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Photo of World’s Largest Mushroom: Debunked

July 20, 2014 – 10:02 PM | 2,078 views

Hi everybody. I just came across a really interesting skeptical website named Waffles at Noon. There, I found an interesting piece on a step-by-step debunking of a photo that has long circulated on the internet …

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Home » ancient archeology, Headline, UFOs

No, There’s No Monolith On Mars. Or Is There?

Submitted by on April 12, 2012 – 9:29 AM14 Comments | 1,716 views

Poor old Mars. Ever since we’ve pointed our telescopes on its red terrain, we’ve been spinning crazy tales of life possibly existing in the dry and barren planet. From little green men that were once believed to inhabit the planet, to tales of giant humanoid faces carved from stone and left for future generations to discover.

Much like in the early twentieth century, amateur astronomers have found a strange structure on the planet’s surface. A noticeably tall monolith that sits alone. Like in Kubrick’s classic “2001: A Space Odyssey” this not-so-recently discovered anomaly on Mar’s surface does resemble a man (or alien) made monolith.

Although NASA has explained this anomaly as a trick of light, shadows, and the human imagination, we still see this image surface on the web from time to time.

Full source: Space.com

According to Jonathon Hill, a research technician and mission planner at the Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University, who processes many of the images taken during NASA’s Mars missions, the object in question is no more than a roughly rectangular boulder.

The HiRISE camera that photographed it has a resolution of approximately 1 foot (30 centimeters) per pixel — impressive considering the 180-mile (300-kilometer) altitude from which it photographs the Martian surface, but not quite sharp enough to capture the cragginess of a mid-size boulder. “When your resolution is too low to fully resolve an object, it tends to look rectangular because the pixels in the image are squares. Any curve will look like a series of straight lines if you reduce your resolution enough,” Hill told Life’s Little Mysteries.

The location of the boulder at the bottom of a cliff near many other boulders suggests it broke off the cliff and tumbled to its current spot sometime in the distant past, Hill said. Such a perilous location is itself an argument against deliberate placement by aliens: “If I was going to build a monolith somewhere, that’s the last place I would put it!” he said. “The debris falling from the cliff would cover it up pretty quickly, on geologic timescales.”

Hill added that the height of the boulder is being exaggerated in the photo by a low sun angle. Photographed when the sun was near the horizon, the boulder casts an especially long shadow.
The ufologists aren’t necessarily wrong in calling it a monolith — the word simply translates from Latin as “one stone.” But this monolith isn’t the masonry of Martians.

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I'm a writer, a runner, and a hell of a coffee drinker residing in Los Angeles. I'm currently working on a book about Doris Bither and her terrifying account of a haunting in Culver City, California. The case was dubbed "The Entity" and it stands to be one of the most controversial cases ever to be studied by parapsychologists.

  • Ophu

    The HiRISE camera that photographed it has a resolution of approximately 1 foot (30 centimeters) per pixel — impressive considering the 180-mile (300-kilometer) altitude from which it photographs the Martian surface, but not quite sharp enough to capture the cragginess of a mid-size boulder. “When your resolution is too low to fully resolve an object, it tends to look rectangular because the pixels in the image are squares. Any curve will look like a series of straight lines if you reduce your resolution enough,” Hill told Life’s Little Mysteries.

    … That’s an interesting observation, considering all the the little round craters I can see around it in the picture.

  • Ophu

    craters, depression, boulders, whatever… lots of round-ness and curvy-ness there.

  • phoenix110

    What is striking to me is that the color is not consistent with any of the material in the area.  Every thing is dull and non-reflective.  This structure appears to be very bright by comparison.  As mentioned below, if this was a normally occurring outcropping of some type, you would expect the monolith and the weathering of it to be consistent with the rest of the local geology.  Compare this object to the large boulder to the left; you would expect those 2 object to be more similar than dissimilar.  This object looks out of place; it is not consistent with the local terrain or coloring.  I am looking for a mundane explanation, if anyone has something more intelligent than “trick of light, shadows, and the human imagination” and can bring some consistency to this seemingly inconsistent object, that would be appreciated.

  • phoenix110

    Very good point.  I am not satisfied with the NASA boiler-plate response of “trick of light, shadows, and the human imagination”  They have the immense technical and scientific prowess to move a space craft from earth to mars, to take and transmit digital images from mars to the earth, yet expect to get by with the “trick of light, shadows, and the human imagination” response.  I believe that it took a large degree of “human imagination” technically, scientifically and (most importantly) conceptually just to complete the feat of getting this photo to us.  Yet, they will waste no resources or scientific expertise in actually analyzing the photo for the public once it returns to earth?  What is the point of having the space agency then?  If all they are going to do is take pretty picture, at the cost of millions of dollars per picture, why did we bother going to Mars at all? I could have imagined what we would have found up there for free and saved myself all the trouble.

  • Ophu

    @pheonix110: Interestingly enough, I can see your comment for this article on the sidebar, but it seems to be missing down below. ^~

  • Ophu

    comments, plural

  • Ophu

    Never mind, they just re-appeared. Mea culpa.

  • Kevin

    Precisely What I was thinking. Trying to state that because of pixelation, the object appears to be rectangular. Well that doesn’t explain the round pits, holes or craters. And if those are indeed craters, then compare an average crater size to the size of the object. It’s simply not a boulder then.

  • Kevin

    1. This image was taken 180 kilometers above the surface with a martian orbiter known as HiRiSE. At that distance, for an object to be clearly seen like this has to be at least the size of a building/skyscraper.

    2. The image reviewer stated it was simply a rock that slid of the cliffside and settled at the bottom. Bull shit. If it tumbled down a cliff, where’s the debris from it breaking apart or other rocks around it?And then to top it off, it managed to land perfectly upwards in the tough sandy surface? 3. Note the surface is sand. For an object this large to be standing upright would mean it has to have a ridiculously balanced center of gravity, a very large base, or it is placed on a hard surface. An object that large would not stand very long on sand through centuries of weathering and erosion. 4. The surface of the object is smooth and slightly brighter then the rest of the surroundings.
    Hence, being artificially placed. 

  • Rmon

    I am pretty sure the camera resolved the object. I am also pretty sure it is just some rock shape. Square shapes DO happen in nature folks.

  • Dave

    It is square, you can tell by the shape of the shadow. It looks like the shape of a sky scraper (or any rectangular item with a square base and top).
    Looking closely at it, the shadow seems to suggest it is quite wide, but the item looks flat. Very odd indeed.

  • Dave

    also, all of the shadows of the other rocks are on the left of the rocks. This objects shadow is on the top right. WTF?

  • Dave

    And what a pile of crap are space.com talking about? It should be SpacedOut.com. Check this:
    “The location of the boulder at the bottom of a cliff near many other
    boulders suggests it broke off the cliff and tumbled to its current spot
    sometime in the distant past”

    So they are saying that it broke off the cliff and tumbled down, landing where we see it at some point in the DISTANT PAST.

    But then in the same paragraph, they state:
    “If I was going to build a monolith somewhere, that’s the last place I would put it! The debris falling from the cliff would cover it up pretty quickly, on geologic timescales”

    WTF?

    So, it fell down the cliff and landed there in the distant past, but they then go on to say that due to its location it would be covered up pretty quick by falling debris. WHAT? That makes no sense at all. Based on what they have said, we should not be able to see it. Do they even read what they write? It’s almost like they are making such blatantly false statements on purpose.

    Utter crap! Guess they can not say its a weather balloon or misidentified aeroplane!

  • Dave

    Sorry, this is just pissing me off. The article also states “But this monolith isn’t the masonry of Martians. ” WHAT? So he can tell us what it isn’t but can not tell us what it is? How is that scientific? Has he been there to look at it? Taken samples? Looked for tool marks? We are shot down and laughed at for suggesting it is something unnatural, but they can emphatically tell us what this thing is not when they have no idea what it is.

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