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Basic knowledge still escapes some bloggers

August 8, 2011

Yet again I’ve found myself in a situation where I make a comment correcting a blogger on his facts and rather than man up and accept he was wrong, he simply deletes my comment. It seems ignoring evidence for the sake of not changing an opinion is still the rule.

This time it is a blog post about Nibiru, the nonexistent planet that is supposedly sweeping into our solar system at an incredible speed to unleash all sorts of B-Movie horrors on us weak and feeble earthlings. Read this latest bit of nonsense here:

This latest twist is that Comet Elenin is now Niburu and the bit that caught my attention is the claim that a comet can be larger than Jupiter. Understandably, I objected to this claim, since its false, and said so. The counter claim came back and referenced Nassiem Haramein talking about a known comet that was larger than Jupiter. Excellent, now we have something that can be worked with, facts are so much better than malleable conjecture.

So I looked up the person concerned and found the comet he was talking about. It turns out the comet that is being talked about is Comet NEAT 2003. This comet is not even close to the size of Jupiter, there is nothing special about its size at all, it fits very nicely into the small size of all comets that visit us. That is a core of a few miles across and a coma of gas and ice around that. This comet did something fascinating though; it got a tad too close to the sun and the result was its outer layer of gas and ice melted rather more than usual.

Comets that swing by our sun always suffer some melting and its typically visible by us in the form of a long tail pointing away from the Sun. What is less so well known is the evaporating gasses form a coma around the comet making it visually larger that it really is. The core stays the same icy blob, but the surrounding gas will be bigger. As the comet heads away from the Sun, the gasses freeze again and the coma disappears as the gas reforms as ice on the core.

What was so special about Comet NEAT 2003 is that the coma grew extra large, due to its very close proximity to the Sun and its this coma that was estimated to be larger that Jupiter. The comet itself was still a small ice and rock core. The other very important point to note is that Jupiter, being a gas giant, gets its mass and size from the shear volume of gas that is gravitationally bound. Comet NEAT 2003 had a low mass coma and gas that rapidly expanded outwards in an impressive display, but the mass, and therefore the possible gravitational effects were not changed.

My comment on the above blog pointing this out has not made survived. I presume because the author does not want to be shown to be wrong and would instead prefer himself to have the last word, even if its utterly wrong. At least he’s not alone, as I have discovered ( and commented on before (


From → conspiracy, space

  1. Thanks for the related article link.

  2. Good post by the way.

    Each new outlandish article supposedly with some new info released by NASA makes me laugh – I do, however, research everything myself so that I am not taking random internet-folks’ word for things, which I think is a sensible approach. (I wouldn’t like to ignore something potentially important!)

    In general, the potential threat from space is large; the Earth having experienced ELEs a few times throughout its history, but poor little Elenin (with an unfortunate name) being blamed for impending havoc. Having said that, just because we are talking generally very long periods of time when it comes to major space events, that’s not to say it’s impossible that we would see something in our lifetime, just very unlikely.

    • limey permalink

      Hi Samantha, thanks for the comment.

      Yes indeed, a large impact from space is a very real possibility, eventually, but not likely at any given moment. What never ceases to amaze me is how whacky idea propogate when all the required information is easilly available.

      Its almost as though whatever NASA says is taken as the opposite of the truth, even though time and time again, what NASA says about near earth objects turns out to be true.

  3. thanks for sharing this. this very wrong doing sometimes upset my inner astronomer. I remember my friends sending me the infamous ‘mars getting as big as moon-hoax’ every year with quite a religious zeal. and then I had to send a reply, explaining that it is not happening at all.

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