Posts Tagged ‘amazing’

Transcript “The Saturn V in perspective”

December 14, 2014

Many thanks to Linda for supplying this transcript!

[0:00] “As You Remember It: The Lift-Off of APOLLO 11”: “T-minus 60 seconds and counting”

[0:02] Thunderf00t: You know, risk comes to us in many forms, and sometimes death doesn’t even bother to wear a mask. And sometimes, if you wanna achieve great things, you’ve just gotta accept that dance with death.

[0:19] This is the mighty Saturn V rocket. It weighed about 3,000 tons—almost all of which was fuel. And that fuel had about the same energy density as high explosives.

[0:32] clip: “20 seconds and counting”

[0:34] Thunderf00t: That is, this beast was a barely controlled, 3,000 ton BOMB. Let me just throw that into perspective for you.

[0:45] This, on the same scale, is the B-17 Flying Fortress. It was the mainstay heavy bomber of the United States in early WWII. And it could carry about three tons of bombs to a distant target. And about a 1,000 of these guys could lay waste to a city. A thousand bombers at say, three tons a piece—that’s 3,000 TONS of explosives. That’s about the same energetic content as the Saturn V rocket.

[1:15] clip: “T-minus 15 seconds. Guidance is internal”

[1:18] Thunderf00t: And man, [dramatic music] as frail as you or I, ascended ALL the way to the top of this rocket, which was essentially a 3,000 ton BOMB

[1:30] clip: “12, 11, 10,”

[1:32] Thunderf00t: -enough energy to lay waste to a city

[1:36] clip: “9, ignition sequence start”

[1:39] Thunderf00t: -and fully aware, at exactly what they were sitting on

[1:43] clip: “6, 5,”

[1:45] Thunderf00t: -they said, ‘Let’s light this candle’

clip: “4, 3, 2, 1, 0. All engine running. Liftoff! We have a liftoff! 32 minutes past the hour, liftoff on Apollo 11 . . . Tower clear! Tower clear!”

[2:03] Thunderf00t: And even with all those insane risks, I would’ve still changed places with them in a heartbeat, for the wonders that they saw.

Why do people laugh at creationists? (part 11). – Transcript

August 16, 2014

Many thanks to Linda for supplying this transcript!

[0:03] clip from VenomFangX: “Jesus spoke about a second death. There are two types of death: mortal death, which is when our soul is separated from our body; and spiritual death, which is when our soul is separated from God. Adam and Eve had their souls separated from God the day they ate from the forbidden fruit. That’s why God kicked them out of the Garden. Now, that is also why we are born spiritually dead in our sins. You are dead in your sins, and that’s why Jesus said you have to be born again right now by repenting of sin and putting your faith in Jesus Christ. You will then be born again of the spirit of God and be able to remain with God forever. If you don’t do that now, during this life, you will remain separated from God forever.

[0:41] clip from The Terminator

[0:52] clip from VenomFangX: “I’m gonna make a challenge for ya. Do you wanna debate with me? Live? We’ll record it, post it on YouTube, make it a big event. We could even have one of those Mortal Combat screens, you know, me on one side you on the other. It’ll be crazy right? Let’s do it. It’ll be fun.”

[1:05] Thunderf00t: Well, it’ll be fun for me. But then again that’s because I’m not so stupid as to say that the Grand Canyon was formed at about five times the speed of sound.

[1:14] clip from VenomFangX: “If the planet flooded like the Bible says, the Grand Canyon could have been formed in about five minutes. The Grand Canyon could have been formed in about five minutes.”

[1:28] Thunderf00t: However the reason I have little interest in humoring you with a debate is exemplified by these videos. Put simply, someone who has repeatedly demonstrated such a crass lack of scientific understanding as yourself, is not in need of a debate, but an education.

[1:45] However you shouldn’t feel bad about this attribute as it’s so much pervasively true of all young earth creationists. Let’s see what gems you have for us this time:

[1:56] clip from VenomFangX: “The Bible says Noah only had to bring things that breathe with their nostrils. Fish don’t breathe with their nostrils, and I bet you even know that.”

[2:03] Thunderf00t: Aaaah, Noah’s Ark. It’s almost shameless that anyone could try and defend this. But let’s look at the facile point that Noah took nothing onto the ark that didn’t have nostrils. Well, sure that would’ve meant that Noah wouldn’t have to take any bugs on the ark. But then again it would’ve also meant the extinction of almost all insects and plant life on earth, and of course the humble earthworm and thereby ensuring that Noah and everything else on the ark would’ve starved to death on a dead planet.

[2:33] But then again, what about the whales? They breathe through their nostrils. Shown are the nostrils of the largest creature ever to live on the earth, the blue whale. I really would’ve loved to see how Noah got all the animals that

[2:45] clip from VenomFangX: “breathe with their nostrils”

[2:46] Thunderf00t: on the ark.

[2:47] clip from VenomFangX: “The Bible says Noah only had to bring things that breathe with their nostrils. Fish don’t breathe with their nostrils, and I bet you even know that. So insects breathe, not through their nostrils but through their skin, so no insects either. Now, the seas get saltier at an increasing rate every year. And if you take the rate in which they’re getting saltier in reverse time, about 4,400 years ago the seas would be totally freshwater.”

[3:08] Thunderf00t: Aaah, so the water was totally fresh 4,000 years ago, eh? Well, where did these come from? These are chalk cliffs. They’re known to be composed of microscopic shells of a form of creature similar to the modern phytoplankton called coccolithophores. These phytoplankton require two materials to make their calcium carbonate shells: firstly, calcium, which is dissolved in the sea water. Secondly, carbonate, which is usually obtained from carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

[3:41] The geological period of time in which these deposits were laid down is named after these chalk deposits; the Latin name for chalk being ‘creta’. In the Cretaceous period these areas were covered with oceans and the chalk deposits were laid down between 150 and 70 million years ago.

[3:59] Now comes the amusing bit. The raw materials required for coccolithophores to make chalk, or calcium carbonate, are a salt solution of the iron calcium and carbon dioxide. Now if the oceans were purely fresh water, as the creationist states, then where did these calcium carbonate deposits of coccolithophores come from?

[4:20] clip from The Matrix

[4:23] clip from VenomFangX: “Jesus spoke about a second death. There are two types of death: mortal death, which is when our soul is separated from our body.”

[4:31] Thunderf00t: I can only assume that by ‘death’ he means ‘brain death’. We’ve known for decades now that the only thing that causes irreversible death is the death of the brain. Once the neurochemistry goes south, it doesn’t come back.

[4:45] However, this is the thing: animals have brains that function on a very similar fashion to our own. Yet I somehow doubt that the creationist would argue that it’s impossible for animals to die, because they have no souls to separate from their bodies. Next of course comes the obvious question: we know our brains make our decisions, so what’s the purpose of the soul that the creationist speaks of? Why do those who claim that they have been ‘born again’ with souls have behavioral characteristics that are indistinguishable—or worse—than those who haven’t been born again with a soul? For instance, divorce rates and the such like.

[5:20] clip from VenomFangX: “-and spiritual death, which is when our soul is separated from God.”

[5:24] Thunderf00t: Okay, so the creationist is now saying we have a soul, and that there is a god. And that having your soul separated from god counts as death. Umm, okay. Well, I’m still struggling to see how if god is omnipresent and omnipotent, how you can ever be separated from him.

[5:40] clip from VenomFangX: “Adam and Eve had their souls separated from God the day they ate from the forbidden fruit. That’s why God kicked them out of the Garden.”

[5:47] Thunderf00t: Okay, so Adam was born with his soul alive, and killed it by eating forbidden fruit. So what did we learn? Well, in creationism it’s possible to kill your soul by eating.

[6:00] clip from VenomFangX: “Now, that is also why we are born spiritually dead in our sins.”

[6:04] Thunderf00t: Okay, so in creationism it’s not only possible to kill your own soul by eating, but it can also cause ALL the children you have to be born with dead souls.

[6:15] clip from VenomFangX: “You are dead in your sins, and that’s why Jesus said you have to be born again right now by repenting of sin and putting your faith in Jesus Christ.”

[6:23] Thunderf00t: Okay, so when you’re born, your soul is automatically tied to your body, but it’s dead. Then when you choose for your soul to come alive, uuh, how? What makes the choice? The dead soul, bad chemistry of life? Well let’s leave that for a minute and see where this goes.

[6:40] clip from VenomFangX: “You will then be born again of the spirit of God and be able to remain with God forever.”

[6:45] Thunderf00t: So your soul is born into a piece of bad chemical machinery, thanks to your ancestors not being picky enough about their diet. And now, if you manage to get your soul to come alive by some undescribed process, then you get to become a part of god.

[7:00] clip from VenomFangX: “If you don’t do that now, during this life, you will remain separated from God forever.”

[7:05] Thunderf00t: And if you don’t obey the creationist’s fantasy, then his fantasy will punish you for your disobedience. But of course the funny thing is the creationist’s fantasy would automatically kill the souls of all the babies who haven’t chose to have their souls born yet. That’s a pretty unpleasant fantasy.

[7:22] But now let’s compare what we know, and can PROVE with the physical evidence, to the creationist’s fantasy.

[7:30] clip from VenomFangX: “If you don’t do that now, during this life, you will remain separated from God forever.”

[7:35] clip from The Terminator

[7:49] clip from VenomFangX: “The Bible says Noah only had to bring things that breathe with their nostrils . . . 4,400 years ago the seas would be totally freshwater.”

Why do people laugh at creationists? (part 10)- Transcript

August 16, 2014

Many thanks to Linda for supplying this transcript!

[0:03] clip from “LEE STROBEL The Case for a Creator Full documentary”: “If the universe looks like it’s fine-tuned for complex life, maybe there’s a fine-tuner. Maybe it was fine-tuned for life.”
“If we didn’t have the electromagnetic force you would have no bonding between chemicals. You would have no light and the list goes on. So you need all these sorts of fundamental principles have to be in place in order for life to occur. Wipe out one of those principles, wipe out one of those laws—no life.”

[0:28] Thunderf00t: Okay, so he’s saying that there’s only one unique way for life to exist. This of course is purely speculative creationist tosh. To demonstrate this point I’m going to go to the microscopic level of molecular dynamics. Shown is a molecular dynamic simulation of the bee sting protein called melatin. These simulations that are routinely used are very useful for the interpretation of experimental results and the predictions of microscopic behaviors of such systems. It’s a well-established and mature field of chemistry. There’s just one thing: there is no gravity whatsoever in these calculations. Nor is there any gravity whatsoever in the more detailed quantum mechanical calculations.

[1:12] Gravity is about 1000 billion billion billion billion times weaker than the electromagnetic force. It’s an irrelevant factor in the molecular forces which determine molecular dynamics. Which is why you can leave it out of the equation altogether.

[1:28] It’s also notable that life is remarkably robust to the absence of gravitational fields, functioning almost as well on the earth as it does in microgravity. Put simply, there is no reason whatsoever why you couldn’t get life functioning perfectly happily in a universe with no gravity.

[1:48] There are just four forces that we are aware of. That’s gravity, the strong, the weak, and the electromagnetic force. Now I’ve just shown that gravity is not necessary for the functioning of life. Further, a recent paper has suggested that a universe without the weak force would look largely indistinguishable from our current universe (Harnik, Kribs, Perez, A Universe Without Weak Interactions).

[2:09] So half of the forces that we know about are not essential for the functioning of life. So much for the creationist statement that everything needs to be perfect for life to function.

[2:22] But now let’s move on to the simple deceit of creationists:

[2:26] clip from “LEE STROBEL The Case for a Creator Full documentary”: “One example of this fine-tuning is the force of gravity.”
“Imagine a ruler divided up into one inch increments, and then stretched across the entire universe, a distance of some 14 billion light years. For the purposes of illustration, the ruler represents the possible range for gravity.”

[2:51] Thunderf00t: Yep, you always need dramatic music if you’re gonna play god and choose a new gravitational force constant to the universe. However if you want to play god, as the creationist seems intent on doing, then the limits for the gravitational constant is zero and infinity.

[3:06] However you cannot put an infinite number of finite-sized inch strips together on a finite distance—it’s impossible by definition. Like say, for instance a square with five sides. What the guy’s describing is simply mathematically impossible.

[3:23] clip from “LEE STROBEL The Case for a Creator Full documentary”: “In other words, the setting for the strength of gravity could’ve been anywhere along the ruler, but it just happens to be situated in exactly the right place so that life is possible. Now if you were to change the force of gravity by moving the setting just one inch compared to the entire width of the universe, the effect on life would be catastrophic.”

[3:45] Thunderf00t: Weell, in fairness, the animation was neat and the music was fine. However it’s still pointlessly speculative mathematical nonsense. The creationist demonstrating that he doesn’t understand mathematics is Lee Strobel, author of such books as The Case for Christ, The Case for Faith, and The Case for a Creator. The title of these books and his gesturing are unsurprising given that Strobel’s highest degree was not in physics, chemistry, biology, mathematics—or any other scientific discipline for that matter—but law.

[4:16] Yep, that’s right. The creationist fielding the case for creation is a lawyer. Now at this point an inquiring mind will be asking ‘what is a lawyer doing making predictions about diddling with the fundamental force constant to the universe when he has no real scientific understanding of the one he currently lives in?’ In this sense, Strobel’s mathematically impossible speculation on the gravitational constant has about as much academic credibility as a burger-flipper lecturing a brain surgeon on cerebral aneurysms.

[4:47] The principle difference between lawyers and scientists is that scientists gain their reputation on track record based on what they can establish from the physical evidence and logical deduction. However for lawyers, truth is an irrelevance as the criterion that determines a successful lawyer is their ability to present a successful case, not their ability to establish truth; although obviously it helps for those who harbor a conscience if the two coincide once in a while.

[5:17] clip from A Few Good Men

[5:26] Thunderf00t: But let’s take another look at this case for a fine-tuned universe. There’s about 75 cubic kilometers of life on earth, while the volume of the earth is approximately one trillion cubic kilometers. That means that by volume the earth is approximately one billionth of a percent life.

[5:48] For me, this device is an example of fine-tuning. For this object, each of the thousand billion billion billion billion atoms are arranged—sorry, fine-tuned—for the purpose of human transport. Now if you found a rock of comparable size and found a fleck of iron in it the size of a pinhead that’s approximately the equivalent volume fraction of life on earth, would you conclude that the rock was fine-tuned for the purpose of being a car? So why would you conclude that the earth is fine-tuned for the purpose of life?

[6:23] However, it’s better than that, as the creationists in this video go on to argue that we are the only life in the Milky Way. Fantastic. The volume between us and the nearest galaxy is about five times [Equation]cubic kilometers. That means that the creationists are happy to argue that something where you find one part in [Equation] that works, means that that object is fine-tuned for that purpose.

[6:51] Now for the creationist to call this a fine-tuned universe for the purpose of life is like taking a billion earths and finding a single iron atom on one of those earths and then concluding that these billion earths are fine-tuned for a purpose.

[7:08] In summary, it is deeply unconvincing to try and argue that a universe which has essentially no life in it is fine-tuned for the purpose of life.

[7:24] clip from “LEE STROBEL The Case for a Creator Full documentary”: “Wipe out one of those laws—no life.”
“Maybe there’s a fine-tuner. Maybe it was fine-tuned for life.”

Why do people laugh at creationists? (part 9)

August 16, 2014

Many thanks to Linda for supplying this transcript!

[0:03] clip from “RRS vs. Kirk Cameron / Ray Comfort Nightline FULL”: “Listen to what two of the greatest scientific minds in history said about the design in creation: Sir Isaac Newton: “the most beautiful system of the sun, the planets, and comets, could only proceed from the council and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.” Albert Einstein—he said, “in view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no god.”

[0:33] Thunderf00t: Aaaah, quote mining; another favorite ploy of the creationist, using partial or misleading quotes from real scientists in the hope that some of their academic credibility will rub off on them. It’s trivial to do. For instance, these are the words of the devoted creationist Kirk Cameron and his partner Ray Comfort:

[0:52] clips from “RRS vs. Kirk Cameron / Ray Comfort Nightline FULL”: “You guys who believe in god are idiots. You’re small-minded people who are unintelligent. You don’t think.”
“There’s no god.”
“I’d rather go to hell than to believe in a megalomaniac like god.”

[1:08] Thunderf00t: This is the worst kind of deceit; worse in many ways than actually lying in that it is specifically designed to intentionally mislead people by either misquoting people or misrepresenting academic discourse (which is essential to the progression of science) as a weakness of a theory.

[1:25] It is also very noticeable these creationists plead with you to accept their views. In academic circles this would be instantly interpreted as a man with no case to present, which is why he resorts to such snake oil-salesman-style techniques.

[1:40] In academic lectures on research science, it’s taken that any argument presented stands on its merits. The lecturer is expected to present his case clearly, but any attempt to suggest that his arguments should be accepted based on the pleading or scoffing of the lecturer would be instantly greeted with academic skepticism.

[2:00] This sort of thing might fly in the pulpit and in political forums, but it has no place in the academic arena.

[2:11] clip from “RRS vs. Kirk Cameron / Ray Comfort Nightline FULL”: “You know if a Coca-Cola can was MADE, there must be a maker. When I look at a painting, how can I know there was a painter? Well the painting is absolute, 100 percent scientific proof there was a painter. Well a building is absolute, 100 percent scientific proof there was a builder.”

[2:32] Thunderf00t: Yeaaah, tell it brother! Just like rocks are 100 percent absolute proof of a rock-making god. Just like sunsets is 100 percent absolute scientific proof of a sunset-making factory. Yeah, just like a nearly perfectly spherical Mars is 100 percent absolute proof that there is a Mars-maker. Oh yeah, that’s right. I remember now. The reason we don’t think that sunsets are made by a sunset-making god is because we understand the origin of sunsets. We can still say that god did it. It’s just that that doesn’t advance our understanding of the world any. And it’s a path that leads to an intellectual dead-end.

[3:10] clip from “RRS vs. Kirk Cameron / Ray Comfort Nightline FULL”: “If it’s designed, there MUST be a designer.”

[3:14] Thunderf00t: This statement is of course tautological. But the question is how can you recognize design? For instance, crystals are among the most ordered objects in the universe. Yet we do not instantly reach for a crystal-making god to try and explain the existence of these highly ordered structures. Again, the reason we do not reach for a god to explain these structures is because we have a perfectly satisfactory naturalistic explanation of the origin of crystals.

[3:41] There is nothing wrong with a tautological statement that designed objects are designed. There’s nothing wrong with the statement that paintings, etc. are designed, simply as they have no plausible naturalistic explanation for their origin. However, there IS a naturalistic explanation for life. It’s called evolution. And before the creationists start coming out with their unfounded tosh about how ‘it’s never been observed’ and so on: it’s more than observed. The principle of evolution is used by the likes of engineers to design aerodynamic bodies—a sort of design without a designer.

[4:16] Indeed, even I myself have written such pieces of code. All you need is reproduction with variation, and environmental attrition and evolution intrinsically follows. This is not just some animation about the front end of an evolutionary algorithm, where the bugs are actually evolving to the environment.

[4:38] Well let’s just highlight the logical flaws of this typical creation argument that ‘designed objects such as paintings, buildings, etc. require a designer. Life looks designed, so it must have a designer’.

[4:51] Let me parody this creationist logic. Let me take a load of pebbles, and see if any of them perfectly fit a shot glass. The answer is no. Indeed I could keep on trying to get pebbles to fit the shot glass in perpetuity and never find one that fits it perfectly. Indeed, I could happily conclude that the only way for a pebble to fit the shot glass perfectly is if it were designed to fit the shot glass.

[5:17] Liquids however fit a shot glass perfectly every time. So, by the creationist’s logic, liquid must be designed to fit the glass. Now the reason this argument is bogus of course, is simply because the two objects being compared have different critical properties. In my case I am comparing deformable matter such as liquids to solids, and drawing the bogus conclusion that liquids must be designed to fit the glass.

[5:45] In the creationist’s case, they are comparing objects that are known to be manufactured, with objects that can evolve—that is, objects that suffer environmental attrition and reproduction with variation—and then drawing the bogus conclusion that life must be designed.

[6:08] clip from “RRS vs. Kirk Cameron / Ray Comfort Nightline FULL”: “When I look at this building, how do I know there was a builder? You can’t see him, hear him, touch him, taste him, or smell him. I mean, what evidence is there that there was a builder?

[6:18] clip from “Bob the Builder”

[6:27] Thunderf00t: Yeah, that’s right. You know there was a builder because you CAN see him, hear him, touch him, taste him, and smell him—although few builders would allow you to go that far. But even if you couldn’t see him, hear him, touch him, taste him, or smell him, you can watch builders building buildings all the time. And even if you couldn’t do that, you go down to the planning department and get the blueprints for the building and get the date the building was erected on and how it was made.

[6:53] clip from“RRS vs. Kirk Cameron / Ray Comfort Nightline FULL”: “When I look at this building, how do I know there was a builder? You can’t see him, hear him, touch him, taste him, or smell him. I mean, what evidence is there that there was a builder?

Venus, Jupiter and the Moon, Cosmic Ballet in February and March 2012.

February 21, 2012

For those who have been paying attention to the sky over the past few months, you will have seen Venus crawl out of the evening twilight, and Jupiter sink towards it.  These two VERY naked eye planets (both outshine even the brightest stars) are now only about 15 degrees apart (about the spread of your fingers held out at arms length), with that value set to shrink to about 3 degrees over the next 3 weeks.  Get the popcorn is ‘cos its gonna be a fantastic show!

The ballet is highlighted in the sequence below.

Venus Jupiter conjunction of 2012 (click to enlarge)

A) t= 0.  Jupiter and Venus hang in the evening sky.  Venus, by far the brighter of the two lies below Jupiter, and the pair are separated by about 15 degrees.  For reference, the Moon and Sun are about half a degree in diameter, and your outstretched fingers at arms length are about 15 degrees in angular size.

B) t= 5days.  The moons orbit takes it out of the solar glare and by the 26th it resides between Venus and Jupiter.  This will be a spectacular sight for those who get to see it, with the 2nd, 3rd and 4th brightest objects so close together in the sky.  The angular distance between the two planets has now closed to about 10 degrees.  Most of this apparent motion of Jupiter is due to the Earth moving around the Sun, while with Venus, about half of the apparent motion comes from this planet orbiting the Sun.

C) t~21 days. The Venus, Jupiter conjunction of 2012.  The two most spectacularly bright planets appear at their closest  (~3 degrees).

D) t~33days.  The Moon has now made a complete orbit since it last visited these planets.  When it last did, Jupiter was the higher, and Venus the lower.  The second time the moon visits these planets the order is reversed!  Venus the beguiling bright is now the higher of the two objects!  The objects are again separated by about 10 degrees.

For those who want to see what this looks like in animation form, take a look!  Download the  free solar system visualization software Celestia (

The Cirque of the Towers

September 27, 2011

What a hell of a few days!

When I staggered out of the wilderness last night, in the dark, exhausted, without any food, or drinkable water and with a broken plane, I had only one thought. What a fantastic couple of days!

Panorama looking down on Jack Ass Pass near the Cirque of the Towers

Panorama looking down on Jack Ass Pass near the Cirque of the Towers

     The story starts with wanting to go see the ‘Cirque of the Towers’, one of the most beautiful places on Earth. However I wanted to get some video of it from the air! Now the story of my failure is long, and surprising short of predators, although, for some unexplained reason it has a llama in it!

     Now getting into the Cirque is a bit of a chore in that you have to drive some 30 or so miles down dirt roads (which can require a LOT of attention if you are in a low clearance 2 wheel drive car). However once you get to the Big Sandy trailhead, it gets interesting! Getting to the Cirque is a hard days hike, but easier as a 2 day trip. Its about 8 miles in, and about 2-3000 feet of ascent. However I was packing in a plane and all the kit to go with it too! Not to mention a tent, enough to stop me freezing in the expected well below freezing temperatures, and enough emergency kit that I could make it back to the car in a tight pinch.


     The first thing I noticed was:- no mosquitoes! That was such a blessing. Previously when I’ve been here they make your life a torment in that whenever you stop, great clouds of them descend on you, and bug spray and nets or not you get peppered with bites. Same goes for when you pitch the tent, you basically have to throw up the tent and get in it asap just to escape from the bugs. This time, NOTHING, nada, not even a hint of a mosquito. That made the walk through the dry piney forests of Big Sandy incredible pleasant, but in the back of my mind I was fully aware that the reason there were no mosquitoes was that a hard frost had killed them all. It was likely to be cold that night.

     I left the car at 2pm, not out of any great plan, I just knew that was plenty of time to set a ‘base camp’ of sorts. There are also significant wildcards about heading out this time of year. Thankfully it’s too late for nasty thunderstorms, but snow is more likely to be the real hazard. First sign of bad weather and I would have to abort. No way was I prepared for harsh weather, and even getting back to the car would only be half the battle. However the cirrus cloud which I wasn’t quite sure if it was a front coming in (in which case I would be screwed) or was just some weather created by the mountains, burned off, and the rest of the day was as beautiful, pleasantly ambiently warm as a man under a deep blue sky could hope for.
The place was near deserted (the crowds of summer gone!), and I only passed maybe 5 people heading up to Big Sandy lake. Then came the first choice, to head up to Temple or into the Cirque? (right or left at Big Sandy lake?) I opted for the Temple, a giant triangular looking granite monolith. Merely to sand under Temple is an intimidating experience. I pitched camp in the last trees under Haystack. In this case it primarily wasn’t for fear of lightning, but in the full knowledge that it would be several degrees warmer in the trees, and given that I really wasn’t sure how my sleeping bag (‘rated’ to below freezing) would actually perform. As it turns out it did just fine, however my pillow was a pair of boots with a pair of pant (trousers) and fleece thrown over the top, prove more troublesome in getting a good nights sleep. Also there is the latent fear of the night predators. I’d hoisted the food into a tree, but you know that you are ALONE. There is no help. That sort of exposure sharpens the mind, and gives on a very light sleep. Was up about sunrise, although no direct light filtered down into the valley.

The view of 'Haystack' from the tent in the morning

     After a breakfast of ‘instant noodles’ I headed up towards the cirque of Temple, taking only the plane and some food. It was a pathless bushwhack, but not difficult. The sharp spike of Steeple rising steeply over the lake making for some excellent views before coming into the presence of Temple. And YES, I went to Temple on a Sunday!

View of Steeple over Clear lake

I was completely alone in this cirque.

     The condition for flying were as good as one could hope for up in the mountains. Scarcely a breath of wind, with giant mountain shadows littering the landscape. Bummer was the voltage regulator had fallen off the transmitter side of things on the plane, and I assumed my wiring was regularly color coded. Well anyway, I plugged in the battery, and theres this futt sound and a smell of burning electronics. I’ll wager that’s smells not graced the presence of Temple before! So that was the end of the possibility of remote video, however, I could still just record with the camera on the plane. It’s SOOO much easier to fly without the Helmet of Magnetar! Sure you can’t fly out of line of sight, but you only have to worry about flying the plane. Flight was fantastic!.

Best flight EVER! 🙂

     I then decided to head up onto the unnamed mountain in the middle of the cirque (the mountain of broken planes?). By the time I had gotten up there, there was a random wind blowing up to 15 mph, but the view was phenomenal!

Random un-named mountain (Plane Destroyer Mountain?) near the Cirque of the Towers

-The location of ‘Plane Destroyer’ mountain

     But a 15mph wind that’s tricky. The plane is already heavy (almost 1kg) which means it has to fly faster to maintain its lift. Further I was already at almost 11000 feet which means that in order to get stable flight you need to fly faster due to the thin air. Getting into the air proved trivial. Getting it to land, that was difficult. You see I probably only had 10ft or so of uneven granite to land on. I was ontop of the mountain, to overshoot means the plane falls off the cliff on the other side. To undershoot means flying into a granite block! In the end, after several aborted attempts where the plane, due to its slower speed and the irratic wind had almost been tipped over, pretty much out of desperation, I bought the plane in ‘hot’. Sure it was fairly stable, but on ‘landing’ the camera and motor broke off. In many ways it was a relief, in that there was now no way I could do aerial video of the Cirque of the Towers (meant I didn’t have to take all this kit up to the pass). I packed up and took the short way down. Risky to be sure as I had no surety that the path wouldn’t end in an impassible cliff. Thankfully it didn’t and I saved myself about a mile of  bush-whackin’ down to Temple lake and back again. On the way down, of all the bizarre and unexpected things, I found a llama with no apparent owner. WTF?

Random Llama!

     It took to its heels as I approached. Dropped down to base camp by about midday, packed up and cooked what food I had left (more raman noodles!). Then the trek down to Big Sandy lake. Got to the path up the Cirque of the Towers by about 2ish. Took basically all the water, wine and food I had left, and headed up towards the cirque. I was very tired by this point, and to make matters worse, lost the trail just before the first lake and ended up in a giant boulder field. There was many a hole you could have fallen into and never been seen or heard from again! I reached an overview of Jackass Pass (my target) by 4pm, but I was a spent force. I could go no further. It was a double blessing that the plane had crashed, for there was a steady 30 mph wind gusting higher near the cirque, all but impossible to fly in. I hung around on the pass till 4:30, full in the knowledge that I would be walking out in the full dark. Going down was fast, aided by the fact that I kept the path the whole way.

Defeat at the Cirque

     Got back to my pack at 5:45pm and began the weary trudge out. I was all but out of food, all but out of drinkable water. Now its true that I had both water treatment and a water pump, but was reluctant to risk using them if I could avoid it. (theres a really nasty bug in the water around here called giardiasis). By 8pm it was near full dark and I was walking on a head lamp, so tired that I could only walk for 10 or so minutes at the time. Turns out the headlamp was fantastic, as not only did it free up both hands, but periodically you could sweep the local area looking for glowing eyes! However it could only penetrate the murk for 20 or so feet, and I was ever fearful of losing the path. I eventually managed to get onto the flats near the trail head, but was lost in what turned out to be the campground. It was both a delight and a nightmare to find those park benched. I knew I was REALLY close to ‘home’ but had no clear idea which way to go. I then found a road. Again, great, but which way to go when you can only see 20 feet? Turns out it was the one way loop around the campsite, and if I had known I was probably only a couple of hundred feet from my car. I guessed good and as I came over the gentle rise, what do I find on the other side, but my ‘little blue New Yorker’! Dumped everything asap, tanked up on water and chocolate before crashing for the night, having to run the engine periodically to stave off the cold of the night freeze.


August 31, 2011

A fun couple of days all in! (28-29th July 2011)

So for night time I decided to indulge in a guilty pleasure, and just drive off into the quiet forests of Oregon, and just, well, sleep!  Well mostly sleep.  I did leave a timelapse going of the milky way from the forests of Oregon…. Pretty!

The next morning I was up early, and spent it bumming around crater lake.  When I first got the lake, it was mirror still!  It’s rarely that still at crater lake (normally wind disturbs the surface, as it had does by the end of this timelapse), so I set up the camera… more pretty!

While that was going down, I got accosted by one of the GIANT VOLCANIC CHIPMUNKS that roam the area!

And boy did that 4.5mm sigma 180 degree fisheye lens earn its keep at crater lake.  Y’see Crater Lake is just so big by the time you can see it, basically only a 180 degree lens will get it all in!

A keep back sign? Now that's just being a 'cliff tease'. Seriously though, these signs litter Crater Lake, which to be fair has a lot of cliffs, but does it really need all the idiot warning for people too stupid to spot poor footing and a terminal drop off?

and these ‘keep back signs’ litter the area in a way that smells of ‘frivolous lawsuit evasion’, or maybe it’s just to keep the number of Darwin Award winners from Crater Lake down.

Spent that evening on top of Mount Scott, well actually a rocky outcrop you have to climb up on near the top of Mnt Scott.  But the views were amazing. Just sat there and watched the sun go down over the lake!

Thunderf00t on mnt Scott looking down on crater lake. And yes, its about a 50ft drop off that rock! Mnt Scott is the highest point in Crater Lake NP. The actual summit has a fire lookout built on it and smells of urine. However for those willing to do a little hand n foot scrambling, there are a couple of satellite summits that have amazing views.

Spent the early evening helping doing some astronomy outreach (of a sort).  Skies were dark, but a little murky.  Had the scope catching photons from the M101 supernova till about 2am before packing up.  However Jupiter rising over the lake gave some captivating specular reflections!  Left the timelpase running till about 4am, would have been longer, but I feel asleep before changing the battery.  Damn my intolerance to sleep deprivation!

Next morning, a very tired Thunderf00t decided the air was still enough to take to the skies, using the helmet of doom!  Here I was alternating between first person flying, and flying by direct sight.  It’s really ballsy stuff in that by the plane has to be quite close (relativley) to fly by direct sight, and if you go further, you are 100% reliant on the video and RC gear working.  There is also the problem that by the time the plane is so far away, that you cannot see it, the plane also cannot see you!  So bascially you have to navigate by big cliffs and the sun to find your way home.  The bottom line is, while the plane was almost beyond the point where you could see it to fly it, it still didn’t make it over the lake.

After that little adrenaline rush I was ready for some excitement, which came in the form of swimming in an ice-cold lake formed by a collapsed volcano!

and yeah that water looks perty and blue, its just as amazingly blue when you get your head under it!  Regrettably, by the time I’d worked that out, I’d left the contraption for getting the camera underwater (a sort of ziplock bag) back in the car, 1000 ft above me on the crater rim 😦

Supernova in M101, Aug 25th, full processing

August 26, 2011

It’s about a total 3 hr exposure with a 11in CPC1100, using a canon 60d (iso 2500).  30s exposures,  throwing away bad exposures (about 60 %) to yield this using deepskystacker (using about 50 dark frames).  The arrow indicates the supernova.

Supernova in M101, August 25th 2011, about a 3 hr exposure with an 11in scope and 2500 iso on a canon D60.

Clearly an improvement of the first attempt which only included about 12 minutes of ‘sky time.’

Right, now back off to the pass to do the same thing again tonight! Me= CRAZY! :-p


-All images available under creative commons license, attribution Thunderf00t 🙂

First look at Supernova in M101 (Aug 2011)

August 26, 2011

First look at Supernova in M101 (Aug 2011)

So after much driving around looking for a good observing sight I eventually found one north of Klamath Falls Oregon (good clear view north).

(‘Klamath Falls’ astronomy site, 25th August 2011)

I then brave the moquitoes, and yeah, there were a LOT of them, to get the scope set up.

The scope acquired data for several hours, this is thus far only processed from 6 minutes worth.  I’ve also not got round to sorting the colors out which is why the new exposure appear blue compared to the old one.

A Night looking at Uranus!

August 24, 2011

Uranus is frequently overlooked and for many reasons.  Firstly, lets just say its name hasn’t phonetically aged well.  Secondly it’s small and faint, barely visible to the naked eye, and even the most powerful telescopes show little more than a tiny featureless grey-green disk.

Most powerful telescopes will show the five main moons of Uranus, Miranda, Ariel, Umbriel, Titania and Oberon.  The innermost of these Miranda, has, if memory serves the highest cliffs in the solar system (due to being previously (presumably) smashed by an impact) and has an orbital period of about 1.5 days.  That means you should be able to easily see its movement over the period of a night.

Now I had tried this previously, and had been surprised that the planets movement was comparable to the movement of its moons, but that night had been scuppered by a flat battery.

Movement of Uranus vs background stars

The stars in the background are fixed. The two picture of Uranus are taken a few hours apart, and while the moons (relatively close to the planet) don't move much, the planet conspicuously moves against the background stars!) (click to enlarge)

So it was that I set out with my scope on the evening of 22nd Aug 2011 to see what could be captured.  I decided to head up to an observatory site that had previously seemed good up near the top of the somewhat active volcano, Lassen Peak.  The site is high, almost 2 miles up, but the seeing was less than perfect (a very constant ~ 5mile an hour wind, which was probably a blessing in that it bought warmer air from somewhere, but was also a curse due to the wind chill- I was surrounded by snow fields!).

Nonetheless, at prime focus of the 11in CPC1100 with ~1000 iso and 4 second exposure on a canon 60D seemed to bring out easily at least 4 of the moons of Uranus.

After that, I just had to maintain the kit for 8 or so hour.  A pain in the ass, as there were several pieces of kit that all need to work or the night would be ‘lost’.  So you basically have to periodically check all the batteries on the various time lapse and tracking kit are working functionally.  The bottom line is you can actually get quite a lot of sleep, but its horribly disjointed. The practical upshot of which was the next day I was wiped out to the point where I had actually planned to head up into Oregon to do something, but for the first time ever on a road trip I did something I’d never countenanced before.  I stayed a night in a motel!!  First time in 5 years!  A motel 6 I should add!  All I wanted was somewhere where I could get a shower, a bed for the night, and damn, just sit back for a moment, put my feet up, and have a glass of wine……ahhhhhh.

I was REALLY happy when I processed this, not really for what I had hoped to achieve, which was to get the motion of the moons, as while it was visible, it wasn’t that great.  But what was great was the motion of the whole Uranus system against the background stars.  I knew this MIGHT be visible, but I really didn’t expect it to looks as cool as it did!  Now it should be said that most of the motion you see here is probably not due to the motion of Uranus, but due to the motion of the Earth.  Nonetheless, its still really cool!

The finished results!