Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Science Myths and Misconceptions - Part III: Dark Side of the Moon

#3 - The Dark Side of the Moon
Despite what Pink Floyd would have you believe, there isn't a side of the moon that is always dark. All parts of the moon are lit by the sun at some point.

There is a far side of the moon, though. Anytime you look up in the sky you will see the same face of the moon. The far side side of the moon is the side that always faces away from the earth. This happens because the moon is tidal locked with the earth - it takes just as long for the moon to rotate the earth as it takes for it to rotate around its own axis.






The far side of the moon was not seen until the Russian probe Luna 3 sent back photographs in 1959.

Photograph taken by Luna 3
In 1968 astronauts on Apollo 8 became the first to directly visualize the far side of the moon. Apollo 16 astronauts gave us this stunning photo.


But no story about the moon would be complete without a conspiracy theory. On the far side of the moon there is said to be a large, hidden, alien complex. This website says that:
"There is a HUGE alien moon base complex on the far side of the moon. This sounds silly but it is true and we have solid proof… straight from the military.
In 1994, the US Navy sent a satellite called Clementine to the moon to image it for two months. During that time, the satellite took 1.8 million images. Out of those images, 170,000 images were made available to the public. The rest were classified. Classified moon craters?

Within the 170,000 images available, there are many obviously censored images of incredibly massive artificial structures, structures often MILES in width and height. The sheer size of these structures eliminates the possibility that we built them; the numbers of trips by rockets carrying materials would be outrageously large.

This is the biggest discovery in history. Certain military and government agencies have known for decades. The alien moon base has been up there in various forms for possibly tens of thousands of years.
...
Also, these satellite images have been censored. So you will see images with huge, alien structures that have been photographically “smudged” to hide the structure or structures."
Let's just point out a few problems in this man's logic.

1 - "Smudged" images.
This is called anomaly hunting. Just because there is a smudge on the photograph does not mean that the smudge was created to hide something. What is more likely - the image is smudged because astronauts had to travel to the freaking moon to take the picture or that a government wide conspiracy is holding this information from us and not a single person has said a word. I tend to discredit any idea that requires the entire government uniting.

2 - "Tens of thousands of years"
So we have a a few smudged pictures and this now means that not only does an alien complex exist, but it has existed for tens of thousands of years? Unless the picture is clear enough to see "EST. 22,146 BC" on one of the smudged buildings I don't see how this claim is warranted at all. Why must the Navy1 explain every last smudge in the photographs but the alternative theory is okay to throw out this wild time frame?  Be wary when extraordinary claims are given with no evidence. It's a sure sign that something is wrong. 

3 - 1.8 million images taken but only 170,000 released?
At first glance, this sounds suspicious. Why would only 170,000 images be released? My initial explanation was that it would put a heavy load on the server to release ~1.6 million useless pictures. My brother is an avid photographer. When he takes my family pictures he takes hundreds of pictures but we only end up putting one on our wall. It's not because the other images have aliens in the background. Two minutes on Google gave an answer that is even more simple - there weren't 1.8 million images taken. At least not in the common use of the word. Clementine was a probe that spent 2 months in orbit and most of the work was spectroscopic. Clementine's purpose was to map the 38 million square kilometers of the moon. 1 million of these "images" are just emission spectra taken at scientifically relevant wavelengths from the ultraviolet to the near IR. In other words, most of the "images" look like this. My guess is that the "images" are not classified, but are just raw data that would need to be requested from the researchers.

All things considered, none of this seems like "solid proof" to me at all.

Notes
[1] A side note: It may be true that the Navy funded this probe, but for some reason this guy thinks the Navy was in charge of every detail of the mission.

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