Perhaps Oppy is not Stuck!

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John Woodall

PostPosted: June 2, 2005 11:08 AM 

Perhaps Opportunity is NOT stuck after all. Perhaps we are just getting the same pics day after day. Perhaps it has been exploring and photographing Martian artifacts or fossil sites??? When it has finished, it will suddenly be "unstuck".

Theory Underdetermination

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PostPosted: June 2, 2005 12:45 PM 

This raises the critical philosophical issue of underdetermination of theory by empirical data. Any number of "theories" could fit the available evidence, provided that you introduce sufficient auxiliary hypotheses. Thus, I choose to invoke a set of auxiliary hypotheses from an alternate way of seeing things (since all observations are themselves theory-laden). On this account it is quite clear to me that we have inductive warrant to infer that all the "rocks" are in fact living creatures. Arthur C. Clarke even anticipated this: in an early draft of 2001: A Space Odyssey, he wrote of a rover discovering life on Mars. It took pictures of what seemed to be rocks, but when the rover moved, the rocks got up and moved out if its path. The only difference between Clarke's moving rocks and the living rocks on the real surface of Mars is that the living rocks don't move because of an extremely low matabolism. I postulate that their life span is in the millions if not billions of years, and that it takes them eons to inhale and exhale a single breath.

Mars is alive, it's alive! Hoo-hah!


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PostPosted: June 2, 2005 2:11 PM 

Yeah right.

They're rocks

Theory Underdetermination

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PostPosted: June 2, 2005 3:02 PM 

Oh, but they're living rocks!

I challenge MarsGal, ES, RW and the the other "they're artifacts/fossils" crowd to prove that these rocks aren't alive! By what standard do you say they are artifacts or bones? I say they're alive! It's up to you to show me why I'm wrong.

Sheesh! The "They're artifacts/fossils" crowd is just as hidebound as the "they're rocks" crowd. Are you "artifacts/fossils" folks afraid of having your paradigms shifted? How many of you are fearful?


Martin Gradwell

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PostPosted: June 2, 2005 5:17 PM 

Welcome to the new forum, Mr. Underdetermination.

Are we to conclude that, in all the posts where you wrote "They're rocks", what you actually meant was "They're living creatures"?

Theory Underdetermination

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PostPosted: June 2, 2005 5:54 PM 

Hello, Martin. Not sure what you mean by the "they're rocks" reference, but I think we can say this:

Both the "they're rocks" and the "they're bones/artifacts" crowds have been looking through the wrong end of the telescope. Let's take the Cydonia "face" as a case study. Favonio argued that it was a giant humanoid face carved into the Martian surface. The skeptics argued that it was a formless, chaotic mesa. But what they missed was the astonishing fact that both were right, but for the wrong reasons. The Cydonia formation does look like a formless, chaotic mesa, but it also is a face. Why? Because the faces of ancient intelligent Martians looked like formless, chaotic mesas. And so, naturally, that is what they carved when they wished to represent their own visages!

Their theories, and mine, remain underdetermined by the empirical data. However, I argue that my theory has warrant, on the ground that we should expect Martian facial features to differ from ours due to the different pressures of natural selection, and faces resembling formless chaotic mesas would make good camoflauge in a world full of formless chaotic mesas.

I challenge the hidebound "they're rocks/aritfacts/bones" paradigmists to refute what I've just demonstrated.


T.U.: ever on the lookout for the demarcation.


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PostPosted: June 2, 2005 6:54 PM 

Isn't the plural of mesa... mesii?

Martin Gradwell

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PostPosted: June 2, 2005 7:20 PM 

T. U.: You may have a point. Take a freshly minted planet, and it certainly doesn't seem to be alive. But, keep it for a few billion years at a moderate temperature, and it will acquire a very thin fuzzy rind, and then parts of the planet break off and attach themselves to other planets, which then acquire the same sort of fuzzy rind despite not having been kept at a moderate temperature. Why would the planet do this, if it wasn't alive?

On the other hand, the behaviour described above does not seem to be purposive. What benefit does a planet gain from having a thin fuzzy rind? What benefit does it gain from exporting this rind elsewhere?

If, despite this problem, we concede that planets are alive, it is a natural next step to suppose that the individual rocks which compose the planet are themselves alive, but then where do you draw the line? If you aren't careful you can end up supposing that the planet's thin fuzzy rind is alive. That just goes to show what can happen if you allow speculation to get out of hand.

On the mesa front, you've got it the wrong way round. We're so used to seeing our faces as handsome and expressive and distinguished or whatever, that we have become blinded to the truth. It's actually human faces which are formless chaotic mesas. I mean, just look at one dispassionately and you'll see blobs sticking out all over the place. By contrast Martian visages, as exemplified by the Cydonia face, have straight parallel sides and neatly curved ends.

Theory Underdetermination

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PostPosted: June 2, 2005 8:00 PM 

Sound points all, Martin, and well worth developing. As I ponder them, my only immediate reaction is that I really liked it when you called me "Mr. Underdetermination." That made me sound important.

Whyte August

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PostPosted: June 2, 2005 9:46 PM 

I hate to say this, but I like the fanciful cut of Mr Undertermination's jib...

Whyte August

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PostPosted: June 2, 2005 9:47 PM 

And the reason I hated to say it was because of the difficulty of typing so many long words. A typing catastrophe was bound to occur, and duly did...


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PostPosted: June 2, 2005 9:55 PM 

rocks do indeed have a life cycle.
they stand still for long periods of time. For rocks life is a big waiting game. We are but a blip in the life span of a rock.
Thats why they ignore us, and we ridicule them.

Theory Underdetermination

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PostPosted: June 2, 2005 11:16 PM 

Thanks for the kind words, Whyte August. I do have an unfortunate sort of name. And it can be an embarrassing faux pax when it's typed "Undertermination," rather than the correct "Underdetermination." That's because "Undertermination" makes me sound like a combination of an undertaker and a hit man -- a funeral director who commandeers his own clients, so to speak.

My contention, per Blito3, is that all rocks on Mars are alive, and indeed we have warrant to infer that earth rocks are alive as well. Their metabolic rates and life spans are just incomparably greater than ours. We age and die so fast that they do not even see us at all.

I invite the "They're bones/artifacts" crowd to shift their paradigm here, or else show what is wrong with my theory. Remember that my theory and theirs are underdetermined by the empirical data, and therefore logically there is no reason to support one over the other. However, I claim my theory is more parsimonious, in keeping with Occham's Razor.

Doug Ellison

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PostPosted: June 3, 2005 4:57 AM 

re: thread starting post...

Oppy has taken literally hundreds of sub-frame hazcam images of progress thru the dune, and these show the passage courtesy of the slowly moving shadow of the rover on the ground.

If you run all these together - you can see the slow progress of the rover over time, day by day - it's an odd movie - it looks like one long movie, but the lighting resets every 20 or 30 frames or so. This imagery alone demonstrates that they have been moving, sol by sol, very slowly thru this dune.

Oppy IS stuck - of that there is no question. We have all the imagery it's been taking whilst stuck there - gigabits and gigabits of data taken from this place.

To suggest that the rover is not stuck and is actually parked elsewhere doing other science is to suggest that ALL of that imagery is faked and demands a conspiracy of hundreds of scientists, engineers, across many Nasa centres and Universities across America and Germany.

I promised myself not to visit here - mainly because the 'to me this can not be natural' rock brigade drive me up the wall - but this is more a rover ops issue, and I'd like to think I know more than most about what these things are up to.



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PostPosted: June 3, 2005 7:17 AM 

Not to mention the fact that there is NO reason to believe that anything is being hidden in this mission. In fact, there is no known reason NASA would hide anything.

Martin Gradwell

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PostPosted: June 3, 2005 9:54 AM 

Mr. Underdetermination: No problem with the name. I can use whatever name people prefer. I used to have a slight problem with Mr. Tarquin Fintimlinbinwhinbimlim Bus Stop F’tang F’tang Ole Biscuit-Barrel, but that was in the days before cut and paste. I'll be happy to continue the discussion of your fascinating theory, but I think you should post it in a new thread.

John Woodall:
Sorry for ignoring you until now. Interesting notion, but probably the wrong rover. Opportunity is in the middle of a relatively featureless plain, it's hard to imagine what might have been found there that NASA would want to keep quiet about. Unless it's the things that are making the tiny craters in the sand, maybe. (OTOH I'd say opportunity definitely did get stuck, but there may be more to the tale of how it got stuck than meets the eye).

Spirit, on the other hand... A year ago, spirit was almost at the base of the Columbia hills. I doubt that anyone here expected it would take a whole year to get to the summit, since we were told that even over rough terrain it could go 400 metres in less than a week (at the absolute top speed of 50mm/sec on the flat with no hazard avoidance, it could go that 400m in about two and a quarter hours). In fact it has taken the best part of a year to go the 400m or so from the base of the hills to Larry's lookout, which is still a couple of hundred metres from the summit. Or has it? If the rover actually took six months to get to the summit, say, then Nasa could release the pictures and other data from that six months over the course of a year and a half. That would give them a whole year to nip down to Ultreya Abyss and explore it without having to tell anyone. Then, if it turned out to be a relatively uninteresting depression, they could show it to us eventually. On the other hand, if there's something there that needs to be kept hidden, they can have the rover return to a point near its former itinerary, and then get stuck in a drift or head off in some other direction, away from the abyss. Ot they can just have a press conference, where a spokesman can say "Spirit did get tantalisingly close to the Columbia Hills Inner Basin, but unfortunately it tumbled down the stairs ... er, did I say stairs? I meant steep cliff face, of course ..."

Incidentally, before it got stuck, opportunity was officially averaging about 100m per day, IIRC. But, the fact that it did get stuck suggests that maybe the hazard detection was switched off and it was barreling along at something more like the maximum 180m/hr, and was set (if all went well) to arrive at Victoria long before the "official" due date. That would certainly explain why it got stuck. I know, NASA would never lie, but if I'd been in charge and I'd tried to pull a trick like that and it had failed spectacularly, I know that I'd want to keep very quiet about it.

(And to save others the trouble of pointing it out, I do know that if there was any kind of conspiracy to keep things hidden, an awful lot of people would have to be in on it).

Now, I wonder, should this thread get booted out of the "against the mainstream" forum and into the NASA forum, where stories about alleged NASA conspiracies were previously sent to?


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PostPosted: June 4, 2005 12:28 PM 

Your right, its not stuck .... anymore Very Happy

Raptor Witness

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PostPosted: June 4, 2005 11:08 PM 

I love this thread, but I don't believe it.

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