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Self-proclaimed "truth seeker" Wayne Green took on the moon hoax recently at his web site's blog, We have to congratulate Mr. Green on his ability to cram so much ignorance and misconception into such a small package. A response to his entry for 5/13/04 follows.

With temperatures on the moon varying between -280° in the shade and +280° in the sun, those few people with the ability to wonder are wondering how how the Ektachrome [sic] film and Hasselblad cameras managed to bring back such clear pictures.

The temperature of what on the moon? Like most misinformed conspiracy theorists, Mr. Green seems to confuse air temperature with surface temperature. The former has no meaning on the moon since there's no air, and the latter (for which the cited figures actually apply) are irrelevant to the film. In an airless environment, objects transfer heat either through direct physical contact, or through the somewhat inefficient process of radiation and absorption.

As we discuss here, surface temperatures on the moon -- or anywhere, for that matter -- do not consist of absolutely stark differences or instantaneous fluctuations between extremes.

The temperature of the film has nothing to do with the lunar surface temperature unless the two were somehow to come into direct physical contact. The film temperature is determined mainly by the absorptive properties of the Hasselblad camera body. And predictably enough, those properties were controlled in the design such that the camera absorbed just enough heat from the sun, on average, to keep the film within its operational limits.

According to Kodak scientists, at -280° the film would crack and break when the camera tried to advance it a frame. And, at +280° the film emulsion would melt. Curious.

Curious, perhaps, but also irrelevant. Mr. Green doesn't name the scientist at Kodak with whom he spoke, so we must assume he's simply quoting from the many conspiracy books and videos that make vague references to Kodak (the film's manufacturer) without themselves giving any specifics.

The film used was the Ektachrome E-3 emulsion on the special-purpose Estar thin base. Estar is made from polyester and was specially made for high-altitude surveillance photography where it would have to endure temperatures as low as -50 F (-40 C). The E-3 emulsion is good to that temperature and below. Polyester melts at about 550 F (260 C). The emulsion, however, would be rendered chemically ineffective before the emulsion melted.

The film was able to withstand some pretty strong extremes of temperature. The extremes Mr. Green cites don't apply; the film simply never got that hot or that cold.

Further, the Hasselblad was fastened to the astronaut's chest, with no viewfinder, and no controls for focusing or aperture [sic].

"Fastened" is a subjective term. The camera was normally carried on the astronaut's RCU (the chest unit for his backpack, containing some of the backpack's operating controls). But it was by no means fastened there in such a way that he couldn't remove it or use it in that position. To remove the camera from the chest pack, the astronaut merely had to slide it upward.
Fig. 1 -The Zeiss Biogon wide-angle lens on an actual Apollo lunar surface camera. The controls are: (a) shutter speed (b) aperture, or f-stop (c) depth-of-field indicator (d) focus. The assist paddle attached to the f-stop ring is visible on the right side. The other paddles are behind the lens barrel.

The missing viewfinder is highly overrated. We wonder if Mr. Green has tried to use a camera with no viewfinder, or whether he simply believes it to be impossible on principle. A wide-angle lens eliminates the need to point the camera precisely. The webmaster, using a replica of the Apollo Hasselblad without a viewfinder, was able to take two rolls of Ektachrome 160 film with no framing problems. Most Apollo photos were well enough framed, but some framing problems did occur (see here, photo of Aldrin).

The accusation that the Apollo cameras had no focus controls or f-stop controls is simply ludicrous. Both focus and f-stop controls are located on the Zeiss Biogon lens (Fig. 1).

With their balloon-like inflated gloves they had no way to operate the usual camera controls, or to even advance the film after each exposure.

The Apollo lunar surface camera was adapted from the Hasselblad 500/EL. The "E" stands for "electric", which refers to the motor winder incorporated into the camera. The film advanced automatically after each exposure.

We had no problem operating the camera controls while wearing Apollo space gloves. The shutter release is a large button that can be pressed easily with heavy gloves. The exposure control rings were fitted with paddles (Fig. 1) that allowed the astronaut to simply push the paddle one direction or the other with a fingertip. Gripping the ring was not necessary to turn it.
Fig. 2 -Apollo 17 commander Gene Cernan has his space suit fitted. The outer white covering has been removed to expose the pressure-containing garment. Note the accordion joints at the elbows and the knobby knuckles on the gloves. The knobs allow him to flex his fingers even though the suit is inflated. (NASA: 72-H-253)

Mr. Green is probably unaware that the bulky gloves seen in the Apollo photographs are not pressurized. They are merely protective gauntlets worn unpressurized over the sleek Neoprene pressure gloves underneath (Fig. 2). The pressure gloves had knobby knuckles to provide the constant-volume joint necessary for gripping.

Then there's the x-ray radiation from the sun, unprotected by Earth's Van Allen Belt, which should have totally fogged the film and killed the astronauts.

Mr. Green perhaps needs a refresher course on radiation, if indeed he ever knew anything about it to begin with. The Van Allen belts do not protect Earth against x-ray radiation from the sun, but rather from the flow of charged particles.

Dr. Van Allen, who discovered the protective belts and for whom they are named, has specifically repudiated the theory that the belts would prohibit a manned mission to the moon.

Various conspiracy theorists such as David Groves have attempted to show that the space radiation environment would damage photographic film. However, while they show that huge amounts of radiation will indeed cause damage, they fail to mention that those energetic x-rays are not present in space. The x-ray environment of cislunar space is relatively benign on the whole.

Not to mention the navigation precision required to enter the Moon's orbit at the exact correct angle...a feat our shuttles have been unable to duplicate on their trips to the space stations in near-Earth orbit.

We're a little puzzled by this. We can't find any record of a shuttle mission that had to be aborted because the orbiter failed to rendezvous with the space station, or with any other objective in orbit. Once safely launched, the shuttle has a perfect record when it comes to finding the correct point in the sky.

To be sure, orbital rendezvous is not the same problem as translunar or interplanetary trajectories, so there's quite a bit of apples and oranges comparison in what Mr. Green proposes. But in keeping with his allusions to deep-space navigation, what of other successes like the Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity, and the Voyager spacecraft? Those present a far more daunting navigational challenge than merely going to the moon, and we seem to be able to do that with reasonable skill.

We sort of expect Mr. Green to be able to quantitatively describe the state of the art in space navigation in the 1960s and 1970s and be able to tell us what kind of precision would have been required instead. Since the catalogs from instrumentation companies like Hamilton Standard and Raytheon from that period advertise off-the-shelf accelerometers with precisions of 0.1 fps per second and guidance gyros (which were also used on airplanes) that can detect rotations as small as fractions of a degree, we wonder what was lacking in the technology of the period.

Mr. Green owes us some specifics.

In the blog entry for 6/15/04, Mr. Green writes

To my knowledge, which is considerable, no living person or animal has ever even come close to the Van Allen radiation belt and survived.

We don't agree that Mr. Green's knowledge of space travel is considerable by any means.

The most salient example of people coming close to the Van Allen belts with impunity is the ISS. Its crew encounters the Southern Atlantic Magnetic Anomaly -- a low-hanging portion of the Van Allen belts -- on almost a daily basis.

Historically, both Gemini 10 and Gemini 11 used their Agena docking targets as motors to drive them deep into the inner Van Allen belts, attaining orbital altitudes of 764 km and 1,374 km respectively.

On the Soviet side, Zond 5 flew various biological samples -- plants and animals -- through the Van Allen belts, around the moon and back again to Earth. The samples were recovered alive and intact. The Zond program was somewhat equivalent to the U.S. Gemini program: intended to develop techniques for a manned lunar landing. Zond 6 also carried biological samples, as well as took photographs which survived passage through the Van Allen belts and exposure to the cislunar space environment.

Ironically the blog entry underneath the one to which we have responded in depth rails against the U.S. education system. Mr. Green believes the system is in need of reform and is "failing our kids...badly." We suggest that Mr. Green set his own house in order first. Education is not achieved by the promulgation of ignorance as fact.


Mr. Green has read our comments and continued the dialogue. In a web log entry dated, ironically, July 4, 2004 (but actually published on the 3rd) he gives us an object lesson in how to avoid addressing one's critics head-on while still writing an awful lot of words.

Gee, I've been attacked, complete with name calling.

We're not exactly sure what name Mr. Green believes he's been called. We identify him as "truth-seeker", but that's the name we got from his web site; it's what we gather he prefers to be called. We liken his behavior to that of conspiracy theorists. If Mr. Green wants to accept the shoe that fits, that's his business.

We're somewhat disappointed that while we have taken pains to ensure that our readers can see what Mr. Green wrote, in his own words, Mr. Green has not seen fit to allow his readers to see what we wrote, in our own words.

Someone, a.k.a. Clavius, says I'm ignorant.

To be more precise, we described his writings as "ignorance". We believe this is different than calling a person ignorant. Whatever the reason, Mr. Green's writings on Apollo's authenticity ignore or get wrong many pertinent facts. If there's any other requirement for the description "ignorance", I'm not aware of it. We apologize if Mr. Green felt he was being personally attacked.

Hey, I'm the first to admit that there are an almost infinite number of things of which I am ignorant.

But Mr. Green had specifically disavowed that space travel was one of those things. We refer the reader to where Mr. Green assures his audience that his understanding -- which he describes as "considerable" -- is sufficient to establish that no human has gone near the Van Allen belts, and therefore that Apollo couldn't have happened.

Why does Mr. Green's confidence evaporate as soon as his findings are questioned by people in the know? Could it be that his Apollo discussion is pure bluster? Mr. Green seems to enjoy the down-home approach, so I'll refer here to a saying from my own childhood -- this appears to be "all hat and no cattle." Is his belated confession of ignorance a retraction of his claims? He doesn't say.

And, oh, how I enjoy researching and writing about things I think will be of interest to others.

And far be it from us to deprive Mr. Green of that simple pleasure. But when one presumes to teach, it is inadvisable to do so from a position of ignorance. If Mr. Green is now claiming not to have considerable knowledge of space travel and the related sciences, then let him apologize to the readers whom he misled and whom he let down with his incomplete research. Let him correct his mistakes. Does his enjoyment of writing and speaking release him from the responsibility those activities entail?

Clavius' many arguments give me the impression this is the work of a NASA disinformation agent.

Or perhaps it is just the work of people who know what they're talking about. In his haste to poison the well, Mr. Green has completely neglected an important fact, and now is trying to distract his readers away from it. That important fact is that Mr. Green made a number of allegations that can be tested scientifically or by appeal to the documentary sources.

  • Temperatures on the moon vary more than 500 degrees F.
  • The temperatures on the moon prevented the use of photographic film.
  • The camera could not be used as worn by the astronauts.
  • The camera had no exposure or focus controls.
  • The space suit gloves prevented operating the camera.
  • The Van Allen belts protect Earth from x-rays.
  • The radiation in space outside of Earth orbit will invariably kill astronauts.
  • The precision of navigation does not allow travel to the moon.
We challenged these findings and gave factual or scientific reasons why they should not be accepted. Mr. Green could have answered our criticisms and could have defended or withdrawn his statements. But instead he chose to answer criticism with accusation. He tells us he likes flowers and curling up with a good book. But he did not address one single point we brought up.

Just for the record, we don't belong to NASA or have anything officially to do with them. But even if we did, and even if this were all just disinformation, then Mr. Green ought to be able to show scientifically and factually why our criticism is wrong and why his findings are still correct. Calling someone a liar is easy; showing that someone is lying is considerably more difficult.

Mr. Green avoids the question of whether or not our criticism has merit; he just searches for some reason why you shouldn't pay attention to it. That's the distractionary rhetoric of conspiracism. If someone is wrong (or lying) -- for whatever reason -- you can show he's incorrect by revealing the contradicting fact. You don't need to delve into motives, and it's a stronger argument that way because it's based on observation and not judgment or opinion. You see the claim and you see the refutory fact. You don't need to know why the claim is wrong or speculate about what led the claimant to make it.

But when you don't have any facts to refute a claim, you have to go the much weaker route of trying to deduce that someone "must" be wrong from some sort of general aspect of his personality, such as the presumption of an ulterior motive. It's a weak argument because motives aren't always acted upon, and also because its inherent indirection seems to cut facts out of the equation. The reader has to make a judgment whether the person alleged to be wrong or lying really does have the attributed motives and whether he really did act on them.

Mr. Green has no evidence at all that we're "disinformationists". He has no evidence that we're lying. He just desperately needs you to believe that we are -- it's all he's got left. The best way to prove we're disinformationists would be to show that what we say is disinformation -- i.e., that it's wrong. But instead he mounts the weaker case of trying to scare the reader away from anything we might want to say, fabricating some reason for why it "must" be wrong without ever showing that it is.

Or else he hasn't bothered to read Dark Moon by Percy, which shows Clavius is full of...err...Moon dust. Or René's NASA Mooned America.

If Mr. Green had bothered to read the rest of our site he would have discovered that we have not only read these authors' works, we have refuted them here at length, and in some cases at the authors' own forums and web sites -- that is, until the authors suppressed them. Mr. Green may not think it important to question these authors' findings, but we certainly do.

At least Mr. Green has done us the favor of revealing the source of his "research". He reads conspiracy theories in books and regurgitates them, apparently without checking them for accuracy. Apparently our fears described above are confirmed: he has let others do his thinking for him.

The wording seems strangely like that of Richard C. Hoagland.

Richard Hoagland is not affiliated with this site in any way.

Clav [sic] also hasn't apparently yet gotten an eyeful of the testimony by Henry Kissinger, Alexander Haig, Lawrence Eagleberger, and General Dick Walters (CIA head) and Richard Helms on the CBC documentary where they talk about how the supposed Moon films were actually shot by Stanley Kubrick in his studios near London.

"Navigating carefully between lies and truth, the film mixes fact with pure invention. We will use every possible ingredient: 'hijacked' archive footage, false documents, real interviews which have been taken out of context or transformed through voice-over or dubbing, staged interviews by actors who reply from a script..."
--William Karel, director of
Dark Side of the Moon.

And Mr. Green apparently didn't watch William Karel's Dark Side of the Moon all the way to the end. At the end you see the disclaimer that the preceding program was itself a hoax, designed to expose the gullibility of the average television viewer. The astute viewer is given subtle clues throughout the program, such as the use of obviously fictitious names -- David Bowman (the astronaut in Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey), Jack Torrance (from Kubrick's The Shining), and Dimitri Muffley (from two characters played by Peter Sellers in Dr. Strangelove). But just in case there's any question, Karel reveals unambiguously that Dark Side of the Moon is not a serious documentary. Had Mr. Green watched the end credits, he would have seen out-takes of the well-known figures in the film flubbing their lines that Karel had written for them to say.

Of course we can't say Mr. Green is gullible. That would be name-calling. We can forgive him for being taken in by Bennett, Percy, and René. There's no disclaimer on those works, and they were meant to fool people with little scientific understanding. But Karel stepped out from behind the curtain and revealed the whole game. This time the joke is squarely on Mr. Green. We hope he takes it with good humor.

On the bright side, I much prefer Clav's attacking me via the Web rather than giving me a heart attack, the way it looks like they did to Brian Welch and a few other trouble-makers.

We have no wish to "eliminate" Mr. Green, nor do we even wish him to discontinue writing and speaking. We simply suggest he stick to what he knows in order to avoid misleading his audience.

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