Category Archives: Science & technology

NASA’s “Blue Marble” Earth is a fake

When we think of Earth, this iconic image of the “Blue Marble” immediately comes to mind.

NASA BLue Marble 1972 from Apollo 17 small

We’ll call the above image “Blue Marble I”.

From Wikipedia:

The Blue Marble is a famous photograph of the Earth, taken on December 7, 1972, by the crew of the Apollo 17 spacecraft, at a distance of about 45,000 kilometers (28,000 miles). It is one of the most iconic, and among the most widely distributed images in human history….

The image is one of the few to show an almost fully illuminated Earth disk (slightly gibbous), as the astronauts had the Sun behind them when they took the image. To the astronauts, Earth had the appearance and size of a glass marble, hence the name.

The photograph was taken about 5 hours and 6 minutes after launch of the Apollo 17 mission, and about 1 hour 54 minutes after the spacecraft left its parking orbit around the Earth, to begin its trajectory to the Moon.

Or maybe that’s not the Blue Marble you have in mind. Maybe it’s this iconic image of a more vividly-colored Blue Marble which was released by NASA in 2002. Let’s call it “Blue Marble II”.

NASA Blue Marble 2002

Blue Marble II is so familiar to us in part because it was the default image on the first iPhone.

Blue Marble on iPhone

But some sharp-eyed geeks discovered “anomalies” in Blue Marble II, specifically duplicate clouds, as you can see in a cropped section of Blue Marble II (below):

2002 Blue Marble anomalies

The discovery of duplicate clouds has led to accusations that not only is the 2002 image (Blue Marble II) a fake, the original Apollo 17 image (Blue Marble I) was likely a fake as well. That, in turn, has led some to question whether everything NASA did and said was fake. See, for example, this post from Plane Not A Planet blog.

The problem is that, in the years after the first Blue Marble photo was taken by Apollo 17, NASA has released many Blue Marbles, “Blue Marble II” being one of the best known and most popular.

As NASA explains about the 2002 “Blue Marble II”:


  • Data Date: February 8, 2002
  • Visualization Date: February 8, 2002

This spectacular “blue marble” image is the most detailed true-color image of the entire Earth to date. Using a collection of satellite-based observations, scientists and visualizers stitched together months of observations of the land surface, oceans, sea ice, and clouds into a seamless, true-color mosaic of every square kilometer (.386 square mile) of our planet. These images are freely available to educators, scientists, museums, and the public.

Much of the information contained in this image came from a single remote-sensing device-NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer, or MODIS. Flying over 700 km above the Earth onboard the Terra satellite, MODIS provides an integrated tool for observing a variety of terrestrial, oceanic, and atmospheric features of the Earth. The land and coastal ocean portions of these images are based on surface observations collected from June through September 2001 and combined, or composited, every eight days to compensate for clouds that might block the sensor’s view of the surface on any single day…. The cloud image is a composite of two days of imagery collected in visible light wavelengths and a third day of thermal infra-red imagery over the poles. Global city lights, derived from 9 months of observations from the Defense Meteorological Satellite Program, are superimposed on a darkened land surface map.

In other words, rendered in simple English, NASA is saying that the 2002 “Blue Marble II” is not a photo. Instead, the image is a COMBINATION and COMPOSITE of many “satellite-based observations” (whatever that means), which were “stitched together” (whatever that means) by scientists and “visualizers” (whatever that means).

In other words, Blue Marble II is a fake — which would explain the duplicate clouds.

Here’s an admission by Robert Simmon, one of the “visualizers” who “stitched together” Blue Marble II, as related by David Yanofsky in his March 27, 2014 article for Quartz, “The guy who created the iPhone’s Earth image explains why he needed to fake it“:

As it turns out, much of what one might assume about this beautiful image is not true…. It isn’t actually a photograph of earth. And that blackness surrounding it? That’s not space, either….

Simmon, a data-visualizer and designer at NASA’s Earth Observatory, created the image in 2002. He told Quartz it’s not a photograph, but a sophisticated visualization. 

Images of the earth may seem commonplace, but there are actually very few pictures of the entire planet. The problem, Simmon said, is all the NASA earth-observing satellites are in low-earth or geostationary orbit, meaning none of them are far enough away to see a full hemisphere. The most familiar pictures of the entire Earth are from the 1960s and 1970s Apollo missions to the moon.

As realistic as it looks, the image is a composite of four months of light data collected in 2,300 km (1,429 mi) wide bands as NASA’s Terra satellite orbited from pole to pole, and the earth rotated beneath it.

That data was then stitched together and applied to the surface of a digital ball, then modified in Photoshop.

Simmon readily admits there are numerous fakeries in his image. The atmosphere is Photoshop blur. Some of the clouds are collaged together using Photoshop’s clone tool to cover gaps in the satellite’s coverage. The black area around the earth is not the void of space. It is simply a background of black color that Simmon placed the earth on top of. (This is standard practice, Simmon says: most actual “photographs” of the earth—including the Apollo images—present the planet on a black background).

Without these alterations, the image wouldn’t look very earth-like. Simmon said he based his manipulations on reality, “in the sense that I’ve looked at a lot of imagery to see how thick should that be, how blue should that be.” But, he later added, “It’s more hyper-realistic than realistic.”

“Without these alterations, the image wouldn’t look very earth-like.”

That’s a doozy of a sentence, because our visual images of earth all came from NASA in the first place as none of us has flown into space to actually see the entire Earth.

Given the admission that Blue Marble II is a fake, we have every reason to wonder about other NASA fakeries and lies, such as the 1986 Challenger explosion (see “Are the crew members of 1986 Space Shuttle Challenger still alive?”) and whether those photos taken on the Moon are real.


38 reasons why Obama is a Muslim

Obama in burkaH/t Barry Soetoro Esq.

The media, including “fair-and-balanced” Fox News, have been pummeling Donald Trump for the things he says. Now, he’s being pummeled for things he didn’t say, specifically for not saying that Obama is Christian.

Last Thursday (Sept. 17) night at a Trump rally in New Hampshire, a man said:

“We have a problem in this country. It’s called Muslims. We know our current president is one. You know he’s not even an American — birth certificate, man … We have training camps growing, where they want to kill us. That’s my question. When can we get rid of them?”

Trump responded, “This is how we’re starting? [Audience laugh] We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things. You know, a lot of people are saying that, and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. We’re going to look at that and plenty of other things.”

For not defending Obama — which, of course, Trump is under no obligation to do — Trump is being trounced by the usual jackals.

DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz called Trump “vile” and “racist.” Hillary Clinton spit out this tweet: “Donald Trump not denouncing false statements about POTUS & hateful rhetoric about Muslims is disturbing, & just plain wrong. Cut it out.” (Source)

That same night, on Fox News’ The [Megyn] Kelly File, Kelly showed a clip from the Trump rally to her studio audience.

A blonde woman in a sleeveless black dress questioned Obama’s background and religion (2:37 mark) and said he is a Muslim. Kelly quickly interrupted her, “No, he isn’t.” The woman said, “Well, we don’t know.” To which, Kelly barked, “Yes, we do.”

Then, a black man (wearing glasses) sitting behind the woman jumped in and said that it’s up to Obama to disprove the rumors that he’s a Muslim. The man said:

“…there are large numbers of Americans who have problems with both the philosophical and religious background of [this] president. That’s not the American people’s [but] the president’s job to engage them….”

At which point, Kelly rudely interrupted the man, drowning his voice with her own, indignantly insisting that Obama “is not a Muslim” and that this “was made a campaign issue back in 2008,” which John McCain had “put to rest.”

Megyn Kelly, Mouth of Sauron

To Megyn Kelly, the new Mouth of Obama:

Here are 38 reasons why Americans who are not mind-numbed like you suspect Obama is not a Christian, but is a Muslim.

  1. It is Obama who said at an Islamic dinner, “I am one of you.”
  2. It is Obama who said in an ABC News interview, “My Muslim faith.”
  3. It is Obama who described the Muslim call to prayer as “the prettiest sound on earth.”
  4. It is Obama who gave $100 million in U.S. taxpayer funds to re-build foreign mosques.
  5. It is Obama who wrote that in the event of a conflict, “I will stand with the  Muslims.”
  6. It is Obama who assured the Egyptian Foreign Minister that “I am a Muslim.”
  7. It is Obama who bowed in submission before the Saudi King.
  8. It is Obama who sat for 20 years in Rev. Wright’s church in Chicago listening to Wright condemning Christianity and professing Marxism.
  9. It is Obama who exempted Muslims from penalties under Obamacare that the rest of us have to pay.
  10. It is Obama who purposefully omitted “endowed by our Creator” from his recitation of The Declaration Of Independence.
  11. It is Obama who mocked the Bible and Jesus Christ’s Sermon On The Mount while repeatedly referring to the “holy” Quran.
  12. It is Obama who traveled the Islamic world denigrating the United States Of America.
  13. It is Obama who instantly threw the support of his administration behind the building of the Ground Zero Victory mosque overlooking the crater of the World Trade Center.
  14. It is Obama who refused to attend the National Prayer Breakfast, but hastened to host an Islamic prayer breakfast at the White House.
  15. It is Obama who ordered both Georgetown and Notre Dame Universities to cover the cross before agreeing to speak there, but who has NEVER requested that the mosques he visited adjust their decor.
  16. It is Obama who appointed anti-Christian fanatics to his corps of “czars”.
  17. It is Obama who appointed rabid Islamists to the Department of Homeland Security.
  18. It is Obama who said that NASA’s “foremost mission” is an outreach to Muslim communities to boost their self-esteem.
  19. It is Obama who, as an Illinois Senator, thrice voted against the Born Alive Infant Protection Act in favor of infanticide.
  20. It is Obama who is the first President to not make a Christmas greeting from the White House, but instead decorated the White House’s Christmas tree with baubles of genocidal atheist Chairman Mao and transvestite Hedda Lettuce.
  21. It is Obama who curtailed the military tribunals of Islamic terrorists.
  22. It is Obama who refused to condemn the Muslim Fort Hood killer as an Islamic terrorist.
  23. It is Obama who refuses to speak out against the horrific treatment and execution-by-stoning of women in Muslim countries, but instead submitted Arizona to the UN for investigation of alleged human-rights abuses.
  24. It is Obama who, when queried in India, refused to acknowledge the true extent of radical global Jihadists, but instead profusely praised Islam in a country [India] that is 82% Hindu and the victim of numerous Islamic terrorist assaults.
  25. It is Obama who funneled $900 million in U.S. taxpayer dollars to Hamas, and military contracts to the Taliban and Al Qaeda.
  26. It is Obama who ordered the United States Postal Service to honor the Muslim holiday with a new commemorative Eid stamp.
  27. It is Obama who directed the U.S. embassy in the U. K. to conduct outreach to help “empower” the British Muslim community.
  28. It is Obama who embraced the fanatical Muslim Brotherhood in the “Arab Spring” that overthrew Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who was America’s strongest ally in North Africa.
  29. It is Obama who forces taxpayers to fund mandatory Arabic language and culture studies in grammar schools across our country.
  30. It is Obama who follows the Muslim custom of not wearing any form of jewelry during Ramadan.
  31. It is Obama who departs for Hawaii over the Christmas season so as to avoid being criticized for not participating in seasonal White House religious events.
  32. It is Obama who, as president, has never ever gone to church on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day.
  33. It is Obama who who appointed as his chief adviser Valerie Jarrett, who is a member of the Muslim Sisterhood, an off-shoot of the Muslim Brotherhood.
  34. It is Obama who appointed a Muslim convert as CIA director.
  35. It is Obama whose secretary of state John Kerry said Muslim interests drive US plan for war.
  36. It is Obama who has opened the legal immigration floodgates to Muslims.
  37. It is Obama who receives the highest approval ratings from Muslim Americans.
  38. It is Obama whom a Pakistan Minister asked to be leader of all the world’s Muslims.

H/t Mike Gallagher (via Carl Gallups)


Bible vindicated by recent discovery of farming along Sea of Galilee 23,000 years ago

Genesis 4:1-3 says: “And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LordAnd she again bare his brother Abel. And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord.”

Dr. Hugh Ross writes for Reasons to Believe, Sept. 10, 2015, that:

A continuing source of challenges to the Bible’s credibility and authority is the claim in Genesis 4 that the first humans were engaging in agriculture and soon thereafter even in metallurgy. Skeptics point out the complete lack of archeological evidence that humans previous to the Neolithic Revolution participated in any kind of agriculture or metalwork.

The Neolithic Era (néos is “new”; líthos is “stone”) or New Stone Age, the last part of the Stone Age, was a period in the development of humankind that first began about 10,200 BC in some parts of the Middle East (and later in other parts of the world)ending between 4,500 and 2,000 BC.

The Neolithic commenced with the beginning of farming, which produced the “Neolithic Revolution”. It ended when metal tools became widespread (in the Copper Age or Bronze Age; or, in some geographical regions, in the Iron Age). In other words, the Neolithic Revolution was the beginning of human civilization, enabled by farming and the domestication of animals, which led to villages, towns, specialized agriculture, the manufacturing of household goods, and trade.

Dr. Ross continues that, until a recent discovery, archeological and DNA evidence had placed the Neolithic Revolution in the Persian Gulf region and Mesopotamia about 12,000 years ago. But the biblical accounts of the Garden of Eden and Noah’s flood imply that humans were living in the Persian Gulf region during much of the last ice age. Antarctic and Greenland ice cores establish that the last ice age persisted from 12,000 to 120,000 years ago.

Sea of Galilee-MAP

Now, a research team in Israel has found evidence that humans living along the shore of the Sea of Galilee 23,000 years ago were cultivating wild cereals, i.e., they were “tillers of the ground” 11,000 years before the beginning of the Neolithic Revolution. 

The members of the research team are Ainit Snir, Dani Nadel, Iris Groman-Yaroslavski, Yoel Melamed, Marcelo Sternberg, Ofer Bar-Yosef, and Ehud Weiss.

Below is the abstract of Snir, et al.‘s article, “The Origin of Cultivation and Proto-Weeds: Long Before Neolithic Farming,” in the peer-reviewed journal Plos One (July 22, 2015):

Weeds are currently present in a wide range of ecosystems worldwide. Although the beginning of their evolution is largely unknown, researchers assumed that they developed in tandem with cultivation since the appearance of agricultural habitats some 12,000 years ago. These rapidly-evolving plants invaded the human disturbed areas and thrived in the new habitat. Here we present unprecedented new findings of the presence of “proto-weeds” and small-scale trial cultivation in Ohalo II, a 23,000-year-old hunter-gatherers’ sedentary camp on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Israel. We examined the plant remains retrieved from the site (ca. 150,000 specimens), placing particular emphasis on the search for evidence of plant cultivation by Ohalo II people and the presence of weed species. The archaeobotanically-rich plant assemblage demonstrates extensive human gathering of over 140 plant species and food preparation by grinding wild wheat and barley. Among these, we identified 13 well-known current weeds mixed with numerous seeds of wild emmer, barley, and oat. This collection provides the earliest evidence of a human-disturbed environment—at least 11 millennia before the onset of agriculture—that provided the conditions for the development of “proto-weeds”, a prerequisite for weed evolution. Finally, we suggest that their presence indicates the earliest, small-scale attempt to cultivate wild cereals seen in the archaeological record.

Dr. Ross concludes:

The [Israeli] team’s discovery also answers the skeptics’ challenge to the credibility of claims in Genesis 4 about the technological achievements of the earliest humans. We now have evidence sustaining the compatibility of biblical and archeological data on the civilization achievements of early humans.

See also these other cases of the confluence of science and faith:


Seattle Dept. of Transportation is following your phone across downtown Seattle

big brother Seattle’s Department of Transportation is now using Wi-Fi readers to track your mobile devices across the city.

While it may seem like an invasion of privacy, it’s actually part of an effort to improve your drive.

The small, nondescript discs are sitting on the top of junction or electrical boxes all over downtown. The city has been installing them all year, adding a layer of coverage to its travel time calculator.

When a Wi-Fi enabled device passes by, the tracker recognizes it, changes any personal data into a unique new profile, and then keeps pinging the device until it leaves the grid. It tells traffic managers how long it took, in real time, for the device to make the trip.

“How can we make the system smarter and react to actual, real-time impacts or changes that are happening?” asks Adiam Emory, who manages the city’s transportation operations center. The new Wi-Fi discs are the answer.

Ultimately, the goal is to create a system than can adapt to real-time travel times and tweak signals and other systems to help traffic flow better in downtown Seattle.

“It lets you know how your system is reacting to things and how well it’s doing, where your chokepoints are and where you need to improve your system,” Emory said.

Now the elephant in the room: privacy. Who told the City of Seattle it’s OK to track phones through the streets? What is it doing with the data?

Emory said the data isn’t stored or encrypted, which can be hacked. Instead, the tracking software changes the phone or tablet’s identity. “The moment it takes your data, it would do what we call, ‘hash it,'” Emory said. “It turns it into a different unique identifier that’s not related to [the device].”

She said it’s just a new and improved way to track cars over the current system, which uses license plate readers. “Our interest is not knowing where individuals are,” Emory said. “It’s gathering the data to support the transportation network. So transportation doesn’t have any interest in identifying people. We want to get data to understand our network and enhance it.”

There are currently 200 of the Wi-Fi antennas throughout the city, with more on the way.


Beware! Windows 10 downloaded to your computer without your permission

Windows 10

If you use Windows as an operating system for your computer, you have been receiving incessant notifications of free upgrades to Windows 10, the newest version.

If you resisted or ignored the offer, no doubt it’s because you know about the many warnings about Windows 10’s violation of your privacy. From Wikipedia:

Under the default “Express” settings, Windows 10 is configured to send various information to Microsoft and other parties, including the collection of user contacts, calendar data, and “associated input data” to personalize “speech, typing, and inking input”, typing and inking data to improve recognition, allowing apps to use a unique “advertising ID” for analytics and advertising personalization (functionality introduced by Windows 8.1) and allow apps to request the user’s location data and send this data to Microsoft and “trusted partners” to improve location detection (Windows 8 had similar settings, except that location data collection did not include “trusted partners”). Users can opt out from most of this data collection, but telemetry data for error reporting and usage is also sent to Microsoft, and this cannot be disabled on non-Enterprise versions of Windows 10. The use of Cortana also requires the collection of data “such as your device location, data from your calendar, the apps you use, data from your emails and text messages, who you call, your contacts and how often you interact with them on your device” to personalize its functionality.

Another criticism of Windows 10 Home is that it permanently set to download all updates automatically, and users cannot individually select updates to install or not.

I’ve been saying “No” to Windows’ incessant reminders to upgrade to Windows 10.” Last night, however, I discovered that just saying no isn’t enough. Windows is downloading to your computer, without your permission, files to prepare your computer to upgrade to Windows 10! 

Cassandra Khaw (UK) reports for arstechnica, Sept. 11, 2015:

You might be in the process of acquiring Windows 10—whether you want the free upgrade or not. Microsoft has confirmed that it is “helping upgradable devices get ready for Windows 10 by downloading the files they need” in the event that owners decide to migrate to the new OS, even if they have heretofore passed up on “reserving” their free upgrade from Windows 7 or 8.

The issue seems to revolve around the Microsoft update KB3035583, and as such it appears to only afflict individuals who have chosen to receive automatic updates. As far as we can tell, if you have automatic updates turned off, Windows 10 won’t be pre-loaded onto your PC.

According to The Inquirer, the situation was first reported by an anonymous reader who claimed to have discovered a hidden directory called $Windows.~BT on his computer, despite not opting in for a free upgrade to Windows 10. The directory weighed in at “3.5GB to 6GB,” according to the reader.

“I thought Microsoft [said] this ‘upgrade’ was optional. If so, why is it being pushed out to so many computers where it wasn’t reserved, and why does it try to install over and over again?” he told the outlet.

His concerns are mirrored by numerous people across the Internet, who have been reporting similar revelations since as early as July. Getting rid of the unwanted files isn’t as quite as simple as clicking the delete button, unfortunately. But it doesn’t require any significant computer knowledge, either. Addictive Tips has a concise solution for the dilemma, which involves uninstalling the KB3035583 update prior to removing the actual folder.

While potentially disconcerting at first blush, the news isn’t exactly a shocker. Microsoft has been aggressive about promoting Windows 10, bombarding Windows 7 & 8 users with pop-ups suggesting the change. More crucially, by opting for automatic upgrades, a user is essentially agreeing to allow software developers to do as they will—in this case, proactively downloading Windows 10 in preparation for any changes of heart.

Here’s Microsoft’s statement to The Inquirer, in full:

For individuals who have chosen to receive automatic updates through Windows Update, we help upgradable devices get ready for Windows 10 by downloading the files they’ll need if they decide to upgrade.

When the upgrade is ready, the customer will be prompted to install Windows 10 on the device.

To see if Windows had installed the KB3035583 update to your computer without your permission or awareness:

  • Go to your computer’s Control Panel
  • Click “Programs”
  • Click “Uninstall an update”
  • Look for KB3035583


Do you look like your car?

Here’s something fun and silly for a Sunday . . . .

Writing for none other than the Scientific American, a serious publication, Jesse Bering claims that not only do dogs and their human owners resemble each other, so do cars and their human owners.

Bering writes:


Does your car look like you?


Hillary: I don’t need to apologize for private email server

You know she just wants to scream this:


NY Post: Hillary Rodham Clinton said Monday she does not need to apologize for using a private email account and server while at the State Department because “what I did was allowed.”

In an interview with The Associated Press during a Labor Day campaign swing through Iowa, the front-runner for the Democratic presidential nomination also said the lingering questions about her email practices while serving as President Barack Obama’s first secretary of state have not damaged her campaign.

“Not at all. It’s a distraction, certainly,” Clinton said. “But it hasn’t in any way affected the plan for our campaign, the efforts we’re making to organize here in Iowa and elsewhere in the country. And I still feel very confident about the organization and the message that my campaign is putting out.

Yet even in calling the inquiry into how she used email as the nation’s top diplomat a distraction, Clinton played down how it has affected her personally as a candidate. “As the person who has been at the center of it, not very much,” Clinton said. “I have worked really hard this summer, sticking to my game plan about how I wanted to sort of reintroduce myself to the American people.”

Part of that includes, Clinton said, answering any questions about her email “in as many different settings as I can.” The one-on-one interview with AP was the second for Clinton in the past four days, after having told NBC News on Friday that her decision not to use separate email accounts for her personal and public business wasn’t the “best choice.”

Clinton did not apologize for her decision when asked directly by NBC, “Are you sorry?” Asked Monday by the AP why she won’t directly apologize, Clinton said: “What I did was allowed. It was allowed by the State Department. The State Department has confirmed that.

“I did not send or receive any information marked classified,” Clinton said. “I take the responsibilities of handling classified materials very seriously and did so.”

Last year, Clinton turned over roughly 55,000 pages of emails to the State Department that she sent and received using a home-brew email server set up at her home in suburban New York while serving as secretary of state from 2009 to 2013.

Clinton has said she set up her own system instead of using a State Department account for the convenience of using a single hand-held email device.

The State Department is currently reviewing and publicly releasing those emails, some showing that Clinton received messages that were later determined to contain classified information, including some that contained material regarding the production and dissemination of U.S. intelligence.

“There is always a debate among different agencies about what something should be retroactively (marked classified),” Clinton told the AP on Monday. “But at the time, there were none. So I’m going to keep answering the questions and providing the facts so that people can understand better what happened.”


Last month, Clinton gave the server to the FBI, along with a thumb drive kept by her attorney that contained copies of the emails. “It is not a criminal investigation, it is a security review,” Clinton said. “People are asked to provide any copies of any of these materials that are the subject of the debate. So, I immediately said, ‘turn over everything.’”

Clinton added, “I don’t know anything technical about servers. But I am informed it doesn’t have anything on it. But for safekeeping, turn it over as part of the security review.”