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(The Atlantic)   Why the official explanation of MH370's demise doesn't hold up to geek scrutiny   (theatlantic.com) divider line 61
    More: Interesting, Geostationary Orbit, mathematical analysis, communication systems, Marco Polo, black boxes, Inmarsat, scrutiny, Ames Research Center  
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4985 clicks; posted to Geek » on 09 May 2014 at 9:50 AM (32 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-05-09 05:07:27 AM  
There has to be some classified assets that know more - probably in multiple countries. NRO allegedly has satellites that can track the heat signatures of any jet or rocket moving in the sky.
 
2014-05-09 09:20:04 AM  

Triumph: There has to be some classified assets that know more - probably in multiple countries. NRO allegedly has satellites that can track the heat signatures of any jet or rocket moving in the sky.


There is no doubt that there are top secret assets out there.  Some government, likely the U.S., Australia or China, told the search teams "Look here.  Can't say why, call it a hunch."  I think it's exactly where they think it is, it's just that it's under 2 or 3 miles of water and in one of the most remote parts of the world.  Not exactly a convenient place to crash.
 
2014-05-09 09:22:53 AM  
What We Know:
1. It turned left
 
2014-05-09 09:54:47 AM  
you should believe the official explanation or you're a conspiracy theorist and/or not a real Malaysian patriot
 
2014-05-09 10:08:07 AM  

Walker: What We Know:
1. It turned left


The pilot felt a sudden inspiration to quit his job and become a stock car driver in rural South Carolina. Has anyone looked there yet?
 
2014-05-09 10:10:17 AM  

Triumph: NRO allegedly has satellites that can track the heat signatures of any jet or rocket moving in the sky.


I don't see why the National Review Online needs that kind of technology.  Does it have something to do with the echo chamber they operate?
 
2014-05-09 10:11:36 AM  

falcon176: you should believe the official explanation or you're a conspiracy theorist and/or not a real Malaysian patriot


Well, there really isn't an official explanation yet.  They think they know where it is, that's about it.  If I had to put money on it, I'd go with pilot suicide as nothing else makes much sense.  A mechanical failure that would cause those particular systems (ACARS, transponder, etc) to go offline yet not result in the quick loss of the aircraft seems unlikely.  A terrorist bomb would have blown it up on its course.  A hijacker would have landed it somewhere and made demands by now, or flown it into something.
 
2014-05-09 10:13:25 AM  
Oooooooooh. Geek scrutiny.  Right.  We'll definetly know whether Han or Greedo shot down the plane first, or whether when it crashed at helm's deep there were elves there.  Or just what warp factor it was flying at.
 
2014-05-09 10:16:53 AM  

nekom: falcon176: you should believe the official explanation or you're a conspiracy theorist and/or not a real Malaysian patriot

Well, there really isn't an official explanation yet.  They think they know where it is, that's about it.  If I had to put money on it, I'd go with pilot suicide as nothing else makes much sense.  A mechanical failure that would cause those particular systems (ACARS, transponder, etc) to go offline yet not result in the quick loss of the aircraft seems unlikely.  A terrorist bomb would have blown it up on its course.  A hijacker would have landed it somewhere and made demands by now, or flown it into something.


Do they have an idea where it is? Last I heard it turned out not to be where the pings were coming from and the were back to "the Indian ocean somewhere. Probably that half" as the possible area.
 
2014-05-09 10:19:30 AM  
Ned Stark:
Do they have an idea where it is? Last I heard it turned out not to be where the pings were coming from and the were back to "the Indian ocean somewhere. Probably that half" as the possible area.

Those pings are very distinct, emitted at a frequency that doesn't occur naturally and travels best.  I'm reasonably confident it's there.  They haven't found anything YET, and I suppose it's possible that the pings were false but it seems unlikely.  It's under a LOT of water.  If the pilot downed it with the intention of it never being found, he picked a damned fine place to try to meet those ends.
 
2014-05-09 10:25:35 AM  

ikanreed: Oooooooooh. Geek scrutiny.  Right.  We'll definetly know whether Han or Greedo shot down the plane first, or whether when it crashed at helm's deep there were elves there.  Or just what warp factor it was flying at.


Read the article you did not.

This is why you fail.
 
2014-05-09 10:31:41 AM  
I too am going with pilot suicide. One pilot killed the other, locked the cockpit door, turned stuff off, turned around and flew to the Indian Ocean purposely to make it hard to find the plane. Flight attendents/passengers wonder after a few hours why the hadn't heard from the cockpit, break in, try to steer the plane, screw it up, crash thousands of miles out in the Indian Ocean.
 
2014-05-09 10:33:23 AM  
It could also be moving right or left, up or down, and the speeds would sound the same.

I see the Atlantic still has its policy minimum of one statement so blitheringly stupid that it could potentially cause any person of high school or greater education to immediately take 1d6 san damage.

I feel sorry for the guy they must test their articles on, he must spend all his weekends and mandated coffee breaks in the basement sacrificing goats to Hastur at this point.

I did, though, kind of enjoy the 60% of the article dedicated to the author carefully explaining that he he never passed high-school geometry, but is Dunning-Krugering so hard right now that he still thinks that trying to translate a discussion involving polar coordinate substitution and the doppler effect into "layman's terms" is something he's  totally competent to do.
 
2014-05-09 10:37:05 AM  
I don't care anymore. No one I know or love was aboard, and there's nothing I can do to change the situation. There are only two possible conclusions. Either the governments  in power in that part of the world are crooked or they are incompetent. That's my only take-away from this entire sad, sordid episode.
 
2014-05-09 10:40:34 AM  
I for one sollice myself on the fact that the people on the plane are helping rejuvinate the human blood line 1000 years in the future.
 
2014-05-09 10:42:10 AM  

nekom: Ned Stark:
Do they have an idea where it is? Last I heard it turned out not to be where the pings were coming from and the were back to "the Indian ocean somewhere. Probably that half" as the possible area.

Those pings are very distinct, emitted at a frequency that doesn't occur naturally and travels best.  I'm reasonably confident it's there.  They haven't found anything YET, and I suppose it's possible that the pings were false but it seems unlikely.  It's under a LOT of water.  If the pilot downed it with the intention of it never being found, he picked a damned fine place to try to meet those ends.


The other thing to consider is that there can be anomalous sound propagation underwater.  You might just happen to get conditions that allow for the very long range propagation of very weak acoustic signals like those pings.
 
2014-05-09 10:42:51 AM  

UNAUTHORIZED FINGER: I don't care anymore. No one I know or love was aboard, and there's nothing I can do to change the situation. There are only two possible conclusions. Either the governments  in power in that part of the world are crooked or they are incompetent. That's my only take-away from this entire sad, sordid episode.


I think this calls out for a whynotboth.jpg
 
2014-05-09 10:46:48 AM  

Triumph: There has to be some classified assets that know more - probably in multiple countries. NRO allegedly has satellites that can track the heat signatures of any jet or rocket moving in the sky.


The problem is that because of the nature of the area, and the fact that there are no potentially hostile countries there, generally we don't task assets to look there.

Also, the heat signature of, say, a ballistic missile is several times that of an airliner.  It's a much easier thing to track.
 
2014-05-09 10:48:53 AM  

UNAUTHORIZED FINGER: I don't care anymore. No one I know or love was aboard, and there's nothing I can do to change the situation. There are only two possible conclusions. Either the governments  in power in that part of the world are crooked or they are incompetent. That's my only take-away from this entire sad, sordid episode.


Yes.
 
2014-05-09 10:51:51 AM  

Walker: What We Know:
1. It turned left


CHECK THE NASCAR TRACKS!
 
2014-05-09 10:52:26 AM  

cgraves67: Walker: What We Know:
1. It turned left

The pilot felt a sudden inspiration to quit his job and become a stock car driver in rural South Carolina. Has anyone looked there yet?


I was... too late.

[HANGS HEAD]
 
2014-05-09 10:53:29 AM  

dittybopper: The other thing to consider is that there can be anomalous sound propagation underwater. You might just happen to get conditions that allow for the very long range propagation of very weak acoustic signals like those pings.


Don't rule out the possibility of Parrot Whales simply repeating the sounds they heard in other parts of the ocean.
 
2014-05-09 10:55:06 AM  

mark12A: I too am going with pilot suicide. One pilot killed the other, locked the cockpit door, turned stuff off, turned around and flew to the Indian Ocean purposely to make it hard to find the plane. Flight attendents/passengers wonder after a few hours why the hadn't heard from the cockpit, break in, try to steer the plane, screw it up, crash thousands of miles out in the Indian Ocean.


What about the cockpit fire hypothesis?  In this one the crew smells smoke, makes an intial turn in the general direction of the closest big runway and tries powering down some subsystems to control what they think is an electrical fire.  They're overcome by smoke before they get any farther than that, and the plane just autopilots until it's out of fuel.
 
2014-05-09 10:55:57 AM  
It disappeared around the Strait of Malacca. Air pirates, most assuredly.
 
2014-05-09 10:57:25 AM  
www.troll.me
 
2014-05-09 11:06:02 AM  

Jim_Callahan: I did, though, kind of enjoy the 60% of the article dedicated to the author carefully explaining that he he never passed high-school geometry, but is Dunning-Krugering so hard right now that he still thinks that trying to translate a discussion involving polar coordinate substitution and the doppler effect into "layman's terms" is something he's totally competent to do.



That's a very mean thing to say. Ari Schulman has bachelor degrees in English and Computer Science, you know!
 
2014-05-09 11:07:03 AM  

steve_wmn: mark12A: I too am going with pilot suicide. One pilot killed the other, locked the cockpit door, turned stuff off, turned around and flew to the Indian Ocean purposely to make it hard to find the plane. Flight attendents/passengers wonder after a few hours why the hadn't heard from the cockpit, break in, try to steer the plane, screw it up, crash thousands of miles out in the Indian Ocean.

What about the cockpit fire hypothesis?  In this one the crew smells smoke, makes an intial turn in the general direction of the closest big runway and tries powering down some subsystems to control what they think is an electrical fire.  They're overcome by smoke before they get any farther than that, and the plane just autopilots until it's out of fuel.


Was it a transponder fire?  Is that why it needed to be turned off?
 
2014-05-09 11:11:30 AM  
Does anyone know if they tested their math/ping formula on another plane and it gave the correct flight path?

Seems like they should be able to use any normal flight, apply the same formula and know where it landed, or find out how to fix their equation.
 
2014-05-09 11:11:46 AM  
Mark my words:  Lithium batteries in the hold caught fire, burned the communications equipment, and eventually breached the hull.
 
2014-05-09 11:12:56 AM  
LoneDoggie:What about the cockpit fire hypothesis?  In this one the crew smells smoke, makes an intial turn in the general direction of the closest big runway and tries powering down some subsystems to control what they think is an electrical fire.  They're overcome by smoke before they get any farther than that, and the plane just autopilots until it's out of fuel.

Was it a transponder fire?  Is that why it needed to be turned off?


The explanation I read was that during what you think is an electrical fire procedure calls for the pilots to start pulling circuit breakers. Pilots turn the autopilot on, start shutting the electrical down, and are overcome with smoke. The fire doesn't spread and the autopilot just keeps flying straight until it runs out of fuel.
 
2014-05-09 11:15:46 AM  

airsupport: Mark my words:  Lithium batteries in the hold caught fire, burned the communications equipment, and eventually breached the hull.


So why did the plane fly back across Malaysia (the co-pilot's cell phone was picked up by a cell tower hours after takeoff) without landing?
 
2014-05-09 11:31:07 AM  

steve_wmn: What about the cockpit fire hypothesis?  In this one the crew smells smoke, makes an intial turn in the general direction of the closest big runway and tries powering down some subsystems to control what they think is an electrical fire.  They're overcome by smoke before they get any farther than that, and the plane just autopilots until it's out of fuel.


Given that they were within radio communication range with several nations' Air Traffic Control, there would have been *SOME* radio contact for that kind of thing.  Not necessarily a MAYDAY call at the first sign of smoke, but some mention to ATC that they were having a smoke incident and were diverting.
 
2014-05-09 11:42:52 AM  

mark12A: I too am going with pilot suicide. One pilot killed the other, locked the cockpit door, turned stuff off, turned around and flew to the Indian Ocean purposely to make it hard to find the plane. Flight attendents/passengers wonder after a few hours why the hadn't heard from the cockpit, break in, try to steer the plane, screw it up, crash thousands of miles out in the Indian Ocean.


So why wait until the thing is about to run out fuel?  Wouldn't the other crew and the passengers notice that 3 hours into the flight, they should have been seeing city lights of China out the windows, but it's all dark ocean?  It only takes one person looking out the window and noticing that the moon or some constellation is on the wrong side.

I don't buy the suicide angle:  The pilot would have had to keep everyone else in the dark for 5+ hours, then actually commit suicide.  Doesn't seem likely.
 
2014-05-09 11:50:19 AM  

steve_wmn: What about the cockpit fire hypothesis?  In this one the crew smells smoke, makes an intial turn in the general direction of the closest big runway and tries powering down some subsystems to control what they think is an electrical fire.  They're overcome by smoke before they get any farther than that, and the plane just autopilots until it's out of fuel.


That makes the most sense, and is almost certainly correct.
But you can't get 24/7 coverage out of it, so we're supposed to ignore it.

You also can't get tons of "we have to be able to" whiners.  Which are needed to fuel the 24/7, which fuels the whiners, which....
 
2014-05-09 11:53:41 AM  
I'm not a fan of the suicide theory.
 
2014-05-09 11:55:19 AM  

mrmopar5287: steve_wmn: What about the cockpit fire hypothesis?  In this one the crew smells smoke, makes an intial turn in the general direction of the closest big runway and tries powering down some subsystems to control what they think is an electrical fire.  They're overcome by smoke before they get any farther than that, and the plane just autopilots until it's out of fuel.

Given that they were within radio communication range with several nations' Air Traffic Control, there would have been *SOME* radio contact for that kind of thing.  Not necessarily a MAYDAY call at the first sign of smoke, but some mention to ATC that they were having a smoke incident and were diverting.


Not necessarily.

First rule of an aircraft emergency:  Fly the airplane.  Communicating is way down on that list:

Aviate,
Navigate,
Investigate
Communicate,
Secure.

Or, translating from plane language to plain language:

1. Fly the airplane.  This has top priority.
2. Figure out where you are going, and act to get there if you need to divert.
3. Figure out what, specifically, is wrong with the aircraft.
4. Communicate the emergency to ground control, other aircraft, etc.

Communicating is way down on that list.
 
2014-05-09 12:05:45 PM  

dittybopper: mark12A: I too am going with pilot suicide. One pilot killed the other, locked the cockpit door, turned stuff off, turned around and flew to the Indian Ocean purposely to make it hard to find the plane. Flight attendents/passengers wonder after a few hours why the hadn't heard from the cockpit, break in, try to steer the plane, screw it up, crash thousands of miles out in the Indian Ocean.

So why wait until the thing is about to run out fuel?  Wouldn't the other crew and the passengers notice that 3 hours into the flight, they should have been seeing city lights of China out the windows, but it's all dark ocean?  It only takes one person looking out the window and noticing that the moon or some constellation is on the wrong side.


Everybody on board was dead or unconscious due to smoke/toxic fumes/lack of oxygen due to depressurization.

That is, this is my theory:

1. A malfunction of some sort occurs.  This takes out the transponder and causes smoke/toxic fumes/failure of the pressurization system, but does not damage the autopilot, engines, or control surfaces of the plane.

2. One of the two pilots manages to punch in a course correction into the autopilot but then passes out, along with everybody else on board.

3. Plane flies on autopilot until it runs out of fuel.

Basically, a variant of this:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1999_South_Dakota_Learjet_crash
 
2014-05-09 12:06:20 PM  
"Factoring in the satellite's angle above the horizon, the plane would need to have been moving at least 50 miles per hour on the ground to produce this frequency shift-implausibly high eleven minutes prior to takeoff, when   the plane had just pushed back from the gate and not yet begun to taxi."

The black boxes were in an automobile moving away from the airport prior to taxi.
 
2014-05-09 12:09:46 PM  

steve_wmn: mark12A: I too am going with pilot suicide. One pilot killed the other, locked the cockpit door, turned stuff off, turned around and flew to the Indian Ocean purposely to make it hard to find the plane. Flight attendents/passengers wonder after a few hours why the hadn't heard from the cockpit, break in, try to steer the plane, screw it up, crash thousands of miles out in the Indian Ocean.

What about the cockpit fire hypothesis?  In this one the crew smells smoke, makes an intial turn in the general direction of the closest big runway and tries powering down some subsystems to control what they think is an electrical fire.  They're overcome by smoke before they get any farther than that, and the plane just autopilots until it's out of fuel.


If the fire is that bad, why would the plane continue to fly for hours?  Fire damages shiat and damage causes electrical faults/shorts as it destroys wires.  Engines stop running when the power goes out due to no fuel being pumped, etc...  I'm not an aviation accident expert but the fire theory seemed really great until you looked past the part where everyone dies.
 
2014-05-09 12:11:14 PM  
It this point I don't subscribe to any particular theory. I think some are more likely than others based on the sketchy and suspect information released so far. But the bottom line is without more concrete information, we may never know what happened. In the mean time it makes for an interesting puzzle to speculate on.
 
2014-05-09 12:14:43 PM  

Geotpf: dittybopper: mark12A: I too am going with pilot suicide. One pilot killed the other, locked the cockpit door, turned stuff off, turned around and flew to the Indian Ocean purposely to make it hard to find the plane. Flight attendents/passengers wonder after a few hours why the hadn't heard from the cockpit, break in, try to steer the plane, screw it up, crash thousands of miles out in the Indian Ocean.

So why wait until the thing is about to run out fuel?  Wouldn't the other crew and the passengers notice that 3 hours into the flight, they should have been seeing city lights of China out the windows, but it's all dark ocean?  It only takes one person looking out the window and noticing that the moon or some constellation is on the wrong side.

Everybody on board was dead or unconscious due to smoke/toxic fumes/lack of oxygen due to depressurization.

That is, this is my theory:

1. A malfunction of some sort occurs.  This takes out the transponder and causes smoke/toxic fumes/failure of the pressurization system, but does not damage the autopilot, engines, or control surfaces of the plane.

2. One of the two pilots manages to punch in a course correction into the autopilot but then passes out, along with everybody else on board.

3. Plane flies on autopilot until it runs out of fuel.

Basically, a variant of this:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1999_South_Dakota_Learjet_crash


That's precisely what I think happened.
 
2014-05-09 12:28:50 PM  

Yaw String: It this point I don't subscribe to any particular theory. I think some are more likely than others based on the sketchy and suspect information released so far. But the bottom line is without more concrete information, we may never know what happened. In the mean time it makes for an interesting puzzle to speculate on.


That being said, I would point out that this plane's autopilot system isn't contained in just one box. It has various components positioned all over the avionics bay.


i65.photobucket.com

The system requires that all the different processors function for the autopilot to work. The idea that a fire can selectively destroy a couple pieces of communications equipment but leave all the components that make up an autopilot system is very unlikely.
 
2014-05-09 12:48:14 PM  
As someone who flies on Boeing 777s fairly frequently, I really would like them to find the plane, if only so they can figure out what went wrong and prevent it from happening again.
 
2014-05-09 12:51:26 PM  
Geek scrutiny?
Yes, it's too bad the MH370 investigation doesn't satisfy the formidable analytical standards of that bright and intellectually disciplined demographic.

www.westcoaster.net
 
2014-05-09 01:02:44 PM  

dittybopper: Not necessarily.

First rule of an aircraft emergency:  Fly the airplane.  Communicating is way down on that list:

Aviate,
Navigate,
Investigate
Communicate,
Secure.

Or, translating from plane language to plain language:

1. Fly the airplane.  This has top priority.
2. Figure out where you are going, and act to get there if you need to divert.
3. Figure out what, specifically, is wrong with the aircraft.
4. Communicate the emergency to ground control, other aircraft, etc.

Communicating is way down on that list.


I 100% agree, but you think there would be something said.  Two pilots both working early in the flight, at cruise altitude.  It would have been a quick radio squawk to say "MH370 diverting for smoke in the cockpit" or something similar.  Not just silence, say something in about 5 seconds, right?
 
2014-05-09 01:09:19 PM  

AspectRatio: Geek scrutiny?
Yes, it's too bad the MH370 investigation doesn't satisfy the formidable analytical standards of that bright and intellectually disciplined demographic.

[www.westcoaster.net image 360x480]


WHY DID YOU DO THAT WHYYYYY
 
2014-05-09 01:21:23 PM  
i just want to know when house republicans are going to pass a bill to hold a special hearing on the cover-up.

PLANEGHAZI!!
 
2014-05-09 01:23:21 PM  

gabethegoat: i just want to know when house republicans are going to pass a bill to hold a special hearing on the cover-up.

PLANEGHAZI!!


BOEINGHAZI!
 
2014-05-09 01:25:45 PM  
I thought pilot suicide was the general theory.

Depressurize the cabin and everyone passes out for lack of oxygen. No phone calls made.
Turn off some equipment.
Aim for large section of uninhabited ocean.


/Widow collects life insurance and some personal problem/blackmail/debt never sees the light of day again
 
2014-05-09 01:31:42 PM  

Snarcoleptic_Hoosier: I thought pilot suicide was the general theory.

Depressurize the cabin and everyone passes out for lack of oxygen. No phone calls made.
Turn off some equipment.
Aim for large section of uninhabited ocean.


/Widow collects life insurance and some personal problem/blackmail/debt never sees the light of day again


And that's why there is no floating debris. He practiced water landings on his simulator, then made a smooth landing on the ocean which kept the plane intact (more-or-less).
 
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