This kind of thing no longer flies well in the internet age

  • #1
jim mcnamara
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Shutdown and evacuation of Sunspot observatory:
https://www.abqjournal.com/1219922/nm-solar-observatory-closed-authorities-mum.html
Note the word "mystery" in the headline.

[opinion]
The in charge people need a tune up on procedures for dealing with events like this. Especially when it comes to places like observatories and secretive laboratories.

I'm sure the folks in charge have a completely legitimate reason for evacuating the US National Solar Observatory in Sunspot NM. They shut down the local Post Office, too. But the way they executed the closure, in my opinion, causes what they do not want: lots of attention. Especially wackos on twitter, for example. It's there now.

Once an event goes to conspiracy theory on the internet it becomes impossible for rational people to provide real answers that quell the tide of garbage comments.
[/opinion]
Psychology of conspiracy
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5724570/
sciencenordic.com/secrets-and-lies-psychology-conspiracy-theories
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
I mean, I dunno, maybe they're trying to make us jump to conclusions to cover up something even less savory that what we're already crazily theorizing...?
 
  • #3
Stephen Tashi
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Especially when it comes to places like observatories and secretive laboratories.
You group "observatories" and "secretive laboratories" together?
 
  • #4
DrDu
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Post office closed down, too? Ok, so NSA is really panicing! They finally realized that, while capable of decrypting exabites of data within microseconds, the last one being able to read a hand written letter in plain cyrillic from a 90 jear old soviet veteran has left the service 20 years ago.
 
  • #5
jim mcnamara
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@Stephen Tashi -
I grouped them together because the conspiracy wierdoes seem to love anything to do with government sponsored astronomy/space/secret labs.

See the sciencenordic article (content like phys.org) and the NIH article, please. - I got that particular concept from there.

@Mackenzie Cobb yes possibly. I am not promoting anything. "Demoting", yes, if that is a valid term in this context.

You literally have no idea how much garbage could appear on PF without mentor action. The PF site would be worthless as any kind of reference or science help in a few weeks.
Mentors try to stem the tide of junk. We see lots of weird personal theories you would not believe - if it is conspiracy theory or spam it is locked, period. Then if it looks remotely scientific we ask for valid citations or validation from mentors who are or have been professional scientists. My area is Biology.

My point:
this kind of newspaper reporting plus secrecy (that may not be needed) does not help to improve the quality of science forums content. Or general internet content for that matter. I admit my view of junk posting is jaundiced - I do not tolerate it very well.

And I'd be thrilled if there were zero mentoring tasks pending. Right now, I see 5 new ones that appeared in the last hour or so.

It is interesting how people construe my comments. Probably due to the way I presented it. Please. Read the links, then comment. Okay?

Oops, the count just went up.
 
Last edited:
  • #6
BillTre
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Here's an update on this:
*Update, 17 September, 3:55 p.m.: The Sunspot Solar Observatory in New Mexico reopened today. In a statement, the operator of the site, the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA), said it has been cooperating with an ongoing law enforcement investigation of criminal activity that occurred on the site. The organization said it evacuated the site because of a concern that a suspect posed a threat to the safety of staff and residents. AURA has not said what the suspected criminal activity is and said it was reluctant to share news during the shutdown because it did not want to alert the suspect and impede the investigation. The original story, published on 14 September, is below.
from a Science mag news story, here.

FBI. Place overlooks an air force base and a missile test range.
Those who know what's going on are not talking... :wideeyed:
 
  • #7
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it was reluctant to share news during the shutdown because it did not want to alert the suspect and impede the investigation.
Closing the whole facility didn't alert the subject?
 
  • #8
davenn
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Closing the whole facility didn't alert the subject?

hahaha indeed ... those were my thoughts too
 
  • #9
Bystander
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overlooks an air force base and a missile test range.
How large an area? Couple states?
 
  • #10
BillTre
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How large an area? Couple states?
Don't know.
Just got that from the article.
 
  • #11
OmCheeto
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How large an area? Couple states?
Almost forgot about this thread.
I looked up the locations on Friday:

Solar Observatory
33°58′31.99″N 107°10′52.63″W
10,470 ft elevation​

White Sands Missile Range & Holloman Air Force Base
32°20′08″N 106°24′21″W & 32°51′09″N 106°06′23″W
4000 ft elev​
≈110 miles to the SSE of the observatory

Quite a distance.

And although the article states; "The Sunspot observatory on Sacramento Peak overlooks Holloman Air Force Base and an observer could potentially see out to the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Test range. That has raised questions about possible espionage."

There happens to be a mountain range in between the two locations.
A bit difficult to tell if the range completely blocks the view.

solar.observatory.towards.holloman.afb.and.white.sands.png


In any event, it will interesting to find out what this was all about.
 

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  • #12
dlgoff
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A bit difficult to tell if the range completely blocks the view.
Not blocked from space.
White Sands.jpg
 

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  • #13
OmCheeto
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Child porn?

Reuters -
September 19, 2018 / 5:30 PM / Updated 13 hours ago
The mysterious 11-day closure of a New Mexico solar observatory stemmed from an FBI investigation of a janitor suspected of using the facility’s wireless internet service to send and receive child pornography, federal court documents showed on Wednesday.

Well, that's more disgusting than interesting.

ps. When I was googling for a view from observatory yesterday, I ran across a photo of their post office, and burst out laughing.
It must have flipped a switch in my brain, that in the movie "Men in Black II", the post office was full of aliens.
A line from that scene: "Just about everybody that works at the post ofice is an alien."
 

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