Recently, I found yet another article with a title in the form of a question. Here’s a hint for all you people that read things on the internet: if someone titles an article in the form of a question, it’s not as interesting as the question would lead you to believe. Before you go checking my archives to find examples of hypocrisy on my part, I can tell you that I’ve used them in my titles eleven times, every one in a sarcastically rhetorical fashion.
In this case, the headline is about aliens because of course it is.
Now for some background. In 1995, NASA launched a satellite called SOHO (the SOlar and Heliospheric Observatory), which hangs out at the L1 point — a weird sort of gravitational equilibrium between the earth and sun — and stares unrelentingly at our parent star. It was only supposed to be there for two years, but it’s still working great.
Editor’s note: It is allowed to do this as it is a specially designed satellite, so please do not take its success as an indicator that you are capable of staring at the sun for seven times longer than you previously thought.
In 2006, two more satellites called STEREO (Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory) were launched with basically the same imaging equipment in either direction ahead and behind the earth on its orbit, and as of late 2011 they were on opposite sides of the sun, 90º away from us. If the orbit of the earth was a clock and we were at 12, they’d be at 9 and 3, and SOHO would also be at 12 but a hundredth of the way closer to the middle. Following? Good.
The end result is that we have three satellites situated in such a way that we can see the whole Sun at once, in basically any wavelength, all the time. And all of the images, in near-real-time, are public.
Subsequently, morons on the internet with no understanding of how the satellites actually work have been poring through the footage of the Sun, finding specks, and calling them aliens, where they are then snapped up and re-reported dozens and dozens of times, mostly by Jesus Diaz, who is apparently the resident “science writer” at Gizmodo. I put that in quotes because Gizmodo has generally quite shoddy reporting on the news they do manage to aggregate, and Jesus Diaz is the master of shod. Is that a thing? If shod were swear words, he’d be Gordon Ramsay. What I’m saying is that Jesus knows less about science or science writing than he does about not popping his collar or looking douchey in photos.
Jesus doesn’t like me, having previously banned my user accounts twice from Gizmodo’s comment threads, but I’m pretty sure he doesn’t know who I am now and even if he figures it out, I’m not violating Giz’s comment policy because this is a third-party website, so suck it.
Now here’s a bunch of headlines in the format I mentioned at the beginning.
And here’s what they’re all talking about (in this case).
The basic thrust of all these articles is this: NASA released a video (they didn’t, someone else did) on YouTube of this thing next to the sun (or orbiting the sun or circling the sun or surfing the hellish surface of the sun), and no one knows what it is. It looks like a spaceship, because I know a spaceship when I see one. One website goes so far as to describe it as “what looks like a metallic, jointed spaceship with a gigantic extension, perhaps a boom arm, anchored off its lower end.” So it’s definitely a spaceship.
Oh and by the way NASA has an official explanation that it’s a camera artifact and this happens literally all the time. Let’s gloss over it because we’re Jesus Diaz and either don’t care or don’t understand science words (or both).
Here’s an itemized list of the problems with this kind of bullshit.
1. THERE’S A REASONABLE EXPLANATION
NASA’s explanation, courtesy of Nathan Rich, is that
“The streaks in question are consistent with energetic particle (proton) impacts on the CCD, something which is apparent in just about every image … with space images that are taken outside our magnetosphere, such as those taken by orbiting telescopes, it’s very common to see these cosmic ray hits.”
These are cameras sitting out in the emptiness of space, unprotected by atmosphere or magnetosphere, so there are a lot of ferocious particles of solar wind screaming through their sensors all the time at hundreds of kilometers per second, and occasionally they make a blip.
Oh, I’m sorry, does that not make sense to you? Do you not understand what he means by “elementary particle impacts” or “CCD” or “magnetosphere” or “cosmic ray hits”? THEN IT’S A GOOD THING YOU’RE NOT THE FUCKING LEAD GROUND SYSTEMS ENGINEER AT THE NATIONAL RESEARCH LAB’S SOLAR PHYSICS BRANCH. Because Nathan Rich is, and that means he definitely knows better than you. And even if you don’t take Rich’s word…
2. THERE IS ONLY ONE AUTHORITY ON THIS
Still, some people will say “I’m not buying it, it’s a cover up,” or something along those lines but more rednecky and stupid. Here’s the problem with that attitude. The solar physics branch of the NRL, where Nathan Rich works, is special in that it is exclusively in charge of processing the imagery that comes back from those three cameras. Literally no one else in the entire history of humankind has ever used one of these cameras before. And you really think you know better than they do how the goddamn thing works?
Imagine you were to take an average digital camera from today, travel back in time to the 16th century, and take a photo. Your photo happens to have a lens flare in it. You show that photo to the locals and explain that that’s a lens flare, it happens sometimes, and it wasn’t really there. The locals look at it and say, “NOPE, not buying it, that’s definitely a ghost. Looks like a ghost.” That’s basically what’s happening here.
Basically the only people with the right to doubt the official explanation beyond its basic logical consistency are engineers and astrophysicists, and they’re the ones facepalming and trying to explain that little smudge up there for the umpteenth time.
A task made even more frustrating, I’m sure, by the fact that…
3. IT’S ONLY THERE IN ONE FRAME
Another aspect of Rich’s explanation was that “these artifacts do not persist from image to image,” indicating that it’s not a real thing in space but a minor camera glitch. That sounds fishy … if only there was a way to check that. Oh that’s right, every frame that SOHO has ever taken is publicly available on its website, conveniently linked here for your convenience (and by “for your convenience” I mean “so you can spend the rest of the week dicking around.”) Anyway, the camera takes a photo every 12 minutes, so I took the liberty of looking up the two frames immediately preceding and following the one with what is almost definitely an alien in it. Here they are:
You can check the timestamps if you want, or notice that that flare-up on the sun is progressing in the right sequence, or go to the website and run the appropriate frames yourself, but clearly that thing is only there for at most 24 minutes. You tell me where it was before and after. And by the way, all those headlines about “orbiting” and “circling” and “surfing” (thanks, HuffPo)? It’s only there in ONE frame. By definition, we can deduce absolutely nothing about its motion from a single solitary data point. And even if we could tell it was moving…
4. THESE THINGS HAPPEN ALL THE GODDAMN TIME
Remember when our buddy Nathan said that these things show up in almost every image? That’s because they show up in almost every image. Here’s an example from a period of particularly high solar wind activity in 2006, probably as the result of a recent flare:
And here’s one from five hours and 48 minutes prior to the anomaly in question:
Lesson: space is not a friendly environment for a digital camera, and pointing it straight at the goddamn sun doesn’t help. Not to mention…
5. THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A SPACESHIP
Inevitably, when these things crop up, people start talking about how it looks like a spaceship to them. They talk about cylinders and triangles and so on as though they’re spaceshipwatchers trying to match up features in their Migratory Spaceships of North America books. But we’ve never seen a spaceship. We’ve never even made a spaceship, unless you count the Voyager probes, which are basically just cameras with our home address carved into them and, now that they’re out of the solar system, are really more like cosmic driftwood than a form of transportation. We don’t have a goddamn clue what a spaceship looks like, so to say that some random orange smudge in a YouTube video looks like a spaceship carries about as much credibility as saying it looks like a floogenhoogenbloogen.
And furthermore, people have been seeing “structures” in the most nondescript blobs of pixels imaginable. You’ve seen the description that went with the little streak we’ve been talking about. This one here was described as “some sort of plasma-based, other-worldly craft or being which occasionally visits the Sun to recharge its energy stores.”
And this next one is some kind of starship, according to some dumb fuck named aec007, suffering from either “cloaking device failure due to the intense radiation or warp field engine (bubble) exposed by mass ejection.”
So aec007 not only knows what a spaceship looks like, despite the fact that they don’t exist, but he knows what cloaking devices and warp field bubbles look like, despite the fact that they don’t exist, and he knows what happens when those things interact with a coronal mass ejection. Unbelievable. Plus, there’s the problem of…
6. THE SIZE
That most recent image showed up in a picture right next to Mercury, and is roughly the same size. Mercury’s 3,100 miles across, so apparently we’re talking about a spaceship bigger than the fucking moon. Big enough that its own gravity would try to crush it into a sphere, like it did to the actual moon, so it’d have to be engineered to resist that.
That dark round circle in the previous one is about a tenth the size of the sun, which is roughly eighty thousand miles across. It’s the size of Jupiter, which is big enough to compress hydrogen to a metal at its core, and some people think it’s a ship. Sure, you could argue that aliens have the technology to make a spaceship that big (for some reason) and get it into the solar system without anyone noticing (somehow; keep in mind that the actual Jupiter accounts for 95% of the total mass of the solar system), and without absolutely ruining the orbits of other planets (also impossible), but again, there is no reference point. Just because it’s impossible for us doesn’t mean aliens can automatically do it.
And finally, the “metallic, jointed spaceship” that we’ve been talking about? That thing (were it an actual thing, which it’s not) is fucking gigantic. The sun is represented by the white circle in those screenshots, and the streak is about 55% the width of that circle. That would make it 440,000 MILES long. There is no goddamn way. That’s almost twice the distance from the earth to the moon. There is absolutely no way that a solid structure that size exists anywhere in the universe. I know, maybe it’s closer than that and not actually that big. But it can’t be closer, because then we’d only be seeing the dark side of it and it’d be invisible. The size is absolute evidence that it’s not a real thing.
But let’s say none of this has convinced you. Maybe NASA just made up the solar wind collision thing to throw you off. Let’s say NASA has been denying and covering up evidence for alien life forms over and over for years. And I mean over and over. There are hundreds if not thousands of these videos, so maybe none of my points hold any weight with you and you’re still convinced that NASA knows the solar system is crawling with alien ships and is just denying it. But if that were true…
7. WHY THE FUCK WOULD THEY KEEP RELEASING FOOTAGE?
All these people seem to think NASA is concealing evidence of aliens, without realizing the obvious contradiction in that: all this evidence is coming from NASA. They’re releasing all of this footage on purpose because they know there’s nothing in it. If they wanted to cover it up, they’d just stop releasing it. Do you know how easy it would be to photoshop that shit out? Or just change the time stamps? Or just say “hey, we’re launching a new satellite and we’re actually not going to publish every single frame of footage it captures for its entire lifetime.” Hubble data is protected for a year after it’s captured, so absolutely zero people would be surprised if NASA wasn’t totally transparent with all its data. In fact, I’d bet good money that more than 80% of the people in this country don’t even know these cameras exist. Come to think of it, NASA could put basically whatever they wanted in space and call it a weather satellite — all we’d know is that a rocket launched recently — and not tell anyone. Why would they use the equipment they did tell us about instead? And finally, if NASA had remotely solid evidence that there was alien life not just in the universe, but in our fucking backyard…
8. WHY IN THE NAME OF ALL THAT IS HOLY WOULD THEY HIDE IT?
NASA has been the victim of brutal budget slashing over the past few years, and has always been underfunded. The entire budget of NASA — all the money they’ve ever spent in the last 55+ years — is less than what the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq cost in one year. We spent more on air conditioning the tents for the troops last year than the cost of a Shuttle launch. You don’t think the director of NASA would love to be able to come to a joint session of Congress and say, “Oh, you’d like to cut our funding? Well here’s incontrovertible proof of alien life with technology we’ve never seen before, hanging out mere hours away, and me and my boys here are the only people on this planet with the technology to get there, see them, or even try to say hi.”
They’d have billions of dollars thrown at them before they could leave the room. There is nothing that NASA could possibly discover that would vindicate its budget and existence more than alien life, and you think they’d try to hide it?
The fact is that there are people out there who will assume that the government is trying to hide something no matter what the evidence to the contrary may be. They like thinking that they’ve outsmarted the experts at NASA or DARPA or whatever. Oh, they tried to hide it from me, but I ain’t stupid! I figgered it out!
Think about this. NASA employs roughly 18,000 people in a country of 309 million. Statistically, they’re probably damn near the smartest people within our borders. And you really think, if the people smarter than 99.99994% of the country wanted to hide something — something that they themselves created and distributed — that some paranoid piece of shit who spends his time posting blurry videos on YouTube could figure it out?