The back story on that fireball video I posted up last night is that it was seen over southern Russia (somewhere near Ufa) on the evening of 11 February 2013, four days before the big Chelyabinsk fireball. I’d seen the video years back but – like most of my readers – thought that the fireball was moving away from the dashcam, and therefore going south, with the sun setting in the east.
But a week or so back, a Russian correspondent suggested that a good candidate for a companion of asteroid 2012 DA14 was a fireball that had been seen in Bashkiria, going south to north like DA14.
So I fired up my orbital simulation model, created a cloud of rocks around DA14 moving in the same direction and at the same speed, and fairly quickly found one that arrived in roughly the right place at about the right time. The impact in southern Russia is shown below as a red-blue flèche, moving south to north, and slightly eastwards.
I then remembered the video I’d seen, and took another look at it, and once again thought the fireball was heading south, away from the dashcam, and so couldn’t be a DA14 companion. No, my Russian correspondent replied, it’s heading north and slightly east towards the dashcam.
And taking another look at the video I could finally – with a big effort – see what he meant: it could be seen as a fireball moving towards the viewer, experiencing several explosions (during which it would have lost a lot of its mass), before falling to earth. The video was ambiguous, a bit like the is-it-mother-or-daughter image at right (which I always first see as daughter, and only see as mother with some difficulty).
That’s when I thought I’d ask my readers, guessing that most of them would interpret the video the same way I had, and would see the fireball as moving away from the dashcam (about 90% of them did).
And what it all seems to mean is that when a bunch of people see a fireball in the sky, most likely most of them will see it going in one direction, but a small minority will see it going in the opposite direction. And that’s probably why many reports of fireballs are contradictory.
Anyway, I now think the Bashkir fireball could have been a companion of DA14. Except that NASA have told me personally that Asteroids Don’t Have Companions.
Which reminds me why I got into all this in the first place: I object to being told by self-appointed authorities that Smoking Causes Lung Cancer or Carbon Dioxide Causes Global Warming or Asteroids Don’t Have Companions – particularly when there’s good reason to think that the ‘authorities’ don’t know what they’re talking about.
And in the case of NASA, what roused my suspicion that they didn’t know what they were talking about was when they started denying any association between the passage of asteroid 2012 DA14 and the Chelyabinsk event on the same day they both happened – 15 February 2013 -, and before any of the emerging videos had been studied.
The other thing that it reminded me about was that almost all these authoritative claims have a mathematical character. In the case of NASA it’s the well-established Newtonian laws of gravity and motion (which are built into my simulation model). And in the case of antismoking claims it’s statistics. And in the case of global warming it’s mathematical simulation models of highly complex, chaotic atmospheric processes. And since most people have limited mathematical skills, the easiest way to bamboozle them into believing something is to present their claims in mathematical terms of sufficient abstruseness – say, differential calculus with added bonus Bayesian probability – that most people will be unable to argue. And those who can argue will be outnumbered 100 to 1.
In the case of NASA, they had no detailed information about the trajectory of the Chelyabinsk fireball when they started dogmatically (and authoritatively) asserting that the two events were completely unrelated to each other. If they’d waited a couple of weeks before.
In the case of the 20th century antismoking claims, it really ought to have been remembered that there were similar claims made in every preceding century, all the way back to King James I (if not earlier). Only this time the tired old claim arrived dressed in the latest fashionable mathematics, courtesy of two people – Bradford Hill and Richard Doll -, neither of whom were mathematicians. Their claims were contested by the foremost statistician of the day – Sir Ronald Fisher -, but he was shouted down. And indeed the veracity of their claims has really only been sustained by incessant authoritative repetition. The antismokers are really driven far more by puritanical moral imperatives rather than by any spirit of scientific inquiry, as can be clearly seen from the way they started out by pinning the blame for cancer solely on new-fangled cigarettes, but soon extended to all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes that don’t contain any tobacco, and now alcohol and meat, in an ever-widening circle of proscribed ‘risk factors’. Their driving moral imperatives can also be discerned clearly in their bullying and blackmailing approach to offenders (no medical treatment if you don’t slim and stop smoking).
In the case of 21st century climate alarmism, the mathematics is embedded in computer simulation models of such complexity that only accredited climate scientists – not mere mathematicians or physicists – are deemed fit to pontificate upon the subject. An entire branch of science has fallen into the hands of a priesthood. There may have been little or no global warming for nearly since the late 20th century, but the temperature record is now being adjusted to conform with the alarmist models.