Giant spaceships to attack December 2012?

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Are there three giant spaceships on their way to Earth, dooming us to extinction when they arrive in — gasp! — December 2012?

Duh. No.

But you might think otherwise reading an article about this on The Examiner’s website. It documents the three spaceships, shows images, and even has quotes from a SETI astrophysicist!

SETI Astrophysicist Craig Kasnov (not to be confused with Craig Kasnoff ) has announced the approach to the Earth of 3 very large, very fast moving objects. The length of the "flying saucers" is in the range of tens of kilometers. Landing, according to calculations of scientists, should be in mid-December 2012. Date coincides with the end of the Mayan calendar.

There are some teeny, tiny, problems with this story, though. Like, the "spaceships" are actually image defects and aren’t real, there’s no way to figure out how big they from the picture, and the "astrophysicist" quoted in the article doesn’t even exist.

But gee, other than that…

1) The spaceship that wasn’t

examiner_ufo_dec20102It’s been a while since I’ve done a good ol’ smackdown debunking, so let’s take these one at a time. First things first: the spaceships. Shown here, as you can see, the article refers to a picture of a big blue wormy-thingy floating in space. What could it be? Well, because I don’t trust articles online talking about giant spaceships invading us (or anything anyone says about doomsday in 2012), I went to the original pictures themselves.

NASA has an image archive viewer called SkyView, which I used to use all the time when I worked on Hubble data. It has access to dozens of surveys of the sky taken using various telescopes, including the Second Digitized Sky Survey the UFO article mentions. Amazingly, the article gives coordinates for the "spaceships", so I took a look for myself. The DSS2 used various filters when observing the sky, but since the picture shows a blue object, I looked in the blue image first.

dss_blue_ufoHere’s the actual blue image from the DSS2 survey. Hmmm. You can see the object there, but also a lot of schmutz the article picture doesn’t show well. However, having seen stuff like this a bazillion times, I can tell right away this is what’s called an image defect, something that isn’t real. The original survey images were taken using glass plates sprayed with light-sensitive emulsion, which you can think of as film but on glass instead of thin flexible plastic. Later, the plates were scanned and digitized by technicians. When that happens, it’s impossible to get rid of all the defects that crop up, including hair or dust on the plate, small cracks and chips, and so on.

To my very experienced eye (30+ years as an astronomer, and well over a decade dealing with digital imagery including staring at raw Hubble data in excruciating detail) that’s what we have here. The other images are similar, showing blobby stuff that looks like lint or some other foreign object that got stuck in the plate when it was scanned.

Spaceships, they ain’t. Shocking, I know!

2) Size matters

I’ll note this particular object is not in the plate using the red filter, which supports my idea it’s a problem in the plate itself and not a giant spaceship. Of course, if it were a giant spaceship, it would be moving, and so maybe that’s why it’s not seen in the red image, right?

Nope. Bear with me a sec. The article mentions how big they are, too, saying they’re tens of kilometers long. That’s a HUGE red flag in any story like this. Why? Because it’s literally impossible to know how big an object is from pictures like this! You don’t know how far away the thing is, so there’s no way to determine its size. It could be a galaxy thousands of light years across and millions of light years away, or it could be a planet thousands of kilometers across and millions of kilometers away, or — and stop me if you heard this before — it could be a piece of belly button lint on the plate itself.

So anytime someone mentions size in an article like this, I know right away they’re full of it.

It gets worse, too. Let’s assume somehow the author of the article is correct (I know, but work with me here) about the size of the "spaceship", and let’s say it’s 50 km long. Using the image, I can measure the apparent size in degrees, and use that to calculate its distance using the small angle formula. The result? To make an image that size, an object 50 km long would have to be a bit over 100,000 km away… only a quarter of the distance to the Moon! Mind you, the sky survey images were taken in the 1990s, too, so these ships must be moving reeeeaaaalllllllyyyyyy slloooooooowwwwwwlllllyyyy…

These aliens must be a bit thick; it only took us three days to get to the Moon using relatively primitive hardware, but it would take them decades! Those spaceships must really suck. If they’re invading, I suspect we could shoot them down with a garden hose.

And that’s why the object being in the blue but not the red plate doesn’t make sense if it’s a real spaceship. Moving that slowly, it should be in both. Like I need even more evidence this thing isn’t a spaceship!

3) Virtually astronomical

OK, fine, the spaceships aren’t real. So why would a SETI astrophysicist make that claim?

I did a quick Google search on the name "Craig Kasnov", and the only results were in relation to the UFO article, which is more than a little suspicious. I also searched the astronomical journal databases, and there is no "Kasnov, C" to be found. But you can even find my old papers in those databases! So I called my friend Seth Shostak, an actual SETI astronomer, and asked him. He said, and I quote: "Well, I’ve never heard of this guy working here, and neither has our HR department … Of course, maybe he volunteered here once, or was a summer intern. But he’s not an astrophysicist for the SETI Institute, you can wager your Maserati on that."

If I had a Maserati, I would.

This gets a bit confusing, so bear with me. There is someone by the name of Craig Kasnoff (note the spelling), who worked on SETI@Home, software that allowed the public to use their home computers to process SETI data. It was the very first distributed software of its kind, and the idea is used in many other fields of astronomy now. However, that Craig Kasnoff was not with SETI (the software was developed at UC Berkeley), is not an astrophysicist, and never made the claims in the article.

So who is this Craig Kasnov mentioned in the article? That’s a really good question. My virtual Maserati says he doesn’t exist. What’s funny to me is that when I first saw the spaceship article a couple of weeks ago it just mentioned the guy’s name; and the author clearly added the "(not to be confused with Craig Kasnoff)" line later… perhaps in response to a comment left there by Craig Kasnoff. You know, the one who actually exists.

4) In a nutshell

So let’s see, where does this leave us?

  • If the spaceships are real and huge they’re closer than the Moon, but moving slower than I can walk when I’m hungover.
  • The original survey images clearly show these "spaceships" to be defects in the scanning process, and not real anyway.
  • Craig Kasnov is apparently no more substantial than the spaceships themselves.
  • And what the heck:

  • The Mayan calendar doesn’t end in 2012, there is no astronomical event related to the vaunted December 2012 date, and anyone who claims otherwise is trying to sell you something.

So, we clear here? I hope so. This kind of stuff pops up every now and again; the Planet X people never seem to get enough of claiming image artifacts are giant spaceships, for example. And with 2012 creaking ever closer, we’ll no doubt be seeing more of this nonsense as time goes on. In this case I’m not too concerned since it’s clearly ridiculous, but 2012 doomcriers are scaring people, including kids. Caveat emptor, sure, but it’s hard for kids to know what’s real and what isn’t when nonsense-peddlers are so loud and pervasive on the web. We need to be vigilant about garbage like this, lest its noisome progeny infect those not inoculated against it.

You can read more about this giant spaceship nonsense on the Bad Astronomy/Universe Today bulletin board and at the ParanormalUtopia website (and when even the New Age antiscience sites are debunking your New Age antiscience claim, you’re in deep doodoo).

Tip o’ the tin foil beanie to the many, many people who told me about this, and to Felicia Day for tweeting about it and prompting me to get off my butt (well, actually, get on my butt) and write about it.


Related posts:

- NYC Fox station reports Jupiter and balloons as UFOs
- Why astronomers don’t report UFOs
- Oh those Falcon UFOs!
- Erie UFO sounds familiar to me


December 27th, 2010 1:01 PM Tags: ,
by Phil Plait in Antiscience, Astronomy, Debunking, Piece of mind, Pretty pictures, Skepticism, Top Post | 117 comments | RSS feed | Trackback >

117 Responses to “Giant spaceships to attack December 2012?”

  1. 1.   Ian O'Neill Says:

    This is awesome!! I’ve been waiting years (YEARS!) for one of these 2012 nutters to pull the alien invasion card. The whole Planet X thing was beginning to get boring :D

  2. 2.   Roger Reini Says:

    Good job on the debunking — although it kinda looks like the Tardis to me :)

  3. 3.   Niveus Says:

    I think the author of the article mistook reality for an anime he saw, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Super_Dimension_Fortress_Macross

    Though admittedly the dates are a bit off. The first ship should have arrived in 1999, and the war should have began in 2009, ending in 2012.

  4. 4.   Todd W. Says:

    Darn. And I was just getting out my “Welcome, Bad Emulsion Overlords!” signs. So much for a new alien utopia on Earth. Way to ruin my day, Dr. Plait.

  5. 5.   GeorgeInOttawa Says:

    I for one welcome our blue-hued, slow-moving alien overlords.

  6. 6.   Jack M. Says:

    Please, do everybody a favor, and do NOT click on that examiner article.

    Examiner authors get paid per click. It’s a common tactic to make an outrageous claim knowing it will get spread around and clicked, just for the absurdity of it all. A claim like this will get lots of hits from skeptic blogs, as well as from the UFO/2012 nuts.

    The author of this article will make money on both ends.

  7. 7.   Jimmy the Geek Says:

    To further reinforce your proof of the non-existence of the spaceships, the world cannot end (implied by the alien invasion, which Hollywood has repeatedly told us would happen) in 2012. Marty McFly has been to 2015, as seen in Back to the Future 2.

  8. 8.   Naked Bunny with a Whip Says:

    Newsflash! Famed astronomer Phil Plait claims alien spaceships causing “small cracks and chips” in cameras to prevent discovery!

  9. 9.   Invading alien Says:

    We are the invading aliens, and just let me state, for the record, that those pictures are not of us.

  10. 10.   blf Says:

    Landing, according to calculations of scientists, should be in mid-December 2012.

    Another strong hint of horsepucky is the magical invocation of unnamed scientists, with extra smelliness if they did (or are doing) something that even sounds vaguely complex/complicated.

  11. 11.   Number 6 Says:

    When reading the first few lines of this blog entry, I thought Phil was talking about the movie preview that I spied in the theater recently….about the upcoming “Transformers” movie…..It appears those bad-driving robots crash landed on the moon years ago and NASA astronauts discovered their FOMAD (Found On Moon Almost Dead) vehicle.

    In reading the truth and nothing but the truth about this latest UFO via Phil, some may now accuse atronomers and scientists of a cover-up. But, we’re used to that, eh?

  12. 12.   Scottynuke Says:

    Didn’t really need to read much further than the Examiner URL to know it was all cosmic ka-ka… *RME* :)

  13. 13.   Jon Hanford Says:

    Oooh, the video is *so* much better: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8_BCBVA6no&feature=player_embedded

    More “detail” and lively music to boot!

    If this plate defect is evidence of alien space ships, there’s millions more on the DSS2 and DSS1 (I’ve spent much ‘face time’ with DSS1/2 online and paper prints of the original DSS). I wonder why these purported objects are located so close to the South Celestial Pole? Harder for northerners to check out?

    Hopefully this doesn’t end up like the Heaven’s Gate story years ago. Remember the Saturn-Like Object near Comet Hale-Bopp?

  14. 14.   Harold Says:

    I think that, due to a slight miscalculation of scale, this entire invasion fleet is in danger of being eaten by a small dog.

  15. 15.   René Najera Says:

    Yet another reason why I’m trying to separate myself from Examiner.com. I used to write for them, but, once I started to take on the loonies, the editors jumped all over me for not being part of the team. If you do end up going to the idiots site, click on his twitter feed (@AlienExaminer) and then look at the web page he has in his twitter account profile. That’s some scary stuff right there. I’ll bet dollars to donuts he’s a major conspiracy theorist. Worst of all, he gets readership AND gets his articles picked up as “news” by Google.

    I’d rather sleep well at night than write horse crap like that.

  16. 16.   Steve Says:

    Ah, the Mayan calendar freaks! Remember, these are the same folks who brought you the Y2K panic, and we all know how dire that turned out to be.

  17. 17.   Jest Says:

    It appears we’re being invaded by origami. lol.

    Man I hate knee-jerk reaction media reports (wait, does The Examiner even qualify as proper media?).

  18. 18.   MichaelL Says:

    “it could be a piece of belly button lint…”

    Hubble images giant piece of Space Alien Belly Button Lint! (And It’s Headed Our Way!!!)

    Noted astronomer Cliff Plate states: “Could be the precursor to invasion of Giant Space Aliens.”

  19. 19.   Ather Says:

    Let’s say those are spaceships. Why can’t they be friendlies? Maybe coming to help us rebuild after the final fall of man? But nooooo. Right away their evil.

  20. 20.   Thopter Says:

    I kinda thought it looked like something one can’t mention on a family-friendly website.

  21. 21.   Maria Says:

    Oh Phil, you rock. I was just looking for a link to send to someone who sent me the link to the fracking examiner article. And lo! What should show up in my RSS feed?

    It’s like you’re reading my mind…

    Wait, you’re not some sort of alien are you?

  22. 22.   Naked Bunny with a Whip Says:

    Of course not, Maria. Phil is psychic.

  23. 23.   Mark Says:

    It’s also important to note, it is the light of those unreal ships we are seeing, so if they were real, we would have been discussing this for the past thousand years or so, ever since we had telescopes, as the light from their ships would be seen way before the ship arrived, unless they know how to break the laws of physics and go faster than light, then we wouldn’t see that light before the ships came here!

  24. 24.   Mark Hansen Says:

    “…These aliens must be a bit thick…”
    Maybe they’re just trying to find things.

  25. 25.   apstorm Says:

    The mention of emulsion in relation to claims of ‘aliens’ actually made me think of Gears of War, where ‘emulsion’ is a glowing energy source of some sort… Laughed at myself as I pictured the world being invaded by ‘lambent wretches’ …

  26. 26.   Todd W. Says:

    @Mark Hansen

    Maybe they’re just trying to find things.

    Nobody move. One of the aliens lost a contact.

  27. 27.   Heather Mbaye Says:

    Sometimes I ask myself wtf is wrong with people.

    Then I read something like this and it reaffirms that at least some of humanity THINKS.

    -Heather

  28. 28.   bigjohn756 Says:

    Just a minute here! The Rapture is scheduled for May 21, 2011 so none of us will be here anyway. Don’t worry about it.

  29. 29.   OtherRob Says:

    @Invading alien, #9

    We are the invading aliens, and just let me state, for the record, that those pictures are not of us.

    Who said you were the only invading aliens?

  30. 30.   hale-bopp Says:

    Yeah, it looked very blue so my first thought was is it in the red filter? And it sure looks like a defect…and is way too big, even for a spacehip tens of kilometers across!

    Just a note, you link to Sky View, not Skyerver. Skyserver is a website of SDSS data…Sky View is the NASA image archive…trust me…I worked on Skyserver :)

    http://skyserver.sdss.org

  31. 31.   HatMadder Says:

    A recent Wikileaks cable says that it is Scientology evil overlord XENU that has escaped from his prison and is coming here for revenge.

  32. 32.   jason Says:
  33. 33.   Revolution9 Says:

    And the people say
    “Man, they laugh at that”
    And I say
    “Laugh if you want, but, listen…
    While you’re making fun, open one ear
    To reality.
    Let the other one be happy, and destructive”

    They are coming, Mr. Plait. Debunking the truth is a fools errand. But while you’re at it, please pick me up a quart of low fat milk and some cream cheese.

  34. 34.   Martha Says:

    I am afraid that this nonsense is going to get much worse for the next two years, but about this time 24 months from now I predict that stores will begin holding clearance sales of their 2012 merchandise to make room for the next doomsday fad. I wonder what they will come up with next?

  35. 35.   Anthony Cochetti Says:

    Haha, how naive am I that I can’t believe someone would write such an easily debunked article. It’s hilarious! Lint-based lifeforms are slowly invading Earth via the solar winds. The invasion is believed to be a precursor to the inevitable tumbleweedian invasion. They aim to turn our planet into a desert filled with lint-based cowboys. We must invest our research dollars into fabric softener compounds that can break up the pentose Lindt sugars in their DNA, their only weakness!

  36. 36.   Dennis Says:

    Noted astrophysicist Phil Plait confirms, “big blue wormy-thingy floating in space.”
    Claims “three giant spaceships on their way to Earth …they arrive in December 2012″!
    Have no fear though. Plait says, “If they’re invading, I suspect we could shoot them down with a garden hose.”

    Man, quote mining is so fun!

  37. 37.   DrFlimmer Says:

    Is there a vaccination available against “idiocy”?

  38. 38.   John Paradox Says:

    15. René Najera Says:
    December 27th, 2010 at 1:43 pm

    Yet another reason why I’m trying to separate myself from Examiner.com. I used to write for them, but, once I started to take on the loonies, the editors jumped all over me for not being part of the team.

    Thanks for the information, whenever I go on Career Builder, about ninety percent of the ‘writer jobs’ are Examiner.com. I suspect the ‘pay per click’ is also not exactly tending toward high income.

    J/P=?

  39. 39.   Zucchi Says:

    I never looked the Examiner website before today. The referenced article looks like just the tip of the nonsense iceberg over there. Does anybody read that stuff and think it’s legitimate news?

  40. 40.   Riddlemethis Says:

    @#2, that’s not a tardis, it’s a pen!s. We’re being invaded by creatures who didn’t hear about DBAD! Uh oh! ;-P

  41. 41.   TechyDad Says:

    Others here have mentioned that this reminds them of the Transformers movie or Gears of War. You can tell I’m the parent of young children because this reminded me of an episode of Wow Wow Wubbzy. Walden (the character interested in science) was looking in his telescope when he saw a blinking light. Excited that he had found an alien ship and deducing that it was headed that way, he went to gather everyone in town. Of course, two seconds after he left, Wubbzy noticed a firefly on the lens. Kiddie show hilarity ensued.

    @Anthony Cochetti, Wait, dust based life forms are invading? That explains the self-replicating dust bunnies that have invaded my house (primarily under the beds). Luckily, they seem easily defended against using WMDDs – Weapons of Mass Dust Destruction, aka Vacuum Cleaners.

  42. 42.   Andrew Says:

    This spaceship thing is just a “look at me” message from some internet addict.You can be sure taht if REAL spaceships or aliens were found (exist) NASA or whoever discovers them will immediately keep it a secret…not post it everywhere

  43. 43.   Alezmendi Says:

    Reason # 1,495,362 the Examiner has less than zero credibility. What a disgrace to paper journalism.

  44. 44.   Chris Says:

    God’s belly button lint is 50 km long, blue and hovering between the Earth and the Moon!

  45. 45.   Someguy Says:

    Looks more like a giant blue dong.

  46. 46.   Allen Linville Says:

    At first glance it reminded me of the TARDIS, but there is a slight chance I may have overloaded on the Space Dr Who marathon yesterday. December 2012? Just in time for another Dr Who Special!

  47. 47.   kuhnigget Says:

    Not just astronomers, but pretty much anyone who has ever dealt with any sort of emulsion-based photography could spot that one a mile away.

    I wish these guys would just admit they’re entertainment, not news, like the Weekly World News. At least the WWN shows a little originality and fun now and then. Oooo….wait! Maybe this is Bat Boy’s mothership come to pick him up!

  48. 48.   Daniel J. Andrews Says:

    Don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m planning on getting rich from these people who believe the world is ending. I’ve been trying to get them to sign over their homes, their cars, their bank accounts to me for Jan 1, 2013. So far, no luck with the Canucks. Maybe I need to move into the deep south as it seems like there are more gullible people there. Or California! All I need is one A-listed Hollywood star to sign my papers….!

  49. 49.   Phil Plait Says:

    hale-bopp (30): oops! I was thinking about it being a server and my fingers did the rest. You’re right, so I corrected it. Thanks!

  50. 50.   Radwaste Says:

    None of you has to worry about any invasion force. As Larry The Cable Guy has pointed out, aliens have a thing for redneck fellas.

  51. 51.   noen Says:

    On the YouTube video

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8_BCBVA6no

    At 1:54 the uploader outlines the object. It looks like a fish to me.

    Its a space guppy!

  52. 52.   Gary Ansorge Says:

    37. DrFlimmer Says:

    “Is there a vaccination available against “idiocy”?”

    Yes! It’s called death.

    If a gamma ray burster was aimed our way, we’d find out about it in plenty of time to say, “Huh? Wazzat?” Just about anything less destructive we could probably figure out a way to survive.

    ,,,including aliens,,,

    Maybe I should start selling End of the World insurance. A million dollar policy costs only $100.

    Gary 7

  53. 53.   Bubba Joe Jim Bob Beets Says:

    Lemme tell ya how this Mine Calendar stuff got started. Seems some college eggheads found ‘em this real old stone calendar-thang that was made by some ex-tinct jokers called the Mine Indians, an’ somebody from California musta looked at that thang an’ started shoutin’, “Lookit! Lookit! It says RIGHT THERE that the world’s gonna END in 2012!!”

    (They seem ta do that kinda stuff out in California a lot, what with gittin’ addle-pated on them left-handed Marlboros AN’ drivin’ them fancy low-slung cars with the front ends that keep bouncin’ up an’ down. Prob’ly turns their brains inta yogurt.)

    Lester (a friend o’ mine) pulled out a pitcher o’ that calendar thang an’, ‘cept fer bein’ carved outa a rock, it looks KINDA like them old fishin’ calendars Harley’s got hung up in his tackle shop. ‘Course, that Mine Indian calendar ain’t in color, an’ it ain’t got pitchers o’ brick-outhouse-lookin’ gals wearin’ hip waders an’ thongs. Nossir, it’s got a pitcher o’ some joker with flames comin’ outa his head, an’ he’s all squatted over an’ crappin’ little bricks. Tongue’s hangin’ way out like that Richard Simmons feller from KISS, too.

    “Now, Lester,” I told him, “I’ll grant ya that if ya took a pitcher o’ ME while the world was
    endin’, I’D prob’ly be sprayin’ brown chunks, too. But take a REAL good look at that pitcher an’ tell me what ya DON’T see.”

    He stared at it an’ come up with nuthin’.

    “Lester,” I said, “ya see any tornados whirlin’ ’round that feller? Any earthquake cracks ’bout
    ta swaller him up? Any o’ them giant Sue Nami waves they named after that Hay-waiian surf goddess?”

    “Well, no-o-o-o-o……..”

    “Then how in the HELL can it be showin’ ya the end o’ the world??”

    “But, Bubba! His HEAD’S ON FIRE!!”

    “Ya see any mushroom clouds in the background? Burnin’ asteroids the size o’ Texas? Hordes o’ lil’ Japs with them godawful flamethrowers?”

    “Well, no, but…….”

    “Lester,” I said, “if you’da learnt that LOGIC stuff like I did from watchin’ that Dr. Spock feller with the pointed ears, an’ if ya’d ever GONE down ta that Mexico place, ya’d KNOW that that-there pitcher not only ain’t ABOUT the end o’ the world, it ain’t even a CALENDAR.”

    They was ALL gathered ’round then, so I unlimbered what us logic-usin’ fellers calls a “logistical syllable-ism by reduced duct tape absurdem”.

    “Now, ya’ll know from watchin’ them TV shows that the Mine Indians was a whatchacall de-cayin’ syphilization, kinda like what we got here today, right? An’ ya know how people cain’t even read a stop sign no more, or figger out which bathroom ta use, so they’s got ta put them stupid stick-figger warnin’ signs on ever-damned-thang, so some retard don’t, say, try ta stick his pecker inta a toaster? Wellsir, it’s jist as clear as day ta me what that thang is. Head on fire, tongue hangin’ out, crappin’ lil’ chunks, an’ it was made in Mexico?”

    “Hell, fellers,” I told ‘em, “that thang’s jist a warnin’ label off a jar o’ their hot sauce.”

    Sincerely,

    Bubba Joe Jim Bob Beets, Jr.

  54. 54.   Renee Jones Says:

    Aw, come on now, Phil. It’s obviously the B ARK, and they will be here as soon as everyone gets their hair done and all the telephones are properly sanitized. You can’t rush these things, you know.

  55. 55.   Slam1263 Says:

    But my bags are packed, and I had my cat put to sleep.

  56. 56.   Buzz Parsec Says:

    Steve @ 16: Ah, the Mayan calendar freaks! Remember, these are the same folks who brought you the Y2K panic, and we all know how dire that turned out to be.

    As one of thousands of people who worked long and hard for years to prevent anything bad from happening in Y2K, I resent the implication.

    True, no airplanes were ever going to fall out of the sky, but they could have been grounded because the airports ran out of jet fuel because they mistakenly thought they had a 99.9 year supply of fuel on hand. Multiply by millions and imagine the economic consequences.

    This is exactly the same as the global warming denialists who will claim, if massive effort is made to reduce CO2 emissions and consequently the most serious effects are avoided, that the whole thing was imaginary.

  57. 57.   Buzz Parsec Says:

    Martha @ 34: Deep discounts on the “I survived 2012 and all I got is this stupid T-shirt” T-shirts.

  58. 58.   Shoeshine Boy Says:

    More than 50 posts and nobody has realized that this is the Doomsday machine from Star Trek?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TsQ3mm0Tm08

    I am so disappointed.

  59. 59.   robert Says:

    No, it’s the C ARK. They are just a little later than expected. This one will be full of useful people. Who just go a little lost. For the last few hundred thousand years.

    Ok, the descendants of useful people. But genetics mean something, don’t they.

  60. 60.   TheSpartan Says:

    This is stupid.Everyone knows aliens wont invade Earth until 2553. And by that time well have the Master Chief to save us.

  61. 61.   Bob Says:

    I don’t care what you say. I still think it is a contrail from a 747 inbound from Hawaii.

  62. 62.   Rene Najera Says:

    No, examiner.com doesn’t pay very well, unless you find ways to get a lot of clicks. A penny per click adds up if you have 500 facebook friends all willing to click on your sensationalized article. When I found Desiree “The Flu Vaccine Made Me Walk Funny Except When I Run, And Now I Speak With An Australian Accent” Jennings’ VAERS report that clearly showed she had a psychogenic component to her condition… When I debunked that little ditty, editors contacted me to tell my they would not be linking to my article from other “vaccine injury” articles because those articles attracted more readers than me debunking the whole damn thing.

    Really sickening what they do. So I’m not all about my own “Epi Times”.

  63. 63.   QuietDesperation Says:

    It’s a Reaper from Mass Effect.

  64. 64.   Shoeshine Boy Says:

    Nevermind — Please disregard this comment.

  65. 65.   AC Says:

    Shouldn’t someone have already posted some explanation as to how the impending alien invasion is somehow Obama’s fault?

  66. 66.   Gary Ansorge Says:

    53. Bubba Joe Jim Bob Beets

    That would have been an LOL, but I saw it coming half way thru.

    Gary 7

  67. 67.   merrypranxter Says:

    so… earth will ultimately be destroyed by a giant blue space-dildo?

  68. 68.   J. Atkins Says:

    Regarding the skymap.org “Spaceship that Wasn’t”, I think this website gives strong indications that they may very well be ships of some sort, especially the Hubble image compared to the skymap.org image. https://sites.google.com/site/tycho511

  69. 69.   Daniel J. Andrews Says:

    Completely off-topic but there will be a 4th edition of Practical Astronomy with Your Calculator available next year. If you’re into that sort of thing, I highly recommend this book based on the fun I’ve had with the 3rd edition. Working your way through the book gives you a feel for how the maths involved apply to real life.

    There will be spreadsheet examples available too from the Cambridge website which I’ll have to compare to my versions to see if they have more efficient formulas. It shouldn’t be too hard to take the calculations and write your own programs in the language of your choice.

    cambridge.org/gb/knowledge/isbn/item5731798/?site_locale=en_GB

  70. 70.   Messier Tidy Upper Says:

    Hmm. This has seriously gottta be the lamest “OMG! aliens!!!1!” thing yet. :roll:

    @34. Martha :

    I am afraid that this nonsense is going to get much worse for the next two years, but about this time 24 months from now I predict that stores will begin holding clearance sales of their 2012 merchandise to make room for the next doomsday fad. I wonder what they will come up with next?

    The world will end in 20- “unlucky” 13 instead? ;-)

    65. AC :

    Shouldn’t someone have already posted some explanation as to how the impending alien invasion is somehow Obama’s fault?

    Since you’ve asked nicely, I’ll work on one for you! ;-)

    Uh .. Obama wasn’t born in Hawaii or even Kenya but rather is an alien? Or has that already been done? ;-)

  71. 71.   noen Says:

    J. Atkins — Wow, that’s some powerful stupid at “tycho511″.

    “They are called “dunes” by NASA, but tend to be seen in packs and have characteristics unlike any dunes I have ever seen. Doubtless if NASA were to image a flock of sheep, they would call them dunes as well

    They are not seen alone
    They are in herds or pack
    They congregate in large masses
    They have appendages, markings and bundles of fibers.”

    Dude looks at sand dunes on Mars and sees cattle. I’m officially speechless. I do wish these people would share whatever drugs they’re on.

  72. 72.   Messier Tidy Upper Says:

    @ ^ noen : But “unofficially” speech~wise? ;-)

    The world will end in 2013 – “unlucky” 13 – instead?

    For all the triskadecaphobe’s out there – see :

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triskadecaphobia

    for more.

  73. 73.   Joseph G Says:

    I wonder, then, what would an actual spacecraft moving in a realistic way actually look like?
    One thing I like about the show Mythbusters is that they rarely stop when they bust the myth du jour (even when that’s the sane thing to do). They always try to determine exactly what it WOULD take to duplicate the myth (typically this takes upping the velocity, energy, or amount of explosives by several orders of magnitude).

    So, let’s say that an extraterrestrial spacecraft was going to roundevouz with the earth in 2012. If they were decelerating at, say, a reasonable 1 G, how far away would they be now? Also, how much energy would their ship be putting out, assuming it’s about 5k in length (this is assuming the absence of warp drives or magical reactionless engines, and an average density not dissimilar to our spacecraft)? How visible would a craft at that distance and putting out that amount of energy be?
    Anyone want to take a stab at it? :)

  74. 74.   flip Says:

    Bubba Joe Jim Bob Beets, #53

    You win one interwebs!

    J. Atkins, #68

    Poe or foe?

    Martha, #34

    I’m guessing 2020. A nice round number, which tends to be a thing with conspiracy nutters.

  75. 75.   Joseph G Says:

    @ 9, 29, 35: Lawlz :)

    @36: That’s not quote mining!

    Said Plait: “The “spaceships” are actual… and…real… dooming us to extinction when they arrive in… December.”
    “There’s no way to figure out how big they [are] from the picture…but, gee… I don’t trust…blobby stuff that looks…foreign.”
    “Craig Kasnov is… o…n… the spaceships themselves.”

    Now THAT’S some Alex Jones-caliber quote mining ;)

    @#41 TechyDad: Laugh all you want, but an organized dust strike would be devastating. Imagine all of our computers overheating, and everyone suddenly afflicted with crippling asthma and hayfever. It’s chilling to contemplate.

  76. 76.   IMForeman Says:

    Judoon!

    Send this message to them: “Kro Bo Sho Lo To So Mo No Do Ro!”

    That’ll make them leave.

  77. 77.   shawmutt Says:

    Dr Manhattan? Didn’t we see enough of his thing in the movie?

  78. 78.   MadScientist Says:

    But what if the alien spaceships were made of an aluminum alloy and anodized blue? Then the red and green plates wouldn’t show anything! I see a giant blue scorpion-shaped spaceship, but at least it doesn’t seem to be headed in our direction.

  79. 79.   Halcyon Dayz, FCD Says:

    Joseph G, the place to ask would be http://www.bautforum.com.

  80. 80.   Jim Says:

    This must be the same ‘spaceship’ that was following the famous comet.

  81. 81.   Michel Says:

    When I saw the photo I thought “HA! A Blue Voorwerp!”.
    But it wasn´t to be.

  82. 82.   Jesper Says:

    I’m a little bit worried about how it will feel, when Earth gets whacked by a giant blue dildo…

  83. 83.   anonentity Says:

    How dare you rob us of our right to believe we are going to be annihilated next year by aliens….

    *puts back Twinkies*

    Now I have to take care of myself better.

    *stomps off*

  84. 84.   mike burkhart Says:

    Oh is this why I was just recalled to duty in the space invader defence force.Just kidding .There is another possiablty :The pictures are fake the ufo crowd loves to fake photos like the sitings in Florida in the 80s the photos were taken by this guy and shown everyware then he moved and the new owner found a model of the ufo that looked like the one in the photos proving they were a fake. The fact that ufo crowd goes to grate lenghts to fake stuff like photos ,the Mj12documates and the Alien autopsy movie dcredits there claims.

  85. 85.   False claim about UFO attack fools many (again) | Openminds.tv Says:

    [...] Plait, an astronomer who spent ten years working on the Hubble telescope, saw a number of red flags when he read the Examiner article, and he did a remarkable job detailing these red flags. One major [...]

  86. 86.   No, Aliens Are Not Heading To Earth | Ghost Theory Says:

    [...] new post from Phil Plait, who was part of the Hubble Space Telescope team, over at the Bad Astronomy blog clears things up: Are there three giant spaceships on their way to Earth, dooming us to extinction [...]

  87. 87.   Muzz Says:

    On the topic of measurement, someone asked me a little while ago how ‘they’ know how big the planets are without going there.
    I pointed out he’d seemingly forgotten that they’ve sent probes past them for thirty years. But I didn’t know any groovy mathematical formulae to tell him about off hand. Googling afterwards wasn’t much help. I can find reams on how they estimate planetary mass from the ground, distance from the ground but nothing on size.
    There’s probably some obvious trigonometry I’m missing. Anyone got a good link on that? When did a good estimate of, say, Jupiter’s circumference first appear and how was it done?

  88. 88.   Daily UFO Headlines 12/28/10 | Openminds.tv Says:

    [...] Giant spaceships to attack December 2012? – Discover [...]

  89. 89.   I am George Bush Says:

    Ummm, you’re forgetting a few things:
    -The spaceship is moving slowly in order to attack at the right time.
    -Any images we get of them can be altered by them.
    -They might be here now…
    -Phil Plait is likely a double-agent for the aliens (note his phony sounding name).

  90. 90.   GIANT THING Says:

    Actually you guys should not be swayed from the TRUTH. Yes, the end of the world will be in 2012 but we will all be laughing so hard about invaders in giant blue (ahem…won’t mention what it obviously looks like) that we won’t know what even hit us. (Insider info reveals that the end will come in 2012 by way of a giant “thing”. The people who aren’t laughing hysterically already about 2012 will look up and see a rapidly approaching….”thing”. They’ll shout “Oh my God! Its a giant…ah…well…sort of…THING…type of thing” and that will be the end of all life. No one will be left to catagorize exactly what this “thing” is except THE THING ITSELF but there will be no paper left for it to write on even though the “thing” has a charming way with words.) Just another reason why life is basically a mystery!

  91. 91.   GROS objets qui avancent Vers la Terre ?? « Blog cosmos49,welcome,ようこそ,bienvenue. Says:
  92. 92.   GROS objets qui avancent Vers la Terre (trad en français) « Blog cosmos49,welcome,ようこそ,bienvenue. Says:
  93. 93.   Unaspammer Says:

    So, let’s say that an extraterrestrial spacecraft was going to roundevouz with the earth in 2012. If they were decelerating at, say, a reasonable 1 G, how far away would they be now?

    From a bit of googling it turns out that the relativistic formula for this is:

    x(t) = c^2/a ( sqrt( 1 + (a t/c)^2 ) -1 )

    Plugging in a = 9.8 m/s^2, c = 3.0E+8 m/s, t = 2 * 365 * 24 * 3600 = 6.3072E+7 s, we get a distance of 1.2E+16 m, or about 1.3 light years.

    Also, how much energy would their ship be putting out, assuming it’s about 5k in length (this is assuming the absence of warp drives or magical reactionless engines, and an average density not dissimilar to our spacecraft)?

    A Falcon 9 is 54.3 m long and has a mass of 333400 kg, excluding payload. Scaling that up to 10 km yields a mass of 2.08E+12 kg. Accelerating that at 9.8 m/s^2 would require a force of 2.04E+13 N. The power put out by the engines would then be F * ds/dt, which in this case can be approximated as F * c, or 6.12E+21 W. But the Falcon 9 is a launch vehicle, not an interstellar spaceship, so the comparison is probably unjustified.

    How visible would a craft at that distance and putting out that amount of energy be?

    I guess that depends on how much of that energy would actually be visible to us. Unless it were all being put out as electromagnetic radiation focused in our direction, I expect it would be pretty much invisible.

  94. 94.   Joseph G Says:

    @#53 Bubba Joe Jim: Please tell me you wrote that yourself. If so, I wish to subscribe to your newsletter :D

  95. 95.   Unaspammer Says:

    Accelerating that at 9.8 m/s^2 would require a force of 2.04E+13 N. The power put out by the engines would then be F * ds/dt, which in this case can be approximated as F * c, or 6.12E+21 W.

    Correction: the acceleration of 9.8 m/s^2 would be from the aliens’ frame of reference. From our frame of reference, the ship would only be decelerating at about 1.87 m/s^2. Also, I incorrectly thought that the ship’s current velocity would be approximately c. Actually, it would be about 0.9c. Taking these into account, the actual engine power from our frame of reference would be 1.05E+21 W.

  96. 96.   Joseph G Says:

    @#56 Buzz Parsec: Steve @ 16: Ah, the Mayan calendar freaks! Remember, these are the same folks who brought you the Y2K panic, and we all know how dire that turned out to be.
    As one of thousands of people who worked long and hard for years to prevent anything bad from happening in Y2K, I resent the implication.
    True, no airplanes were ever going to fall out of the sky, but they could have been grounded because the airports ran out of jet fuel because they mistakenly thought they had a 99.9 year supply of fuel on hand. Multiply by millions and imagine the economic consequences.
    This is exactly the same as the global warming denialists who will claim, if massive effort is made to reduce CO2 emissions and consequently the most serious effects are avoided, that the whole thing was imaginary.

    This^^^
    Nukes probably weren’t going to launch themselves, but the problems were significant.
    I kinda wonder how many more ancient legacy systems we’d be relying on if the Y2K thing hadn’t been an issue, too?

  97. 97.   Joseph G Says:

    @95UnaSpammer: Thanks!!! I suck with numbers. That was exactly the sort of help I was hoping for.
    Also, wow! I had no idea that a mere year (from an earth reference frame of 1 G acceleration) would yield such high speeds! Of course, that kind of prolonged acceleration would still require some kind of extremely high ISP propulsion with some very dense energy storage (particle beam powered by antimatter?) The energy requirements you came up with are mind-boggling, in any case! IIUC, it’s many times the amount of solar radiation that the earth absorbs, and many hundreds of thousands of times more then the total (human generated) electricity output of earth! Edit: I’m probably wrong there. According to teh Googles, human electricity output worldwide is 1.504×10+13 watts. Still, that’s a metric f**kton of powah :)

    As far as detecting it, there’s a lower limit on the amount of power that would be radiated as waste heat, so even if the “exhaust” were an entirely coherent beam that wasn’t pointed in our direction, such a ship would still need to be radiating a lot of heat. And at 0.9 c you’d have collisions with the interstellar medium that would be putting out a wide spectrum of noise, not to mention extraneous “stray” emissions from some propulsion systems (bremsstrahlung radiation if you’ve got magnetic nozzles as part of your setup, for example). And at .9c, even those thermal emissions would be blue-shifted significantly. Again, I suck at math, but I’m guessing you could conceivably blue-shift infrared into visible or even ultraviolet wavelengths.
    If we could detect anything that size at that distance, I’m thinking it’d look very much unlike any natural phenomenon we’ve ever seen! It wouldn’t be subtle :P

  98. 98.   Joseph G Says:

    @#79 Halcyon: Whoah. Thanks! I had never even heard of that forum. Looks fun.

  99. 99.   Unaspammer Says:

    @Joseph G:

    Actually, that’s two years worth of 1G acceleration, since the spaceships are supposed to arrive December 2012.

    To put that amount of power into perspective, if all of it were emitted as E-M radiation, the ship would have 0.00018% of the luminosity of Alpha Centauri. However, Alpha Centauri would be 3.4 times farther away. I figure that works out to an apparent magnitude of about 11.5. So I was wrong; it could be visible with a good telescope.

    However, remember it would take 1.3 years for the light to reach us, so it wouldn’t actually be visible at that magnitude until March 2011. ;-)

  100. 100.   hedin Says:

    These mysterious aliens have off course come here to find a faster propulsion system :P

  101. 101.   Tribeca Mike Says:

    That ParanormalUtopia site is a bit rough on the eyes, isn’t it?

  102. 102.   noen Says:

    Muzz said:
    “There’s probably some obvious trigonometry I’m missing. Anyone got a good link on that? When did a good estimate of, say, Jupiter’s circumference first appear and how was it done?”

    Triangulation. If you know the length of one side of a right triangle and the degree of one of its vertexes you can calculate the length of the opposite side. So if you know how far away you are from a tree you then measure the angle that intersects the base of the tree, goes to your eye and then to the tree top. Then you do some maths and you can calculate the height of the tree. But how do we know how the distance from Earth to Jupiter? We know how far away planets are by using parallax and more trig to calculate distance. If you know the length of one side and two angles you can calculate the height of any triangle.

    (it’s been a long time since trig classes so I apologize in advance if I screwed it up.)

  103. 103.   flibbertigibbet Says:

    An oblong blue object flying towards Earth? That sounds strangely familiar. Like Tardis familiar.

  104. 104.   an alien invasion warning with a mayan spin » weird things Says:

    [...] numbers, the Bad Astronomer tells us that to really be a fleet of spacecraft, these objects would’ve been about 100,000 kilometers away in the mid-1990s when they were captured on film for the NASA image archive. To arrive on December 21, 2012 as per [...]

  105. 105.   Uncle Al Says:

    Tch, tch. You are seeing the timeflogger space drive in action! As the ship goes forward in space it goes backward in time. This it can go anywhere almost instantly moving at only a fractional mph (thus getting fantastic propellant mileage). Spectroscopic analysis of the blue exhaust plume is unequivocal: methane harvested from a vast crew eating only sauteed onions and lentils.

    Earth is about to be conquered by ovo-lacto-librarians from space! Isn’t it time we started rounding up vegetarians and Presbyterians for intense interrogation?

  106. 106.   Gary Ansorge Says:

    74. flip

    Naw, not 2020. It has to be something with either a source from a “mysterious prior civilization” that presumably knows more than we do about the nature of reality OR some significant numerological indicators, such as 7/21/2021(7 is a magical number, the number of the “prophet”) and of course, 21, a product of two primes(three shows up in a number of religions).

    Ok, so, we’re all doomed on 7/21/2021, ’cause the flying spaghetti monster will be landing and dropping its meat balls and poisonous sauce all over the planet. PREPARE TO BE EATEN!!!

    Special price , new years discount, for Doomsday Insurance, now $ 1,000,000 for only $ 19.95. Be the first idiot,,,er,,,I mean, “perspicacious” member of your group to be prepared for the END.

    Gary 7

  107. 107.   Muzz Says:

    noen: Yeah that’s the sort of thing. I was thinking the focal length of the telescope might figure into it somewhere too, but I guess that’s redundant if you’ve got some good indications of distance. Strange how the history of planetary dimensions doesn’t seem to be very well documented.

  108. 108.   24601 Says:

    #34 Martha: I’m less worried about what the next doomsday fad will be than I am about the folks in power who might decide to help this one along a bit.

  109. 109.   The Rogues Gallery » Blog Archive » The UFOs of 2012 debunked by a skeptical eye Says:

    [...] YouTube posters, and various “citizen journalist” publications. The hoopla and hype has gotten even Discover Magazine to weigh in and lend an [...]

  110. 110.   Nigel Depledge Says:

    Steve (16) said:

    Ah, the Mayan calendar freaks! Remember, these are the same folks who brought you the Y2K panic, and we all know how dire that turned out to be.

    It depends what you mean. If you refer to the potential computer problem regarding dates, that was real and it was averted by the hard work of a great many IT folks.

  111. 111.   Nigel Depledge Says:

    Revolution9 (33) said:

    They are coming, Mr. Plait.

    That’s Dr Plait you know.

    Debunking the truth is a fools errand.

    And if the claims were true, it would be impossible to debunk them in this way (whereas Phil makes it look easy), so what exactly are you trying to say here?

    Come to think of it, “debunking the truth” is an oxymoron.

  112. 112.   Nigel Depledge Says:

    Andrew (42) said:

    You can be sure taht if REAL spaceships or aliens were found (exist) NASA or whoever discovers them will immediately keep it a secret…not post it everywhere

    OK, I’ll bite: how and why can you be sure?

  113. 113.   PayasYouStargaze Says:

    I think it’s the Whale ship as seen in Star Trek IV. It won’t bother us this time because we still have whales. Unless we manage to kill all the whales in the next year or so…

  114. 114.   Dave Says:

    Silly Examiner author. We’ve been here for centuries! Giving the Myans the 2012 calendar end date was the best gag ever. What to do next?

  115. 115.   flip Says:

    106. Gary Ansorge,

    I disagree. There’s plenty of things to look forward to according to Wikipedia. Amongst other things, JAXA sending robots to the moon. And ISRO sending men to the moon. (Cue the moon hoaxers) The Guardian published predictions on the use of AI in cars and clothing (Cue the people against ID chips) Global oil production peaks. Russia mining on the moon. India and Pakistan become developed countries.

    Plenty of stuff there that has been predicted and people can turn into conspiracy theories.

    And in case you missed it: it includes the return of the Silurians. :)

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2020

    Granted, I think it’s more likely someone will pick an obscure number, more like what you did… but 2020 still seems good to me.

  116. 116.   Buzz Parsec Says:

    George @89 -

    Phil PLATE? Phil SAUCER? Coincidence? I think NOT!

  117. 117.   Pareidolius Says:

    Whale, schmale. It’s the Tholians.

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