Was the Moon Landing Fake?
I was as surprised as anyone, including my Editor-in-Chief, at the response I got about last week's article. Apparently, people really have a lot of strong feelings about Betty and Barney Hill. In regards to the e-mails I received, I wanted to use this opening to clear up some business: I do not, nor have I ever been, associated with any sort of group. I am not a member of or affiliated with CSICOP, the Randi institute, MUFON, or any other organization. The contents of my articles come 100 percent straight out of my own vulgarity-laced humor, and if they look like something someone else has written, it's probably because they're just as reasonable a person as I am. That, and they're probably pretty hunky.
I also wanted to respond to some of that fan mail with an article. I got a slew of suggestions for article topics, so here's the first "reader request" Iron Skeptic: No, you ingrates, we did not stage the moon landings. If you search on the Internet, you will find literally dozens of claims: We faked the moon landings to take people's minds off of Vietnam. We staged them to save face in front of the Communists because we realized it was impossible. Stanley Kubrick did it just to beef up his reputation as a director and then forgot to tell people it was a joke.
All of these conspiracy theories are just flat-out untrue. America made it to the moon, because America is awesome. Our citizens spend their free time taking regular trucks and turning them into Monster Trucks, we were the ones to deliver an enormous, atomic, jet-powered roundhouse straight into the gut of Nazi Germany, and we have a health care system so good that if you get too fat to walk to the grocery store, you can just order food over the phone, or, if unable to do that, someone will deliver food directly to the stained couch you inhabit. We can do all these things, but we can't strap some people to a rocket, aim it at the moon, and score? Give me a break.
The first thing that all the anti-moon landing people ask is "Why are there no stars in photographs from the moon's surface?" For this, I asked a photographer to explain to me in simple terms what the "dynamic range" of film is.
Basically, film has a range that it can photograph. If there are some very large, very bright things in the foreground, something dim in the background will not show up well.
For instance, say you have a couple of astronauts wearing white suits jumping around a few feet in front of the camera: There's not a very good chance you'll pick up even the brightest star in the background. Perhaps you'll see it if you spend a lot of time developing it perfectly, but it's unlikely. If you don't believe me, head on over to the Academic Building and waylay a photographer on their way out of class. They'll say the exact same thing. On the Internet, my eyes began to burn when I saw someone, in all seriousness, ask "If the Hubble Space Telescope can see stars, why didn't they show up in the photographs?" I don't know what sort of camera the astronauts had with them, but I can tell you this: The Hubble it was not.
The second point is that the flag ripples in videos of the astronauts planting it. How is this possible, since there is no wind on the moon, you ask? Well, first, crack open an old physics textbook.
If you take something, for instance a flag, and wiggle it around a lot as you jam it into the soil, what will happen? The flag will wiggle also. Trying to stick a flagpole into the ground requires a pretty large amount of energy, and some of that energy goes into the flag, making it ripple.
There's a whole host of 'problems' involving "identical backgrounds." It goes like this: Some shots have the lunar lander in front of, for example, a mountain, and others show the mountain with nothing in front of it. There's a simple explanation for this: On earth, things in the distance get hazy because of the atmosphere.
On the moon, there is no atmosphere, so everything, no matter how far away, appears crisp and clear. It's virtually impossible to tell if an object is a foot wide and right in front of you or a mile wide and really far away.
In the example of the mountain above, if you've seen the pictures you can see by looking at rocks and things in the foreground that the astronaut just moved to the side until the lander was out of the shot. Simple. No conspiracy needed!
In some shots of the lander descending, we can see dust being blown out to the sides. Then why is there dust still around for our men to leave footprints in? Because NASA screwed up when making the hoax!
No, I'm kidding. Not really. The reason is simple: First, the rockets on the lander are not as powerful as the conspiracy theorists want you to believe, and are incapable of pushing all the dust out of the way. Second, since there is no atmosphere on the moon, only the dust that is physically hit by the exhaust moves. There's no air to help out with dust that lies off to the side like there is on earth.
Ironically, the dust around the lander is probably thicker because all of the stuff that was blown out from under the lander had to land somewhere. If the footprints were directly under the rockets of the landing module, there would be some merit to this argument. However, that's just not the way it is.
So instead of shooting down ridiculous claims, what proof do I have that we actually went there? Well, I'd start with the 841 pounds of crap that the astronauts brought back. Moon rocks are pretty substantially different from regular rocks, and although it's possible that the government could have forged them to make the case look good, that's just not likely. It would probably be easier to just land on the moon and come back than all of this cover up business that the conspiracy theorists are claiming went on. Besides which, of the dozen or so astronauts to land on the moon, nine are still alive and some, such as Buzz Aldrin, will wreck your face if you ask him if it's a hoax.
A guy named Bart Sibrel, a moon hoax advocate, petty criminal, and all around nutcase, asked Aldrin to swear on a Bible that the moon landing wasn't a hoax. Aldrin, still in good shape for a septegenarian, punched him right between the eyes. And it wasn't a limp punch, either: Sibrel had to get face-replacement surgery because his old one was totally ruined. This fellow Sibrel also conned his way into the home of Ed Mitchell, lunar module pilot for Apollo 14, for an interview once. When he pulled out the bible, Mitchell figured out what was up, swore on it, and then (literally) kicked Sibrel out of his home.
So there you have it. There's not a chance in hell that the moon landings were faked, and any claim of "evidence" that they were can be shot down with ease by recalling that the moon has no atmosphere or by cracking open a high school physics book. Also, Buzz Aldrin: You're my hero.
First Published in The Triangle, 22 April 2005