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cosmicdave
2002-Jun-11, 07:53 PM
Thought I'd post this Email that I received today to get the groups reaction on it:)

UFO And Shuttle In Near Collision?

It isn't a question of whether UFOs exist. The question is: who do they
belong to?
UFO AND SPACE SHUTTLE WASHINGTON - The Space Shuttle Endeavor narrowly avoided a collision with a gigantic UFO during its 12-day mission in September and a top-secret NASA audio tape proves it! That's the word from author William Kliner, who claims to have obtained a copy of the tape from highly placed NASA sources and flatly calls the incident "the most dramatic close encounter in history."

In the 23-second tape, which was recorded off one of several secret radio frequencies that NASA reserves for classified conversations with space shuttle astronauts, Commander David Wal! ! ker is heard to say: "Bogey at 3 o'clock, God what is it? My God, it's coming right at us!" NASA asks: What's there? Walker: There's no way! Oh God! Get back. Move!"
NASA asks: Endeavor! Endeavor! What, explain Walker states: "What the. Where is it? Where, it's gone. It's gone! . . UFO, Spacecraft, huge, intelligent, over
there!
NASA tells: Endeavor to: Switch now!

The tape ends abruptly with what would appear to be a NASA order for Walker to change radio frequency. And while nobody other than Walker, his crew and a handful of NASA officials knows exactly what happened next, the Endeavor returned to Earth safely on September 18, indicating that the close encounter ended without further incident.
"This is dazzling proof that UFOs not only exist, they are piloted by extraterrestrials who are interested in! ! our technology and possibly even mankind's ventures into space," declared Kliner, who has published hundreds of articles on America's space program over the past 25 years. "Until now, I didn't believe in the existence of UFOs and I certainly didn't believe that extraterrestrials were visiting our planet. "But now I know better.
Space aliens actually observed our shuttle astronauts as they orbited Earth - and NASA's own tape proves it."

NASA spokesmen declined to comment on the author's report pending the outcome of what one official called "an investigation into the source of unauthorized information that might or might not have basis in fact." Like
NASA, Commander Walker and his crew - Pilot Ken Cockrell and Mission Specialists James Voss, James Newman and Michael Gernhardt - aren't talking. But Kliner's sources say the Endeavor and crew did, in fact, avert an! ! in-orbit collision with "a massive, walnut-shaped spacecraft of unknown
origin." "From what I understand, the spacecraft was the size of a small
city and glowed bright green as it approached the shuttle," he continued.
"At some point during the encounter, the UFO veered off course to avoid a collision. "As far as I know," he continued, "there was no contact between
the UFO and the shuttle. If there was contact, my sources are unaware of
it."

Thanks to: Eric Howarth: erich@cycor.ca and A.J. Craddock. Editors Note:
Investigators who live near Cape Canaveral often report sightings of UFOs during the launch of the shuttle.

pvtpylot
2002-Jun-11, 08:31 PM
Reads kinda like the script of a bad Star Trek episode.

SeanF
2002-Jun-11, 08:39 PM
In the 23-second tape, which was recorded off one of several secret radio frequencies that NASA reserves for classified conversations with space shuttle astronauts
. . .
The tape ends abruptly with what would appear to be a NASA order for Walker to change radio frequency.


Well, of course. If you're going to talk about a UFO, you don't want to stay on that secret frequency, now, do you?



. . . the spacecraft was the size of a small
city and glowed bright green as it approached the shuttle . . .


And yet it was completely invisible from Earth.

Uh-huh.

Jim
2002-Jun-11, 09:16 PM
... the spacecraft was the size of a small city and glowed bright green as it approached the shuttle ...

and

Reads kinda like the script of a bad Star Trek episode.

Hmmm. Coincidence?

http://www.badastronomy.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?topic=1449&forum=4&5

Or a promo?

sts60
2002-Jun-11, 09:32 PM
I'm afraid this is utterly bogus. Here's why:

1. I recognized the crew members; this is the "Dog Crew II" of STS-69. As in the STS-69 that flew in September of 1995. Not last year, as was implied by the message.

2. At least on non-DoD missions, which this was, the only conversations not transmitted in the clear over NASA Select TV are short private medical conferences.

3. I was in the MCC (Mission Control Center) building for that flight, working as a payload controller for Wake Shield Facility. One floor away from the Flight Control Room (FCR, the room you see on TV), we monitored all communications on the standard A/G-1 (Air to Ground 1) loop. Sorry, no UFOs.

4. Somehow, all the people working there, including FCR and backroom folks, forgot to get excited about this encounter with a glowing city-sized UFO.

5. Statement of personal incredulity: I've met Dave Walker; he wouldn't spout such breathless nonsense under *any* circumstances.

So, cosmicdave, I think you can tell whoever sent that to you that it's just plain false. If it's not too much trouble, ask them, in light of my observations above, if they still believe it. If so, kindly ask them to provide some sort of proof, or at least a specific time when this was supposed to have happened.

Cheers!


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: sts60 on 2002-06-11 17:33 ]</font>

DaveC
2002-Jun-11, 09:39 PM
Some people are so desperate to believe in aliens visting earth that they'll just make stuff up and blow it out onto the 'net. Where's the RealAudio version of this secret tape so we can all listen to it? Why would NASA, if it was so committed to hiding material like this, leave it laying around so some "high placed official" could steal it.
Why doesn't author William Kliner share the tape with everyone - and why not name the NASA source? Oh ya - 'cause then NASA would have to kill him.
More critical analysis from Cosmic Dave. Or more correctly, more ** from the conspiracy crowd. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_rolleyes.gif

JayUtah
2002-Jun-11, 09:54 PM
The article in question presents a factually incorrect description of air-to-ground communications with the orbiter, be they publicly released or confidential.

While I cannot vouch for the likelihood that the astronauts in question would have spoken like that, it is nevertheless very uncharacteristic for highly experienced pilots to converse in such a manner. This sounds more like UFO enthusiasts putting words in astronauts' mouths.

I am certainly not convinced by factually incorrect, fanciful, uncharacteristic, uncorroborated gossip passed around the internet by UFO enthusiasts.

2002-Jun-11, 10:05 PM
The story can be tracked back - at least - to this November 1995 Usenet thread:

http://groups.google.com/groups?hl=us&lr=&ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&frame=right&th=b78d77f68aea527e&seekm=47ijvt%24mgf%40ixnews5.ix.netcom.com#s

Poster Brian Zeiler writes:

"Know where that article originated? The current issue of Weekly World
News. I noticed it while grocery shopping yesterday -- it's the cover
story."

The cover of Weekly World News .... Mostly likely the UFO´s pilot was Elvis .... /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif .... Or maybe the pilot was Comic-dave .... Sorry. Typo .. COSMIC-dave ! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif



<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Cyberspaced on 2002-06-11 18:22 ]</font>

jrkeller
2002-Jun-11, 10:11 PM
One other thing to point out is that this so-called tape appeared only after David Walker passed away from cancer (April 2001).

sts60
2002-Jun-11, 10:17 PM
The original email was passed on without any checking by George A. Filer, MUFON Eastern Director, in a 1998 piece. That pretty much establishes MUFON's credibility level in my eyes.

What do you want to bet these odious persons will cite Cmdr. Walker's passing as part of the "conspiracy"?





<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: sts60 on 2002-06-11 18:20 ]</font>

Alan G. Archer
2002-Jun-11, 10:48 PM
On 2002-06-11 18:17, sts60 wrote:
The original email was passed on without any checking by George A. Filer, MUFON Eastern Director, in a 1998 piece. That pretty much establishes MUFON's credibility level in my eyes.

What do you want to bet these odious persons will cite Cmdr. Walker's passing as part of the "conspiracy"?


Yes, old UFO story, January 14, 1998: UFO AND SPACE SHUTTLE (http://ufoinfo.com/filer/1998/ff_0298.html).

It's even older on the Usenet.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Alan G. Archer on 2002-06-11 19:21 ]</font>

Jigsaw
2002-Jun-12, 03:17 AM
"Know where that article originated? The current issue of Weekly World
News. I noticed it while grocery shopping yesterday -- it's the cover
story."
Unfortunately, it's no longer on their website. I looked. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_frown.gif

jumbo
2002-Jun-12, 09:42 AM
It never fails to amaze me how ufos can navigate huge distances only to crash (or in this case nearly crash) into orbiters, the earth or any other available object. I guess the little green men pilot training facility isnt too hot.

"It isn't a question of whether UFOs exist. The question is: who do they
belong to?"

Surely given that ufo is defined as unidentified flying object, the more important question is what are they?

kucharek
2002-Jun-12, 10:00 AM
How can anyone who is mentally fit enough to handle a computer can be so dull to believe in such stories - and on the other hand believe that the moon landings were faked.
"super secret" - ha - that's the lamest excuse for everything. And why they should talk on a secret channel just the time the ufo arrives? And why changing channels when they are already on the secret one?
Of course, ufos exists, because I cannot explain everything I see in the air. But seen from afar, there are also often umos (unidentified moving objects) or uojsoss (unidentified objects just standing around somewhere). There are also a lot of mathematical formulas I could not identify when you show me, so they must be of extraterrestrial origin. Thats your logic, but it's no logic at all.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2002-Jun-12, 10:21 AM
I've met Dave Walker . . .


To Paraphrase TBA, How Cool is your Job?

So, for all of us Astrogroupies, what are the Space-boys and -girls, really like?

Irishman
2002-Jun-12, 11:50 AM
In my previous job, I met and worked with several astronauts, including James Voss and James Newman. I wouldn't say I know any of them well, but I've met a few.

So, Zaphod, some of them are cocky, some are more reserved. Some are sticklers for details, some more like to wing it. Some take charge, others are able to let things happen around them. Story Musgrave is a real character - but then you can pretty much tell that if you've seen him in a TV interview.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2002-Jun-12, 01:14 PM
On 2002-06-12 07:50, Irishman wrote:
So, Zaphod, some of them are cocky, some are more reserved. Some are sticklers for details, some more like to wing it. Some take charge, others are able to let things happen around them. Story Musgrave is a real character - but then you can pretty much tell that if you've seen him in a TV interview.


So, in other words, they're just like everybody else.

You're right about Dr. Musgrave though, from what he said in an Article, in Discover Magazine, he may not be from Iowa, but Apparently, he just Works, or should I say worked, in Outer Space!

Wally
2002-Jun-12, 02:02 PM
On 2002-06-11 17:32, sts60 wrote:
I'm afraid this is utterly bogus. Here's why:



whatdyamean "bogus"??? Kliner has sources man! And just any ol' sources, but "highly placed NASA" sources!!!

(sniff sniff. . . ah, the sweet sweet smell of sarcasm).

sts60
2002-Jun-12, 04:21 PM
ZaphodB. wrote:
To Paraphrase TBA, How Cool is your Job?

So, for all of us Astrogroupies, what are the Space-boys and -girls, really like? Irishman answered this one pretty well, I think. What they have in common is focus and competence. And, in general, political savvy... The public image of today's astronaut doesn't have many rough edges.

I've had some cool jobs, but the fun thing is knowing or at least meeting people who have the really cool jobs, like astronauts, or the guy who flies the shuttle training aircraft, or the techs who inhabit the VAB or the pads, etc. A lot of these guys and gals are very blase about it. Sorry, I don't buy that it's "just another job". /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: sts60 on 2002-06-12 12:22 ]</font>

The Bad Astronomer
2002-Jun-12, 04:29 PM
On 2002-06-11 17:32, sts60 wrote:
1. I recognized the crew members; this is the "Dog Crew II" of STS-69. As in the STS-69 that flew in September of 1995.

<slight hijack>
This is a flight that lives in my heart. Indirectly, it's why this website exists (http://www.badastronomy.com/bad/news/lauer.html). One of the very first instances of Bad Astronomy on which I reported. Kewl.
<end slight hijack>

sts60
2002-Jun-12, 06:30 PM
Talk about a high-grade vacuum... We went into orbit for 10^-14 torr when we could have just tapped into the crania of Messrs et Mdme. Lauer, Gumbel, and Couric.

But I shouldn't single them out for the general dumbing-down of American broadcast journalism.

Martian Jim
2002-Jun-12, 08:32 PM
back to the original question:

how could such an advanced alien race, who could travel light years in short time, be to stupid to not have any safe guards on their ship?

unless they did it on purpose

Alien: hey look its a earthling shuttle! lets try to crash into it for the fun of it!

<img src="http://www.deaflore.com/board/images/smiles/bouncing.gif"

Peter B
2002-Jun-13, 02:15 AM
But Jimbo, they're aliens (even to you Martians). Who knows what their motivations might be.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Peter B on 2002-06-12 22:16 ]</font>

Peter B
2002-Jun-13, 02:15 AM

Peter B
2002-Jun-13, 02:15 AM
But Jimbo, they're aliens (even for you Martians). Who knows what their motivation might be.

Jigsaw
2002-Jun-13, 03:23 AM
Yah, maybe they were having a Thelma and Louise moment... /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

David Hall
2002-Jun-13, 01:30 PM
Near miss? Wasn't it actually a near HIT?

(Sorry. Just having a George Carlin moment here.)

SeanF
2002-Jun-13, 02:15 PM
On 2002-06-13 09:30, David Hall wrote:
Near miss? Wasn't it actually a near HIT?

(Sorry. Just having a George Carlin moment here.)



Nope. It was a miss. What kind of miss? A close one (or a near one).

You're probably thinking of "near-miss," which would imply something that was nearly, but not quite, a miss.

cosmicdave
2002-Jun-13, 08:35 PM
Quote: 'how could such an advanced alien race, who could travel light years in short time, be to stupid to not have any safe guards on their ship? unless they did it on purpose'.

Or maybe they asked the same NASA guys who mistakenly calculated feet into metres when calculating for one of the doomed Mars missions to work on their ship? who knows? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

M_Welander
2002-Jun-13, 09:06 PM
Eh, cosmicdave, what are you talking about? The correct unit *is* meters, which means NASA did things right. Unless I'm completely mistaken, it was the other guys who incorrectly used feet.

Anyway, when we're now on the subject of units, I've been somewhat surprised to see the massive use of primitive regional units on this board. I had thought with all the scientists here, people would actually use international standard units. I mean, don't you use them when you do your calculations? I do, and if you do too, couldn't you please use them when you're presenting your results as well? Me, I hate to dig up some old encyclopedia whenever I have to figure out what a mile or a pound or a foot or whatever nationalistic unit is. After all, even the US has ratified the agreement to use international standard units (even though NASA seems to be the only organisation there to have implemented it), right?

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2002-Jun-13, 09:30 PM
On 2002-06-13 17:06, M_Welander wrote:
After all, even the US has ratified the agreement to use international standard units (even though NASA seems to be the only organisation there to have implemented it), right?


Yeah, but even They, didn't do it All that Well.

Remember that Mars Probe, that They Lost?

JayUtah
2002-Jun-13, 09:40 PM
I had thought with all the scientists here, people would actually use international standard units.

Try telling that to professional engineers who have been using slugs and feet for decades. The body of engineering knowledge is extremely vast. Changing all the units in it requires not only changing the thousands of pages of loose-leaf binders on each engineer's shelf (which he has accumulated over an entire career) but also his mind (which he has honed to a fine edge over his entire career). In the opinion of most of them, feet per second is just as valid a measurement of velocity as meters per second, and it's what they've been using their whole lives. NASA can go ahead and decide that, for their purposes, SI units will prevail. But they can't dictate how their contractors will do their work internally.

Kaptain K
2002-Jun-13, 11:38 PM
Or maybe they asked the same NASA guys who mistakenly calculated feet into metres when calculating for one of the doomed Mars missions to work on their ship
1) It wasn't NASA. It was one of the contractors (JPL?).
2) It was not that they "calculated feet into metres", but that they forgot to convert feet into metres.
Jeez. Two errors in one sentence. CD you are exceeding our expectations.

pvtpylot
2002-Jun-13, 11:53 PM
On 2002-06-13 16:35, cosmicdave wrote:

Or maybe they asked the same NASA guys who mistakenly calculated feet into metres when calculating for one of the doomed Mars missions to work on their ship? who knows?

Yeah, but then NASA would have known they were there, wouldn't have launched the shuttle into their flight path, and certainly would have had all of the communications on the "secret" frequency right from the launch.

And yes, I know you were joking.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: pvtpylot on 2002-06-13 19:53 ]</font>

Andrew
2002-Jun-14, 07:26 AM
"Me, I hate to dig up some old encyclopedia whenever I have to figure out what a mile....."

That one's easy: 1,760 yards. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_wink.gif

Peter B
2002-Jun-14, 10:16 AM
Hey, I'm with Mattias on this one.

I've grown up with the metric system and it's just so straightforward. Not only that, but it integrates weights, volumes and distances. (Mind you, if I had my way, 1 litre of water would fit in a 1 cubic metre container and weigh 1 gram, but you can't have everything...)

Is it 14 ounces to the pound and 16 pounds to the stone or the other way around? And what volume is a gallon? And how many pounds in a ton? Fair dinkum, I don't know how you Imperialists operate. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

SpacedOut
2002-Jun-14, 10:43 AM
Being a Professional Engineer I have to agree with Jay – I think in English (imperial) units, even when designing in SI. This is the case even though I’ve been using SI in all my schooling since 6th grade 30+ years ago.

There was a big push by the US Federal Highway Administration to force states into designing everything in SI back in the early 90’s but they have since dropped the requirement. In fact my state DOT has in the past 10 years gone from requiring all projects to be designed using english to SI and now back to english units! The switch back was done primarily because all of the contractors equipment was and is designed in english and most contractors were just converting the metric designs to english to do the construction anyway. While the SI is a much easer system to use, I always “visualized” my designs in english, doing a rough conversion in my head!

For those who need to do these conversions regularly here is a great freeware conversion program called appropriately Convert (http://www.joshmadison.com/software/convert/). You can even customize it to add your own conversions. I highly recommend it – I’ve been using it for years.


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: SpacedOut on 2002-06-14 06:45 ]</font>

Thumper
2002-Jun-14, 11:45 AM
I agree with SpacedOut on a number of points. First "Convert" is a neat little program. Second, when there was the push to "metrify" everything by the Federal Highway Administration, my state DOT, who I happen to work for started requiring all their plans be done in SI units. There was all the expected grumblings and as the FHA dropped the requirement to move to SI units, we swithed back to English units. This makes it quite fun when researching pavement histories or getting to locations by looking through the plans. Old and new plans use feet for stationing and miles for logposts. But there's that several year period where they use meters for stationing and kilometers for logposts.

I too "think" in English units. I believe anyone over the age of 12 probably has it hardwired into their brain because of constant exposure. This despite using SI units all throughout school science classes. I know I'll always have to think in English and convert. But if we just bite the bullet and convert wholesale now. Eventually, our kids (or grandkids or great grandkids depending on your age) will think in SI units, have a much easier time, and they'll thank us for it.

Uhh, Sorry. What was the topic of this thread?

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Thumper on 2002-06-14 07:45 ]</font>

David Hall
2002-Jun-14, 01:32 PM
It's not quite true that you can't adapt from one system to the other. I'm an American brought up with the English system. But after 6 years in Japan, I can handle the basic metric units pretty well. Not perfectly, mind you, but well enough that I don't have to run off to get a calculator every time I hear distances in meters or degrees in Celsius.

I do think one of the reasons it wasn't so hard was that I was going from a more complex and disorganized system to a more rational and internally consistant one. Those who haven't been through it like I have will probably never fully understand the gift of simplicity that is the metric system. Once you start to use it exclusively, you'll start to wonder why you ever used anything else. My mind boggles at the idea of having to learn it the other way around. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_eek.gif

But I do think it's true that I'll never be 100% fluent in SI measurements. It is hard to overcome a lifetime of conditioning. This is one reason I think any partial or gradual conversion scheme is doomed to failure. If people can fall back on what they are used to, they'll never really bother to learn the new system. No it would have to be a sink-or-swim change to have any chance whatsoever of suceeding.

As a result of my experience, like Thumper I believe that conversion by the USA to the metric system would be a gift to future generations. It's probably hopeless to hope that large numbers of the current generations would ever get it, but our kids would indeed appreciate the sacrifice we made for them.

For that matter, I know there is a precident in this. Britain went through a metric conversion process in about 1970, but I've never really heard anything about the extent of the changes made or how effectively it caught on. Is there anyone here who experienced this and can fill us in on just what happened? I'm really curious.

SpacedOut
2002-Jun-14, 01:49 PM
I too agree with Thumper that a US conversion to metric would be a gift to future generations (personally I think it is inevitable). If most science schooling in the us is SI based (any confirmation?) in one or two generations the US will successfully convert because the population will not think of it as foreign. For myself, I didn’t really have any problems with using the metric system in my designs and always conversed about the designs in metric. However, whenever I would close my eyes and try to visualize what the design would look like, it was in english.

David – out of curiosity do you really “think” in metric? For example, if someone were to describe a room as being 3.6m x 3.6m do you “see” that room as 3.6m x 3.6m or 12’x12’?


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: SpacedOut on 2002-06-14 09:50 ]</font>

David Hall
2002-Jun-14, 02:22 PM
On 2002-06-14 09:49, SpacedOut wrote:

David – out of curiosity do you really “think” in metric? For example, if someone were to describe a room as being 3.6m x 3.6m do you “see” that room as 3.6m x 3.6m or 12’x12’?


To a partial extent. The measurements I use most often, like short distances and temperatures, are now mostly natural to me. But others I use less often or have less hands-on experience with still give me trouble, like square meters and kilograms, and I usually have to go the conversion route. And in all cases I sometimes find I have to stop and kind of double-check my understanding by actually converting back to imperial units.

In a way, it's just like learning a foreign language. the more you use it, the more natural it becomes until you start to think in it. But I haven't quite gotten to that point yet.

As a side note, I find it difficult to think now sometimes in Farenheit and feet, I've been so long without needing them.

And in regards to seeing a room as 3.6 x 3.6 meters, I don't really have to try, as that's just about the size of my room. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

M_Welander
2002-Jun-14, 02:22 PM
I don't know anything specifically about the UK, but I do know that the entire EU has gone from nationalistic units to international standard units, so that includes the UK. I can really only speak for Sweden, but we switched a long time ago, before I was even born. Still, you can sometimes hear about archaic units like inches or skålpund, but no one ever thinks in them.

By this I only mean to prove that it is entirely possible for a country to switch unit system, but I do agree that it has to be done completely at once, and not gradually over time.

honestmonkey
2002-Jun-14, 02:25 PM
On 2002-06-12 05:42, jumbo wrote:
It never fails to amaze me how ufos can navigate huge distances only to crash (or in this case nearly crash) into orbiters, the earth or any other available object. I guess the little green men pilot training facility isnt too hot.


Ohmygosh! I just realized that the UFO pilots are terrorists! They went to the UFO flight schools, but didn't learn about takeoff or landing procedures. They WANT to crash into stuff! This Al-Qeda stuff reaches farther than we thought! Maybe it wasn't a plane that crashed into the Pentagon, but a UFO! Crap, I've run out of exclaimation points...

sts60
2002-Jun-14, 02:47 PM
On the original topic here, cosmicdave -

so, do you believe the account that was sent to you, or do you now think in light of my and others' comments that there was indeed no such encounter with a glowing, city-sized, alien spaceship?

If you do believe the account, why *specifically* do you still believe it? And would you kindly provide a date and time (either GMT/UTC or MET) when this event was supposed to have happened?

Looking forward to your answer.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: sts60 on 2002-06-14 10:50 ]</font>

LunarOrbit
2002-Jun-14, 04:07 PM
how could such an advanced alien race, who could travel light years in short time, be to stupid to not have any safe guards on their ship?

unless they did it on purpose

Do you try to avoid insects when you drive down a highway, or do you just let them hit your windshield? /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_biggrin.gif

johnwitts
2002-Jun-14, 05:32 PM
In the UK, we are all now schooled exclusively in Metric Units. SI rules. I was among the first to do this. Trouble is, the whole country is still ruled by imperial measurements, which our kids recieve no training in. All our roads are measured exclusively in miles. We buy stuff in pounds and ounces, pints, gallons, etc. We buy petrol (GAS) by the litre, and milk by the pint. There has been a move recently to force shops into selling stuff in metric quantities. As a result we can now buy .786kg (or whatever, cos I never learnt to convert) of apples and 568ml of milk (or in other words, still a pint). This has all got a bit rediculous.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: johnwitts on 2002-06-14 13:33 ]</font>

JayUtah
2002-Jun-14, 06:01 PM
A bunch of unrelated comments.

First, let us carefully distinguish between the metric system and the SI. The metric system is simply any consistent system derived from the meter. The latter is a subset of those with specific units for mass, volume, time, and so forth according to which the classical scientific and engineering constants are derived. In other words, engineers don't use centimeters.

Second, the debaucle with the Mars Surface Entrencher is a little more interesting than a simple boneheaded error. NASA contracts require that contractors supply critical operating parameters for purchased spacecraft in SI units. But the contractor is not required to design the spacecraft using SI units. And since the majority of spacecraft produced in the U.S. are not produced for NASA, there is no inherent incentive for the spacecraft to have been designed in SI units. It was designed according to the contractors' standard procedures and then the operating parameters -- specifically dry mass -- converted to appropriate SI units for delivery.

The problem arose when a guidance team was transfered to the project from somewhere else just prior to Mars orbit insertion. While competent, these people had not worked with the spacecraft before and did not have an intuitive understanding of its characteristics. So when they went to verify the mass and were inadvertently told the mass in pounds instead of kilograms, they didn't immediately recognize it as the wrong units. Someone who had worked with the spacecraft for a long time would have recognized that the number was way out of kilter. Anyway, having assumed they had been given the mass in kilograms (it was in pounds), the guidance team applied too much braking thrust.

Third, I lived in Europe for a few years and so I don't have a problem with the common metric units either. And as an engineer I can certainly appreciate the beauty and simplicity of the SI as opposed to the English Engineering System (in which even F=ma is not a consistent computation).

Fourth, I think the American public could go "cold turkey" but they'd complain a lot. It's taught in schools and used sporadically. But because the English units are still used and still given alongside metric units, there's no incentive to adopt the metric equivalences. And there won't be until the English units are no longer used.

What would it take for Ford to start producing cars for domestic distribution with speedometers in km/hr and odometers in kilometers? Economic incentive. There would have to be some profitability edge. Right now there isn't. Road signs are in miles. Speed limits are in miles per hour. That means any vehicle that uses strictly metric units is less attractive in the U.S.

So why not simply dictate metric as the official system of measurement? Because then people with cars that only work in miles and mph will be disadvantaged. All the legacy systems will be immediately obsolete, to replaced at great cost and hardship.

Then the answer is to use dual measures for a time. Which is what we're doing, but not vigorously enough. My Ford indicates speed in both English and metric units, but since the road signs are all either in English or in a combination of English and metric units, I have no need for the metric measurements. English units are still the most convenient.

Fifth, this same problem is exacerbated a hundred fold for professional engineering companies. These companies maintain their edge by means of corporate knowledge -- things they know that their competitors don't know: relationships, processes, procedures, etc. They have built this expertise up over a hundred years or more, and much of it is very closely tied to the units in which it is expressed. And much of it is contained in the gray matter of the Old Men of the industry.

These resources cannot be cheaply and simply converted. Because they congealed over time, there was no explicit time allocated for their development. But to convert it all to SI would require an allocation of time and money and resources, all of which would have to be robbed from profit-oriented processes. A company will not consent to missing deadlines because it was involved in converting its considerable infrastructure.

There can be no argument that SI is a much better system for engineering and science. There can therefore be no doubt that using it would have long-term advantages. Do engineering companies have a compelling reason not to go "cold turkey"? Yes, unfortunately they do. An infrastructure is simply not easily or cheaply converted. Simply dangling a bigger carrot is not sufficient incentive if the carrot in hand has worked pretty well up until now.

M_Welander
2002-Jun-14, 07:37 PM
I still don't get it. While all your points are sound and valid, JayUtah, they still don't address the issue of why the US can't switch to international standard units, when so many other countries already successfully have.

traztx
2002-Jun-14, 09:43 PM
Hey at least we're in decimal in the stock market! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif
--tommy
http://www.tommyraz.com

JayUtah
2002-Jun-14, 10:56 PM
Mattias, it's not a matter of can't. It's a matter of won't. And I've probably misrepresented the American scientific and engineering community. In fact scientists and engineers are probably the biggest users of SI and/or metric units in America. My engineering education was almost entirely in SI units, although my engineering practice has been mostly in English units because of having to do with legacy references, systems, and processes. If I were to be handed an engineering project to do all my own, I'd probably do it in SI.

But the average American sees no advantage to giving up a system of measurements that has been in use for several hundred years and which appears to work just fine. There is no inherent advantage to baking a cake at some specific Celsius temperature as opposed to some specific equivalent Fahrenheit temperature. But if your grandmother's recipe for banana nut bread calls for a Fahrenheit temperature and the oven operates in Fahrenheit, metric units provide only confusion and inconvenience.

Novice American carpenters are frustrated by the binary divisions of the inch in common rulers, but engineers just use decimal inches. We have no problem saying a dowel pin is 0.2500 inch in diameter. But what are the owners of houses to do when lumber stores sell wood measured only in metric units? The good ol' "two by four" (which really isn't, but that's another stupid story) can't change size. Not as long as houses still stand built according to those measurements. So does it become a "forty-four by eighty-nine"? If it doesn't have a sign on it that says, "(Really a 2x4)", then no one will want to do it.

In short, the average American sees only inconvenience to converting to metric. And so companies have a disincentive to force metric units. If General Electric sold only Celsius-based ovens, they'd soon be out of the oven business and that's not what they want.

Now it appears as if I'm waffling between who's responsible for America's provincial measurements. The reason is that the average American and American engineers oppose a changeover for slightly different reasons. Engineers see the advantage of using SI units, but are trapped in an extensive infrastructure that is not yet ready to give up English units. The average American doesn't see any great advantage to changing; a pound is as good as a kilogram.

Most of the industrialized countries had the advantage of switching over to metric before the big push in engineering during the early 20th century. Less infrastructure to convert.

M_Welander
2002-Jun-14, 11:39 PM
I understand that it's a social issue more than a scientific issue, yes. And I do think you're partially right about the reason - that is, the countries that successfully switched to international standard units did so before they built up a too high dependance on a nationalistic system.

I guess I just think the world would be better if everyone out there was a bit more scientific minded, and understood the benefits of international standard units.

It's funny that you should mention nails, JayUtah, because when I think of it, that is one thing we have not switched units on in Sweden. I don't know about the rest of the EU, but here we still buy two inch nails or whatever (I'm not much of a nail man myself, so I don't know). But the point is, the inch number is just a designation. We could just as well have called them "John" and "Betty", instead of "two inch" or "four inch".

The reason I brought up this line of discussion, which obviously is only distantly related to the Apollo hoax theory (through cosmicdave's incorrect claim that NASA doesn't use international standard units), is that before I started reading this board, I was under the impression that all scientists everywhere in the world used international standard units, and only less educated people used nationalistic units. I mean, it's like when my mother talks about calories, and I don't get it because I'm used to joules.

Apparently I was wrong, and it was interesting to learn that not even the scientific world is as progressive as I had thought. It's sad, but I guess I'm better equipped to deal with foreign scientists now! /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

Donnie B.
2002-Jun-14, 11:44 PM
Jay, as you point out, the operative word here is "legacy".

Let me give one further example with broad repercussions. The entire American continent is divided up into parcels of real estate. There are literally millions of such parcels, ranging from quarter-acre suburban house plots to multi-thousand-square-mile Federal properties.

All of the measurements that define those parcels are based on surveys done in miles, yards, feet, and inches. What's more, many (if not most) of those parcels are subject to taxation, usually dependant (in whole or in part) on the area of the parcel in acres.

The sheer volume of such real estate records is overwhelming. Do we convert these all to hectares? Who does the work? Who checks it? Who pays for it? If we don't convert, we're stuck with a mixed system forever. If we convert only upon transfer of ownership, it could take centuries -- lots of real estate changes hands very rarely, unless you force the conversion to be done upon the death of the owner. Then it only takes a generation.

Of course, real estate records are only one facet of the legacy problem; Jay mentioned some others. Such issues (and their legal ramifications) are the main reason the the US' metrification effort of the 1970's died a horrible death.

A final PS, which is especially pertinent to the real estate problem: gross geographical measurements are not metric in any system. We still mark off the globe in degrees, minutes, and seconds. So even if we converted our real estate into rational units, it would still be based in a non-metric global geometry!

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2002-Jun-15, 12:10 AM
Even the Metric System, though, has its Problems.

If we Ever meet Aliens from another Star System, how will they Ever, Understand our Concepts, The Mole is based around the Litre, The Kilogram is Defined as 1/12 of a Mole, of Carbon-12, The Litre is Defined as the Volume of One Kilogram of Water, at 4 C, (Celsius, they might get, with a Little Prodding) and the Less said about 1/10,000 of the Circumferential Distance from Pole-to-Pole, of a Planet, that They've Never Seen, the Better!

Instead, we should All, Convert to a System Based around the Distance that Light Travels, during the Half-Life of Cesium-133; you know What they Say, "Misery sure Loves Company!"

_________________
If you Ignore YOUR Rights, they Will go away.

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: ZaphodBeeblebrox on 2002-06-14 20:17 ]</font>

Espritch
2002-Jun-15, 04:24 AM
We still mark off the globe in degrees, minutes, and seconds. So even if we converted our real estate into rational units, it would still be based in a non-metric global geometry!

We have two measures of angle, degrees and radians. Radians are a much more natural measure in the sense that they relate directly to Pi. However, most people use degrees for the simple reason that they are easier to use. You can devide a 360 circle a lot of ways without fractions. On the other hand, deviding a 2Pi radian circle in any fashion tends to produce irrational numbers and most people find these harder to work with than nice even integer values.

The same arguement can be made for the 12 inch foot. You can devide it more ways evenly than you can a 10 centimeter decameter. So for a carpenter, if not an aerospace engineer, the foot was not only a more familiar unit, it was a more convenient one.


<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Espritch on 2002-06-15 00:27 ]</font>

JayUtah
2002-Jun-15, 05:16 AM
We have two measures of angle, degrees and radians.

Technically we have three. A gradian (grad) is 1/400 of a circle, rendering a right angle 100 grads. This is mostly used in surveying and a little in engineering and is a real pain in the kiester.

The accepted derivation of the 360&deg; circle is the Babylonians. They divided a circle into six equal angles which, they noted, were the angles formed by equilateral triangles. That's a "natural" angle because it occurs in pure harmonic geometry. Their numerical system was base-60, so it's natural for them to have divided the "basic" angular unit into 60 subdivisions.

There's also a competing theory which says the Babylonians modeled it after their 360-day year.

On the other hand, deviding a 2Pi radian circle in any fashion tends to produce irrational numbers

Not if you use moon hoax theorist Ralph Rene's definition of pi: exactly 3.1416. /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

So for a carpenter, if not an aerospace engineer, the foot was not only a more familiar unit, it was a more convenient one.

Maybe. The English system was truly blecherous until it was standardized according to non-anthropomorphic units. Housebuilders use the combination of feet and inches. Engineers are more apt to use decimal divisions of the particular unit. For example, three-quarter-inch pipe would be 0.750-inch pipe to an engineer, and an aircraft carrier would be 1,092.2 feet long. My property is surveyed in decimal feet. We don't use pounds and ounces, we use decimal pounds. (Technically we should use slugs, but that's another whole stupid argument.)

The issue of surveying brings up the other poster's comment about accuracy. A wholesale changeover of units will undoubtedly introduce conversion errors in the engineering infrastructure, and this scares a lot of engineers. They have numbers they trust, and they know them by heart.

Here's the obligatory horror story. Airliners are fueled by weight and not volume. You don't put a certain number of liters or gallons of fuel in the tanks, you put a certain number of pounds or kilograms. When Canada "went metric" someone did the conversion from pounds to kilgrams wrong and underfueled an airliner. The error was caught in the air, and unfortunately there was no active airport within the airliner's greatly diminished range, so they had to land at a disused airport, discovering on final approach that children were playing on the runway. The engines had stopped and the airliner was gliding silently, with only the APU running. Luckily the pilot thought to flash the landing lights to get the children's attention and signal them to run for their lives.

Yes, this wouldn't happen typically. But it illustrates the attitude: a lot of work, the potential for error, and not much visible advantage. What would you do?

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2002-Jun-15, 07:18 AM
On 2002-06-15 01:16, JayUtah wrote:
The accepted derivation of the 360° circle is the Babylonians. They divided a circle into six equal angles which, they noted, were the angles formed by equilateral triangles. That's a "natural" angle because it occurs in pure harmonic geometry. Their numerical system was base-60, so it's natural for them to have divided the "basic" angular unit into 60 subdivisions.


I read that it was actualy Base-6, after the Number of Visible Planets, counting The Moon, of course.

I'll see if I can Find the Information.

ZaphodBeeblebrox
2002-Jun-15, 07:27 AM
On 2002-06-15 03:18, ZaphodBeeblebrox wrote:
I read that it was actualy Base-6, after the Number of Visible Planets, counting The Moon, of course.


Nope, it was Base-60, (http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/HistTopics/Babylonian_numerals.html) but the Sumarians seem to have Combined a Base-10 System, with a Base-6.

The Search goes on . . .

Kizarvexis
2002-Jun-16, 10:44 PM
On 2002-06-15 01:16, JayUtah wrote:
Here's the obligatory horror story. Airliners are fueled by weight and not volume. You don't put a certain number of liters or gallons of fuel in the tanks, you put a certain number of pounds or kilograms. When Canada "went metric" someone did the conversion from pounds to kilgrams wrong and underfueled an airliner. The error was caught in the air, and unfortunately there was no active airport within the airliner's greatly diminished range, so they had to land at a disused airport, discovering on final approach that children were playing on the runway. The engines had stopped and the airliner was gliding silently, with only the APU running. Luckily the pilot thought to flash the landing lights to get the children's attention and signal them to run for their lives.


Jay, are you talking about the 'Gimli Glider'? If so, here are the details.

http://www.frontier.net/~wadenelson/successstories/gimli.html

It is a great story to read and provides all the details of the errors leading to the accident.

Synopsis: It was a 767 and it glided into an old Royal Canadian AF base that had one runway in use as a race track and the other runway for small planes. Of course the pilot, who was busy gliding a plane not meant to glide, accidently picked the runway with the races. The racers and fans vacated the track as the plane slid down the runway. (The nose gear didn't lock without power.) Everyone on the ground got out of the way and then the race crews rushed in to put out the small fire that friction with the runway started. No one was seriously injured and the plane was returned to service.

Kizarvexis

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: Kizarvexis on 2002-06-16 18:49 ]</font>

JayUtah
2002-Jun-16, 11:08 PM
Yeah, that's the story, except the APU and landing lights elements seem to have been added in the grapevine.

SeanF
2002-Jun-17, 01:38 PM
On 2002-06-14 20:10, ZaphodBeeblebrox wrote:
(Celsius, they might get, with a Little Prodding)


I don't know about that - Celsius is based on the transition points of water at sea level, so it's just as Earth-centric (geocentric?) as all the others, if not more . . . /phpBB/images/smiles/icon_smile.gif

JayUtah
2002-Jun-17, 03:29 PM
At my elevation water does not boil at 100 C. Especially if you watch the teakettle. Basing a standard on a substance's phase change is not especially universal either way. Of course the low end of Fahrenheit is based on the coldest recorded temperature in Helsinki or Copenhagen or wherever it was Fahrenheit lived at the time. Yeah, that's universal.

Kelvin comes close to being a universal, non-terrestrial scale because its low point is absolute zero. Now we just need another fixed point on the scale -- say, the point at which hydrogen undergoes fusion. Then everything else can be expressed as a ratio of that unit.

The only thing Celsius has going for it is the relatively easy conversion to Kelvin. That and, of course, the fact that everyone except Americans uses it. Other than those, there's nothing really inherently lovely about Celsius unless you're alternately freezing and boiling water on the beach.

Donnie B.
2002-Jun-17, 03:33 PM
Hmmm...

The Kelvin scale, at least, anchors one end to absolute zero, which is presumably universal. But degrees K are the same size as degrees Celsius, so you still need to know the conditions on Earth to figure out the rest of the scale.

What we need is a "standard candle" for temperature, something that's always the same wherever you are (besides absolute zero). How about the cosmic background radiation? We tell the aliens, "Okay, zero is zero, and we define the average temp of the CBR to be 3.whatever degrees. Everything else scales accordingly." Now we're talking... as long as neither us nor the aliens have perfected time travel...

p9107
2002-Jun-17, 04:02 PM
The Celcious scale was designed a long tume ago, when we didn't realize that thenigs boil at different tempretures in different places. It is centred around water, which at the time was pretty sensible.

Am I right in thinking that absolute zero (231 degrees) is the coldest you can get. There is nothing colder than that.

Kaptain K
2002-Jun-17, 04:46 PM
Am I right in thinking that absolute zero (231 degrees) is the coldest you can get. There is nothing colder than that.
Yes, except that absolute zero is -273C (-459.4F).

PS Under the heading of TMI (too much information), there is the Rankin scale, which is degrees F above absolute zero

David Hall
2002-Jun-17, 04:50 PM
On 2002-06-17 12:46, Kaptain K wrote:

PS Under the heading of TMI (too much information), there is the Rankin scale, which is degrees F above absolute zero


I did not know that.

Not quite TMI in my opinion. It's a new one on me. But reasonable. When you stop to think about it, someone had to have invented it.

_________________
David Hall
"Dave... my mind is going... I can feel it... I can feel it." (http://www.occn.zaq.ne.jp/cuaea503/whatnots/2001_feel_it.wav)

<font size=-1>[ This Message was edited by: David Hall on 2002-06-17 12:51 ]</font>