Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Why The Internet Blows - and Redeems

Remember that fun little thing we did last post where we answered some questions that Creationists had about evolution? Remember how it was fun to denigrate them and make them look stupid? Guess what, we're doing it again! This time we're going to taunt an internet-based, rumour-mongering, conspiracy-theorist website - and one of its authors.

The story in this link would have you believe that a mere three(ish) days after the Malaysian airways flight disappeared, "they" are covering up what really happened. I'm not sure who "they" are, or what "their" motivation would be for not telling us every piece of information that "they" couldn't have possibly retrieved yet, might be. For what it's worth, neither does the author - Mike Adams.

BUT, that hasn't stopped intrepid Mike Adams from assembling six "facts" and presenting them to you as if they mean something. By "assembling facts", what I really mean to say is that Mike Adams has pulled a bunch of ideas out of his rear end, cobbled them together in some sort of delusional narrative, and then spewed it out onto the internet.

So, much as before I'll paste Mike's "facts" below in italics and then address them in normal text. Hint: my words will be the rational ones.

Let's begin shall we.

 Fact #1: All Boeing 777 commercial jets are equipped with black box recorders that can survive any on-board explosion
No explosion from the plane itself can destroy the black box recorders. They are bomb-proof structures that hold digital recordings of cockpit conversations as well as detailed flight data and control surface data.

This is true. It's really damned hard to destroy a flight data recorder (FDR), and a cockpit voice recorder (CVR) - like really hard. However this "fact" is moot at the moment because the aviation authorities don't have the damn things.

• Fact #2: All black box recorders transmit locator signals for at least 30 days after falling into the ocean
Yet the black box from this particular incident hasn’t been detected at all. That’s why investigators are having such trouble finding it. Normally, they only need to “home in” on the black box transmitter signal. But in this case, the absence of a signal means the black box itself — an object designed to survive powerful explosions — has either vanished, malfunctioned or been obliterated by some powerful force beyond the worst fears of aircraft design engineers.
 No. Emphatically, NO. The CVR and the FDR could be hundreds of feet deep in the middle of a very large body of water. The broadcast radius is about two miles. That means, you need to be in a two-mile bubble that includes the instrument, you, and the device you are using to receive the signal. See below on the amount of area that may potentially need searching. 
• Fact #3: Many parts of destroyed aircraft are naturally bouyant and will float in water
In past cases of aircraft destroyed over the ocean or crashing into the ocean, debris has always been spotted floating on the surface of the water. That’s because — as you may recall from the safety briefing you’ve learned to ignore — “your seat cushion may be used as a flotation device.”
Yes, seat cushions float. So do many other non-metallic aircraft parts. If Flight 370 was brought down by an explosion of some sort, there would be massive debris floating on the ocean, and that debris would not be difficult to spot. The fact that it has not yet been spotted only adds to the mystery of how Flight 370 appears to have literally vanished from the face of the Earth.
 Have you ever seen footage from a Search and Rescue operation? It is really difficult to find things on the surface of the vast ocean. Even large, orange life boats have been missed by SAR crews. The surface of the ocean is a dynamic environment. White fuselage panels can look like wave crests, seat cushions are tiny. The ocean is so vast, that an entire, intact, floating cruise ship has gone missing.  The short version of this answer is, give it time and realize, they might not find the plane. 
• Fact #4: If a missile destroyed Flight 370, the missile would have left a radar signature
One theory currently circulating on the ‘net is that a missile brought down the airliner, somehow blasting the aircraft and all its contents to “smithereens” — which means very tiny pieces of matter that are undetectable as debris.
The problem with this theory is that there exists no known ground-to-air or air-to-air missile with such a capability. All known missiles generate tremendous debris when they explode on target. Both the missile and the debris produce very large radar signatures which would be easily visible to both military vessels and air traffic authorities.
 This is assuming a lot of things, including the idea that there would be motivation for such an act - something Mike doesn't address. However, one of the things that should be cleared up is that "the missile would have left a radar signature". It would have. However, contrary to Mike Adams' belief, the entire world isn't being actively scanned by radar. One of the reasons that planes have transponders is so that ground-based controllers can pick them up and track them. These receivers are the ground aren't so much radar, as they are really specialised radio receivers. Real radar isn't used until the planes are close to land. Except for the US and other navies using it on ships, powerful search radar isn't in use over the ocean. 
• Fact #5: The location of the aircraft when it vanished is not a mystery
Air traffic controllers have full details of almost exactly where the aircraft was at the moment it vanished. They know the location, elevation and airspeed — three pieces of information which can readily be used to estimate the likely location of debris.
Remember: air safety investigators are not stupid people. They’ve seen mid-air explosions before, and they know how debris falls. There is already a substantial data set of airline explosions and crashes from which investigators can make well-educated guesses about where debris should be found. And yet, even armed with all this experience and information, they remain totally baffled on what happened to Flight 370.
 If you turn off, or lose the transponder through an electrical fault, the plane vanishes. It could have flown for a while not transmitting its location. If it was over the ocean, as I mentioned in the last answer, it wouldn't be "on radar". 
Let's assume that the plane was flying at 500 kph (probably a low estimate) at 20,000 feet. If the transponder failed, but the plane kept flying, the circle to search in expands by 500 kilometers - in every direction - for every hour the plane is in the air. Let's again assume that the plane remained airborne for 15 minutes. That means the potential search area would be something like 196,000 km2. This doesn't account for the potential of a mid-air failure and the wreckage continuing on under its momentum.  That's a huge amount of space that needs to be searched at a low enough altitude to be able to see debris. 
• Fact #6: If Flight 370 was hijacked, it would not have vanished from radar
Hijacking an airplane does not cause it to simply vanish from radar. Even if transponders are disabled on the aircraft, ground radar can still readily track the location of the aircraft using so-called “passive” radar (classic ground-based radar systems that emit a signal and monitor its reflection).
Thus, the theory that the flight was hijacked makes no sense whatsoever. When planes are hijacked, they do not magically vanish from radar.
Sure it could have. Read the part above where I talked about the transponder being turned off. 
So, the reality is that there is likely no conspiracy, that "they" aren't hiding anything from you, and that "mainstream media" is telling you everything you know.

While I was writing this post, Wired published this article that articulates much of what I said here. It's nice to be right once in a while. 


Red said...

I would never think of a conspiracy in a case like this. It's interesting to look at some one who does see a conspiracy.

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