Sent to: Subscribers, Press, Public officials.
Subject: James Randi's Magic: - STOP CASSINI #93, February 9th, 1999 - 135 days left till the Venus flyby
James Randi's gross misrepresentations of the so-called Anti-Cassini Movement deserves an answer, even if the very same so-called International Movement suddenly is now claiming (in our last issue) not to have any interest in Cassini anymore.
I do not personally believe Mr. Randi has spent a lot of time on this issue. I think he has just been given some bad advice from some people he trusts but shouldn't. I really doubt he's looked much into the matter at all, because if he had, he would know that there are NO scientists worried about Nostradamus' predictions, and the REAL movement was NEVER based on such silliness. It has far more reasonable concerns.
By the way, for anyone wondering, there will be followups regarding Gagnon et al, but for now, let's get back to work on more important and far more interesting stuff. Let's let those that will, attempt to ruin me elsewhere, or wait their turn here. Today, we have REAL work to do. But note that Carol Rosin has dropped off the subscriber list, been kicked off the web page list, and wishes anyone who wants to, to contact her directly. Bruce Gagnon, Regina Hagen -- I'm sure they all feel the same way! Me too! I hate being anyone's intermediary!
Sincerely, Russell D. Hoffman, Editor, Stop Cassini newsletter
*** From the mailbag: Can we ask the UN Security Council to do something?
Date: Sat, 6 Feb 1999 17:58:58 -0800 (PST)
Subject: sling cassini into space compost!
How do we ask the U. N. Security Council to hold an emergency meeting with the UN Nuclear Safety commission? The global security threatened by this "fail=safe" mission is greater than what they halted in Iraq, is it not? How can I help?
END OF EMAIL
Thanks for your email!
Right now, I think the BIGGEST problem facing the movement is that NASA/JPL is trying to make it look like there is no scientific objection to Cassini -- instead, pretending that there is only Nostradamus-related confusion. The United Nations Security Council should step in and discuss the SCIENCE against Cassini!
Even NASA's own documents indicate a MAJOR release in the event of either a flyby reentry or any other reentry accident. ("Major" in cold hard terms, is 3% to 33% to 66% to 100% of the plutonium payload, depending on which NASA Environmental Impact Statement you choose. But the most recent figure, the 3% figure, was NOT arrived at because NASA decided the containment system was better than when they thought 33% was the low-end average release. No, not at all, they simple decided it would tumble during reentry in a certain specific way, as opposed to other more dangerous ways! Crazy NASA!!!)
Since Americans are not discussing the issue (our media will barely cover it, for instance, and the movement is full of spies, spooks, agents, etc. etc.) and since it affects the whole world, I think an international discussion at the U. N. is appropriate.
But how to make that come about? I don't know! But thanks for offering to help! If you don't subscribe to my newsletter, may I suggest it's a (very small) first step?
Anyway, thanks for writing,
END OF RESPONSE
This was followed by this wonderful letter:
ANOTHER EMAIL FROM ELIZABETH
I have spent over a year and a half researching the necessary legal channels to halt cassini compost from turning earth into compost! This is funded, as you probably know, through the Italian Space agency and France, a European space confederation, and Germany and Israel and of course NASA. We cannot petition the UN International Court of Justice except through the UN Security Council or an agency such as UN Atomic Safety Regulatory Board.
America's awareness and concern would,of course be helpful, however, politically Cassini is a lock-down subject capitalistically and a sub-section of fanatical NASA scientist who do not seem aware or to care of the global threat of this experiment. (Whew! How's that for a run-on sentence)
Here's my synopsis of legal protocol necessary to Halt Cassini compost from hitting our gravity field (June l999):
l. UNITE ALL ACTIVE PEACE WEBSITES ON AN URGENT 'ALERT TO ACTION' CALL IT GLOBAL THREAT POSSIBLE=FAIL SAFE?
2. Ask all "Earth web surfers to donate 30 seconds to sign (first design!) a petition to the UN Security Council calling for an immediate EMERGENCY MEETING to prove the scientific Safety of the 're-entry' tests! 'these will never pass international atomic regulatory safety codes!
3. Simultaneously, using the same gathered earthling websurfers international, PETITION THE UN SECURITY COUNCIL OF THE VIOLATION OF THE 'OUTER SPACE PEACE TREATY' WHICH ALL INFORMATION IS ALREADY GATHERED HERE TO PROVE that Cassini violates 3-5 of the agreements of this code. I have researched the minimum vote needed to consider this a violation in proportion to the members of this treaty who are invested in the 3.4 billion dollar Cassini compost project. The vote can definitely be ratified and put on the UN Security Councils meeting the same day as the Atomic Safety Commissions petition.
4. If these measures should fail to enlightened the peoples that the risk is not worth the possible gain for humanity, then in due protocol the International Court Justice may be appealed to. The members there may stop Cassini compost and others planned to toy with the preciousness of this living earth . TIME IS TRAVELING 44,000 MPH THESE DAYS. HERE'S HOPING WE CAN COMBINE SCIENTIFIC WITH LEGAL PROTOCOL AND CALL A HALT TO COMPOST THREATS NOW AND .... thanks for considering this actual legal machine as a possiblility'oops.....having worked at Harvard Law 'school in 1970 typing William O. Douglass works and decisions, I suppose I have no choice but to hold one flame of hope in the power of the work and law to reach and enlighten the glo bal citizens for an immediate need to care and act in halting this and any further experiments of this nature. Let me know if you need the research on the UN OUTER SPACE PEACE TREATY which now has many international members. What more can i do? Who will write the petition and how do you enter that into planetary/activist websites?
END OF FOLLOWUP EMAIL
Thank you! Note that the Venus flyby is June 24th, 1999 and that's the date we should (as a planet) have settled this issue by! NO LATER!!! I hope my readers will write the U.N.
END OF RESPONSE
*** A Statement about Cassini by James Randi (and an answer)
This arrived a few weeks ago from a well-respected but hitherto unheard-from source, and we are quite certain it is an authentic statement from Mr. Randi.
I think we all now know what meeting Randi is talking about! (It's "real" agenda was in our last newsletter.)
INCOMING FORWARDED EMAIL: JAMES RANDI'S BONER
The millennium dumb stuff is well under way. In March, there will be a major conference of prominent scientists in Darmstadt, Germany, to discuss the current furor over the Cassini space probe, which is due to swoop close to Earth in August, coming within 730 miles of our planet on the 18th. Cassini is powered by 72 pounds of plutonium, and the Greens (environmentally tuned, to say the least) are quaking at the possibility that Cassini will dump the load of Pu on us.
Well, chances of that are very, very, slim. The Cassini mission is an exciting one, very sophisticated, and very well designed. Its approach to Earth is a planned manoeuver that will "sling-shot" it off to Saturn, where it will arrive in 2004. But be assured that I'm not going to be hiding under my bed in August.
The reason it interests us so much at JREF is because Sandra Dawson, who works with JPL as their Media Risk Communication Co-ordinator, informs us that this giddy group of scientists in Darmstadt is going to discuss whether Michel de Nostredame -- Nostradamus, to you -- knew all about this potential disaster 'way back in 1558 when he penned one of his few prophecies that actually included a date -- a practice that most prophets eschew simply because it can't be rationalized away when the event doesn't occur. Wrote the Seer of Provence, in Century 10, quatrain 72:
L'an mil neuf cens nonante neuf sept mois
Du ciel viendra grand Roy deffraieur
Resusciter le grand Roy d'Angolmois.
Avant apres Mars regner par bon heur.
(There are several variations in spelling and accents.)
The year 1999 seven months
From the sky will come a great King of Terror
To bring back to life the great King of the Mongols.
Before and after Mars to reign by good luck.
Now, the scare-mongers are bleating, that is most assuredly a direct prediction of the Cassini craft falling to Earth. Really? Well, aside from the fact that Nostradamus is probably the most-failed prophet in history (see my book, "The Mask of Nostradamus") and we have no reason to believe that he will do any better with this quatrain, the seventh month -- even in Provence -- is July, not August. And Cassini (1625-1712), whose name the space probe bears, was an Italian astronomer. No connection with Mongolia, so far as we can see.
But facts, as always, never deter the fanatics. JPL actually has to produce a brief statement of facts, not only on the Cassini/Nostradamus connection, but also on the coming solar eclipses (a partial one February 15-16, a total one August 11) and the 1999 "planetary alignment," one of many such that take place from time to time. That a responsible agency like JPL and a sensible person like Ms. Dawson should have to issue policy statements on such juvenile notions, is frightening. Where is our common sense? This group in Darmstadt would do well to clearly state that superstitious fear has no place in science, and get on with whatever proper discussion of any Cassini threat there might be.
Dr. Wayne Dyer, one of the more popular current feel-good gurus, recently lectured here in Fort Lauderdale. A radio ad for his appearance used a sound bite of Dyer explaining, "The ancestor to every action is a thought." Heavy. Deep. Provocative. Did it get better? I'll never know. I'm not about to pay to hear such pap expounded -- though obviously many other folks happily do so. The title of his lecture? "How to Get What You Really, Really, Really, Really, Want." Really?
END OF INCOMING MESSAGE
Wow! What a title! Media Risk Communication Co-ordinator! I want THAT job! Besides, Dawson clearly doesn't deserve it.
James Randi is pulling the wool over the public's eyes -- something he's a professional at, of course. And it's doubly disgusting, because he's selfishly abusing those who once trusted him (like me).
Regina Hagen, for one, must take great umbrage to Randi's statements about what the scientists in Darmstalt are going to be discussing. I do. But I wonder where the idea that ANY of the opposition to Cassini is Nostradamus-oriented originated? Not from any of the scientists I've talked to!
And I have talked to dozens of scientists regarding Cassini, men with good reputations, like Dr.s Gofman, Poehler, Morgan, Sternglass, Kaku, McCluney and others. I guess they were available, because Ms Dawson was talking to all the mystics instead! She should say where she got her conception of the majority of the opposition voices to Cassini. She didn't ask me! Sure, I got 1 or 2 letters telling me the author is supportive of "my" cause, because they are worried because of the Nosie connection, or the planetary alignment, or some eclipse -- amazing stuff, really. At least they're worried about the right thing (Cassini). Too bad it's for all the wrong reasons. And at all the wrong times. (The real time of action -- and danger, I think -- is prior to the flyby of Venus, June 24th, 1999 (according to NASA).
Randi's right about one thing: it's a shame that people would be falling for that here in 1999, when there are plenty of legitimate things to worry about. Those two or three people in the world: I do feel very sorry for them, and one of them who wrote me, will get quite an answer in an upcoming newsletter.
This is, as far as I know, Randi's first foray into the Cassini debate. In his obviously too-brief search, which seems to have begun and ended at JPL HQ, Randi obviously missed the whole scientific side of the debate against Cassini, ignoring for example the fact that even after the flyby the probe could become disabled and would then be left in an orbit that may cross ours at any time in the next 1000 years (it's all in NASA's 1995 EIS if you look carefully enough, but to help you, it's on page B-4). In that same EIS, it mentions that there has been NO testing on the long-term capabilities of the containment system. (They call the performance "uncertain", see page 4-104.) Will the containment system become brittle and useless after 10 or 20 or 100 years in space? NASA doesn't even know, but they do know that a failure today, for example, would leave the probe in an orbit which "tends" (NASA's word) to be in the same orbital area as we are!
Randi ignores these worries and concentrates on the poor fools who have dug up some dusty deliverer of doomsday predictions from centuries ago. Not fair! And certainly not fair to imply that there is not lots of good scientific opposition to Cassini which ignores old Nos.
Lastly, it is interesting how Mr. Randi (he's not a scientist, himself, though all readers will quickly note that neither am I) includes a personal attack on someone completely unrelated to the Cassini issue at the end of his diatribe. An interesting inclusion, since chances are nobody else reasonable would like this guy anyway. A slight-of-hand to produce guilt by association.
I would hope that readers of this newsletter will make an effort to contact Mr. Randi immediately and ask him to either retract the statements shown here, or if he likes, he is welcome to try to defend them on these very pages.
Here are some things he will need to know to do so:
RTGs, or Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators, are not batteries, as some think, they are thermoelectric devices. The heat of decay of the plutonium is used to produce electricity via a thermocouple, which is totally different from the way batteries work. RTGs work best when the ambient temperature is quite cold - hence, they work best in outer space, without ANY containment system, and therefore you can use less Pu if you have NO containment system (our "old" way). The Russians sent less than 1/100th the Pu on Mars 96 than we sent on Cassini.
Their containment system, if they even have one -- has to actually perform better than ours! Why? Because even a worst-case accident like Mars -96 released less than 1% of what Cassini carries! And Cassini is EXPECTED (that's NASA's word) to release more than that, even when it works right! I wonder if James Randi knows that?
NASA's best guess for an accidental reentry is a 3% release -- over 2 lbs -- and far more than Mars-96 even carried (9 ounces)! NASA's numbers go from 3% (EXPECTED!) to as much as 100% of Cassini's Pu-238 being released in a flyby reentry accident. Yet they call it a containment system! That's a totally inadequate containment system, and I doubt Russia's is any better. If it is, then we should adopt it; and it was highly applicable and NASA should have presented the information when asked, as I stated previously.
And everyone, especially James Randi (because this is REAL magic!) should know exactly how NASA reduced the release percentage from 33% or more in the 1995 EIS to a mere 3% EXPECTED in the "final" supplementary EIS. Here's how they did it: They came to the amazing conclusion that they know which way the probe will be tumbling when it reenters. Some configurations are more likely to release the plutonium than others. They decided those configurations are somehow less likely to occur than they had originally anticipated. That's pretty unscientific, if you ask me. Trying to guess how a tumbling and uncontrollable probe will reenter the atmosphere, possibly decades hence? The question is not even really one of, "what is likely" it should more properly be posed as one of what is possible, and what are the resultant consequences likely to be, and what are the chances of whatever is possible, actually happening? The EISs do not answer these questions no matter how hard you look. They average things together and present a conglomerate answer. James Randi, says he trusts in the scientific method (as do I). If so, he should be ashamed to back these reports.
Furthermore, the RHU's on board are EXPECTED (NASA' term) to incinerate in a reentry accident, with 2.7 or so grams each of Pu 238. Cassini has about 130 RHU's. RHUs aren't batteries either, they don't even produce electricity. They are solely for giving a little heat to experimental devices.
I wonder if James Randi knows any of this? I hope he responds. If he can convince my knowledgable readers he knows what he's talking about, it will be pure magic.
Russell D. Hoffman
*** From the mailbag: An aerospace engineering student's questions:
Date: Mon, 08 Feb 1999 13:46:08 +0100
From: Ronald (Netherlands)
Subject: Cassini's misfortune
Hi Mr. Hoffman,
I'm studying aerospace-engineering in Holland. Recently I got interested in the Cassini-mission and did some internet surfing on the subject. On www.jpl.nasa.gov/cassini/msnstatus I could find the date of Cassini's earth swingby. This date will be August the 18th. On the same web page the location of Cassini is given each day with the exact time and distance from the earth.
My question now is ; What will be the exact time of it's flyby?
Where will the Cassini pass the earth?
When these facts are not known; Could they be calculated with the information on Nasa's page?
A second issue is that my eyes fell on the biggest meteor shower of this Century. It will occur in August! There will be meteor-activity from late July till September. Maximum activity will be on the dates: August 1/2,6/7,12 , 25/26 and even daylight activity on August 25/26. A minor meteor shower will have it's maximum on August the 18th (Kappa Cygnids).
I know that meteors don't come and go from one day to the other. It's like a cloud with major density in the middle.The cassini therefore catches many showers. My biggest question now is "what will be the influence of the showers on the Cassini?". Maybe the risks will be a lot greater,maybe it will not matter. I just wanted to know the answer because I did not read it on any webpage and maybe this fact is not known.
I would be very delighted if you could answer these questions.
Thanks in advance, Ronald (Netherlands)
END OF INCOMING EMAIL
Thank you for your letter. You probably would have a difficult time calculating the exact spot over Earth Cassini will pass by until rather soon before the launch. Right now, it still has to pass by Venus, 135 days from now, when it will be redirected towards Earth. We hope the world awakens by then, and redirects Cassini towards the sun as world-famous Dr. Michio Kaku has suggested it could be.
If it is not, however, it still cannot be exactly determined where it will cross over. This is because of the "bias" NASA plans to have on the spacecraft. Imagine a triangle, very stretched out at the ends, very VERY stretched out. At one end is Venus on June 24th, 1999, the day of the Venus flyby. At the other end of the very stretched out triangle is Earth on August 18th, 1999, the day of the Earth flyby. In between, is Cassini, which, other than the bias correction maneuvers and of course, gravitational forces, travels in a straight line, except when they fire the rockets to undo the bias.
It is not an equilateral triangle because the bias correction does not occur in the middle of the time between Venus and Earth -- rather, it occurs nearer to Earth, starting about ten days out. (Actually, to make the model more accurate, there will be a series of firings, making the shape more trapezoidal than triangular.)
So, the length of the two sides formed by Cassini before and after bias correction, will depend on when and how much they fire their rockets.
That means, they can control, to some extent, where the probe will cross over Earth! I'm sure they will make sure it will not be over a nation that can attack us in retaliation with nuclear weapons. Other than that, I doubt they care one way or the other, but it does mean you or I cannot calculate it, because we don't know when they'll fire the rockets.
As to your second question, about the meteor shower you have said is also coming, this is certainly cause for concern. There is some good news: First of all, even a "heavy" meteor shower is still a vast amount of nothingness! And second of all, even if Cassini were to hit some piece of debris in the shower, or one of the millions of pieces of space debris in Earth's own orbit, there is still a good chance that the resulting destroyed mass that was once Cassini would still follow approximately it's original trajectory, and buzz past Earth, even in pieces.
The first time. However, that would leave it in an orbit which will possibly -- perhaps even probably -- cross Earth's own orbital path again, later, and again, and again, and again, and we better just hope we're never there when it does! Furthermore, if the probe is lost in space for a while (decades, for example), its containment system may fail for age. Then, if/when the probe crosses our orbit and we happen to be there too at the same time, what little protection NASA has built into the probe would be gone, and a full release, less only what might have decayed radioactively in the intervening time, would occur.
Thank you very much for your letter and feel free to write any time.
Russell D. Hoffman
END OF RESPONSE
*** Human Radiation Experiments: DOE web resource URL
This should be of interest to all readers of this newsletter:
Subject: Dept. of Energy Human Radiation Experiments
Their Web site:
AND IN CONCLUSION...
Please send any news directly to the editor at the email address given below. Please post these newsletters EVERYWHERE! You can -- and should -- send them to news media too!
Welcome new subscribers!
Thanks for reading,
Russell D. Hoffman
Founder & Editor
STOP CASSINI Newsletter
STOP CASSINI Web Site
CANCEL CASSINI by JUNE 24th, 1999!!!!
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