Is this a hyperspectral spaceship?

Originally published at: Is this a hyperspectral spaceship? | Boing Boing


space frontier GIF

ETA: I hope this isn’t representative of future space exploration…we go looking for extraterrestrial life and wind up with Clint Howard.


Send me a text message from that hyperspectral spaceship, then we’ll talk.


We come in peace.
Take us to your laundromat.


No please use ours, we just had new ones teleported in.


This is remarkably similar to some UFO crank I tried debating on Youtube a few years back. (I know, I know…)

Guy zoomed in on an airplane light, making it blurry, tinkered with the video settings to bring out some different colors. I simply pointed out that - hey, isn’t it odd that the flashing has the exact same characteristics, namely the period of flashing time, as an airplane?

Similar results, the guy made up some nonsense about how it wasn’t an airplane, and that his buddy worked at Adobe and had “analyzed” the clip to prove it wasn’t fake. (Note: Even if his friend was legit, you needn’t alter the video to get something weird zooming way in on an airplane at night)

At the end of the day, I think these folks mainly want attention. They might think that they can turn this attention into something profitable (usually selling a book), or they just might crave attention, end of story. The folks that buy into it want either a community to be a part of, or a sense of wonder and mystery, or some feeling that there’s order and a higher meaning to the world.


What’s often really weird is when you get an “expert” who doesn’t seem to be a scammer - the first person they fooled was themselves, and they don’t seem to intend to grift anyone - but then won’t take any evidence disproving their idea. I had a friend show me work from his friend on how carbon monoxide from plant emissions was going to remove all of the oxygen from the air…he’s done papers on this.

"Can we, modern humanity, be really accused of stifling the force of life? The answer is yes and lies in our wholehearted accepatance of the Satanic Formula as the basis of human development without understanding or appreciating what this acceptance means. The Satanic formula is derived from the generalized formula for extracting energy from fossil fuel, which reads.

CH4 + O2 → CO2 + H2O + e

This states that burning Hydrocarbons (fossil Fuels) using Oxygen gives us Carbon Dioxide, water and energy. It is this process that the entire industrial revolution was based upon it is this process that propels all the transport and industry of the ‘modern’ era."

I discussed how oxygen is about 20% of the atmosphere, and how CO2 after two centuries of burning stuff is in the “hundreds of PPM” - parts per million range - like all of the CO2 we’ve added has removed 0.0001% of the oxygen from the atmosphere. He said something about Venus, and I was like “95% CO2 is 950,000 parts per million, about 2000 times our current level.” Crickets.


There is also the opposite crazy idea. Burning fossil fuels produce CO2 that enhances plant growth and photosynthesis then produces more oxygen. This increase in oxygen is claimed to be a benefit of burning fossil fuels. Proponents don’t accept that burning fossil fuels consumes more oxygen than the extra plants can produce.

We know that oxygen levels are dropping, although not enough to worry about.

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Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

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Wouldn’t a non-hyperspectral spaceship be much more remarkable than a hyperspectral one?

Most materials aren’t terribly ideal black bodies; but even the ones that are significantly reflective at some wavelengths, or are worth pointing a spectrometer at, tend to have a lot going on(even if it’s at an order of magnitude lower intensity than the visible spikes) from very, very, deep IR up to at least the middle of the visible range; potentially higher if warm, under stimulated emission, or reflecting light from a star or other source that is very warm indeed.

If there’s something that would give an object very, very, strong not-in-kansas-anymore vibes it would be picking something up that is perfectly monochromatic down to the limits of your instruments; or emitting at a few specific frequencies with more or less perfect bandgaps between them.

Even nominally-monochromatic light sources like lasers tend to exhibit some non-ideal frequency slop around the edges(though it falls off pretty rapidly outside of garbage tier diode lasers); and things whose natural habitat isn’t ‘bolted to a vibration dampened table in a photonics lab’ tend to emit fairly promiscuously all over the spectrum.

It seems like an odd thing to be concerned about, given the fairly tight link between the plant activity that laid down today’s fossil fuels(especially in the boom years when plants had developed synthetic polymers like cellulose and lignin; but nobody had yet evolved a way to crack them) and the plant activity that gave Earth an oxygenated atmosphere(which it basically didn’t have until plants got started, broke through the buffer provided by oxidation of iron and such in the crust, and continued emitting until anaerobic ecosystems retreated into various niches).

To reverse that process and get back to a non-oxygen atmosphere you’d more or less need to get all the plants, minus whatever margin of error the period of geological oxidation provides you with; and you’d need to do it fast and hard enough to prevent contemporary plants from photosynthesizing abundantly.

Also an odd thing to be concerned about, given that the amounts of CO2 required to produce more or less apocalyptic greenhouse effects can be reached well before you change the partial pressure of oxygen enough to cause direct problems for all but the sickest or most geographically extreme populations. Especially with modern air travel we can directly observe the changes in altitude, and correspondingly partial pressure, that people typically don’t even notice.

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