The Pravda (meaning "truth" in Russian) newspaper, which in modern times became a regular yellow tabloid (but still exceedingly loyal to whoever is at the helm) continues to provide fun and game with its headlines and scant reading comprehension. Which is what happened to an innocent celestial mechanics research titled Slingshot dynamics for self-replicating probes and the effect on exploration timescales by two Scottish doctors: Arwen Nicholson and Duncan H. Forgan from the University of Edinburgh. Their result could indeed provide a sound theoretical basis for a future deep space exploration project. For Pravda, though, it provided a basis for a sensational headline: Alien space probes visited Earth many times. Go figure. Now, it is not that other journos and the scientists themselves are must better. You can see the speculations about alien visitations in other articles on the subject, such as this one. And Dr Forgan himself just had to step into it:
Dr Forgan said that the fact that we have not detected or seen any evidence of alien probes in the solar system suggests there have been no probe-building civilizations in the Milky Way in the last few million years or that the probes are so hi-tech we are unable to detect them. Another possibility is that probes could be programmed to make contact only with civilizations that pass a set measure of intelligence, which could be the ability to detect the probes.Oh well... at least Dr Forgan understands that there is a very simple explanation: a serious reluctance on the part of the E.T.s to have anything whatsoever to do with us.
And from this relatively simple example of yellow journalism to a less explicable example of a famous person either making a monkey of himself in public or hinting at some revolutionary discovery in physics that will overturn... well, the seats we are used to sit in. This example was provided, wittingly or not, by no other than famous Elon Musk, an entrepreneur of a star caliber indeed. In an interview on his plans for a Hyperloop Alpha design, Mr Musk stated, according to the above linked:
But passengers won't feel the speeds. "The g-forces would always point down," Musk said in a Monday conference call about the design. "It should really feel just super smooth and quiet. And there'd never be any turbulence or anything."I was kinda flabbergasted by that frivolous attitude to the "g-forces" which are supposed to point exclusively down. Flabbergasted so seriously that I just had to look up the transcript of the original speech, and here we are:
The g-forces would always point down. In other words, you wouldn't really feel any turning.Hm... Elon Musk's bio data points to a bachelors degree in physics. Either since his graduation our subject made a super-spectacular progress in this discipline and discovered a way to neutralize acceleration, or he found some papers of the late Tesla, where the old genius put paid to all that classical mechanics nonsense.
But at least the journo what wrote the article may consider herself exonerated.