Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Drag in the Strawmen when all else fails

Having failed miserably to torpedo the Roswell, NM incident of July, 1947, we find Pastor Mikey now dredges up the grandest strawman of all: the “alien autopsy video” which appeared (and was shown on FOX – as you might expect!) some four years ago. While the film instantly caused lots of consternation and comment, in the end sharp minds analyzing it realized that it was a well—constructed hoax.

Even film producer Ray Santilli and fellow producer Gary Shoefield admitted (by April 4, 2006) that their film was only partially real (a "few frames," in their words) and stated that the rest was a reconstruction of twenty-two rolls of film, averaging four minutes in length, which Santilli had viewed in 1992 but which had subsequently degraded from humidity and heat. They said that only a few frames of the original were still intact by the time they had raised enough money to purchase.

When I first saw the autopsy film, I taped it to study later. After several replays, I was convinced I was watching a superb theatric performance, and the “alien” was merely a fantastically crafted prop- not dissimilar to what one sees in many scifi films. While certain aspects of the set did conjure up a 1940s flair (such as the telephone) these were only meant to throw off the observer. In a way it evoked the “ectoplasm” that appeared when people attempted seances in the cemetaries of New Orleans in the 1960s, which I used to expose on a regular basis. (The fake ectoplasm was generally created by a hidden person using a fume-generating device that was popular in discos of the era)

Within four years after that, and heading to Barbados in Peace Corps, I began my UFO investigations, which mainly were done to show that nearly all such reported “craft” were really identified objects, natural or manmade.

Thus, arguing Roswell is nonsense on the basis of the purported alien autopsy video is like arguing cold fusion is nonsense on the basis of a cartoon showing two guys in lab coats using a test tube (in which water’s being electrolyzed to form hydrogen) to power up a whole library. In either case, if one genuinely seeks disproof, one must show the actual evidence for the claim doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. In the same way, I already showed how Noah’s Ark would sink because its displacement – given all the animal pairs it would have to board- would violate Archimedes’ principle of flotation, e.g.


Now, if one wants or demands a scientific source as the basis of putative alien intelligence visiting he Earth, one can do no better than enlisting Physicist Edward U. Condon’s Air Force- commissioned Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects(1969, NY Times Books) While most of the cases are exposed as either natural or meteorological phenomena – or possible hoaxes- one case stands out: Case 46, p. 396 from McMinnville Ore. (11 May, 1950) that concludes - and I quote, from p. 407:"This is one of the few UFO reports in which all factors investigated: geometric, psychological and physical appear to be consistent with the assertion that an extraordinary flying object- silvery, metallic and disc shaped flew within sight of two witnesses. "

I found the best part of the case study was the photometric analysis (pp. 402-06). This was essential in order to discriminate luminance conditions between a hypothetical hand model nearby and an actual, extraordinary, distant flying object. The key observation made by the investigators was:

"The shadowed bottom of the UFO (see image) has a particularly pale look suggestive of scattering between observer and object. If such scattering is detectable it may be possible to make some estimate of the distance involved".

From there they list a sequence of possible interpretations, including: optical fabrication or double exposure (rejected because the UFO is darker than the sky background luminance); a retouch of a drawn image (rejected because analysis of the negatives disclosed they were unretouched); physical fabrication using a 'frisbee' hand spun model (rejected because the UFO displays an off-axis pole which is never seen displaced, i.e. in rotation); model suspended from a wire (similar positions in each photo -so possible), and extraordinary flying object (since photometry suggests a large distance).

So, in the end, the last two interpretations had to be analyzed for consistency with the least likely of the two rejected.

The investigators proceeded by computation of the luminance, or the apparent brightness of an object at a distance r, normalized relative to some intrinsic value B(o) at r(o), viz p. 402:

B = B(sky) (1 - exp(-br)) + B(o) exp(-br)

where b is the scattering coefficient. In the equation, the first term (with B(sky)) represents scattered light and the second term, extinction. As the investigators noted (ibid.):

"Since all measures must be based on the witnesses' two photographs, we will determine b for the given day from the photographs themselves. Normalizing all brightnesses (measured from the film and assuming that the images fall on the linear portion of the gamma curve (see- e.g. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamma_correction) to that of the sky near the horizon, i.e. on a line within a few thousand feet of the ground, where the UFO is constrained to be by the reported cloud height and probable nearness to the camera, we have:

B = 1 + exp(-br)[B(o) - 1]"

From the above, if the object is sufficiently distant one would have:

exp(-br) -> 0

so therefore,

B = 1 + exp (0)[B(o) - 1] = 1 + [B(o) - 1] and B equals the sky brightness. (in optical terms, the optical depth t >> 1)

To ascertain whether the claimed sighting photographed is a fake then, all that's needed is to solve for the distance r, given a zero distance luminance B(o) cmopared to an observed luminance B. As can be seen from tjhe equation, to do this one needs to obtain the scattering coefficient, b.

The investigators used densitometric analysis to obtain an assorted range of values for the luminance B, for different objects appearing in the photographic image - these are presented in Table 2, from the Case Study. (Shown, with comparison of two plates, 23 and 24). Since the investigators knew the distance of 'Hill 2' at 2.2 km then photometry indicated B = 0.685 for the distance hill, while the foreground foliage yielded B = 0.403.

Processing all this data in concert, the investigators obtained the distance r = 0.32 km, or just over 1,050 feet as the distance to the object - nearly one fifth of a mile. The investigators graphically illustrated the domains of the two hypotheses via their graph (Fig. 3) which is appended here. As they note (p. 406):

"If the object is a model suspended from a wire only a few meters away the surface is some 37% brighter (B = 1.21 v. B = 0.885) than the tank and the shaded portion is probably more than 40% brighter than the shadow on the tank...nearly impossible to maintain in the face of the photometry.

The shadowed side of the UFO appears so bright that it suggests significant scattering between it and the observer

In other words, conforming with the distance calculated from the luminances*.

The point of all this is there IS evidence for extraordinary craft if those like the blustering pastor are willing to find it, including from thorough scientific sources. The odds are he won't seek any further than his good book, because he can't mentally process the shock of accepting a premise that he firmly believes it forbids!

(*Note: the investigators examined one last fake model possibility, with top and bottom sections painted differently- or an aluminum pie pan sealed on the bottom with white paper. However, they again ruled this out based on the photometry).

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