Everyone loves a good conspiracy theory. You might suspect a scientist would steer clear of such material. Not so!
The Scientist and Conspiracy Theorist both seek to decode the unknown and organised chaos into structures. But where science rises above primitive tribalism, conspiracy theories drag us back there. It is therefore a scientist's duty to challenge conspiracy theories that engender superstition or endanger progress. The landings on the Moon are a natural starting point.
Yes, dear reader there are those with a strong belief that man never took any step or leap for mankind. Were our glorious visits to the Moon elaborate hoaxes? If that theory gained momentum then we'd 'have a problem'.
So let's consider the evidence.
There are photographs that captured the visit to the surface of the Moon. Critics are keen to highlight the differences in quality between shots taken on the Moon and those on Earth.
True, there are no stars visible in the Moon landing pictures. But why should there be? We associate the Moon with darkness (because we see it at night). But on ITS OWN surface: its bright enough to blot out stars!
The differences between 'earth' and 'moon' photography only support the idea that we DID go there. Yes, the resolution quality, gaining and grading look 'suspect'. Because the images were taken in SPACE!
The refraction and reflection of light differ substantially in space to how they operate on Earth. THAT is why we see lens flares so prominently in the otherwise black sky in the relevant pictures. It's not proof of 'studio lighting' but s a difference in atmospherics, realized in the quality of the photographs.
Now higher resolution satellite photographs from 2008 (the Japanese Selene Probe) provided us with 3-D terrain camera images. Guess what? They match the details in photographs taken during the Apollo 15 landings from 1971.
Technology defeats the conspiracy theory.
The Magic Of Movies
Just as photographs became moving pictures, so too there are some who cite cinematic craft behind the 'lie' of the Moon landings, with Stanley Kubrick's craftsmanship applied as a far-fetched proof.
We are supposed to give credence to an idea that Kubrick directed a fake Moon landing: a secret masterpiece and never returned to the USA by plane again, for fear that he'd be assassinated as a Government conspirator. It sounds madder than one of Kubrick's own movies. That said, benefit of the doubt is warranted. We are objective! Kubrick did have the expertise and the creativity to make something like this happen. He was behind the epic visuals of 2001: A Space Odyssey, which forever defined our perception of space travel and its associated wonder and peril.
Christopher Nolan's latest effort, Interstellar pays tribute to Kubrick's style and its opening premise is a future founded on a common belief that the moon landings never happened. That is a compelling coincidence.
But coincidence is not evidence Kubrick never went on record saying 'YES! I FAKED THE MOON LANDINGS!' He did remain in the UK and never flew back to the USA So what?
And even Kubrick's supreme special effects mastery is unlikely to have pulled off something as convincing as the footage we have. His 2001 film is a film set in space; it is not a film set on the Moon.
Frankly, films as late as the 1980s depicting action on the Moon, even with Hollywood special effects budgets at their biggest, somehow look weak, dated and unconvincing.
Those citing cinematic trickery simply don't know the art- form well enough.
ROCK OF AGES
We have actual, physical studies of Moon rock and made associ-ated advances in Geology. Did we fake those, too? It's highly unlikely, given the difference of quality in volcanic glass.
On Earth rock samples, glass particles from a meteorite are broken up over millions of years at the most. On Moon Rock: Try BILLIONS! How do we know this? Because we have analysed lunar soil from lunar rock and it contains miniscule fragments of glass.
The glass comes from meteorites that impacted the Moon, probably billions of years ago. In order to know Moon rock, soil (and glass) so well, scientists had to analyse it: looking, comparing and experimenting. Where do we get Moon rock? That's right: the MOON!
Granted, there are some rock compositions on Earth identical to those we cite as 'Moon' rock. But that does not disprove the truth of the landings. If anything, it is a giant wake-up call to go BACK to the Moon. We could thereby learn more about the Earth, perhaps and better harnessing our own resources for the future?
Indeed, a FAR more worrying question to ask then 'Did we go there' is 'Why have we never gone back?' THAT is a worthy conspiracy theory!
Doubters: You are walking on Broken Glass! Supporters: Your view is ROCK solid!
Better Men than You or I
When we talk of the 'Moon landings' generally, in many cases we mean the first ones: historic steps taken forward by Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. Those remarkable men epitomised the finest scientific and physical achievements. We should value their testimony.
Whilst we tend to recite the schoolboy hero sound bites ('one giant leap'), it is equally important to remember that Astronauts are scientific witnesses. Armstrong, Aldrin, Collins and co. provided objective, scientific evidence. They gave testimonies; documenting their research as an elite team.
One of their discoveries was a pungent 'lunar dust', which clung to their spacesuits during the experiments they conducted on the Moon's surface. It was odour free at first; but on contact with the oxygen inside their Capsules, the dust took on a smell similar to that of gunpowder. It's those little, curious details: observations without always providing the explanations
strived for, that are entirely a odds with the notion of som choreographed hoax. It's very real. There are also quite specific procedures and methods associated with that mission. Documented and filmed in 'real-time'; they provide a proof that there was a scientific innovation to the process of travelling to the Moon.
Individual problems were anticipated and prepared for or encountered and accommodated. That's science at its bravest and most compelling. The partial closing of doors on the Landing Module is a case in point; conserving heat whilst preventing repressurisation.
Do you REALLY want to challenge the sworn testimony of such distinguished men? Didn't think so!
There are other theories and examples of possible evidence both for and against the idea of Moon landing as conspiracy theory. We've seen a fair sample of arguments and could keep going. But we're not going to.
What is Universe sides with reality and truth as defined through objectively verified fact. So far as this blog is concerned, the Moon landings happened, for real.
This post was written by Usman Abrar. To contact the writer write to email@example.com. Follow on Facebook