Sunday, April 08, 2007

On the English version of the Left Hand Path

The English version of my first book is going to be different in certain respects from the original Finnish edition. First, my response to Harri Heino, past representative of Evangelic Lutheran Church of Finland is not going to be included into my English translation book. Second, I have removed my note that man has landed on the Moon. Based on my studies, I am not anymore sure if a man has ever landed on the Moon.


Blogger Virpi said...

It is so nice to notice that I am not the only person beliving that Apollo flights may have just been a huge hoax.

Actually when ever we feel bored with my two daughters, we just open any apollo photos published by nasa and spend a nice hour tying to find more errors in them...our 'errorlist' is getting rather long;D

9:27 pm  
Blogger Joni said...

What are (or what are like), if I may ask, these you own studies that have led you to this latter opinion about the Moon landings? I have studied, from both "sides", the matter a bit myself, and would be interested in hearing about possible new fresh perspectives.

Furthermore, in a bit jocular vein, I could also congratulate Virpi for having children who already at young age are familiar with complex extraterrestrial effects that reduced gravity, lack of atmosphere etc. on a distant planet or moon would cause to the objects and movements in a completely unfamiliar surroundings, as those continue to confuse even experts time-to-time :)

10:16 am  
Blogger Bera Cealdecote said...

One of my first jobs was working for a digital television channel that specialized in science and technology. We used to get submissions from all sorts of people who wanted to see their research and theories on TV.

I must admit, when we received submissions from people - complete with pages of "evidence" - explaining why the moon landings were faked, we passed them around the office for a good laugh then threw them away.

That's not to say that the moon landing weren't faked - they could have been - but it seems very unlikely to me that the Soviets and the USA managed to collaborate on such a complicated cover-up. I reckon it'd be much easier to just fly to the moon for real.

11:49 am  
Blogger Tapio Kotkavuori said...

Hi Joni,

I have read through and watched quite a bit of stuff related to this (what you can find from the net). The whole range of this type of materials can be found summarized quite nicely in Wikipedia:

I am a layman when it comes to this stuff, so I feel I can't really go into a needed finer knowledge that would entitle me to say absolutely "yes" or "no" here. But the questions posed seem serious enough to make me say "I really don't know if that ever happened or not".

Sure, hoax of this kind looks pretty fantastic (way more so than official story of 9/11), but I still (regardless of it being SO fantastic) can't totally convincingly argue this hoax away.

What do you think about the whole subject? What are the weakest and stronges points in the Moonlanding hoax arguments?

10:06 pm  
Blogger Joni said...

Dear Tapio,

This is an interesting subject, and I would be happy to discuss it in detail. I'm afraid, however, that a thorough discussion would quickly become too heavy for a blog-comment purpose; I set myself to write an article to my own blog about this and, once published, send link to you.

On a more general level one could say that the problem with the moonlanding is a bit similar to Columbus finding America: can we really be sure it ever happened? “The Ministry of Truth” could be “tuning” history books and evidence – maybe we are all living in “The Truman Show”. Or maybe just I am. Or maybe just you? The real world can be watchin on a true-TV, and I (or you) could be just another actor trying to get the show directed to a new direction. How could you tell?

However, the “opposite” theory, that everything is just framed, seems to me much more improbable. I feel the same with Moon landings; it can be hoax, of course, but which is more probable: that struggling-not-to-lose-to-communists superpower living its Golden Age sends three men to the Moon, or that every piece of evidence is framed? Starting from moonrocks, ending to astronomers (both amateurs and professionals) forging observations either independently (why?) or in an organised manner (how?).

The only way I could see this kind of thing faked is with cold-war USA and USSR co-working very closely from beginning to the end, and destroying all the evidence of the fake as well as of the collaboration (also silencing everyone who knew of the plot). Furthermore, having studied and worked in the field of space science, including space flights, trajectory planning, life support systems, spacecraft design etc., I see the “real thing” being much more probable option. What comes to the technical side, nation that can manufacture waterproof digital watches can easily fly to the Moon.

Nevertheless, the value of this kind of pondering can be, of course, very valuable as well as popular, as can be seen from the vast amount of various theories about Moon landings, 9/11, UFOs, Illuminati, holocaust, man-made global warming, etc. -- some very accurate and probably closer to the truth than the “public opinion”, other less so.

In a nutshell, I personally think we have much more evidence for Moon landing than we have for hoax scenario. For the former we have plenty of evidence in many forms, and, as far as I know, all the evidence for the hoax-theory is just doubting the evidence for the former option.

Or, maybe I'm just another paid-to-be-quiet astronomer following the pre-written script ;^)

However, I wholeheartedly agree to your comment, that the questions posed seem serious enough to make me say "I really don't know if that ever happened or not". I just think I have enough evidence to make up my mind regarding the question. But there are also those who have arrived at the opposite conclusion.

6:59 pm  
Blogger Tapio Kotkavuori said...

Hi Joni,

thanks for great notes!

I would be very interested to read your further thoughts on this subject from your blog. Please keep me updated :)

7:53 pm  
Blogger Bera Cealdecote said...

When seeking an explanation for some phenomenon, we should propose various different theories and see which one best fits the evidence.

In the case of the moon landing, the obvious first theory to propose is that NASA actually sent some men to the moon and brought them back again.

This theory appears to fit the evidence quite well, but there are those who claim that it does not.

Most of the arguments of the "disbelievers" appear to be based on misunderstanding, such as the woman who claims that NASA can't have landed on the moon because she watched the moon landing on television and her television set can't receive pictures from the moon. Most of the apparently more sophisticated arguments against the evidence produced by NASA are actually misunderstandings of this sort, which have already been explained in many different places. Some of them cannot be so conclusively dismissed (such as the C-shaped markings that appear on some rocks in some photos) but they can be just as plausibly explained in a way that does not contradict NASA as they can in any other way.

So, although it could have been faked, no-one has yet provided any evidence for that hypothesis. The important fact here is that the onus is on those who claim it is a hoax to provide a better theory than those who claim it was real. The hypothesis that it was real fits all the known evidence very well.

As Joni says, those that claim it was a hoax have not explained how it was a hoax. How did the USA manage to convince the USSR to play along? How did they manage to convince all the independent astronomers who confirmed it? How have they kept such a huge secret for so long?

You can't ask me to prove a negative. You can't ask me to prove that it was not a hoax. It is up to those that think it was a hoax to prove that it was.

Similarly, maybe your right arm does not exist. Maybe every time you think you see or feel or use your right arm you are hallucinating. It's possible. It could be true. But unless I come up with some evidence for it I wouldn't expect you to believe me. The hypothesis that fits the evidence much better is that you really do have a right arm.

The main problem I have with conspiracy theories is that, although great fun, they always strike me as an attempt to find meaning and purpose in the outside world. People who get really into their conspiracy theories are very similar to people who really get into their biblical fundamentalism. They are looking outside themselves for meaning. Initiates should create meaning themselves, it should come from within.

12:57 pm  
Blogger Tapio Kotkavuori said...

Hi Bera,

you wrote:

"The main problem I have with conspiracy theories is that, although great fun, they always strike me as an attempt to find meaning and purpose in the outside world. People who get really into their conspiracy theories are very similar to people who really get into their biblical fundamentalism. They are looking outside themselves for meaning. Initiates should create meaning themselves, it should come from within".


"When seeking an explanation for some phenomenon, we should propose various different theories and see which one best fits the evidence".

Amen to that :)

1:38 pm  
Blogger Tapio Kotkavuori said...


do you know if there are plans to get close-ups of the Moon with the technology currently available? What are the latest pictures of this kind taken?

I think that pictures showing all that stuff that was left (or not) from the Moon landing there would be quite convincing evidence pro the landing (provided they were convincing enough :P).

11:59 am  
Blogger Joni said...

Dear Tapio,

I don't believe anyone is planning space missions to take images on the Moon landing site, and with the terrestrial telescopes there is a definite upper limit on the resolution due to the smearing effect of the atmosphere (you can see these effects even with your naked eyes: real stars twinkle as much as our Sun does, but they seem flickering because of the turbulence in the atmosphere between our eyes and the stars).

It might be educational to take a look at the distances and resolutions.
Resolution tells you how small objects or distances you can see; it doesn't matter if something is one millimetre or thousand miles away -- it's "angular diameter" is all that matters. Like, the angular diameter of the Moon or the Sun from our point of view is half a degree, or 30 arc-minutes (degree is like an hour: it's divided into 60 minutes, each of which is divided into 60 seconds). If you keep your arm stretched and your thumb up, your thumbnail is half a degree wide as well. So in order to see the moon or your thumb as anything else than just a dot, you need to have resolution of more than 30 arc-minutes. Luckily, your eyes have resolution of a few arc-minutes, so you can easily see details on the Moon or even on your toes; on the Moon you can see features that are larger than 1/15th of the size of the Moon.

The Hubble space telescope has resolution of roughly 0.04 arc-seconds, which translates to roughly 1/45000th of the Moon. This means (as the Moon is roughly 1740 kilometres in diameter) that with using Hubble we can see lunar structures that are more than 40 metres in size. With certain cunning technical tricks the resolution can be improved a bit, but even with the best cameras we cannot get to "linear size" of smaller than 32 metres. And this is the theoretical minimum. So there's absolutely no way we can see the even base of the lunar module or a few metres in size, not to mention the tracks or the flag of only tens of centimetres wide, using the current technology. A future lunar orbiter with a sensitive enough camera could, however, probably be able to do that, but I don't believe NASA will spend billions or trillions just to send such an orbiter to prove that they didn't fake the previous missions, as there would be new theories claiming that this is just another fake, and the orbiter images are forged :)

HOWEVER, there is one object on the Moon that is visible, in a sense. The Apollo 11 astronauts installed (or "are claimed to have installed" :) ) a laser reflector, i.e. a mirror, on the surface of the Moon. The purpose of this is to allow for very accurate precision measurements of the distance between the Moon and the Earth within an inch. The Apollo 14 and 15 missions installed two other reflector panels later. Since their installation, all the three panels have been targeted by short and narrow beams of laser (which is just a compact beam of light; forget the Star War Deathstars for a moment...), and by measuring extremely accurately the time between the launch of the beam on Earth and the moment it gets reflected on the surface of the Moon, we are able to calculate the exact distance of the sender lasers (one station in Texas, one in Havaii, one in France, and a new one in Germany) and the panels, i.e. the Earth and the Moon. The panels are quite small themselves, but they are planned to be "perfect reflectors" and have structure similar to normal reflectors (you know, "heijastin" in Finnish; those shiny things you wear in dark fall and winter, and that are small themselves, but light up brightly and are visible from all directions when hit by light from car headlights), and work in the same way: when lit (by the light from Earth, channeled by an "inverse" telescope) become sufficiently bright to be light up at least one pixel in the observing telescope's camera, although still too faint for the human eye -- remember the distances here! The results from this experiments are used to improve our models of the rotation of the Moon and its revolving around (and drifting away from) the Earth, but they also prove that someone has gone there and installed and aligned the panels; unless, of course, the technological level of the USA in the 60s was far more advanced than what it is thought to have been, and they actually had the panels delivered and installed by robots, just to fake the Moon landings because they are technically too challenging :)

And as the astronomers know the on-surface locations of the panels and see them fixed in the same position from different observatories, there is no way the effect could be due to satellites (unless we are again able to assume some truly remarkable future-technology). In short, the only reasonable explanation is that there really are these mirrors on the Moon -- that just cannot be denied (I could go on for hours just concerning the vast amount of data astronomers have got from these simple measurements!). And, again, by far the easiest and probable explanation is that the mirrors have been placed there by man. It may be otherwise, but then I (and many others) would be interested in seeing the details and physics of another explanation; new evidence for the opposite theory is needed, not just doubting the old evidence.

But to conclude, there are no pictures of those Apollo objects, nor is it possible to get them with the current technology. And even if it was, there would still be people claiming them to be fake :)

2:15 pm  

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