Crowdfunding Follies: $100 To Disprove Isaac Newton

Are satellites fake? Nobody knows, because no one has done an experiment to determine if rocket engines will produce thrust in a vacuum. At least that’s what this Kickstarter says, and it’s asking for $100 to test multiple types of rocket engines in an enclosed, evacuated chamber.

Anyone who has thought about this problem for half a second will tell you yes, rocket engines will work in a vacuum. It’s an application of Newton’s Third Law of Motion; if you explode fuel and dump it out the back of a rocket, the rocket will go forward. Rocket engines don’t push against air.

Strap in, because this one gets better. In a video linked to from the Kickstarter Campaign, satellites do not exist. This is because gas molecules in the thermosphere can reach 2,500 °C, hot enough to melt the metal satellites are made of. Never mind that the 2,500 °C figure is only for individual gas molecules; the atmosphere at these altitudes is so rarefied, there isn’t much contact with matter. Oh, second point: have you ever realized that a Google image search of the word ‘satellite’ mostly shows illustrations and renders? It’s not because to take a picture of a satellite in orbit would require two satellites flying in formation; no, it must be because satellites don’t exist. It gets better from there.

170 thoughts on “Crowdfunding Follies: $100 To Disprove Isaac Newton

    1. Check out his youtube channel, he thinks Atlantians are running a disinformation campaign to keep the world in the dark about the flat motionless earth we live on.
      At least solar roads are a real possible, if totally impractical, thing, this guy on the other hand thinks Reptiloids have invaded the worlds governments and that the north pole is in Thailand.

          1. His specific wording was “…for a while…”

            So I would give him the benefit of the doubt and say that he believes the pole shifting will require it to transition through the planet, like a physical pole being rotated around.

            Still an erroneous assumption, but a more plausible false concept than thinking the new North Pole would not be anywhere near the current South.

          2. Because in space, there is not up, down, left or right, its all relative to your position, therefore a pole change would become the new absolute, and since all relative information is dependent still on an absolute point of reference, then north, south , east, west etc would change.

      1. Don’t bring up solar roads again, please.

        My 14 year old came home one day excited that all our foreign oil problems were solved and wanted to know why I wasn’t installing said “solar roads” at my job. Her “science” teacher was excited and had told the kids in class all about it.

        After calling the school about the the useless moron I carefully explained to her that solar roads will crack and become useless as soon as I decide to move one of the 1.5 million pound vehicles along the surface. Then I showed her pictures of my home with twenty foot snow drifts and snow plows hammering the road, the parking lot known as Los Angeles, and a fire that turned the entire road bed into molton lava.

        I think she got the message.

    2. Its much worse.
      The SolarRoads had funding from government sources and had working prototypes. They had at least a few dozen and drove heavy loads over it.

      The objections to solar roads wasn’t it was counter to known physics – the objection was the cost benefits were very unlikely wouldn’t work.

      1. I don’t know what false claims you’re talking about. All he’s claiming is that he’s going to set up an experiment to try to prove that a rocket won’t work without something to thrust against. There’s nothing dishonest about just being ignorant.

          1. I’m not always sure when people are joking. I hope you are and you just forgot to use the sarcastic font.

            Vacuum and weightlessness often occur together buy one doesn’t cause the other.

            I have a vacuum chamber and I assure things are not weightless inside the chamber once the air is pumped out.

          2. Haha, I agree, I don’t know if your legit or not. Vacuum just means low, or no pressure, ie atmospheric density, which has nothing to do with gravity, gravity is what causes the density, not the other way around. If pressure controlled gravity, then my refrigerator is the starship enterprise warping through space.

        1. I’m all for extremism as long as its harmless. Let people do and believe what they want until their stupidity affects other people (Jim Jones, etc.). The “live and let live” attitude is one of the reasons there is so much innovation in the world.

      2. If someone wants to throw away $100 to fund a personal science experiment, it’s not necessarily a bad thing. The guy might learn something. It’s unlikely, but I’m not worried enough to stop it.

        Kickstarter has evolved into a (sometimes vicious and scummy) market (seething violently irate and self-entitled backers [and stupid ones too, yes]), but it also can be a charity.

  1. I have it on good authority that the world is in reality quite flat, don’t let these sphereies dupe you into their cult. Also, I’m selling bridges in the greater Boston area at prices so low you can’t afford not to own one!

  2. The New York Times once opined that Robert Goddard was a quack and a fake because he claimed that rocket engines would produce thrust in a vacuum. According to Arthur C Clarke (yes, that one), the NYT didn’t retract that formally statement until 1969.

    Actually, according to Clarke again, rocket engines actually work BETTER in a vacuum.

    1. While a rocket-propelled vehicle will be more efficient in a vacuum due to the lack of air resistance, the efficiency of the rocket engine itself is affected by the shape of the rocket engine nozzle. A rocket engine designed to work at one pressure will not be as efficient at another pressure. See the Wikipedia article on rocket engine nozzles http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_engine_nozzle for more information.

  3. Well… This isn’t as crazy/stupid as it may seem.
    There is a good chance that this guy wants to silence all the conspiracy theories that keep repeating that rockets don’t work in a vacuum by performing a simple, yet controlled and scientific (Well… almost) experiment.
    At least he wants PROOF, and doesn’t go around barking about chemtrails.

    1. Let’s do the math.
      What happens if you add one rocket (controlled explosion) to one enclosed space (vacuum chamber)?
      You get one less idiot.

      A better question to ask is, If you contribute to a campaign that results in a death and property damage, can you be held culpable?

        1. Actually, conventional vacuum pumps are not enough. They can’t get rid of the combustion products quick enough. The reason for this is the way pumping works at low pressures – you don’t have a flow anymore, just molecules flying in random directions and eventually hitting an outlet.

          This results in your vacuum chamber immediately being filled with no vacuum whatsoever anymore after starting your rocket engine :) errr .. yeah.

          That being said, it is an important question just HOW exactly rockets perform in vacuum, because as the pressure around the flame cone gets lower, the cone fans out. It is important to have research on this because you want to know if the flame cone of – for example – micro thrusters in satellites expands to more then 180° and therefore might damage the satellite. An adjusted nozzle design can prevent this.

          So how is this done? The only possibility is to immediately FREEZE the combustion products in your vacuum chamber as soon as they hit a wall. Cryopumping is the magic word. This is for example done at the DLR (www.dlr.de) with about one supercooled vacuum chamber run per week and a consumption of about 800 litres of liquid helium per run. Alle the walls are cooled to 4 K and – boom – there you go: Rocket testing in a stable vacuum.

          1. Yes he was being sarcastic. Why do people here think they’re the only one with a basic education in science and technology? Yes of course he knows pencils aren’t made of bloody lead, every 10 year old knows that.

            Give people a friggin break. I live for the day when one joke gets made here and it isn’t taken literally.

          2. Normally you would be right. However, every ten-year-old also knows that rockets work just fine in a vacuum, so it’s best not to make any assumptions!

          3. Well, the rocket thing is not intuitively obvious, took long enough til Newton figured it out. Although he didn’t have rockets or a vacuum chamber, a lot of the other implications of his laws surprised people, and still do now.

            But the pencil lead I’m SURE everybody knows. By the age of 10 at least. Kids use pencils at school, it must be mentioned soon enough.

            Mind, when I was 10 I had to correct the teacher that gravity ISN’T caused by the Earth’s rotation. Yes, the teacher. Eventually she asked somebody who wasn’t 10 to confirm it to her, and blow me down, I was “right”.

  4. There’s a point where it’s not worth trying to address this quackery, especially when there really isn’t a big audience. The proof is out there, but deemed untrue as it is. Any additional proof is not likely to be accepted any more than the existing proof.

    That kind of person is rarely swayed and really aren’t thinking very clearly. Many nations and private companies have put things into orbit. The idea that they’re all in one giant conspiracy is lunacy. All those satellite TV beams coming from space are just *magic*. Ditto for GPS.

    1. Yep, it would be just like the climate study that was funded by the Koch bros. When the study found that global warming was not a hoax, the tinfoil hatters simply ignored that study like all the other evidence out there that didn’t mesh with their conspiracy theory.

  5. There’s certainly a lot of quack science out there.

    Karl Popper wrestled with these issues in the last century, and decided to start with the simplest question: what is legitimate science?

    He never found a definitive rule to determine whether any field of study was legitimate. I can give some examples and counterexamples, but I’m wondering what HAD readers have to say.

    Are fields of study scientific because they derive from mathematical models? Astrology is rigorously based on math, it’s got an internal model, but few scientists call it scientific.

    Are fields of study scientific because they make testable predictions? Economics is based on math, yet never makes predictions. There’s no consensus of opinion about even the simplest things – it’s all “schools of thought”. For example, what is the best value for inflation? (IOW, what value should we be striving for, for best results?)

    Are fields considered science if the experiments are reproducible? 70% of research studies cannot be reproduced. (Google “The Reproducibility Initiative”.)

    Are fields considered science if the results are valuable? Many studies simply note trends, with no basis for application or comparison. As an example, a recent study shows we need less sleep as we get older. The results were P<0.05, the results are significant but… how much is the increase? Without actual amounts to use, is there some benefit in simply noting the trend?

    (And I can show lots of counterexamples, of people doing everything right but are not considered scientific. Download and watch the BBC documentary "Cancer is Serious Business" some time.)

    It's a thorny problem. Do HAD readers have any insight to share?

    (As an aside, I don't have a lot of use for philosophers, but Karl Popper gets a 'bye in my book. He actually suggested experiments which threw light on some of these issues. Google "Popper's experiment" some time. Scientists argued what the results should be for over 7 decades, and it was only settled by doing the experiment. And this was for Quantum Mechanics, which is widely considered a mature and highly-predictable science.)

    1. I would only call them quack… They don’t even belong in science. Anyone can come up with a crappy model of the Universe even with correct math. Without showing correlations to actual measurable/reproducible results, it is just a theory. Going into denial even when presented with proper scientific proof, they are just quack pots.

      Do a google search on “space shuttle satellite repair” Pretty sure that they are not computer rendering.

      1. Not even a theory. A theory is a model that fits known facts (observations) and includes a model that makes new, testable predictions. Theories are fact plus. Any time it seems like you want to say “just a theory”, as in this case, try “just a hypothesis”. Devaluing the imoact of “theory” in the layman’s venacular has made the quacks more powerful than they ought to be. Don’t stand for this.

        1. Dave,

          Nicely put on the devaluation of “theory” in common language.

          Recommended reading for everybody: Orwell’s diaries. Possibly the best three volumes of bathroom book — short entries — in existence.

          -dlj.

    2. In my opinion, this is a “hard science” versus a “soft science” question. Economics, psychology, and even psychiatry are “softer sciences” because the testable claims are not always there. Econ is especially bad, imho, because even if a theory gets evidence against it, the theory just gets modified into “except on dates like . . . ” which match the evidence. Psych sciences are statistical sciences, like chemistry before the ideas of quantum mechanics and equilibrium. Imagine, if you would, doing a chem experiment and having it disproven because it reached an equilibrium with a different percent than what you measured because the temperature and pressure were different. Psych, where social variables can’t be completely accounted for (talk about a quantum hidden variable problem!) and economics all suffer from this. Medicine as well, though we are beginning to measure some of the hidden variables (genetics, epigenetics, stress, and socio-economic status).

      Hard sciences are fields where we have mostly gotten rid of hidden variables. Math, physics, chemistry, and so on.

      Above all, to be a science requires the idea that a test can disprove a theory. Astrology fails this, because either charts are so vague that everyone fits the description (birth chart for one person fits everyone? by induction it can’t be for one person, test fails) or it ignores when a person and a prediction don’t line up (birth chart says “falls in love on June 18th of this year” and that date passes with nothing happening, there for chart failed). If a failure like those above do not cause the theory to be chucked and started again, at best (second case only, very detailed prediction that doesn’t happen) it could be a soft science and the statistical model is off. Failure of the first sort (vague predictions that match everything) isn’t even a science, it’s just an interesting party trick. It might lead to some science eventually (astrology did lead to astronomy) or the party trick might be found to be an interesting observation of some unique human sort that makes it useful to social sciences.

      1. “to be a science requires the idea that a test can disprove a theory.”

        Yes, indeed! That’s why Karl Popper’s ideas have been named “Falsificationism”. :)

    3. “Economics is based on math, yet never makes predictions. There’s no consensus of opinion about even the simplest things – it’s all “schools of thought”. For example, what is the best value for inflation? (IOW, what value should we be striving for, for best results?)”

      It’s a wee bit sad that so many people feel free to make up stuff at random about economics. The first half of this quotation is utter nonsense. The second half, that there can be disagreement about policy, is true of policy in all fields — and has nothing to do with the subject at hand, whether economics is a science.

      -dlj.

      1. Economics is not a developing field, much less a science. It only looks backwards and cannot make reliable predictions based on those observations, except in the broadest of ways. Any really good economist should be a billionaire in much the same way that good chemists should produce reliable chemical processes. The lack of billionaire economists suggests they cannot make predictions of particular value. What they are good at is political manipulation. In the time since Adam Smith made his observations, physics has produced the nuclear reactor and that atom bomb; engineers have built supersonic aircraft and set men on the moon; molecular biologists have created DNA testing and the development of new strains of plants and animals. The economists have watched uselessly over numerous economic depressions, one of which was the root of WWII and the murder of over 6 million civilians. While science played a big part in the starting and ending of WWII, the failure of the German economy was the driving reason. Perhaps, you say, it was politicians bankrupting Germany after WWI that caused the failure and that maybe economists were ignored. If so, then perhaps the lack of reliable predictions was the reason no one listened to them. I’m sure some astrologers also foretold of WWII, but they are no better than economists.

        What place do economists occupy? They are used to justify political decisions and to assess blame after the fact.

        1. Dave,

          That would be a much better post if it actually had a fact in it.

          Some things that some economists say are sometimes used unreasonably by some people to justify incorrect political ideas. Who did you have in mind?

          I’ll give you a freebie: a cheap-ass ideologue like Arthur Laffer twists perfectly sound ideas in the total absence of the facts needed to put them ito context, and produces silly partisan prapaganda.

          If you look at an empirical guy like Paul Krugman, on the other hand, you will find sound observation of intelligent theory producing both accurate predictions and support for sound and successful policy. Uh, yes, he is a millionnaire…

          -dlj.

    4. Regarding Karl Popper and defining science, the general conclusion he came to was falsafiability.

      >Astrology is rigorously based on math
      You must be joking.
      Tracking the stars is not the basis of Astrology. Drawing unfounded conclusions from astronomical phenomena is. There is nothing scientific about a basis in logical fallacies. This is like saying “tea leaf reading is based in science because we have amazing quality control in todays teas, much better than the days of Newton.” Astrology and New age woo aren’t based on science, they’re based on ignorance of science. Crystal energy and pyramid power aren’t confirmed because string theory agrees everything is vibrating. These things are pure snake oil and this is evident in their results and their champions.

      >Economics
      Is a bad example. As far as economics has come it’s still a developing field. As are sociology and psychology. Neuroscience will help strenghten the latter two but as with economics, free will (or the illusion thereof) puts a wrench in the works.

      >70% of research cannot be reproduced
      I’m familair with this figure. You’re ignoring the reasoning behind this. Much of this is attributed to poor methods sections. If reasearchers aren’t explicit and accurate in their setup it’s no wonder reproducability is low. Bias plays a role, but no one knows how big, so until someone has a number it’s just speculation.This doesn’t mean they are wrong, necessarily.The reproducability initiative is a good effot and it should strengthen science as a whole. The fact that the scientific community have recognized this short coming isn’t a nail in the coffin of science, it’s a demonstration of its self correction.

      >Many studies simply note trends
      This is a consequence of small studies and wide focus. The particular study into sleep has been noted many times, with a variety of real numbers actually used (I’ve seen 3-6h for elderly people). The reason general trends are noted is because they lack sufficient data to provide concrete numbers. Human behavioral studies often don’t account for many variables and thus can only desribe trends. This isn’t a flaw in science, it’s academic honesty. The usefulness comes as a starting point for future studies. You can’t expect every study to yield exact numbers and produce a mature and complete model of the system it’s studying.

      >Is it only science if it’s valuable
      Who ascribes value? There are theories and conjectures out there that have gone decades and centuries before their value was realized. Take conic sections and elliptical maths. Newton/Leibnitz figured out a bunch in the 1500s but this didn’t upend the economy then. We already had accurate tide charts, we knew where the planets moved. Fermat’s conjecture stood for +300 years. Both of these problems were solved with elliptical curves, but there were entire new disciplines created in solving these problems. All of these maths are used in cryptgraphy. Not only does this allow us secure communication but it allows compact data transmission. To focus on value is to play the short game. How many artists died paupers whose works now sell for millions? Exploration and discovery are themselves the thing of value.

      >Confidence
      P<0.05 is a general confidence interval but it is far from applicable to every field of science. Some social and psychologic studies have pI can show counter examples of people doing everything right…
      If they’re not considered scientific then they aren’t doing it right.

      @Dave haynie
      +1 I was about to include something along those lines.

      1. Not sure what happened, obviously it got mangled though.
        >Confidence intervals
        P<0.05 is a general confidence interval but it is far from appropriate to every field of science, or even model. Some social and psychologic studies have pI can show counter examples of people doing everything right…
        If they’re not considered scientific then they aren’t doing it right.

        1. OK HAD. WTF is up w/ your comments.
          As I was saying:
          Some social and psychologic studies have p less than 0.3. These values are a critique of the model as much as the data. Even hard sciences use large CIs on occaision. Particle physiscs , I think, uses 5 standard deviations after some bad ‘discoveries’. You use a P value that gives to acceptable results, you don’t have to use the same one for every study, and there are reasons not to. 0.05 just happens to work well in many cases and people get lazy. They don’t use it because it’s necesasrily the best, they use it because it’s the standard.
          2)I can show you people who did everything right but still aren’t scientific.
          If they did everything right it -would- be scientific. You can have a whole chalk board full of math behind you but that doesn’t mean any of it is connected with your hypothesis.

    5. Science is that which places man in between nature and God (Christian God that is). That God gives man purpose, and man then gives nature a purpose. Then all theory to explain the mechanism in action should not defy the law of God, cannot defy itself, cannot contradict reality, must be repeatable by observation, or measurement, and must recognize the design or intelligence in which it was created. Think about it, if you use these parameters you have science, take away one and all are lost. The Christian reformation of the Catholic Religion, gave birth to modern science, and because of these assumptions science has thrived, and the western world is the most advanced in scientific thought, and advancement. Which makes sense, make these assumptions, and because they are given to be true, and prove to be true, the result or goal can always be understood where it is. Take away that fixed point, and the idea of scientific reality is lost. The first ever man to practice medicine as we know it today, with no magic, was Imhotep, or who is known in the Bible as Joseph. Only the Christian thought and world view declares God is real, and so are all miracles, therefore measurable, if its not measurable then it didn’t happen. The proof of whether its truly from God, and real is by testing, measurement, and evidence, without it, you don’t believe in God of Bible, but of your own imagination.

      1. Sorry I forgot to add that it also must be coherent. Its all the things the Bible proclaims, and so does God about the universe and our creation, meaning, purpose, etc. Its his logic, intelligence, etc that gives us the framework for understanding.

      1. I don’t believe that’s correct. Rocket engines (at least the ones actually in flight use today) combust fuel without a shockwave. An explosion is combustion with a shockwave.

    1. What do you think is happening with the fuel? Its not burning, its exploding, and because the casing and nozzle directs the force of that explosion in one direction you get thrust. Explode to much force, or too fast, and the casing explodes with the force of the explosion of material.

      1. There are two rants I could post.

        The first rant would disregard the use of the word ‘explosion’ in the post as a style choice. It would then continue on to point out that a rocket deflagrates the fuel and oxidizer as it is initally combusted with a subsonic shockwave, which is then accelerated to supersonic velocities by a deLaval nozzle. Therefore, everyone in the comments is wrong.

        The second rant would be that everyone here is an insipid pedant.

        So, which shall it be?

        1. Ooh, I’m too late, but the pedant one, please!

          Also, I had forgotten about the supersonic thing. My physics professor explained it once and it’s really, really cool. I need to go back and figure that one out again…

  6. Hey, Hackaday.com! What’s this have to do with hacking/modding/making? Stop being a douche and stirring the pot. There’s enough of that crap out there. Don’t troll bait just to get click!

    Irresponsible.

  7. I think posts about Kickstarter projects that are of interest to hackers are great. But posts about Kickstarter projects from idiots and crackpots? I don’t think HAD should bother with those. After all, Kickstarter has new perpetual motion machine projects all the time.

    I come to HAD to enjoy reading about what smart and creative people are doing. If I want to raise my blood pressure by reading about what incorrigible morons are doing, there are plenty of other sites on the web.

      1. Yeah, I know. And I saw the brouhaha a week or so ago about Kickstarter posts and Greasemonkey. That’s one of the reasons I mentioned that I LIKE seeing Kickstarter posts. And notice I didn’t insult Brian or HAD like some others in these comments.

        But gee, am I not allowed to voice ANY opinion??

          1. I wonder: does HAD want people to give them cogent feedback on their editorial choices, or do they want to rely only on measures of how many people read or comment on each article and try to make inferences from that?

          2. @ Bob Alexander: I am led to believe by my own experiences dealing with them that they would welcome cogent feedback, positive or negative. I think that they, like most other people, draw the line when that feedback turns into insults.

          3. “they would welcome cogent feedback, … draw the line when that feedback turns into insults”: Then I would claim that my original comment fits the bill, and if I had instead not read the article, it would have been a disservice to the community.

            That’s right: my increasing blood pressure is my gift to the world. :-) :-)

    1. Just as we hackers have a responsibility to each other not to put together dangerous SCUBA gear and try to convince people it’s safe (cheap jab, I know) we also have a responsibility to the rest of people to point out idiocy.

      Sure, there is a under-current of anti-intelligence in some societies now days. I feel it’s because we haven’t spoken up about stupid things like this; that we have just sat idly by and let stupid have their say. We’ve needed to speak up because, and we need to speak up now more than ever.

  8. In 1975 or so I was elected to my daughters’ school board in Nishi-Ogikubo, Japan. Then within the Board I was elected curriculum inspector (“Tantoh”), and read all the schools’ text books.

    To my shock and amusement I found that Grade Seven children were being taught the difference between jets and rockets. Rockets, it was said, operated on Newtonian principles, whereas jets, quite differently, operated by pushing against the atmosphere.

    Well, that was a swift trip to the garbage heap for that one… But at least they had the rockets right.

    -dlj.

    1. Technically, they do operate by pushing against the atmosphere. They push it out the back. Especially with larger turbofan engines where most of the thrust actually comes from the bypass airflow.

      The book was probably trying to make a difference between the cases of carrying all the reaction mass with you, and taking it in from the surroundings.

  9. Kickstarter attracts a lot of quacks. There is at least one or two “free energy” devices every week. When you ask them a question and point out the long history of perpetual motion machines and the laws of thermodynamics making such things impossible, they retort that Galileo had detractors too but that didn’t stop him.

    1. Yeah know, one of these days that claim will be a half-truth. If somehow someone could harness vacuum energy, or zero point energy, it would like a near free energy, or something exotic in nature.

  10. Rockets are pointy. Pyramids are pointy, Satellites ride in rockets. Thus, satellites are are an Illuminati conspiracy.
    Also I’m starting a Kickstarter to prove evolution is fake because clearly there are some very unfit specimens surviving out there.

  11. Yes, $100 is not even close the the money he would need to “prove” one way or another. So why else could he be doing this? Could he be redirecting a lot of traffic to a Youtube video to make money there? I don’t know, but I won’t be clinking on that link. The last thing I want to do is contribute even a little to this kinda crap.

    1. +1

      Stop feeding the trolls by giving dolts the spotlight. If anything this person might know full well this is a fabrication and you’re helping them publicize/push it.

      “Now featured on HaD, these guys are trying to silence us! The truth is out there! But not in space because rockets don’t work!”

  12. If there are no satellites… what is it that I can see at dawn and dusk when it’s clear out? What is it that I can track with a ham radio? If it’s a hoax, it’s a really good one.

  13. Look it’s very simple, pi is equal to exactly 3, so I’m going to buy 3 pies (apple, cherry and lemon meringue) for $10 (stupid tax!) instead of donating to this campaign.

      1. Sorry, that is wrong. The best pies are definitely apple and lemon meringue. Cherry is decent, but the former ones are definitely better. Pecan is completely out of the running!

        Fund my kickstarter for $10,000 and I can show you the proof!

  14. The tool would probably put a rocket engine in the chamber, fire it and conclude that the engine does not infact produce thrust in a vacuum because the chamber didn’t move from it’s starting position.

    1. The bigger problem is that when the rocket DOES produce thrust, the conclusion will be that because the chamber wasn’t of infinite size, the exhaust gases were hitting the end of the chamber. Then there will have to be another experiment (and another Kickstarter campaign).

  15. My personal favourite is the claims about the moon landing. Especially photos like this. The original lines, drawn in yellow, purport to indicate the suns’s rays are not aprrallel and therefore faked. But if you draw the actual shadow lines (in blue) you can see they are parallel…
    http://i58.tinypic.com/4h7ggn.jpg
    [IMG]http://i58.tinypic.com/4h7ggn.jpg[/IMG]
    No amount of proof will satisfy people who choose to lie to themseleves.

  16. He won’t have a vacuum for long once he lights that rocket…. What is true is that if you light a rocket in an enclosed space, you’ll create a bomb. Good luck with that.

  17. Yup, I funded his KickStarter out of sheer curiosity to see what this guy is going to do with it. Figured the worst that could happen is he accidentally blasts a rocket shaped hole through the side of his garage. Besides, no matter how misguided he is, at least hes attempting something resembling science.

  18. “It’s not because to take a picture of a satellite in orbit would require two satellites flying in formation”

    Not true. The ISS is a satellite. You can see it from the ground with the unaided eye if conditions are right. Not sure how big a telescope you need to see details, but Google turns up some decent ground-based photos.

    1. Or the camera could have originated from the main satellite/stage where it separated from, or another satellite that has rendezvoused with it. I’m not sure why some people still think that everything is black magic.

      1. To some, all technology is based on magic. As [Arthur Clarke] said, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”. Unfortunately, for many people an automatic toaster is sufficiently advanced.

        People who believe in magic also tend to dismiss the magicians as being of another race, or participants in a vast conspiracy. In the case of this Kickstarter campaign, [James] says, “I’m sick of wondering aren’t you? How do rockets move in space if it is a complete vacuum?… hmmm!! LETS SEE!” Apparently it never occurred to him to just READ A TEXTBOOK. Heck, he doesn’t even have to do that much – there are plenty of YouTube videos that explain Newton’s laws of motion at a level that the average 4th grader can comprehend.

        On the other hand, thousands of textbooks and many generations of scientists just amount to hearsay evidence, so who am I to criticize somebody who says in effect, “I don’t care what a million textbooks say – I want to see for myself how this works.”? After all, in spite of what [Brian Benchoff] asserts, [James] never says that nobody has done this experiment before.

        The YouTube video he links on the Kickstarter page is really kind of funny – one of the people talking in it thinks that satellites are fake because all you see on Google are computer-generated images of them. And yet he seems to accept that the photo of Earth taken from Apollo 17 is legit. So apparently it’s easier to go to the moon than to orbit a few hundred miles above the planet. Maybe he thinks the moon is somewhere below the thermosphere. Maybe a cow could jump over it on a good day.

        I really hope that [James] is just pulling our collective leg, just to get a little cash out of dumb people, because otherwise he’s probably going to hurt himself.

        By the way, he now has a link to this page in his FAQ section, in answer to the question, “Will something explode?”

  19. Interesting that he’s decided to ask for less than he needs, urging people to contribute more than the minimum to help cover his costs, and at the same time a single person has covered the minimum needed with their contribution, with no one else having contributed

    1. Deeply ignorant? DEEPLY ignorant? You think that low-pressure plasmas are (or should be) in the standard junior high school curriculum?

      At the risk of marking myself for life, I have to say that until I watched that deeply ignorant video yesterday, I didn’t even know what the temperatures in the thermosphere are. Funny thing – it’s never come up in my 50-some years of everyday life. And I’m an engineer.

      “I will call you a dumbass for not knowing something I just learned yesterday” – comedian Doug Stanhope

  20. I didn’t know there are rocket deniers.. now I know! What made me twitch was
    ” the 2,500 °C figure is only for individual gas molecules”
    Anyone with a basic knowledge of Thermodynamics would know that temperature is described by statistical mechanics as an average kinetic energy of the ensemble of molecules to put it in simple terms, and there is no such thing as temperature of an individual gas molecule.

    1. The average kinetic energy of the ensemble of molecules is 2,500°C. The molecules that high in the atmosphere are spaced far enough apart that you will not come in contact with enough of them to feel the heat.

      1. I was just trying to say the statement in the original post was wrong.
        This one is like saying the current of that 2,500 Volt battery is so low, that once you connect it to any load, the voltage would drop to a safer amount (say, less than 500 V).

  21. Now, we could just point our collective fingers and laugh (which I admit is very tempting). Or we could try to figure out how you could build a demo for under $100 that demonstrates rocket propulsion in a vacuum.

    Anyone up to the challenge?

    1. Since no vacuums exist, in this universe at least, nothing anybody builds is going to convince the invincibly ignorant.

      Fug ’em.

      Now if there were more of ’em they would elect a Republican President, that would be the end of the welfare state, and they would all starve to death.

      It’s nice to know that in the long run they’re self-limiting.

      -dlj.

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