16: 16: 16: 16

Lots of perceptive comments in response to yesterday’s proposed Esthwaite Experiment to determine the curvature (or lack of it) of the surface of the the Earth. I think that the experiment is good in principle, but needs some more careful design.

I’d also hope to be able to keep it simple (and cheap). If that could be done, you might find that it becomes a science experiment that lots of people perform, and whose results they compare with each other – with no universities or Royal Societies or Big Science involved at all. And also it might stimulate an interest in currents and wave motion and tides in lakes. Does Esthwaite Water have a tide? Does the water slosh from one end to the other every day, or twice a day?

I’m currently building a new version of my orbital simulation model that I hope will allow things like tides to be studied. The tides are, after all, largely the product of gravitational forces of the Sun and Moon. These are small forces, but they act on large masses (bodies of water) for long periods of time. It might be possible to find out how the tide in Esthwaite Water should be expected to behave as the mass of the water in it is drawn first in one direction, and then another. Heck, you might even see 0.5 mm high tides.

And as part of the construction of this new model, I got hold of the state vectors (positions and speeds) from NASA of Apollo 11’s journey to the Moon in July 1969. In fact I don’t have the state vectors of the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, but only of the Apollo 11 S-IVB booster rocket that was used to inject the Lunar Module into a trans-lunar orbit. The Lunar Module actually separated from the S-IVB shortly after leaving Earth, and they pursued slightly different paths to the Moon, with the S-IVB missing the Moon and entering a solar orbit.

Anywhere, here’s my own reconstruction of the Apollo 11 journey to the Moon:

The Earth is in the centre and the arc below it shows the path of a geostationary satellite that I built into my map of the Earth, only half of whose orbit I show. We’re looking down onto the ecliptic plane (the plane of the Earth’s orbit around the Sun), and the Sun is off-screen at about the 11 o’clock position. The blue arc shows the position of the Moon over about 4 days. And the red line is my own calculated position of the S-IVB, given its initial state vectors shortly after it had completed boosting Apollo 11 into a trajectory towards the Moon.

And according to my calculations (carried out every 16 seconds), the S-IVB rocket coasted towards the Moon, gradually getting slower and slower, and then turned towards the Moon as it approached, and swung round the back of it, passing about 200 km above its surface. Given that I have the S-IVB state vectors throughout the journey, I can (and should) check the accuracy of my calculations using its actual recorded positions.

Quite a few interesting things have come out of this little exercise. Back in 1969 I only had the vaguest idea of what its trajectory had looked like, as shown in newspapers. I now have a much better idea about it. And one thing that has become clear is that the Sun must have only just have been rising over Tranquillity Base when the landing took place. I suspect that this is because the surface of the Moon gets very hot in prolonged sunlight, and dawn was when you had to land on the Moon if you didn’t want your astronauts to be cooked. It also means that the only places you can live on the Moon right now are at the poles which never get much sunlight.

I also read somewhere that there was a lunar eclipse of the Sun during the journey. That certainly looks possible given the fact that Sun-Moon-Apollo 11 would seem to have been in a line towards the end of the journey.

Also I read somewhere of a message from the Russians:

Bruce McCandless, astronaut (CapCom), Green Team, Mission Control: Shortly after Apollo 11 dropped into orbit around the moon, Frank Borman got a message from the Soviet Union that said, “Congratulations on reaching lunar orbit. We have Luna 16 also in orbit around the moon and its orbital parameters are such and such. If it presents any problem, please advise and we will move it.” We didn’t need Luna 16 moved, but I thought it was a noble gesture in those days of the Cold War.

I think this must mean that the Russians were tracking Apollo 11. They knew the Americans were there. And given they had Luna 16 in orbit around the Moon, they’d have been able to take photos of Tranquillity Base, and blow the lid off the whole thing if there was nothing there.

But perhaps the oddest thing I discovered (in a table somewhere) was that Apollo 11 lift-off on 16 July 1969 took place at a rather interesting time – 16: 16: 16: 16 – that is to say the 16th second of the 16th minute of the 16th hour (UTC/GMT) of the 16th day of July. Shades of the end of WW1 on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. Was that an accident, and that just happened to be the best time to launch? Or was it that a bit of number symbolism was being invoked?

Anyway, I now have almost enough information to be able to reconstruct the entire Apollo 11 mission. I could have my own Lunar Module, and I could drop in it into a 60-mile circular orbit above the Moon, and then do my own landing on Tranquillity Base. And I could do it all with a 3D view of the Moon as seen from the Lunar Module, perhaps with a map showing all the craters. And anyone else who’s interested could do it too.

Which reminds me that back in university in 1975, when we got a DEC PDP 11/40 mini-computer with a state-of-the-art VDU, it came with a Moon Landing game. And if you landed at just the right spot on the surface of the Moon, you found yourself next to a burger bar on the its surface, and could order “a cheeseburger and a Big Mac to go.” I think I’d like to have a burger bar like that in my Tranquillity Base. And of course they’d sell beer and cigarettes as well.

P.S. 16:16:16:16 looks like it wasn’t the lift-off time, but the time of one of the S-IVB burn ignitions, and so not a particularly important time and date at all. Lift-off was actually at 13:32:00 GMT.

About Frank Davis

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9 Responses to 16: 16: 16: 16

  1. nisakiman says:

    Shame about the 16:16:16:16 not being the time of liftoff – we could have had a long thread constructing various conspiracy theories as to why 16 was so important! :)

  2. garyk30 says:

    A very elementary question, how would a ‘flat Earth’ be formed.

    There are reasonable explanations for the formation of a round Earth, but, a flat Earth?

    • nisakiman says:

      A spinning disc, like they spin pizza? The central axis would be the North Pole, and everything expanded outwards with centrifugal force from that point. Although thinking about it, an elliptical shape would be more likely, which would still give a degree of curvature to the upper surface.

    • Gráinne O'Reilly says:

      Maybe the earth was formed by creation and not by mistake.

  3. Joe L. says:

    I’d also hope to be able to keep it simple (and cheap). If that could be done, you might find that it becomes a science experiment that lots of people perform, and whose results they compare with each other – with no universities or Royal Societies or Big Science involved at all. And also it might stimulate an interest in currents and wave motion and tides in lakes.

    This dovetails nicely with my little rant from last night. Science needs to be taken out of the hands of a select few, well-paid, well-controlled “experts” and given back to the people.

    Simple, independent experiments like your proposed “Esthwaite Experiment” have resulted the majority of scientific theories and laws that still hold water today (no pun intended). The more people there are who are inspired to develop and test hypotheses, the more potential exists for scientific breakthroughs.

  4. Joe L. says:

    OT: Nearly half of US cancer deaths blamed on unhealthy behavior

    NEW YORK (AP) — A new look at cancer in the U.S. finds that nearly half of cancer deaths are caused by smoking, poor diet and other unhealthy behaviors.

    That’s less than commonly-cited estimates from more than 35 years ago, a result of new research methods and changes in American society. Smoking rates have plummeted, for example, while obesity rates have risen dramatically.

    The study found that 45 percent of cancer deaths and 42 percent of diagnosed cancer cases could be attributed to what the authors call “modifiable” risk factors. These are risks that are not inherited, and mostly the result of behavior that can be changed, like exposure to sun, not eating enough fruits and vegetables, drinking alcohol and, most importantly, smoking.

    A British study conducted in 1981 attributed more than two-thirds of cancer deaths to these factors.

    The study used 2014 data and was conducted by the American Cancer Society. It was published online Tuesday in CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians.

    “We thought it was time to redo those estimates,” said Dr. Otis Brawley, the cancer society’s chief medical officer and one of the study’s authors.

    Smoking was the leading risk by far, accounting for 29 percent of deaths. Excess body weight was next at 6.5 percent, and alcohol consumption was third at 4 percent.

    The authors ran separate calculations for different types of cancer by age group and gender to try to account for how risk factors affect different groups of people, then added them together to understand the national picture.

    Among the findings:

    — Smoking accounted for 82 percent of lung cancers.

    — Excess body weight was associated with 60 percent of uterine cancers and about one-third of liver cancers.

    — Alcohol intake was associated with 25 percent of liver cancers in men and 12 percent in women; 17 percent of colorectal cancers in men and 8 percent in women; and 16 percent of breast cancers in women.

    — Exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight or tanning beds was associated with 96 percent of skin cancers in men and 94 percent in women.

    Richard Clapp, a professor emeritus of environmental health at Boston University expects the new numbers to be will widely cited and used to make decisions about how to spend money on cancer prevention, just as the influential British study from 1981 by researchers Richard Doll and Richard Peto has been.

    Clapp said there is still room for improvement, however. He said the study doesn’t address how two or more risk factors, like smoking and drinking, might work together in some cancer cases and deaths.

    Also, aside from secondhand cigarette smoke, the researchers did not to include outdoor or indoor air pollution because the data on the cancer risk from pollution is not detailed enough to understand the national impact, said the study’s lead author, Dr. Farhad Islami.

    So, Dr. Islami (interesting name for the leader of a puritanical study) and his team of pseudoscientists boldly claim that “nearly half” of cancer deaths are due to “unhealthy behaviors” and therefore are avoidable. Convieniently they fail to report what the other half of cancer deaths are attributed to. However, using elementary deduction, I have determined that the other 55% of cancer deaths would be due to healthy behaviors. That’s right, 10% more cancer deaths occur because people lived “healthy” lifestyles. Of course this is conveniently overlooked.

    Also, even though they admit smoking rates have “plummeted,” they claim smoking still remains the “leading risk by far,” “accounting for 29 percent of deaths.” It’s almost as if smoking is somehow magically getting more deadly as the smoking rates decline, ensuring it remains at the top of the naughty list.

    Oh, and they didn’t include outdoor or indoor air pollution in their study “because the data on the cancer risk from pollution is not detailed enough to understand the national impact,” however they damn well made sure to include secondhand smoke, because, you know, that’s “settled science.” Also, do they not realize that smoking bans have practically eliminated secondhand smoke exposure in most of the civilized world for approximately ten years on average now? Where are all these people whom they claim are exposed to secondhand smoke? I’d like to move there!

    • Joe, you might like this article on Zero Hedge too: http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-11-23/america-smoking-less-getting-fatter

      I’ve left a few comments there: Upvotes would help keep them from getting erased!

      One that’s particularly relevant to the article you just cited:

      Very interesting. Obesity and lowered smoking rates aren’t the only thing to show a connection.

      How about secondary smoke exposure and the lung cancer deaths caused by such exposure. In the late 80s and early 90s (most notably the EPA Report of 1992) antismoking researchers and the government claimed that secondary smoke exposure in the heavy smoking 1950s through 1970s (Think Mad Men on TV) was causing 3,000 annual lung cancer deaths twenty to forty years later.

      That began the rapid spread of smoking bans from the fairly rare ones that had sprung up in the 1980s to the near universal workplace bans (with a few exceptions in some states for bars and strip clubs) of the 2010s. 2017 marks 25 years since those bans really began hitting in earnest and “secondhand smoke exposure” began a rapid decline to about a quarter or less of what it had been during the EPA data period.

      So you’d expect that the 3,000 number would have decreased markedly: at least by half (the midpoint) or perhaps even closer to 3/4 (the endpoint). If the Antismokers and the government had been telling the truth about all this we should be looking today at just 750 to 1,500 deaths per year! GREAT! Right? er… RIGHT?

      Hmm… oddly enough the number being claimed now did not drop by 50 or 75%. Instead it INCREASED by roughly 150%! The new number, as enshrined in the Surgeon General’s Report of 2014 is… 7,330 U.S. deaths per year from those faint wisps of secondary smoke that some of us still encounter at strip clubs and some beaches that haven’t banned smoking on a “fire hazard” pretext.

      Odd, eh?

      Think perhaps there’s some lying going on out there in order to justify the bans that were seen as so essential to socially engineering a reduction in smoking?


  5. Rhys says:

    So proud to be a Canadian. Not. This just in. We’re the first to do it: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DPdmHDLXkAERrwo.jpg:large

    • Now they just need to get rid of the bright colorful child-attracting brand labels and replace them with pics of rotted livers and dismembered auto-accident halves of bodies trailing bloody entrails!

      Oh! And DO something about all the kiddie flavors. There’s no earthly reason for more than about four flavors of hard alcohol: Whiskey, Gin, Vodka, Tequila, two of beer (dark and light), and three for wine (red, white, pinkish — none with any kiddie-loved grape and fruit flavors of course!

      Alkies can still order alcohol at restaurants of course. No one is suggesting a law against THAT! They will however have to take their Dom Perignons out to the back alley by the dumpster for a quick chug before rejoining the normal folks inside.

      No big deal.

      – MJM

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