In the 1970s, the Viking mission buzzed a region of Mars and discovered "The Face." Mr. Richard C. Hoagland did not coin the phrase, although he did popularize and write a book on "The Face" and a number of other features in the region known as Cydonia in his 1987 book The Monuments of Mars: A City on the Edge of Forever (now in its 5th edition). Since then, Mr. Hoagland has made a career of making unusual and interesting (to put it very politely) claims about Mars and other bodies in the solar system (Phobos, the Earth's Moon, the rings of Saturn, a few meteors, a few other moons). :)
Photo: NASA/JPL Malin Space Science Systems (2001)
Above is a 2001 shot of "The Face", with the frame aligned to north-south (I cropped this one down from the original). Mr. Hoagland's first take on "The Face", which he held to for quite a while, is that "The Face" is clearly a face and nothing else (like a natural landform). Since those early days, Mr. Hoagland has hinted that either "The Face" may or may not be a face but is definitely a building or that it could be two half faces (one human, one lion), kinda like the last page in MAD Magazine (in this article). What, me worry? :D
Before he'd made his kinda-sorta about-face on this issue (pun definitely intended), Mr. Hoagland began to spin an expanded story about the region of Cydonia. The region of Cydonia is filled with artificial constructions and... there is a super top secret code that only Mr. Hoagland could figure out!!! :O
Okay, so what are the claims exactly? (a) There are *special* geometric relationships among the different buildings in Cydonia, which points to the peculiar characteristics of a true pyramid inscribed inside a circle, (b) the geometry revealed in the Cydonia region hints at (all too subtly for those scientists who work out their math to n dimensions) hyperdimensional physics (consider that an echoing phrase), and (c) in a sphere with a true pyramid inscribed inside where a vertice is set to true north/south and the other vertices are at points at 19.5ish degrees north/south, which is über-wichtig (super important) und... I mean "and", as it turns out... but more on this later (all in English, I promise).
Mars' cityscape without any buildings
Cydonia and portions thereof are claimed by Richard C. Hoagland to have buildings and monumental architecture all over the place. I have yet to find one feature that looks like a building. Since I already showed "The Face", I think another major feature, according to Hoagland would be in order. Here is the "D&M Pyramid" and the surrounding topography (cropped and rotated from the original):
Photo: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum) 2006
The "D&M Pyramid" (a five-side pyramid) is just above my direction finder in about the center of the photo. There are quite a few similar mountains in the area, each of which are more or less free-standing. Mr. Hoagland is quite sure that the "pyramid" was built by the previous inhabitants of Mars. Sure, why not? He finds some geometric relationships in the "pyramid" which he think indicates artificiality. Many years ago Dr. Ralph Greenberg, a professor of mathematics at the University of Washington pointed out that, "It is not even clear that it ever had five well-defined corners or a true apex" (source). I am not sure that you can even get anything that looks bilaterally symmetrical when you look at the "pyramid." I suppose it depends on how much you are willing to bend your perception to "see it". In other words, it depends on pareidolia. :D
Which brings us to the bigger issue... the Cydonia monuments/buildings "complex". Mr. Hoagland shows a very complicated geometric relationship which supposedly exists between a number of features in the region (you can see the photo here). Phil Plait from Bad Astronomy (here) and Dr. Greenberg (here) have both pointed out that the claims of accuracy cannot hold much water. The geometric relationships are based on earlier photos from NASA (I have yet to find an update where Mr. Hoagland reconfirms the relationships based on higher resolution pictures) and whatever means of measuring Mr. Hoagland used has its own range of error. Even more important, as both point out, Mr. Hoagland was able to pick and choose which relationships to represent. The following is a newer photo from ESA:
Photo: ESA/DLR/FU Berlin (G. Neukum) 2006
If you notice, this is the Cydonia region. I just cropped the image and drew a few lines and circles on it. The green circle toward the top is "The Face", the blue circle is around the "D&M Pyramid", the yellow circle is around the area Hoagland usually refers to as "The City". In this photo, I tried to reproduce the most prominent triangle in Hoagland's geometric relationship "model". Two points are on the pyramid and the face, respectively, and the other says "city" but doesn't really seem to be on any feature. I could go a bit deeper, but I'm not sure there's a point. Since there wasn't anything I could hang my hat on for The City, I just made a circle for where the feature should be, if there were an equilateral triangle as Mr. Hoagland's picture represents. A triangle really has to have three vertices. :)
Mr. Richard C. Hoagland has made a number of claims about hyperdimensional physics. This can be quite a broad and wide-ranging discussion, so I will set it aside for a future post. Instead, focus on what Mr. Hoagland says about hyperdimensional physics:
Hoagland's Geometric Relationship Model for Cydonia -- with its potential for quantification and testing of the foundations of the "intelligence hypothesis" itself, in the form of specific predictions made by the Hyperdimensional Physics theory derived from that alignment Model -- has clearly stepped to the forefront of the debate over the artificiality of Cydonia of late. Because of this quantifiable basis for the Model, the Face itself ("But, what does it look like?") has been relegated to a secondary, "confirmatory" status -- rather than the linch-pin around which all decisions vis-à-vis the artificiality of Cydonia must (or should) be anchored. (source) (HT Phil Plait)
Note that Hoagland says "the hyperdimensional physics theory derived from that alignment model". So he admits that basically "The Message of Cydonia" is not a stunning confirmation of Hoagland's hyperdimensional physics theory, but the basis of the theory (or hypothesis). I think I may have heard him say that the relationship on Cydonia is confirmation of the theory, but, if he did, that would be an error due to recursive logic. Hoagland developed his hypothesis by looking at the Cydonia relationship, so he can't test using that because, by definition, it will fit. It is kinda funny that one of his findings is that 19.5ish North and South are very important, but no point on the Cydonia region is at 19.5ish degrees North or South. :O
19.5ish Nord und Sud sind über-wichtig
Entschuldigung... I mean I'm sehr sorry für regressing to Deutsch. Mr. Hoagland generally skips ahead when he begins talking about hyperdimensional physics to how everything important/interesting in the solar system seems to be at 19.5 degrees north or south. Only problem is... they aren't. As Expat, Stuart Robbins and Phil Plait have all pointed out many times, not too many "important" features are actually found at 19.5 degrees north or south anywhere. :D
On his original "Message of Cydonia" paper, Richard C. Hoagland lists 15 features in the solar system. Of those, he only claims that one of them is "at" 19.5 degrees... Alta Regio, which is a volcanic region that covers a large expanse of the planet. As Stuart Robbins has pointed out on his podcast Exposing PseudoAstronomy, it's a little odd to point to a large region where that latitude crosses and say that the whole region is "explained" by that hyperdimensional latitude of 19.5. In fact, Mr. Hoagland was selling himself short because Mauna Loa's location easily rounds to 19.5. The rest of the "hits" just aren't very good, even by Hoagland's rounding (although everything seems to round to 19.5 when Hoagland is on Coast to Coast AM, if I am to believe second-hand reports by Expat and others).
One thing that kinda gets at me is why Mr. Hoagland says that a true pyramid inside a sphere is important, but will allow just any points on 19.5 north or south to be considered a hit. Pyramids with their apexes at 90 degrees North or South have only three other points which they will "hit". Additionally, if you have one point at 0 degrees East, then the other two will be at 120 degrees West and East, so there is a defined relationship. What's Mr. Hoagland's model if 19.5 (potentially) is "important" at all degrees of longitude? A cone inscribed in a sphere. But if we're talking a true pyramid, there should only be 6 chances for a hit, right?
I have a suggestion for Mr. Hoagland: if the pyramid inscribed in a sphere is very important, I have a way to double your chance of hitting "something wonderful"... consider calling the point on the surface of a sphere which has the same slope as the edge of the pyramid a "harmonic convergence" or something like that.
Why can't I read the message?
As I stated earlier, Mr. Hoagland says that the Martians have left us a message in Cydonia. Why can't I read it? Apparently, I need a secret decoder ring, which Mr. Hoagland sells. He's the man who understands all of this. He knows of a special hyperdimensional physics which will unlock our human potential. Free energy? You got it! Torsion fields (whatever those are supposed to be)? You got it! Hyperdimensional astrology (the real, scientific astrology)? You got it! Explaining natural disasters? Hyperdimensional physics is all over it!
If there is a message on Mars which will transform our world, it probably hasn't been found yet. The message of Cydonia, even if it were real, is a pretty oblique communique. Best wait until we find the Great Library of Cydonia before we begin reading goat entrails on the surface of Mars.