'Tard of the Week - Ted Twietmeyer

Monday, June 9, 2008
Ted Twietmeyer is a writer, and I use the term loosely, for Rense.com. Quite frankly, I'm not sure what this site is supposed to do, but feel free to try and figure it out for yourself.

Ted believes that NASA, in an incredible attempt to continue the Moon Landing Hoax and other conspiracies, is covering up the real Phoenix images of Mars. Gasp! Really? How do you know?

He knows because the first photos sent back from the lander are greyscale and not color.

Twietmeyer contends that surely if we have the technology to land a probe on another world, we also have the ability to provide instantaneous color photos.

Um...not so much, you 'tard.

From our good friend the Bad Astronomer:

"Phoenix — and almost all modern space probes — use cameras that are digital detectors called CCDs. These are basically computer chips that are sensitive to light. When a photon hits a part of the chip, it is converted into a charge, and the amount of charge that builds up tells the chip how much light hit it. But all the CCD can do is count photons. It can’t really tell a red photon from a blue one; all it knows is how much light hit it.

The way to produce color is to trick the CCD. You put a red filter in front of it, for example, and that lets only red photons through. You do that again using a green filter, and then a blue one, taking three images in all. Then you can add the three images together, producing a color image (there are a lot of details to this of course, which you can read about here, here, and here).

That’s a lot of picture taking, and then a lot of post-processing to get the colors right! So of course, when we land a probe on a planet for the first time, scientists are perfectly happy to wait for extra images to be sent back, for people to process them, then to make them into color, and finally to display them…

Pbbbbbt. Duh. Of course they don’t do that. They take a bunch of images without a filter (or maybe through just one filter) and send them back immediately so scientists and engineers can assess the status of the probe. Color information is cool, and even in many cases useful, but not right away! It’s more important to just find out what’s going on with the lander."

To a conspiracy theorist, all accomplishments are conspiracies, I guess.

What a 'tard. Good luck with that career in science writing...

Tip o' the Tin-Foil Hat to the Bad Astronomer

32 comments:

Jim Wright said...

Both Phil and you are right, of course. But an additional advantage of BW photos is that they take considerably less bandwidth, which means they can be sent via low power, low/medium gain, omni-directional antennas - as opposed to the directional, hi-power, hi-gain antenna. Immediately after landing the probe's batteries are not yet fully charged, and won't be until the solar panels have been exposed to sunlight for a while - hi-res color photos take more power to acquire, process, and xmit. Additionally, BW images can be transmitted at the same time as instrumentation data and probe telemetry - color photos take a hell of lot more bandwidth and since there's only so much of that to go around, you lose the instrumentation data while uploading those images. Right after landing, the instrumentation data is far more important than the images.

All of which means exactly jackshit to conspiracy idiots like the Twitmiester, who don't understand even the rudiments of science and engineering - unless it supports their "face on Mars" bullshit.

Janiece Murphy said...

Jim, you make a good point. And when the distance to be covered is measured in Millions of miles, bandwidth matters.

Michelle K said...

WHAT? You mean it's not like downloading pictures of nekkid women on your computer?

Carol Elaine said...

But, but, but...isn't it like Polaroids, but digital? Polaroids are like instant too, and they're in color! And they're nowhere near as technologically advanced as the Phoenix! And...and...

Idiot.

Aleda Lalik said...

Maybe if you did YOUR research you would see that Ted Twietmeyer is a senior engineer at the center for visual sciences at the University of Rochester- so obviously he has much more experience and knowledge than any of you do and especially with digital images and ccd's- he understands the "rudiments of science and engineering" better than any of the people writing these weak ineffectual arguments and it only proves what "tards" you are for not doing YOUR research before opening your idiotic cyber mouths.

Janiece Murphy said...

Really, Aleda Lalik? Really?

You think coming here eight months after the fact to defend Mr. Twietmeyer with your ad hominem attack is effective?

Either try to be more timely in your defense, or keep your comments to yourself on my space. Because really, I've lost interest in Mr. Twietmeyer, and I find Dr. Plait to be a much more credible expert in this case - regardless of your claims.

Jim Wright said...

No, Janiece, Aleda is a member of Mensa! Is Phil? I don't think so - that's why they call him the Baaaaaaad Astronomer.


Aleda, I see being stupid in correspondence with me wasn't enough for you, you actually had to go and shit your drawers in public. Smooth move there, Exlax.

Eric said...

Amazingly enough, a new candidate for 'Tard Of The Week outs himself, heroically presenting himself as a dark horse candidate for the February poll.

As far as I know, and correct me if I'm wrong, all digital cameras effectively take black-and-white pictures. That is, there are various ways to collect color data in a digital camera, but they all involve collecting greyscale intensity information in the red, green, and blue bandwidths. So even if the Phoenix lander processed the digital image internally before sending it--just like my Nikon D40X digital SLR does--it would still be taking three separate versions of the same image in the red, blue and green and combining them--just like my D40X digital SLR does. The only major difference is whether or not the three images are combined on site.

The thing is, on top of the reasons given by Plait and Jim, there's not really a good reason to do the processing internally on the probe even if radio bandwidth and battery power weren't at a premium. It's just more logical to send the raw data and work with the ones and zeros on the ground--I can't get my head around why you'd want to do it the way Twietmeyer seems to think it ought to be done; processing on site just adds layers of complexity (however thin) it terms of additional programming and components.

If you really just know the rudiments of how a CCD works, I don't know why it would even occur to you that the images would be sent back in color. Am I missing something? And if knowing details of how a CCD works is allegedly your job (e.g, you're a "senior engineer of visual sciences" anywhere), then really it seems like talking about "images should be sent back already processed" seems like it would make you more of an idiot, not less.

Stu said...

And claiming that a guy has the expertise to know something that he clearly doesn't know isn't much of a defense. Throwing out Mr. Twietmeyer's credentials would be more effective if he weren't completely _wrong_ here, and stupidly so.

Frankly, it reflects even more poorly on this guy if he holds that title and yet can't talk knowledgeably about these things.

Wench said...

I am a chick, if not of the particularly hot variety. And I am definitely a logical sort of person, with a strong background in science. So my first reaction when seeing a scientist go toe to toe with someone making an unprovable, frankly strange claim is to side with the scientist.

But what about when the scientist is calling the other person names? Making fun of them? Frankly being mocking and bullying, instead of - well - a scientist?

I agree that you're right in pointing out the logical flaws in the color versus black and white argument. But the tone makes me a little embarrassed.

On the other hand.

Science has patiently held it's temper whilst under attack from various psuedo-scientific theorists, conspiracy true-believers and conservative religious movements for DECADES. And all this patient, gentle, logical discussion has done nothing to change the minds of those who blindly revile the only functional, testable system of understanding we have. I understand loosing your temper after watching your well-designed structures of solid logic dismissed by people who frankly behave like bullies. When you finally get the chance to yell and call names in return, it's emotionally satisfying to do so.

And hey, if they're not going to change their minds anyways, where' the harm? It makes you feel better and it has no more or less effect on those clinging to the shards of their broken theories than your sweet reason did.

I still feel it's a mistake, and a bad one, to resort to personal enmity, even if (ahem) they did start it.

Mock their theory wittily, yes. Attack them personally by calling them idiots and nutcases (no matter how true you feel it is)... we make fun of them for doing the same, don't we?

Tank said...

Twietmeyer is a lab engineer, meaning he works in a lab helping people use the lab and equipment for _their_ research. He's a staff member, not a research engineer or faculty. And he doesn't know what he's talking about (as has been clearly demonstrated). Just because he works some place doesn't make him an expert. Hell, I'm an engineer at a physics lab, but don't ask me to explain the Quantum Hall effect to you.

John the Scientist said...

Oh Good Grief, not another lab tech claiming to be an expert.

Janeice, you sure can pick 'em.

And Wench, in formal publications, scientists have to hold their ire and look professional. On their blogs, they have no real reason to remain polite in the face of willful stupidity.

One of the reasons I unleashed a deluge of profanity on Walter Wagner et al. when the UCF was combating the LHC silliness is that by engaging them politely, the layman gets the impression that they have enough of an argument to be treated to a formal seat at the table, rather than pulling up a folding stool they brought along themselves.

Conspiracy theorists should be treated rudely because they have just accused an awful lot of people who have worked very hard for decades to earn their degrees, people who genuinely want to serve the public good, of fraud. Fraud. They've called them liars, and cheats based on what?

The only proper response to that is "fuck off".

Janiece Murphy said...

My goodness. One troll comes out of the woodwork, and suddenly a dead thread is alive again. My new icon is strangely appropriate today.

From Dr. Plait via Twitter: "I guess 6 yrs working w/ a Hubble camera's CCD makes me understand nothing about how they work. Heh."

I personally think his credentials on this issue are substantial, but I wanted to give his answer here.

Stu, Wench and Tank, thanks for stopping by. You're welcome here.

Wench, I want to address your concerns, because I think you make some valid points.

First off, I am not a scientist in any sense of the word. I am a fan-girl of science, and I greatly admire science, but I don't even play one on T.V.

However, people who are scientists, like Dr. Plait, can convinced me of the veracity of their opinions. If they do so, I have no compunction about using this space to slap down folks who make ridiculous, unsubstantiated claims. Please note that the "meat of the matter" on this one was addressed by Dr. Plait in a block quote, not by me. I don't have the education or the experience to defend the claim (that Twietmeyer is acting like an idiot), which is why I leaned so heavily on the Bad Astronomer in this case. Thankfully, debunking the conspiracy theorists is Phil's job, and he has broad shoulders.

As for how effective my ridicule is...hm. In the sense that you mean, I have to say "not very." Pointing and laughing when civilized discourse is appropriate is not usually the best means of winning an argument. I fully agree that people of good conscience can disagree on interpretation of facts and expected outcomes. That's what science and critical thinking are all about.

But that's not what I'm about when I write for the "'Tard of the Week" feature. It's there purely so I can point and laugh. Sometimes the recipients are conspiracy theorists like Mr. Twietmeyer, sometimes (often) they're politicians, sometimes they're celebrities. All of them, however, have done something that I consider to be beyond the pale when it comes to stupid public behavior. It's purely my opinion, of course, and I do have some limits. Only people who choose to have public personas are featured here. Mr. Twietmeyer chose to publish his opinion on the internet, that makes him fair game - just as my own opinions are fair game.

And it is satire. While I don't necessarily think that satire is as effective as reasoned discourse in changing the minds of reasonable, open-minded people, it is, as you note, fun.

Your comments on the patience of science is especially germane, I think - how much time, effort and money must scientists spend on wackadoos who believe the moon landing is hoax before they turn to sarcasm and name-calling? Please note that Mr. Twietmeyer is also a moon hoaxer (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2008/01/30/another-moon-hoax-claim-bites-the-dust/), and that particular piece of conspiracy theory is so tired I can't believe NASA and other scientists are still being forced to address it.

In short, I truly value meaningful debate that allows reasonable people to address concerns from all sides. I think your point of view has merit, but this is not a serious scientific site - it's essentially my personal playground.

The discussions you mention do in fact take place on sites whose purpose it is to host them, but that place is not here.

Does that make sense?

LadyBrianna said...

LOL ... I just found this from Mr. Bad Astronomer's Twitter page, and I LOVE IT, and you. I'm also a squeeing science guy fangirl who loves to point and laugh.

Janiece Murphy said...

Welcome, LadyBrianna.

You'll fit right in here.

Carol Elaine said...

I'm not going to get in a technical argument here, because I personally am not a tech person in my day to day life, but I will say that I work with people who interpret this data AND the person who helped me get my current job at JPL (aka one of the NASA Space Centers, for those who haven't heard of JPL) has worked on interpreting such data for the Spitzer telescope. It is WAY more logical for the probe at send raw data, as Eric suggests.

But I just work for NASA. What the fuck to I know?

Eric said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric said...

I mean, hell, I know it's not really the same thing, but I shoot in RAW/NEF mode and process the images into a "final" format on the computer at home--so in a sense I'm not even processing my images on site (I am, in that the camera gives me a preview--which there would be nobody to look at if the Phoenix did that; but any images of mine you see on my blog or wherever have been "broadcast" dozens of miles via foot, downlinked into a laptop, and the RGB channels processed and mixed, color corrected, etc. (all of this being done crudely and amateurishly because I'm a hack, not a NASA engineer)).

Thanks, Carol, for confirming that I'm not totally stupid: when something seems as self-evident as "don't process on Mars, send it home and do it there," and somebody says it's not, you start thinking, "Am I the stupid one?" Seriously, you start wondering what you're missing.

O'course, the conspiranoiacs will just say you've been compromised by your employer. I mean, hell, they'll probably say I'm compromised just by knowing a NASA employee online. Yes, yes I am. I have a revolving balance on several credit cards in spite of getting positively gazbillions of dollars from the government. Yep. Cold-busted.

Carol Elaine said...

Eric - heh.

We've just been brainwashed, ya know. Hell, NASA's probably piping subliminal messages via my computer right now that're corrupting me.

Janiece Murphy said...

Carol Elaine, do you think they'd be interested in leasing Demento Dog as a mind-altering device?

SmartFriend will make them a really good deal, I'm sure.

Jeff said...

Hey Jim, compared to you Ted Tweitmeyer has had more acomplishments then any of you.

Ted is the chief engineer of the University of Rochester. He also is part of a group that takes him around the world to places like California, Hawaii and New York City. Also he just invented a device that revolves around the "entanglement" theory. Researchers have been trying to figure this out forever and have not seceded. On top of that try looking up his name on Google it has alot of results and web pages praising him. Ted has been on 8 scientific talk radio stations. Also he has a great 15 acre piece of land in the country with a beautiful house. Did I mention he has 2 kids, and 2 grandkids?

Now lets take a look at YOUR life Jim (this is what ive read off of your profile). And I quote " I attend the University of Denver."

Thats pretty crappy compared to Ted going to Harvard. And by the way Ted does'int need to make a few extra bucks on the side by quote "knitting cold weather accessories" because hes successful. Oh, and by the way it also does'int look good when compared to him because.... YOUR WRITING ON A FREAKING BLOG! Unlike Ted you have the least professional website you could write on. He at least has his own site.



Hope you have fun with your crappy life! Hope to hear from you soon.

Jake

Janiece Murphy said...

Um, Jake, or Jeff, or whatever your name is.

This is MY blog. That's why it's MY profile on the sidebar. Jim comments here, but also has his own blog.

Which you might know if you had any familiarity with the Internet.

Let's take your idiocy one point at a time, shall we?

1. Mr. Twietmeyer is not "the Chief Engineer at the University of Rochester." He works in a lab in Rochester, where he is a "senior engineer," at least according to the University of Rochester website. A senior engineer in someone else's lab, to be precise. He may have changed jobs since this link was published, but this is the most recent information available.

Now, this does not mean that Mr. Twietmeyer's job isn't difficult, or meaningful, or that he doesn't perform his duties admirably. I have no data on those topics, and I've not made any claims surrounding them. It just means you've overblown his qualifications for reasons of your own. Mr. Twietmeyer is not Chief Engineer Scott, and your claim that he is weakens your argument.

2. As for his talks, "published" works, and other praises...really? You think that when other conspiracy theorists talk about what a great job he does in determining the inter-dimensional properties of the Gray and Reptilian aliens that such opinions carry more weight than those of actual scientists? If so, then good luck to you and your happy gang of alien chasers, because it doesn't mean crap to me.

3. I made no claims about Mr. Twietmeyer's interpersonal relationships, his financial well-being, or his ability to maintain meaningful relationships with his children or grandchildren. Those matters are personal, and he has chosen to keep his personal relationships out of his public persona. That makes those relationships "off-limits" as far as I'm concerned, and they will not be discussed here. Why is this relevant to the issue at hand, anyway?

4. How is my attending the University of Denver germane to the discussion? I'm not the one making scientific/engineering claims about NASA, about alien life forms, or any other extraordinary claim. If Mr. Twietmeyer did attend Harvard, then good for him. But that doesn't make his claims any more believable, in my opinion. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and the point of this post was that a scientist I trust (The Bad Astronomer, in this case) doesn't think much of Mr. Twietmeyer's claims.

5. As for my knitting, you evidently skipped the part where it says I "knit cold weather accessories for various charities," proving that your reading skills are apparently on a par with your writing. My charity work has nothing to do with my professional success. Please also note that my professional accomplishments are not detailed on this site because this is my personal blog. My professional life gets little space here, and I like it that way.

6. Gee, you really GOT ME by dissing my personal blog that I write on for my own amusement and the amusement of my friends. If I was a SERIOUS WRITER then I might write about INVADING ALIENS or MIND CONTROL or HAND TO HAND COMBAT WITH THE INVADERS. Too bad I'm such a hack.

::snort::

So whoever-you-are, I have very little interest in your ill-informed and ill-written opinions regarding me or Mr. Twietmeyer. If you can't address the issue at hand (i.e., the topic of the post), then your future comments will be met with the Shovel of Doom™. This is MY blog, and I'm the only arbiter of what gets published here.

Jim Wright said...

Snort.

Wonder if the nurses know the inmates are accessing the internet?

Eric said...

Researchers have been trying to figure this out forever and have not seceded.

Best. Typo. Ever.

::enjoys mental image of two researchers:

Bob: Dammit! Another failure! That's it, I'm withdrawing Smithfield College from the United States of America!

Dave: No, Bob! Don't do it! Just because we've failed to resolve a quantum entanglement problem doesn't mean you should declare war on the United States Of America! They have guns and stuff! You'll die! And for what? Dammit, Bob, formally withdrawing from the Federal compact established by the Constitution is not the answer to all your scientific problems!

Bob: (sighs deeply) You're right again, Dave. I keep forgetting that Texas v. White established that there was no legal right to withdraw from the Union, not to mention the de facto precedent established by the American Civil War itself, and Reconstruction. Thanks for bringing me back to reality, Dave.... (mutters under his breath: But next time...!)

___

But seriously: Jeff, I don't care if Mr. Twittermeyer wipes his ass with vellum from Harvard, Yale, Princeton, MIT, CalTech and Oral Roberts U., his comments have convinced me that I know more about digital photography than he does, specifically how a digital camera uses a CCD to turn greyscale images into color photographs.

Also, I'm reasonably satisfied that the asstards who got us into two losing wars and wrecked the budget couldn't operate a fancy raygun without losing a hand or putting someone's eye out, much less keep it (sort of) a secret for eight years (but for some engineer in upstate New York noticing some "melted cars" or something), but I'll admit I could be wrong about this point. Maybe appearing to be venal, stupid, ignorant putzes is a clever cover so they can accelerate "Step 3--PROFIT!" or something. I dunno. I just figured they were dumbasses, I guess they sure fooled me with their completely 100% convincing dumbasseriness.

vince said...

He also is part of a group that takes him around the world to places like California, Hawaii and New York City.

Hey, so was I! It was called the Air Force. Makes me an expert just like Ted!

Also he just invented a device that revolves around the "entanglement" theory.

And I just invented a perpetual motion machine. It involves "entanglement" theory, too.

On top of that try looking up his name on Google it has alot of results and web pages praising him.

Googling "Adolph Hitler" returns "alot" of results as well (over 7.8 million), and a lot of those web pages praise him. Does that make him a wonderful person whose theories were correct? Yeah, that's what I thought.

Ted has been on 8 scientific talk radio stations.

Ain't no such beasts. Scientific talk radio stations, that is.

Big fail, Jake/Jeff. Big, big fail.

Janiece Murphy said...

Eric and Vince maketh me to giggle, and shall henceforth be featured prominently in my Seraglio.

Hee.

Jim Wright said...

Funny how the trolls here seem to think this is my blog, isn't it? (not that that bothers me, I'm flattered). Funny how those who worship at the alter of Ted are so damned stupid that they can't figure out the owner of the blog and author of the article, even though it is clearly marked out in a number of places.

Both the posts from Jeff/Jake and Aleda clearly show poor cognitive development, inability to articulate thoughts and construct logical arguments. Both show very juvenile, almost infantile, argument technique (Well, I'm a member of Mensa! Well, Ted has a nice house on fifteen acres! What do you say to that, huh?). Both display a tendency to be impressed by big sounding words and figures they perceive to be in authority.

It makes me wonder if both of these people are students at UofR. Which of course, makes me wonder what, exactly, the Dean and Board of Regents would think of Ted Twitmeyer's influence on the student body.


Perhaps I should call them and ask? Maybe I'll just start with Ted's department head...

How's that? Jake, heard enough from me now?

Carol Elaine said...

Ah, Vince, why did ya have to mention Hitler? You've all but Godwinned yourself. You're absolutely correct, but still...

Maybe Pol Pot or Stalin would've been better examples, even if they don't have as many websites praising them.

As for Jake/Jeff/Whatever, feh.

1) Someone who doesn't even know a proper contraction (used "does'int" twice, which negates the possibility of a typo, in addition to the other mistakes with contractions) gets little-to-no consideration from me.

2) Putting together one's own site is actually pretty easy. Most web hosts will have templates that newbies can use, usually for under $15/month for hosting and template. It's designing the site that's difficult. That said, a quick Google search brings up no website for Twietmeyer, aside from his University of Rochester page and a few other pages that are part of larger sites.

3) While I do administrative work for JPL/NASA, I work with some of the top scientists and engineers in the world - people who have actually invented new and wonderful pieces of equipment for highly sensitive space telescopes (some of which I have actually held soon after their creation). These people would point and laugh at Twietmeyer's claims.

ducq said...

Wow. never saw this blog before. 80% arrogance and 20% bluster. is the word "love" useful to you ...it would be too kind to say people... things?

wow. maybe i'll use capitals next time. if you can handle them.

ducq

Janiece said...

Ducq, if you have something of value to contribute to the discussion, say an informed opinion ON THE TOPIC AT HAND, feel free to do so. Because your entry makes no sense - "is the word "love" useful to you ...it would be too kind to say people... things?" Really? English, motherfucker - do you speak it?

If you don't have anything useful to contribute, feel free to fuck off.

I'm sick of Ted, and I'm sick of his conspiracy theory sycophants showing up here, 15 months after the fact, trying to defend his wacky ideas using ad hominem attacks. Funny how none of you have any actual DATA to contribute that might make Ted look less um, left of center, shall we say?

Feel free to use capitals in the future - if it does in fact help you to put a coherent thought together.

And on the topic of love, if you're going to try and reprimand me, that's probably not the best tack. If you'd read anything here besides this, you'd know how silly you sound.

Tek said...

So we can put a man on the moon, send rovers to mars, and a whole bunch of other crazy shit and then some that's kept secret, but we can't close the gap between the difference in sending a B&W image and a color one from Mars? Not even just enough so that the difference is negligible? Just Saying...

Peace
Devil's Advocate

Janiece said...

Tek, as I've said repeatedly, BORED NOW WITH THIS TOPIC.

You're not being a "Devil's Advocate," you're making conspiracy based allegations with not a shred of evidence or (apparently) expertise to back them up.

Please go away and learn some critical thinking skills.