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Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Experts Unable To Replicate Inmarsat Analysis

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the mystery-continues dept.

Transportation 245

McGruber (1417641) writes "The lynchpin of the investigation of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been the pings from the plane to one of Inmarsat's satellites. The pings are the sole evidence of what happened to the plane after it slipped out of radar contact. Without them, investigators knew only that the plane had enough fuel to travel anywhere within 3,300 miles of the last radar contact—a seventh of the entire globe. Inmarsat concluded that the flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean, and its analysis has become the canonical text of the Flight 370 search. It's the bit of data from which all other judgments flow—from the conclusive announcement by Malaysia's prime minister that the plane has been lost with no survivors, to the black-box search area, to the high confidence in the acoustic signals, to the dismissal by Australian authorities of a survey company's new claim to have detected plane wreckage. But scientists and engineers outside of the investigation have been working to verify Inmarsat's analysis and many say that it just doesn't hold up."

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An what? (2, Insightful)

Noxal (816780) | about 6 months ago | (#46973279)

really?

Re:An what? (5, Funny)

wooferhound (546132) | about 6 months ago | (#46973321)

These are not the Satellite signals that you are looking for . . .

Re:An what? (4, Insightful)

ClickOnThis (137803) | about 6 months ago | (#46973357)

"Analysis" would be my guess.

Re:An what? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973381)

Anal Warts, obviously.

Re:An what? (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 6 months ago | (#46973437)

It's a common first name in the Netherlands. I assume she's a spokesperson or something.

Re:An what? (-1, Troll)

wealthychef (584778) | about 6 months ago | (#46973611)

anus hehehe

Re:An what? (0)

jones_supa (887896) | about 6 months ago | (#46974269)

Hehhee! *brofist*

Isn't it ... (-1, Flamebait)

therealkevinkretz (1585825) | about 6 months ago | (#46973283)

"linchpin"?

Re:Isn't it ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973383)

http://lmgtfy.com/?q=lynchpin

Strange, indeed (0)

hcs_$reboot (1536101) | about 6 months ago | (#46973365)

From the beginning this MH370 disapearance is strange: the Malaysian many mistakes (why would they lie about the cockpit last words??), satellite analysis, to the discovery by georesonance of an aircraft thousands of miles north, on that same path calculated from satellite data (they couldn't say in March if the plane went north or south...)...
Sounds like the next time we'll hear about mh370, the plane will be on its way to a building near you...

Re:Strange, indeed (3, Interesting)

cold fjord (826450) | about 6 months ago | (#46973595)

Sounds like the next time we'll hear about mh370, the plane will be on its way to a building near you...

There is a claim that would seem to open the door for that.

BREAKING: Lt. Gen. McInerney Says #MH370 Is In Pakistan – ‘I Got A Source That Confirmed It Yesterday’ [thegatewaypundit.com]

Hopefully it is just another conspiracy theory.

Re:Strange, indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973723)

Oh no, it makes perfect sense to steal a plane from Malaysia in an attempt to use it to attack... Israel...

You retards should all be executed for the crime of being fucking idiots. On your knees. Please don't turn around.

Re:Strange, indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973779)

A plane is a plane, where it came from doesn't matter. Maybe you could explain why any particular nearby country couldn't be attacked with a fueled plane that has the range to reach it?

Re: Strange, indeed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974415)

How do you plan to smuggle that plane without beeing noticed all the way from malaysia to israel?

Re:Strange, indeed (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974511)

That theory is dumb on so many levels. First of all, "stealing" an aircraft is a ridiculous idea since to take off again with it requires too much cooperation from too many international parties for it to be feasible at all (there's a reason why aircraft don't have locks on the doors...). Second, if you wanted to use an aicraft for nefarious purposes a stolen widebody would be the worst choice ever. A small corporate jet would be the easiest to file an unusual flight plan for since the uber rich are reclusive and eccentric so that way you might get slightly closer to your target before any alarms are raised. Not to mention that any in-flight intercept would see just what's been filed and not the most wanted 777 in the world. And finally, there are much, much easier ways to get your hand on an aircraft if you have access to the same resources as would be needed to steal an aircraft in-flight (because that and maybe being swallowed by a black hole are the two theories that can be excluded completely). There are plenty of old aircraft that are practically given away if you have the resources to come and get them. Faking that paperwork is not a problem, if you have the same resources that you must have to get a stolen plane to take off. Old aircraft are so abundant because aircraft never get "too worn to fly" since they're maintained properly even in the third world due to international regulations. They only stop making economic sense to fly because new aircraft consume so much less fuel and at that point the old aircraft in perfect condition are nevertheless worthless.

Re:Strange, indeed (5, Insightful)

jythie (914043) | about 6 months ago | (#46973883)

One thing to note, Georesoance did NOT find a plane. Further investigation into the company (though skipped over by the media outlets that got suckered by them) showed them to be just another shell company run by people with a long history of pseudoscience scams. They buy up defunct exploration companies in order to reuse the name, bilk some small investors that are eager to buy into the idea that a small pluky company has magic technology that 'the establishment' does not believe in.. usually ending up much poorer for the experience.

So basicly the media got fooled by some high tech psychics who normally would have been dismissed completely but somehow got just enough attention to be taken seriously.

The explanation is simple (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973375)

The aircraft did not crash; it was hijacked by the US Government, and flown to Diego Garcia under remote control after all the passengers were killed by asphyxiation at 45,000 feet. After landing the plane was refuelled, its logos painted over/covered up, and its valuable cargo (next generation radios with SDR technology) removed. It then took off again and flew on to its final destination--probably Kandahar, Afghanistan--where it will be outfitted with a large bomb (read: nuke). It will then be flown into an American city to cause a 'false flag' attack which will be blamed on Iran, North Korea, etc, as a casus belli for World War 3.

I would tell you more but som....hang on, there's a knock at the door.

Re:The explanation is simple (5, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#46973459)

Yeah, that knock on your door is your mother.

Time for your meds.

Re:The explanation is simple (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973483)

Just because you personally are too stupid to connect the dots and understand the real world, doesn't mean that everyone else is a dumb ass too. Grow a brain, and stop being a fucking idiot, asshole.

--shiftless (410350)

Re:The explanation is simple (0, Flamebait)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#46973541)

Maybe YOU should take your meds. Or up the dose a bit.

Re:The explanation is simple (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973589)

Maybe you should stop being an ignorant asshole, and actually learn something about the world instead of continually spouting your dumbassery, dumb ass. Try contributing something for a change, instead of being the snarky asshat who only knows how to spout sarcasm and ridicule, fuckwad. The scenario I outlined for you fits the facts quite well, as you'll discover. If you feel you're smart enough to argue against what I explained to you, then feel free to give it a go. Otherwise how about just shutting the fuck up?

Re:The explanation is simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974283)

You are too angry.

Re:The explanation is simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974425)

All you talk about is "meds". What are you, some kind of drug addict?

Re:The explanation is simple (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#46973499)

You just about right except for the false flag thing, you disgusting Truther you.

Re:The explanation is simple (1, Insightful)

lgw (121541) | about 6 months ago | (#46973833)

but, but, but fire cannot melt metal! This is how we know blacksmiths use their amazing psychic powers to soften metal, and the whole "forge" thing was just part of the cover-up!

Sheesh. You know, I love a good conspiracy theory but the Truthers couldn't even tell an entertaining story, even if you excuse their lack of understanding of middle-school science.

Re:The explanation is simple (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973889)

but, but, but fire cannot melt metal! This is how we know blacksmiths use their amazing psychic powers to soften metal, and the whole "forge" thing was just part of the cover-up!

Sheesh. You know, I love a good conspiracy theory but the Truthers couldn't even tell an entertaining story, even if you excuse their lack of understanding of middle-school science.

Hey dipshit: fire did not cause Building 7 to collapse. It was destroyed by demolition. Get a clue.

Re:The explanation is simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973991)

but, but, but fire cannot melt metal! This is how we know blacksmiths use their amazing psychic powers to soften metal, and the whole "forge" thing was just part of the cover-up!

Sheesh. You know, I love a good conspiracy theory but the Truthers couldn't even tell an entertaining story, even if you excuse their lack of understanding of middle-school science.

Hey dipshit: fire did not cause Building 7 to collapse. It was destroyed by demolition. Get a clue.

Bldg 7 coincidentally held all the documents that were to be used to prosecute the thieves of the ENRON scandal.

Re:The explanation is simple (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 6 months ago | (#46974395)

You know, I love a good conspiracy theory but the Truthers couldn't even tell an entertaining story, even if you excuse their lack of understanding of middle-school science.

On one hand I want to agree with you, but on the other hand I'll point out their views were pretty popular on Slashdot about 10 years ago.

Of course your point about blacksmiths being part of the cover up means nobody has dug deep enough to uncover the true depths of the conspiracy. Were medieval guilds in on the plot? And what about the role of the Templars?

Re:The explanation is simple (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974495)

but, but, but fire cannot melt metal! This is how we know blacksmiths use their amazing psychic powers to soften metal, and the whole "forge" thing was just part of the cover-up!

Sheesh. You know, I love a good conspiracy theory but the Truthers couldn't even tell an entertaining story, even if you excuse their lack of understanding of middle-school science.

Have you ever smelted metals? I have... aluminum will melt (fully, to molten) in the coals of a good wood fire if you stack the logs around it (or embed the crucible in a bed of hot coals). Copper you can do in an electric kiln (1900+F), same for brass. Steel, including structural steel, requires 2900+F - not temperatures you could ever get in an office furniture/paper/etc fire, it requires either an induction furnace or a gas/fuel/forced-air fired furnace to get anywhere near the temperatures needed.

Even a blacksmith knows the best you can do in a coal fire with forced air is to soften iron/steel, and then only if you have the metal virtually sitting on top of the coals, the temperature gradient drops off fairly quickly the farther away from the coals you get. Unless you packed coal around the structural steel beams of the building (the wind whipping through the building *might* force enough air through) it's unlikely you'd weaken steel enough to bend substantially.

Re:The explanation is simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973671)

Probably a lot closer to what really happened than what we've heard so far.

Official explanation =/= actual explanation (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973401)

I, and many people, have suspected that the official explanation is a cover for actual intelligence that is classified. At a minimum, I wouldn't be surprised if the official data isn't at least bolstered by classified information.

If only (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973409)

they allowed cell phones to be used on planes we couldjust call them and say, wassup!

Re:If only (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about 6 months ago | (#46974035)

if they allowed cell phones on planes the NSA would know EXACTLY where it went!

No shit, Sherlock (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973413)

This just in: water is wet.

Who? (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973433)

The author of the article claiming that experts cannot replicate the data appears to be the editor of a social science / STS journal, not by training an engineer. Although I don't myself know enough about the subject to be able to refute either the Inmarsat claims or this article's refutation, I think it's notable that the people supporting the claim are engineers who specialize in satellite stuff, while the person refuting the claim is what appears to be a philosopher; I'd also add that the author portrays himself as an "investigator working on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370", but this appears to be a self-assigned title rather than his position as part of any formal or professional investigation. Looking at the scholarship of the journal he edits, it appears to have some level of rigour--IE it does not appear to be a vanity publication, so I'm not trying to cast out the guy as a crank, just to caution that I think the strength and balance of the headline and the post here place an awful lot of confidence in the article's credibility.

Re:Who? (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#46973477)

TF Author is basically collating some information available on the web (we do that these days, you know). The original data that is attempting to refute INMARSAT's analysis is from two people (with blogs) which do have some expertise in the field:

So it should be straightforward to make sure that the math is right. That’s just what a group of analysts outside the investigation has been attempting to verify. The major players have been Michael Exner, founder of the American Mobile Satellite Corporation; Duncan Steel, a physicist and visiting scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center; and satellite technology consultant Tim Farrar. They’ve used flight and navigation software like STK, which allows you to chart and make precise calculations about flight scenarios like this one. On their blogs and in an ongoing email chain, they’ve been trying to piece together the clues about Flight 370 and make sense of Inmarsat’s analysis. What follows is an attempt to explain and assess their conclusions.

Yes, this is an appeal to authority, but this is also a popular, non scientific, non peer reviewed bit of journalism. I'm not expecting much more.

Re:Who? (1)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 6 months ago | (#46973715)

Fallacy of genus. Learn it, love it.

Re:Who? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973867)

Man, you love you some credentials huh?

Why is this a surprise? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973439)

If Inmarsat haven't released all of the data used in the analysis, why is anyone surprised that they can't recreate it?

Re:Why is this a surprise? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973931)

Exactly. There people don't have the data required to attempt to replicate anything.

Not so.... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973451)

Not so. These critics may or may not be correct when they raise several issues, including the plane seeming to be moving at a good clip before it was taking off. But on the most critical of factors, they're totally wrong:

"Recall that the Marco-Polo math alone doesn’t allow you to tell which direction pings are coming from. So how could Inmarsat claim to distinguish between a northern and southern path at all? The reason is that the satellite itself wasn’t stationary."

No, the slow drift of the satellite wasn't a factor. I've yet to hear Immarsat formal statement of their rationale, but their graph shows quite clearly what it was. Their reasoning hinges on the fact that the plane began its deviant flight above the latitude of the satellite. That is quite important.
If the plane flies northward along a relatively fixed course, the doppler shift will aways show it moving away (down doppler). However, it the plane flies southward on a steady course, there'll be a short time (one ping it turns out) when it is approaching the latitude of the satellite and thus giving a more up (or less down) doppler. That's what you see in the Immarsat chart. Once the aircraft has crossed the satellite's latitude, then its southward path will have it traveling away from the satellite just like the northern route. It's that notch DOWN at between 18:30 and 19:30 followed by a rise upward that says southbound.
That said the critics do raise some relevant issues and they do point out the Immarsat needs to release a detailed report with all their reasoning, so it can be more intelligently critiqued.

Re:Not so.... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973659)

The problem with this analysis is that the Doppler "spike" would not have come from a due South trajectory. It is most likely to have come from a change of trajectory almost directly towards teh satellite. The implication is that this was a "ping" that just happened to have occurred during a turning manouevre; given that the SATCOM terminal on the aircraft uses a high-gain steerable antenna, it is not surprising that an "unscheduled" ping took place during a turn, as the beam-steering unit reacquired the satellite.

The other massive confounder with this analysis is that the SATCOM terminal necessarily pre-compensates its transmissions for Doppler shift. The channel bandwidth in the Inmarsat Classic Aero system is sufficiently narrow that when received at the Satellite, the center frequency must be +/-250 Hz of nominal. As Doppler shift due to the expect motion of an aircraft is in the region of +/- 800 Hz, this can only be done by active pre-compensation.

You'll notice from the Inmarsat Data that the uncorrected Doppler shift is within 250 Hz of expected, indicating that some pre-compensation is present.

Without details of how the compensation works, analysis is very difficult, if not impossible. A scan of the patent literature suggests that both measured-Doppler compensation (i.e. the aircraft terminal measures Doppler shift on a satellite broadcast channel, and applies an equivalent compensation on its transmissions) and estimated Doppler compensation (i.e. the satellite terminal communicates with the aircraft's navigation reference unit to obtain heading, and velocity information, and then computes an expected Doppler shift which is applied to transmissions) may be in use.

Re:Not so.... (2)

camperdave (969942) | about 6 months ago | (#46974287)

Inmarsat also has a satellite over the pacific which (according to the picture [inmarsat.com] ) covers the southern arc. Why couldn't they triangulate from both satellites?

Further, the Jindalee Operational Radar Network in Australia is an over the horizon radar capable of sensing a four seater airplane like a cessna from 2600km away. Why didn't they see a plane 6-8 times larger and several hundred kilometers closer?

Somebody was up to something. (1, Interesting)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 6 months ago | (#46973457)

I've yet to see a reasonable explanation for the loss of telemetry and apparent maneuvers to avoid radar.

So far the implicit assumption is that whoever was at the controls failed in their plan and the plane crashed.

Considering the Indonesian 'navy' is a bunch of pirates, I would start by looking there.

We still don't know what was in the cargo hold or if there was a billionaire on board. Did that plane have a richer suite?

Re:Somebody was up to something. (2)

fermion (181285) | about 6 months ago | (#46973649)

Following the pings was a good method. The assumption made, as far as I can tell, was that there was no change in the flight path after the last ping was received. So we do not know that the methodology was wrong. In this the 'correctness' of the methodology would not be reproducibility, but success in locating the plan. So, on this case it appears the method may be 'not correct' but that is not necessarily because the analysis is invalid, but because the assumptions are incorrect. If a new analysis on the data can be done, and that analysis locates the plan, then we will have a test of validity. Otherwise we don't know. One assumption we can make with some small level of confidence is that someone was deliberately diverted the plan. It is likely reasonable to assume that other attempted to take back control of the plane, and it went down underacted long before fuel ran out. This may have happened along the extrapolated flight path, or anywhere in the indian ocean. I think a land crash of the plane would have been reported by now. A control landing would have resulted in whatever action those who commandeered the plan were intending. It is all guess work and assumption, and one starts with simplest model adding complications as needed.

Re:Somebody was up to something. (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 6 months ago | (#46974021)

All manner of assumptions tied into interpreting the pings. Airspeed/altitude and straight line course are all assumed to get 'the place'. Flying low and slow and landing somewhere in Java also fits the data. As I said up-thread a large number of piracy incidents every year involve the Indonesian navy. Air piracy is not out of their reach, and they own hangers big enough to hide a 777. But they wouldn't do it just for the plane. There had to be something or someone special on board.

Initially I assumed they had the actual crash on SOSUS or something else similar and were just going through motions to cover the actual data source. Now I'm starting to think it's all just keystone cops, pissing money away.

Re:Somebody was up to something. (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about 6 months ago | (#46973675)

I've yet to see a reasonable explanation for the loss of telemetry and apparent maneuvers to avoid radar.

There are reasonable explanations, just not innocent ones.

Simpler: Electrical Fire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973895)

It's the simple explanation. Electrical fires on airplanes are often hard to identify until they're catastrophic, cause systems to fail in manners which defy the logic beat into you in the sim (think fucked up telemetry), and are treated by, as a first step, killing all electrical power on the jet. Making a turn when overwater to where you know land is close makes very good sense, and if it was cloudy or dark or both, missing it was fatal.

Re:Simpler: Electrical Fire (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 6 months ago | (#46974125)

No mayday, hours more flight based on satellite pings.

Re:Simpler: Electrical Fire (4, Interesting)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 6 months ago | (#46974353)

The rest of the explanation is that the crew were overcome by smoke/fumes. (They're supposed to have independent (bottled) oxygen supply, but it's happened before.) The aircraft flew on autopilot on the last entered heading until it ran out of fuel. (Which has also happened before.)

Why didn't they call a mayday earlier? The rule of thumb for pilots is: Aviation/Navigation/Communication. First you get control of the aircraft, understand what is happening. Then you work out your position/course and heading (actual and intended). Then, and only then, do you worry about telling anyone about it. If they were caught between "Navigation" and "Communication", that would explain their actions and their silence.

You are probably scoffing and going "Bah, what are the odds of that!" But your alternative scenarios are "Plane was hijacked by... conspiracy... secret landing... passengers killed/being held.... etc..."

So the contrast is, "Thing which has happened to aircraft several times before", versus "Bizarre conspiracy by shadowy forces". I prefer the odds of the former until there's actual evidence of the latter.

Re:Simpler: Electrical Fire (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974411)

So the contrast is, "Thing which has happened to aircraft several times before", versus "Bizarre conspiracy by shadowy forces". I prefer the odds of the former until there's actual evidence of the latter.

How often has an aircraft caught fire so badly that it killed everyone on board... yet still flown on for six hours?

As much as I'd like to believe that explanation, I don't find it much more convincing than the 'they flew through an alien wormhole' theory.

Re: Simpler: Electrical Fire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974355)

would you turn tge fire back on will the radio even xome back on all sorts of wierd things happen wirh electrical fires

Re:Somebody was up to something. (3, Interesting)

camperdave (969942) | about 6 months ago | (#46974417)

We still don't know what was in the cargo hold or if there was a billionaire on board. Did that plane have a richer suite?

We do know that Freescale Semiconductor, a US technology company having ties to both the Bush family and the Bin Laden family, had 20 senior staff on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370. They had just launched a new electronic warfare device for military radar systems in the days before the Boeing 777 went missing, which caused it's stock prices to nearly double in the month prior to the crash; stock prices which have been steadily declining towards their previous levels since the bluefin failed to find wreckage.

Does that count?

nigerian schoolgirls (-1, Offtopic)

rewindustry (3401253) | about 6 months ago | (#46973507)

you need to put these things together, sometimes, i think.

I DON'T CARE! (3, Interesting)

loony (37622) | about 6 months ago | (#46973519)

40K people die every day of hunger and the while the USD 60M or more that were spent so far on this stupid search couldn't have prevented that, it would have helped a lot of people have another chance.

Either you say you care about the lives of people and then you just shake your head about this pointless waste of money or you don't care and then you wouldn't care about ML370 either. But you unless you're related or friends of anyone onboard that flight, you're just a for caring about the lives lost there and not about the people that die every day of hunger, war, and such...

Peter.

Re:I DON'T CARE! (5, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | about 6 months ago | (#46973581)

It's really not about the people on the plane. It never has been past the first few hours.

It's about a world wide industry that doesn't like expensive bits of it fall out of the sky for no reason. It's also not about the money. Hell, we could shut down an aircraft carrier battle group and feed the entire planet for a decade - don't look to humans to be rationale about that issue and don't try to conflate them.

Re:I DON'T CARE! (1)

loony (37622) | about 6 months ago | (#46973709)

Yes, you're partially right on that but in my opinion there are enough other incidents that can yield data - missing one is really not that major.
Also, if you listen to the news casters and articles written, they all at least pretend its about the human factor, not about analyzing the wreckage to see what caused the issue so we can prevent it in the future...

Peter.

Re:I DON'T CARE! (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | about 6 months ago | (#46973935)

Yes, you're partially right on that but in my opinion there are enough other incidents that can yield data - missing one is really not that major.

Not regarding the Boeing 777 there haven't. There's only been seven accidents, and only one prior to MH370 that involved any fatalities. And if the cause was a fault with the plane rather than human error/intervention, it's important to know because there's a whole bunch of other, more-or-less identical aircraft in use and it's entirely possible that one or more of them has the same problem.

Re:I DON'T CARE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973875)

CWD, you really ought to take your meds.

Re:I DON'T CARE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974061)

Hell, we could shut down an aircraft carrier battle group and feed the entire planet for a decade

Agriculture on the planet is presently insufficient to feed the planet satisfactorily, no matter how much money you throw at the problem:

http://hungermath.wordpress.com/2013/12/08/how-much-would-it-cost-to-end-world-hunger/

Improve the agricultural area (even, ahem, genetic engineering, may be necessary), or reduce the number of people on the planet, but this is not a "if only you didn't spend $4 on a cup of coffee then you could make someone in the third world stay alive" situation.

Re:I DON'T CARE! (4, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | about 6 months ago | (#46974529)

Wrong! [wfp.org] The world produces more than enough food, and agricultural output grows four times for every three times the population grows. World hunger is a distribution problem, not a production problem. In fact, fully a third of the food produced in the world is wasted.

Re:I DON'T CARE! (5, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 6 months ago | (#46974135)

In general, people seem to have a strong distaste, often backed by substantial investigative resources, for mysterious mysteries cropping up in the course what what is supposed to be a routine and mature process.

Commercial aviation (at least the large-aircraft stuff, stats for dinky little aircraft are less reassuring) is ordinarily so well hammered out that basically every air crash has a strong element of mystery to it and so the investigators come and try to figure out what went wrong.

Compare to cars, which kill plenty more people (and, unlike malnutrition and ghastly tropical parasites) people we usually care about; but still get minimal investigative attention because so many of the accidents are either 'operator was piss-drunk and/or exhausted', 'operator was flagrantly disregarding the rules for that area of the road', or 'vehicle maintenance was somewhere between horrendous and nonexistent'.

Re:I DON'T CARE! (1)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about 6 months ago | (#46973663)

It doesn't matter if you care or not, it only matters that Wolf Blitzer still cares.

Re:I DON'T CARE! (1)

EuclideanSilence (1968630) | about 6 months ago | (#46973717)

40K people died of laws and organizations preventing them from getting food. There is enough food for everyone, there is enough will for people to provide for themselves and those that can't. This isn't 400BC anymore, people die of starvation because of bad policy, not because natural limitations. I'm not saying we shouldn't voluntarily feed them, but feeding them fixes nothing and by itself can actually make the problem worse. It's like giving someone painkillers instead of medicine.

Re:I DON'T CARE! (1)

jythie (914043) | about 6 months ago | (#46973927)

Which is one of the reasons people get so worked up about things like missing planes, events like this are simple by comparison, even the most convoluted conspiracy theories require very little background in pretty much anything to grasp and they all have nice easy to blame forces behind them that do not point back to the speaker.

Hunger and poverty on the other hand are highly complex issues with no clear force behind them and contain many elements that loop right back to our own lives and priorities. So simple and comfortable vs complex and uncomfortable, one sells a lot better than the other.

Re:I DON'T CARE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973897)

How many did you feed?

Re:I DON'T CARE! (3, Insightful)

evilviper (135110) | about 6 months ago | (#46974317)

40K people die every day of hunger and the while the USD 60M or more that were spent so far on this stupid search couldn't have prevented that, it would have helped a lot of people have another chance.

For every $6 cup of coffee you buy, you're KILLING a person. For every $300 TV you buy, you're killing dozens. Every month you pay for cable TV, you're killing a handful. Is that about right? Because lack of monetary handouts are the ONLY cause of all those deaths? Political instability doesn't have anything to do with it, and/or could be fixed with a small influx of cash?

Re:I DON'T CARE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974453)

I don't think anybody cares about the lives at this point. It's just an intriguing mystery asking to be solved. Curiosity is a pretty basic human trait and we've spent much more than $60m to satisfy our curiosity regarding much less intreresting matters.

Re:I DON'T CARE! (1)

Ecuador (740021) | about 6 months ago | (#46974463)

Apart from the fact that finding what caused a hull loss helps preventing future accidents, I would certainly give a buck to find out what happened just out of curiosity and I bet at least 60 million other people would as well. That is on top of the 30 bucks I give every month to help combat hunger, and various other charities. It is not one or the other. If you want to find wasted money, look at the military. USD 60M is what the military would throw on a toilet cover.

What were the pings then? (4, Interesting)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 6 months ago | (#46973537)

I think it's pretty interesting that a number of devices detected pings, but there is apparently (as per the article) nothing was found in the area where they heard the pings.

So what did they hear? How can you get a false positive on a listening device looking for a specific frequency?

I wonder if instead of just sending out pings, a black box when hitting water should send out a burst of broad spectrum very high powered radio waves that satellites around the globe could detect...

Re: What were the pings then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973691)

Who heard the pings? Which countries, specifically? With what equipment? Have those countries also repeatedly "found" wreckage all over the Ocean wherever they look, from the waters off Vietnam to Australia? Are some observers prone to reporting false positives?

Re:What were the pings then? (2)

aviators99 (895782) | about 6 months ago | (#46973941)

The devices were not looking for "a specific frequency", and, in fact, the detections were not at the frequency the FDR/CDR were supposed to send. They were "close", and part of the reason they had confidence in the finding is that after AF447 was found, they tried out the transmitter and noted that the frequency was off by a little.

Re:What were the pings then? (1)

hey! (33014) | about 6 months ago | (#46973975)

I think you're conflating the satellite pings sent by the plane's maintenance system to satellites and the ultrasonic "pings" that the submerged flight data recorder is supposed to generate. Right now there's nothing particularly mysterious about the fact that we can't locate the wreckage of the plane in the middle of millions of square miles of featureless ocean.

In any case, the simplest answer is to have planes transmit a GPS fix a couple times per hour to a satellite communication network. The cost would be negligible compared to the overall operation cost of the airplane.

Re:What were the pings then? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974357)

In any case, the simplest answer is to have planes transmit a GPS fix a couple times per hour to a satellite communication network. The cost would be negligible compared to the overall operation cost of the airplane.

Normally it would send them every ten minutes or so over ACARS. But the ACARS system was turned off or failed.

Re:What were the pings then? (1)

hey! (33014) | about 6 months ago | (#46974369)

The point would be to have it sent along with the maintenance data, outside the crew's control. It should not be possible to turn it off from inside the plane.

Re:What were the pings then? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974557)

The point would be to have it sent along with the maintenance data, outside the crew's control. It should not be possible to turn it off from inside the plane.

The maintenance messages go through ACARS too. You'd need to add another SATCOM transmitter, and hard-wire it into the aircraft so it couldn't be turned off. Then you'd find it catches fire and kills everyone on board because the crew can't turn it off.

Re:What were the pings then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974079)

I think it's pretty interesting that a number of devices detected pings, but there is apparently (as per the article) nothing was found in the area where they heard the pings.

Ocean acoustics is massively more challenging than EM problems, mostly because of the variations in speed of sound throughout the water column. One ping, measured with one instrument, tells you almost nothing. It could be right next to you, or a thousand km away.

Re:What were the pings then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974143)

Except high frequency signals don't travel very far under water; the nominal range of the ULB signals is about 5km. You certainly won't hear it from a thousand km away, though perhaps tens of km if it's being reflected from underwater mountains and thermal layers.

Re:What were the pings then? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974173)

So what did they hear? How can you get a false positive on a listening device looking for a specific frequency?

The ocean is a big fucking place. All kinds of stuff is going on under the surface. It isn't like the pings have a checksum or an HMAC to verify that they are anything other than random noise. What nobody seemed to be asking is why they never got even two consecutive pings, plus the locations where they heard the pings seemed to be literally all over the map.

Re:What were the pings then? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974223)

What nobody seemed to be asking is why they never got even two consecutive pings, plus the locations where they heard the pings seemed to be literally all over the map.

Uh, what?

They heard pings in one area approximately every second for about two hours, and in other areas for shorter periods. So that's over seven thousand consecutive pings. And the ares they heard the pings were within a few kilometres of each other.

There's no question that they received signals consistent with the aircraft black box underwater beacon, only whether it was the aircraft black box underwater beacon or something else.

Re:What were the pings then? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 6 months ago | (#46974543)

Why didn't they use a UAV to home in on the pings like a missile, rather than gridding in on the source using a passive device?

data retention (3, Interesting)

bugs2squash (1132591) | about 6 months ago | (#46973543)

The satellite transponder is just an amplifier and a modulator, things go up one frequency and come down another frequency and louder. The satellite and the transmitter are in motion relative to each other and the receiver. Hence there is Doppler and my understanding is that the analysis of the Inmarsat data was based on this Doppler. So does Inmarsat record and retain sufficiently detailed information about every signal sent through their satellites such that they can deduce their findings from analysis of played back signals, or are they managing the receiver in this case and analyzing the log from the receiver.

Re:data retention (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974051)

The ground station logs information about every signal going over the satellite, to assist with debugging communication problems. Which is fortunate, because without that information we'd only know the plane flew on for six hours before vanishing.

Spy games (3, Insightful)

mrflash818 (226638) | about 6 months ago | (#46973563)

In a world where spy satellites have 1m resolution, the fact that no country says they found anything within a few days, speaks loudest.

Re:Spy games (2)

Richard_at_work (517087) | about 6 months ago | (#46973683)

Why would any country dedicate valuable spy satellite time and resources to searching for an airliner?

Re:Spy games (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974105)

In a world where spy satellites have 1m resolution, the fact that no country says they found anything within a few days, speaks loudest.

Searching for something the size of an airliner that is sitting rather permanently on the White House lawn is (relatively) easy with a satellite -- you know where to look, and when is not too much of an issue. Searching for something the size of an airliner within a search area larger than North America that probably wasn't on the surface for very long after crashing means that satellites are effectively useless.

Shot down? (1)

detritus. (46421) | about 6 months ago | (#46973573)

If we're going to entertain the notion of a cover up, the most plausible theory in my mind is it was hijacked, and later intercepted by fighter jets from some country's air force and shot down. There's plenty of reasons for keeping that scenario a secret.

There could be other factors.. (2)

FirstOne (193462) | about 6 months ago | (#46973603)

Like the signal reflecting off the ocean below instead of coming directly from the aircraft.

The only sure way to is to duplicate the flight path with a similar size aircraft using the same Engines and monitoring stations, using similar SAT positions. Only this time use a plane with extended range 777-200LR(verses missing 777-200ER) with minimal payload&maximum fuel and/or safely replicate the flight path in sections.

Use the resulting SAT/GPS data to help calibrate mh377 final resting spot.

24 (-1, Troll)

koan (80826) | about 6 months ago | (#46973617)

It flew north, landed at an abandoned runway, was repainted and electronics were change to disguise it and it will be used to fly an Iranian nuke into the US.

Re:24 (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974181)

Because that makes so much more sense than just buying a used 1980s airliner for a couple of million bucks.

More Data for Conspiracy Theorists (2)

BoRegardless (721219) | about 6 months ago | (#46973783)

They are already writing their books, guaranteed

Lies, lies, lies (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973787)

The entities that have the data are not credible and those who might be credible do not have all the data. What's a poor boy to do?

That's strange... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973819)

I thought I was on Slashdot, but it looks like I accidentally went to CNN.

Lost airplane signals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46973843)

In view of the 911 airplane attacks, why is there still an ON/ OFF switch on the airplanes transponder. Any aircraft not on the ground should be in direct contact wit the ground traffic controllers – no switch – no exceptions!

Re:Lost airplane signals (1)

aviators99 (895782) | about 6 months ago | (#46973913)

Transponders were left on during 9/11.

Re:Lost airplane signals (2)

ledow (319597) | about 6 months ago | (#46974085)

Because next time there's a fire in the transponder circuits, the victim's families will be demanding it be put back in at great expense.

Re:Lost airplane signals (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974279)

You can't have anything that can't be turned off either manually or by breakers. For safety reasons. Last thing you want to be is flying along and the unturnoffable device decides to short out and set on fire potentially taking you and whatever bus it is on with it.

Maybe the USA accidentally shot it down? (0, Troll)

Advocatus Diaboli (1627651) | about 6 months ago | (#46974107)

Did the USA Accidentally Shoot Down MH370 off Diego Garcia? link: http://dissention.wordpress.co... [wordpress.com]

Re:Maybe the USA accidentally shot it down? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974243)

That link assumes the Republicans didn't blackmail the pilots into flying the plane there in the first place. That is a huge hole in their description of what happened. They need to include more about the Republicans. They love to murder civilians and have killed more than two million of them since the SCOTUS appointed Bush Jr.

Anonymous Annotation (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46974285)

analysis. An anti-Inmarsat analysis annointed another answer anew.

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