1. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Tyson vs baumgartner.

    Discussing Felix Baumgartner's Red Bull Stratos jump, Neil deGrasse Tyson pointed to a 20" inflatable globe and said:
    Tyson is wrong here, it's quite possible to see the curve from 45,000 feet

    Baumgartner jumped from 127,852 feet, three times as high.

    Tyson correctly notes that this is not the edge of space, and photos with fisheye lenses are misleading. Here's the type of photo (on the left):

    However there were several cameras on board. Some of which were NOT fisheye
    Metabunk 2019-05-15 13-45-07.
    [Edit: it's possible this a lens profile corrected version of the 15mm wide angle shot, see below]

    You can see the curve there, even though there's quite a bit of haze. Its perhaps more visible if you add a straight edge and adjust the contrast.
    Metabunk 2019-05-15 13-48-48.

    This alone proves DeGrasse Tyson wrong, but what's interesting about this curve being visible is IT ISN'T THE ACTUAL JUMP. This a test jump from 71580 feet, only a bit more than half-way up!

    The actual mission used a smaller capsule, and there's not that many good photos released. None that are not wide angle distorted that I could fine, but we can work around that.

    The cameras were in "pods", each containing a cluster of cameras.
    Metabunk 2019-05-15 15-07-38.
    There's a smaller camera, presumably for streaming, then two large cameras identified as:
    I have the Canon EF-S 10-22mm lens, it's a fairly rectilinear lens with just slight pincushion distortion, but the photo seems to be taken with the "Canon 5D Mark II or Mark III with a Canon 15mm f/2.8 fisheye lens". If I take the best photo I could find, and assume it's not cropped, then apply the default correction profile with no tweaks,

    Metabunk 2019-05-15 15-01-15.

    we get:
    Baumgartner real jump corrected.

    Which still shows a curve, and a bit more than in the test jump photo. As expected.
    Metabunk 2019-05-15 14-58-18.

    But this particular photo shoot, fascinating and impressive though it might be, is a bit of a red herring. There's plenty of photos of the curve from much lower altitudes (like Wolfie's 46,000 foot shot, above). You can even, with care, do it from 500 to 1000 feet, because then the atmosphere has little effect. With an infrared camera you can see the horizon much more clearly, and see the curve from around 30,000 feet. (and more of it, as the camera is in landscape orientation)
    Metabunk 2019-05-15 15-38-19.
    So why did Tyson say this? He was in the middle of making a point about how Baumgartner wasn't really that high, relative to the size of the globe. Perhaps he misspoke, or was simplifying to make a point - really meaning "you don't see MUCH curvature" and "that's stuff is nearly flat!" Or perhaps he was referring to the sense of curvature of the surface, not the horizon - we see in the fish eye photo the ground seeming to curve away.

    A point missed here is that it's very obvious that he's not saying the Earth is flat - heck, he's actually pointing at a globe and saying that's the shape of the Earth.

    But on the face of it his assertion that "you don't see the curvature of the earth" from 128,000 feet is just flat wrong.
    Last edited: May 15, 2019
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  2. Stefan Leahu

    Stefan Leahu New Member

    well, it's obvious what he was trying to say. When you look at it, even at the ISS, the curve is very wide, so to speak. Too bad they literally took that phrase and ran away with it, as usual.
  3. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Indeed, but that's what he's said. He's not immune to mistakes either. He once said K1 was higher than K2. A bit of residual DK, perhaps.

    The problem is people keep asking me when I'm going to debunk Tyson. So I did. Not just to shut them up, but because it's an interesting way of focussing on the issue, and might get someone to think about it.
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  4. deirdre

    deirdre Moderator Staff Member

    He said K1 was the highest point on earth (joe rogan show)! He needs to start doing more crossword puzles in his aging years.
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  5. Rory

    Rory Senior Member

    K1 is the 22nd highest. They also both got the countries completely wrong. ;)

    On the subject of Baumgartner's two jumps, I've seen these conflated and presented as evidence of hoaxery, such as in this photo:

    Source: www.youtube.com/watch?v=y5JysrzeqXk

    That's maybe the easiest way to tell the two apart: the location of the 'ZENITH' text in relation to the panel (test on left, actual on right).

    If memory serves me correctly, there was also a difference in the camera booms.
  6. Rory

    Rory Senior Member

    It would be interesting to see the horizon for this shot replicated with Walter Bislin's simulator. I'll put it on my to-do list, unless someone beats me to it.
  7. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    Hehe, flat wrong, I see what you did there.

    His assertion was obvious comedic hyperbole that maybe went too far. From 120,000 feet, the curvature should be quite noticeable, even if it's less than people expect or fisheye photos represent.
  8. Agent K

    Agent K Active Member

    You can see the big difference in the cameras here. Why are they so big in the second one?

  9. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Turns out this isn't the actual jump either! It's the 96,000 foot test jump. So it's still not the full curve at 124,000 feet.

    The actual 124K jump :

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  10. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

    Those are pressurized pods containing multiple cameras.
  11. Rory

    Rory Senior Member

    Not so easy to tell those two apart: it's quite a good 'Spot the Difference' game.

    Most immediate thing I see is the full jump has an American flag along the trim at the bottom of the pod.