Sunday, 10 August 2008

HAARP doomsday machine.

Here we have a contender for a new list I will be starting of "The World's "deadliest" doomsday machines" (according to the paranoid frappercrackers you'll meet anywhere on the interwebs)

So what is HAARP? For those of you who have just jumped in on the conspiracy theories, HAARP is an array of radio antennas in Alaska that

-bounces signals off the ionospheric layers (radio communication)
-produces topographic maps of radio backscatter (radar topography)
-measures scintillation of satellite signals (tomographic atmospheric mapping)
-heat the ionosphere to produce artificial aurora (influencing and studying the northern

It has parallels HIPAS also in Alaska, EISCAT in Europe, the Aricebo observatory in Puerto Rico and Sura in Russia - its objectives are to study and model the outer ionospheric layer of the atmosphere (made up with a large portion of ions and electrons), it studies the sun's effect on our outer atmosphere - and the fundamental Physics behind how it works is not above a University Physics student's capacity.

That's the official story, and of course if you're reading this then you will have been told different. What you have probably been told will be one of the following;

-It's a top secret US military energy weapon to zap cities with energy beams
-It's a mind control experiment to broadcast on what is according to the conspiracy
theorists (I have yet to see a source for this) the "same frequency the brain functions in"
-It's a remote earthquake and tsunami machine
-It's Tesla's doomsday machine
-It's a weather control device aiming at creating hurricanes and droughts.
-It's a doomsday machine that is going to destroy the entire world. (or did, if you listen to the past tense of the video in that link)

Those are the claims made so far, and in true spirit of conspiracy theories, this one most frequently carries the world-view via its proponents that it is part of the New World Order, to blackmail other countries into giving over to the NWO/Illuminati as part of the larger master plan for world domination. Frappercrackers. By now you're probably thinking, "is this for real?", and some of you might have already been convinced via youtube videos and websites you've read elsewhere. Well if my understanding of the fundamentals of Plasma Physics is anything to go by; no, it is not.

It is true that they reflect radio waves off the ionospheric layers, this allows long range radio communications, and is why you will be able to receive plenty of foreign radio stations that operate in the AM signal band as opposed to the fewer local, groudsignal FM stations.

You will see plenty of diagrams like the one shown here from textbooks and lectures of radio signals being bounced off the ionosphere, but the author of the website or video you will be viewing will be talking about "electromagnetic energy rays" or "high energy EM waves" destroying cities. Well great, the author clearly would not understand the difference between high frequency and high power (Planck's law) - and would use the terms "Very High Frequency" and "Ultra High Frequency" as being interchangeable for energy death ray, despite the radio bands being used are the VHF and UHF bands your tv receives signals in, (i.e. low energy radio band, lower than visible light.) The authors of the claims appear to have been clever enough to find the textbook diagrams, and yet have not gleaned any knowledge from them to pass on to you, the viewer. A copy and paste job is all the more obvious.

Then there are the other claims, such as it is responsible for the formation of earthquakes. This is by far one of the most popular, and yet neglects the simple fact that there is no known mechanism for motions in the ionosphere to cause earthquakes. If there were, the daily bombardment the ionosphere (our outermost atmosphere layer) receives from the sun at much higher intensity, would be responsible for a whole host of earthquakes the world over, every day. The theorists sometimes claim to have been informed of earthquakes before they occurred, and yet in the spirit of self-proclaimed prophets, only published this specific claim after the event has occurred. You could do that, make yourself as a prophet or whistle blower with "secret anonymous inside sources" quite easily. Set up your own website, sell books, and get a fanbase. If you're convincing and charismatic enough, you won't ever have to get a real job again. When someone predicts an earthquake with specific details in advance, then we have good cause to be interested.

Other claims that seem to be popular with the ones you will find believing in an alien governed New World Order - is that of mind control. This one is quite simple, there is no evidence for it, the brain does not operate on any specific single frequency (the brain is a complex physical organ made of numerous parts, it not an electromagnetic wave) , and no medical publications can be found to exist that state any such "frequency". Nowhere outside the conspiracy websites will you find such a claim of the brain's apparent "frequency". Oh, and to add, the aluminium foil helmets some people make in the US, actually amplify the federal frequency band held to be responsible. Go figure; their proposed solutions actually exasperate their stated problems.

Some claim that this is Nikola Tesla's doomsday machine which created some media hype in the later stage of his career. It is worth noting that the only doomsday machines attributed to Tesla are not of his own working, but of comic books and science fiction authors - his earthquake machine (which is not to be confused with the depictions in science fiction of him) involves a mechanical Simple Harmonic Oscillator, and utilises the same principle that brought down the Tacoma Narrows bridge in 1940. It is the device which he claimed that he could "split the earth entire". While his machine has grounding in simple Physics, it makes the assumption that the entire world could not dampen vibrations thousands of times weaker than the smallest earthquake. This machine failed when it was tested on mythbusters on an undamped bridge.- However, it is worth building one to resonate with your colleague's monitor sat on his desk (you can create this effect by fidgeting your leg up and down on the floorboards a short distance away). So it is not Tesla's earthquake machine.

The other claims are that this machine can be used to control the weather, creating hurricanes and causing droughts, and using it as blackmail. Much like the device featured in the EA game; C&C Red Alert 2. While it was in fact research Physicists which first proposed these suggestions, and registered these concerns - there are three categorical problems. Firstly, the propositions were made at a time when Chaos theory had either not been suggested, or was still in its infancy. Chaos is the reason why the weather isn't always very accurately predicted, let alone controlled. Secondly HAARP puts a total of
"less than 3 microwatts per cm2, tens of thousands of times less than the Sun's natural electromagnetic radiation reaching the earth and hundreds of times less than even the normal random variations in intensity of the Sun's natural ultraviolet (UV) energy which creates the ionosphere."
- so according to HAARP's official website on their technical data section. For a crude verification, if you take HAARP's maximum output (3.6 GW) and divide it into the targeted area of the ionosphere; hundreds of meters thick and tens of km wide you will reach a similar figure. Bear in mind that the full signal is not absorbed in this region, so that is how the estimate you will reach will be larger. Of course, this is a crude and indirect method of calculation and the real method will involve some 3 dimensional calculus using absorptivity and atmospheric and plasma density data for the atmosphere - which not too surprisingly, is a level of physics so high above the capacity of conspiracy theorists I've encountered that they'd be reaching for it like a kid reaching for the cookie jar above the fridge - and the ladder that they would try to use would take some effort for them to carry. Most just hook around it with a rope and cheat (i.e. talk like a politician to make excuses for lack of evidence.) I'll make a post when I get around to finding the data to make a function of absorptivity against altitude and will demonstrate that value a lot more accurately, or find a paper publication that does. That sounds like actual work.

Thirdly and most damning to the weather control claim; the ionosphere is not the stratosphere. Like the earthquake claim; the sun heats the ionosphere far more than HAARP, so if plasma motions in the ionosphere caused large-scale changes in the stratosphere, then there would be a massive noticeable change in the weather around the activity of the aurora bourealis, i.e. we would see more/less droughts/hurricanes around times of increased geomagnetic storms. The sun fluctuates its sunspot cycle (tied to geomagnetic storms) just over every 11 years. If someone could demonstrate a relation between geomagnetic storms and cataclysmic weather patters centred around those storms, then a relation between the ionosphere and stratosphere will be shown, and there will be a mechanism on which to build a technical scientific mechanism on which the claims can be achieved. Of course, no mechanism has yet been found, so the scientists at HAARP have no theoretical framework to use to achieve these amazing powers that they have been frequently credited with. Again; scientific data and mathematical relations ... like a cookie jar on top of the fridge.

The final nail in the coffin is this; it's not secret. The Manhattan project at Los Alamos was secret, cracking the Enigma was secret, Area 51 is still in operation and therefore; is still secret, Porton down is also still operational and; still secret, the stealth bomber was secret, the Iranian coup of 1953 was secret ... HAARP is definitely not secret. People are allowed on tours (with digital cameras and notebooks if they're that obsessed), of the HAARP facility, even if they're foreign nationals. Even if they're civilians. Even if they're Iranians. Even if they're scientists. Even if they're foreign national Iranian civilian scientists.

Does area 51 have a website with contact details and operate tours? No, of course it doesn't, and you'll be shot on site if you tried to go up to the barbed wire fence with a camera, for obvious reasons. That's what protection of secret military hardware is.

Sure, come and see our science fiction style doomsday machine that's so obvious the entire internet community 'knows' what it is, but the touring civilian scientists who actually understand radiation, the van Allen belt and plasma waves, and are walking among these things instead of viewing youtube videos on teh internets, do not.

To sum up, there are a whole host of conspiracy theories about the HAARP program, but so far none of them have yet to carry any weight scientifically - and all result in claims that can't be, or never have been tested. Many involve neglecting evidence, and when the question for evidence is asked - the typical response is that you have to provide evidence against the accusations, instead of the natural position that the accusers provide evidence for their claims. This is common psychology of any regular Joe discussing "Joe Theory", that the strength of their argument is in the inability to test most of their claims, but this is mostly because the vast majority of their claims involve no technical details, no scientific formulae, the mysterious application of no known mechanism and no rational or empirical evidence, only claims attributed to events in the news.

It is therefore not a scientific theory, but a conspiracy theory.

If you have any comments you wish to add to try to change my comments or conclusions, and wish to provide a scientific account of the claims against HAARP, you are most welcome to do so.


Eugene said...

Really good post! It explained the stupidity of these claims in language anyone could follow.

jj solari said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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