. At one point it was called ``the mystery source''. For a time it was believed to be in the solar system because it was thought there was evidence for motion. However that evidence was finally shown to be due to hysteresis (the after effect on the detectors of crossing bright sources) due to the nucleus of M31; the hysteresis caused the effect to occur in different directions on scans passing over M31 at different angles."

Even more accessible to stripper-chasers and fast-car-drivers is this brief summary (added in January 2008) from the IRAS wikipedia article:

"The observatory also made headlines briefly with the discovery of an "unknown object" that was at first described as "possibly as large as the giant planet Jupiter and possibly so close to Earth that it would be part of this solar system." However, further analysis revealed that, of several unidentified objects, nine were distant galaxies and the tenth was "intergalactic cirrus". None were found to be Solar System bodies."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Richard Hoagland's color "adjustment"

I'm obliged to a commenter on this blog, "moon real-estate", for leading me to a hilarious example of Richard Hoagland's utter incompetence when it comes to manipulation of Apollo lunar surface photography -- a game he has played very often, with usually fraudulent results.

"Moon real-estate" asked me to comment on a sequence from the Project Camelot interview Part 2, starting at 1:00:04. In this sequence, Hoagland projects a Hasselblad frame from Apollo 17 showing Jack Schmitt and the gnomon. A gnomon is a tripod-mounted device which shows local vertical and also provides a crude color chart. Hoagland claims that the picture has been deliberately de-saturated, and that when the color is restored by him to its true level, evidence of the glass domes he says are at the Apollo 17 site appears in the sky.

Here's a direct quote from the Camelot video:

RCH: "Here's probably my favorite... Here's a color chart -- here's our calibrator, red, green and blue, this is a gray-scale, called a gnomon...."

There's a rather substantial problem for him, however. The color calibrator on the gnomon is not red, green, and blue, as he thinks. Here's the technical description of the gnomon, from the official Apollo 17 Press Kit (emphasis added):

Gnomon and Color Patch

The gnomon is used as a photographic reference to establish local vertical Sun angle, scale, and lunar color. This tool consists of a weighted staff mounted on a tripod. It is constructed in such a way that the staff will right itself in a vertical position when the legs of the tripod are on the lunar surface. The part of the staff that extends above the tripod gimbal is painted with a gray scale from 5 to 35 percent reflectivity and a color scale of blue, orange, and green. The color patch, similarly painted in gray scale and color scale, mounted on one of the tripod legs provides a larger target for accurately determining colors in color photography.

So if Richard Hoagland adjusted the color of this frame under the mistaken impression that the gnomon color was red when in fact it was orange, HOW TRUSTWORTHY DO WE THINK HIS RESULTING IMAGE IS?

Anybody wanting to play around with this image for themselves can find a 752KB version here.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Buzz Aldrin's wife

        On July 31st, in a thread labeled "Buzz Aldrin says there's a monolith on Phobos," a regular blog-commenter posting as T'Zairis (an assistant librarian) wrote, in part:

I also went to Amazon after I watched the video of the Buzz, and I perused description info and customer reviews of his new bio, called 'Magnificent Desolation'.
While I didn't find anything to disabuse me of the notion that he is not really talking about Mars anomalies, he does apparently devote a lot of space in his book to his current squeeze, a woman by the name of Lois. She is apparently rather wealthy, as her family has all sorts of *banking connections*, which raises red flags for me when one is talking about 'governments within governments', secret connections, and things like escaping Nazis after WW2.
I'll have to see if the library system has ordered a copy of his bio as I am very interested in Lois's pedigree...

        Since I've actually read "Magnificent Desolation" I thought I would be helpful with those "red flags." I posted as follows:

To "T'Zairis":
Buzz Aldrin's third wife ("squeeze" is unnecessarily demeaning, don't you think?) is indeed Lois Driggs Cannon, of the formerly wealthy Arizona family that controlled Western S&L. After the US Government seized Western on June 14th 1989, the Driggs family fortunes became essentially worthless. I hope this is a useful starting point for your research.

ref: "Magnificent Desolation" p.228.

Mike Bara censored my post in its entirety.

June 2011: They divorced.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The moon-walkers had their memories "selectively edited"

        This is one of the more outrageous claims made in "Dark Mission" (and elsewhere) by the error-prone and scientifically-unqualified Mr. Hoagland. He uses it to explain why none of the twelve moon-walkers noticed the mile-high glass domes he says are on the Moon.

        The only conceivable micro-justification for this ludicrous claim is an offhand remark by Apollo 14 LMP Ed Mitchell, saying in effect that he sometimes has a hard time recalling exactly what his feelings were while on the Moon (Note that not even Ed Mitchell has ever said or even hinted that he has any difficulty remembering what he saw on the Moon.)

        Perhaps now that Buzz Aldrin's new book[1] is out, Hoagland and Bara will read it and think again. I'm not holding my breath, however -- demonstrable facts appear to make no impact on those two clowns.

[1] "Magnificent Desolation": Aldrin with Ken Abraham, Harmony 2009. ISBN 978-0307463456. Aldrin has no difficulty describing his feelings when on the Moon (page 57).

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Pareidolia strikes again!

        On May 8th Mike Bara posted this picture of a rock on Mars, on the official Dark Mission blog, with a brief comment ending..

"Now I don't know what the heck it is, but it sure looks like something that used to be alive. What do you think?"

        Considering that he directly solicited the ideas of his blog-readers, it's particularly strange that he refused to allow my comment to appear:

I think it's a breccia. Humanoid skulls don't have nasal bones anything like that.


        By May 11th, Mike had apparently seen the light of pareidolia, although it did not improve his spelling in any noticeable way. He wrote:

"I definetly think this is a skull, fossilized or not."

        He didn't say — probably didn't even think — what a skull might be doing in a landscape barren of any other sign of paleo-life. What does he think this ur-creature used for food? But that's the luxury of Hoagland/Bara style anti-science. What you confidently declare doesn't have to actually make sense.

        Just like Hoagland's confident declaration (Coast to Coast AM, March 16th) that the Shuttle Hubble-fixit mission would be canceled. The flight successfully launched yesterday, dead on time. D'oh!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

A refresher course in rocket equations

        Over on the "official" Dark Mission blog, Mike Bara has been urging his followers and Hoagland-sycophants to tune in to two recent interviews featuring himself. The interviews were conducted, respectively, by Skylaire Alfvegren of UFO Examiner and Regina Meredith of The Conscious Media Network. It's clear that neither of these ladies has any comprehension of science — but since the ideas and propositions of Richard Hoagland and Mike Bara have nothing in common with science anyway, that's spookily appropriate and probably harmless enough.

        The text interview with Alfvegren is full of hilarity such as Mike Bara confusing the initials ISS (for International Space Station) with Isis, a God of Egyptian mythology. The video with Meredith shows us Mike in fuller confusion, asserting that "everyone who IS anyone at NASA" is either a Nazi, a Freemason, or a follower of Aleister Crowley (I'm not making this up, sadly).

        I was personally distressed to notice that he's apparently still unaware that Hoagland's thesis titled Von Braun's Secret is based on mathematics that would shame a high school math student. I must have notified him of this about ten times since he first endorsed the totally erroneous theory. I posted yet another reminder to the blog, but of course it never saw the light of day. Mike Bara considers the darkmission blog "sycophants only." FWIW, here's my brief text.

Mike, you dolt, you've completely swallowed Hoagland's faulty math in "Von Braun's Secret." I thought you were supposed to be an engineer!!


* The Tsiolkovsky equation CANNOT be applied to three rocket stages all at once. It MUST be applied stage by stage. That's the whole point of rocket staging, really, Mike.

* Hoagland utterly failed to evaluate the logarithm in the equation.

For a rigorous dismantling of Hoagland's math, refer to this prior blog post.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Deeper into the slime

        Mike Bara waded yet further into the slime of ad hominem debate today, referring to me as "douche-bag." The occasion was yet another iteration of his completely mistaken idea that NASA is a primarily military institution. This ignorant fantasy occupies the first few pages of Hoagland & Bara's wretched book, in fact, and is very easily refuted.

        You probably ought to read the blog-post to get the full context. He quoted Buzz Aldrin, and then exercised his right as moderator to suppress my reply, which was as follows:

>>"...a military entity converted for the purpose of winning the space race.”<<
I think the key word there is "converted." Converted into a non-military entity, he means. The military entity he cites would be the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which incidentally gave us the Internet without which we couldn't be enjoying this pleasant discussion (pleasant, that is, if you overlook Mike Bara's fondness for personal insult as a substitute for logic.)

The first text Bara quotes from his co-author is based upon a hilarious mis-reading by that author. Here, once more with feeling, is a link to US Code Title 35. See if you can comprehend, by inspection of the number of times the word PATENT appears in just the first screen, what this Title is all about.

The second quote, about classified information, simply expresses what every NASA-watcher with any insight has always known -- NASA sometimes deals in classified activities and those don't get published. Richard Hoagland was negligent in not realizing this when he was advising CBS News, and perhaps he should now return some of what that organization paid him. The >50,000 sales of the error-filled "Dark Mission" should ensure that doesn't hurt too badly.

Buzz Aldrin does have a point. NASA was unquestionably formed in an atmosphere of intense Cold-War competitiveness, and Kennedy's committment to the Moon was likewise a direct challenge to the USSR with miltary implications. However, if that's ALL the agency ever was, as Hoagland & Bara appear to think, it would not only have been downsized in 1972 but utterly disbanded in 1991.

        By the way, as one who was lucky enough to have French girlfriends in his youth, I've seen douche-bags, believe me. Plenty. It's not a nice thing to be compared to but, y'know, they aren't actually slimy or anything. Just saying.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Those glass domes on the Moon

If you aren't used to the insanities of Richard Hoagland and Mike Bara, prepare to gasp. Perhaps to boggle. Perhaps both.

Hoagland & Bara have alleged, many times and with apparently straight faces, that there are vast glass structures on the moon, built by a long-dead lunar civilization and visible in some Apollo lunar surface photography after "enhancement." In answer to the question why these things aren't visible in the best orbital photographs, they reply "Obviously since they are made of glass, they are invisible."

This allegation, and those who challenge it (that means anyone who has any training in lunar science, anyone who has any training in photo interpretation, and anyone who has any common sense) has become topical again recently because of the strong likelihood that lunar orbital photographs will soon be available at higher resolution than ever before. Hypothetically, Hoagland & Bara might be asked to indicate on these pictures where exactly these so-called structures are. So far they have been strangely reluctant to specify coordinates.

Since I'm writing this for readers who are new to this rather surprising proposition, let's start at square one.

The "evidence"
Richard Hoagland likes nothing more than to manipulate NASA photography in his Photoshop™ software and see what pops out at him, so that he can claim that NASA is hiding something from us. Playing this game with Apollo lunar orbital and surface photos, he cites several examples where he says extremely large glass domes are visible when the photographs are "enhanced." Here is one of his favorites. This is from Apollo 12, Mission Elapsed Time 116:57:52, on EVA-1, showing Al Bean beginning to deploy the ALSEP lunar surface science package. A timeline reference is at

For comparison, here is a high-resolution version of the original Hasselbald photograph, AS12-46-6807 from magazine 46Y, before Hoagland manipulated it. Notice a few things as you compare the two images:

* Hoagland's version is 450 x 340px, 29 kB. This compares with the 2359 x 2374px, 1.285 MB of the original. The original is, therefore, an inherently truer view.
* Don't be fooled, as Phil Plait was initially in scorning this photo, by the lens flare that happens to be superimposed on the astronaut. That's NOT what Hoagland's imagination tells him is a glass dome. No, he says that the stippled effect in the sky — black in the original, as it should be — is a reflection off the glass dome. In some versions of the manipulated photo the sky appears midnight blue.
* Note that the "stippled effect" also appears in the astronaut's shadow on the moon's surface, which was also black in the original , and also as it should be. What Hoagland did in "enhancing" this photograph was to inhibit black and progressively enhance tones trending toward white. It's done with the "curves" feature in Photoshop™, and what it essentially means is that every pixel that used to be black has been told it has to become something else because black ain't allowed. So, lacking guidance as to what that something else should be, the algorithm produces random effects. It goes almost without saying that this process goes way beyond what might be considered legitimate photo-processing.

Hoagland & Bara would say that we have been fooled by NASA's manipulation of AS12-46-6807 to artificially obscure the glass dome, and that he obtained a uniquely un-manipulated print from Ken Johnston. However, the grotesque appearance of the foreground subject plainly attests to the fact that the manipulation is theirs, not NASA's. Also, since they were working from a print rather than the archive negative, a scanning process of unknown quality must have been involved. Hoagland consistently refuses to divulge technical detail of his photo-processing steps.

A rather poorly translated survey of Hoagland's other "evidence" starts here.

Apollo astronauts speak out -- or mostly don't
Hoagland does not claim that these structures are present at all six of the Apollo landing sites, but he seems sure about the site of Apollo 14 as well as 12. So if these structures exist, it might be expected that at least astronauts Conrad, Bean, Shepard and Mitchell would be the guys to ask about it. Unfortunately for Hoagland & Bara, few of the astronauts have even heard of them, let alone paid the slightest attention to their crackpot theories. The exception is Ed Mitchell, LMP of Apollo 14, who agreed to listen to Hoagland's idea and comment on it, on the Coast to Coast AM radio show in May 1996. To nobody's surprise, Ed Mitchell flatly stated that he had no knowledge of any such structures, and he wanted to know how it was possible for his Lunar Module to have flown through a glass dome in order to land inside it.

Hoagland replied:

"I presume that it's got tremendous amounts of holes, and you safely came down through [a] pretty open structure."

He added:

"[M]aybe you didn't [know about them], but maybe the guys that sent you there and picked the landing sites did."

Now, that last statement is a real gob-smacker, as they say in England. He's saying that Apollo mission planners were aware of a monster hazard in the vicinity of the Apollo 14 landing site, AND DID NOT INFORM THE CREW.

Mitchell's final word on the theory: "Green cheese and baloney" (see also his reference to Hoagland's masturbatory habits, on the Swedish site cited earlier).

Hoagland later developed the theory that the Apollo astronauts have had their memories "selectively edited" so that they no longer remember seeing glass domes or other evidence of lunar civilization. He has never said how this was accomplished, or how he came by such knowledge. Not for the first time, he's come up with a theory so outlandish and so utterly devoid of supporting evidence that we have to wonder whether he himself actually believes it. Does he, or is he just playing games?

Better resolution photos coming shortly
Two people with acknowledged expertise in the Space business recently drew attention to this fact on the Dark Mission official blog. On 10th Feb 2009 James Oberg posted:

"I'm interested in going beyond the forty-year-old photos as shown -- I want to get the latitude/longitude of the claimed anomalies and then look up those locations on the Japanese, Chinese, Indian, and European Space Agency databases from their recent independent lunar orbital photoreconniassance missions. Just to compare. Might be illuminating, you think?

This task is frustrated by Mike's stated refusal to provide actual latitude/longitude locations of claimed structures."

Ten days later, Don Davis posted:

"The Apollo 'Panoramic' orbital cameras has a resolution of about 2 m, the 'metric' camera about 30m. the hand held photography probably somewhat worse in resolution then the Metric camera. Apollo only covered a limited part of the Moon, that which happened to be under it's designated orbits, and in sunlight.
A quick look at Lunar Orbiter spacecraft image resolution figures for mission 4, with which most nearside global mapping was done, ranges from 58-134 m although many Lunar Orbiter images show more detail, many less.

China’s Chang’e-1:
* Stereo camera with an optical resolution of 120 m

India’s Chandrayaan-1:
* Terrain Mapping Camera is a CCD camera with 5 m resolution

Japan's SELENE
*Terrain camera (TC) resolution 10 meters per pixel and 2 HDTV cameras

The upcoming LRO will see details down to a meter across. So anyone wanting to predict things on the Moon that they think they see at the limits of resolution of older photos should be overjoyed that opportunities are imminent to re-examine the areas in question with new and sharper detail."

Mike Bara's only response to this eminently reasonable and inherently scientific approach was this:

"Yeah, LRO, a mission run by NASA. Riiiiiiight.

I trust that about as much as I trust Lunar Orbiter data being "processed" by Jim Oberg and his pals."

I posted as follows, which Mike Bara refused to publish:

"Mike, since you say you see glass structures on the moon in NASA-supplied photography, albeit photoshopped beyond the point of being useful, why do you now mistrust NASA-supplied photography at better resolution? You'll be free, of course, to put your photoshop experts to work making all kinds of monsters appear.

Don Davis is right -- you should welcome this opportunity. C'mon, LET'S HAVE THE EXACT LOCATIONS OF YOUR GLASS STRUCTURES."

Summary & conclusion
Hoagland's presentation of the Apollo 12 Hasselblad frame is clearly fraudulent.

His explanation of why Ed Mitchell dismisses the theory has no credibility whatsoever.

Mike Bara's refusal to provide coordinates of the claimed structures after a very reasonable request further damages the credibility of the whole theory and shows it up as profoundly unscientific.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Imaginary Masonic rituals and fake star alignments

Yesterday something pretty funny arrived on the Dark Mission "official" blog. Under the title "Meet the New Boss... the Same as the Old Boss," Mike Bara constructed a fantasy of masonic ritual, woven around the second swearing-in ceremony in the Map Room of the White House, served up with an unmistakable whiff of racism. The analysis underlying this ridiculous nonsense was at the level of numerology. I had to comment:

I offer the following comments on your post "Meet the New Boss...", which attains new heights of absurdity as you stretch to breaking point in your attempt to find "ritual symbolism" in a small ceremony that was hastily arranged, and that absolutely nobody could possibly have predicted the need for until a few hours before its occurrence.

* You write of the "overwhelming Masonic overtones of this second swearing-in ceremony." Who are you alleging arranged these overwhelming overtones? President Obama himself? I don't think he's a freemason, is he? How about the First Lady? Not a mason, by definition. How about NASA? Think they arranged it, at a couple of hours notice? You might think about obvious facts like these before posting such drivel. "Masonic overtones" were not overwhelming, Mike. They were entirely absent.

* The hour of 7:30 pm is not known as 19:30 in Washington DC. It is not known as 19.5 by anybody on Earth -- with, I guess, the exception of conspiracy theorists with no understanding of science or mathematics.

* Isn't the "ritual significance" of the number 19.5 supposed to attach to angles, anyway, according to your baseless theories?

* There is nothing strange, still less "ritual", about an architect trained in London in the 18th century being a Freemason. It would be more strange to find such a person who was not.

* There is nothing strange, still less "ritual", about re-arrangement of rooms in the White House at the start of a new Administration. It happens every single time, Mike. Like clockwork. You write "what does it imply for our new President and what does this symbolism signal about his true loyalties?" The answer is -- movement of a portrait on the wall of the White House Map Room signals nothing at all.

* The ancient Egyptians would not have measured anything in feet or inches. Neither would modern Egyptians, come to that -- so your teasing out of the "ritual" figure 666 in relation to the Washington Monument is not only meaningless but dishonest as well.

* Your analysis of the positions of stars at the moment of the ceremony is, as usual, meaningless. Actually, even more laughable than your other star alignments, since you admit you were not able to find a significant 'hit.' I wonder why, in that case, you even raise the point. It simply makes you look idiotic.

I wish that you had spent your time addressing the factual objections James Oberg has expressed over your characterization of Ken Johnstone, which appears to be incorrect. Oberg has already pointed out that your description of three failed Mars missions is entirely in error. I have exposed your "Data's Head" image as a fraud, and found a fatal error in the mathematics of "Von Braun's secret." You have conceded that Neil Armstrong never likened himself to a parrot. You have admitted that you have no evidence to support your contention that Apollo astronauts brought alien technology back from the Moon. Farouk El-Baz himself has written on this blog that there were many managers of the Apollo program more senior than him. There's not a whole lot left, even for your ardent fans, to believe in. Why not just cancel the proposed second edition?

Naturally, Mike Bara blocked publication. He can't stand rational analysis.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Hoagland's GSFC identity badge

On Jan 31 Mike Bara posted this image of a temporary badge issued to Richard Hoagland by NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center some time in the 1970s. This was in support of Hoagland's claim that he once worked as a NASA contractor.

It certainly does seem to support that claim -- but I wondered about the authenticity of the company that the badge lists as the company that Hoagland represents: HOAGLAND CO. I requested more information in the following polite post:

Could we know a little more about the HOAGLAND CO. that the GSFC temporary badge declares that he represents?

Was it a public corporation? Where was it headquartered? Who were its principal officers? How many employees?

Thanks -- this is just to see if he actually was a contractor, or perhaps just a one-day visitor, admitted to give an invited talk to an employee interest group.

Mike Bara refused to answer. I find that suspicious.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The buried city on Mars

        On January 20th 2009 Mike Bara, posting on the "official" Dark Mission blog, treated the world to yet another "This of course confirms what we wrote x years ago" performance, this time in response to a NASA release about underground glaciers on Mars.

        Although the location of the newly-detected glaciers does not include Cydonia, Bara was not shy about claiming triumph in respect of one of Richard Hoagland's wildest speculations, from Chapter 10 of his error-riddled book. He says a false-color IR image from the THEMIS instrument on Mars Odyssey represents a buried city, encased in ice and covered with what he calls "poof dust." Here's a link to the image.

        Exercising his privilege as moderator, Mike Bara censored this rather mild enquiry:

Could we please have additional data on this image? Does it represent a 20x20 kM ground area, as standard THEMIS images do?

If so, your "city" has surprisingly long blocks, don't you think?

Do you have reasons for asserting that this is a city other than the fact that its general layout reminds you of an aerial photo of a city? Or is this perhaps like the "face," the "crinoid," the "crashed spacecraft," the "robot head," or the "machine parts" — purely in the imagination of Richard Hoagland?

This is NOT science, Mike.