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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Blondlot's N-rays: another fraud

Two views of the Piltdown skull.
The longest translation of War and Peace, according to the hapless Greg Hunt's bible, Wikipedia, contains 587,287 words. In the past 36 days, admittedly drawing heavily on material previously written, needing only cleaning-up and light editing, I have assembled 117,576 words in the new work, or just over 20% of War and Peace.
The much-less-known Piltdown cricket bat, which I saw in 1993.

Barbara Cartland, infamously, could "write a book in ten days". I doubt that these tomes exceeded 30,000 words each, so I am writing at ~1.09 cartlands.

Now will the literary merit be closer to Tolstoy or Cartland? Only time will tell, but there is a lot to come in a massive backgrounder to nearly all of modern science. I won't do string theory.

Just a brief note about the pics: I am unsure if the Piltdown skull was a fraud or a hoax, but I am certain that the Piltdown cricket bat was a flagrant hoax, meant to be seen as such and draw attention to the skull.  I will say more about that, some other time.

Frauds, unlike hoaxers, try not to leave clues, but in most cases, they are caught out by discrepancies and sceptics. There remains some doubt about René-Prosper Blondlot of Nancy: he may have been swept up in the same rush of chauvinism that gulled Arthur Keith into accepting proof that humans evolved in Britain.

It was, after all, just a few years after Wilhelm Röntgen had found those mysterious X-rays, and what a vile Hun could do, a Frenchman could surely do better?

In fact, a Frenchman already had, because in 1903, Henri Becquerel shared the Nobel Prize in Physics for discovering radioactivity, which happened by accident as Becquerel was trying to find something like X-rays but different.

That was also the year in which Blondlot announced his "N-rays", named for his home town, Nancy. He declared that these rays passed through aluminium sheet up to 70 millimetres thick, but said the thinnest iron foil stopped them dead.

N-rays were emitted by a heated wire, could be stored and re-emitted by a house-brick which had been left in the sun for several days, and could only be detected in a darkened room, where, when the rays illuminated an object, it became easier to see the object. In other words, a brick giving off N-rays, held close to the head, made it easier to see dim objects.

The rays were refracted by aluminium prisms, and Blondlot measured the refraction index to a precision of three significant figures. The only problem was that other scientists could not replicate Blondlot's results, and after A. A. Campbell Swinton wrote to Nature in early 1904, saying as much, people began to doubt the whole affair.

Still, it was announced in August 1904 that the Paris Academy of Sciences had decided to award its LeCompte prize of the value of $10,000 to M. Blondlot for his researches on the rays. The American journal, Science, referred to them as "so-called" when it shared this news with its readers.

Enter R. W. Wood, who visited Blondlot's laboratory. Writing in Nature in September 1904, Wood identified a number of ways in which the results may have been obtained by unconscious error, but then he laid the possibility of unconscious error safely in its grave, when he purloined the aluminium prism that was central to the experiment, as he explained. 

I expressed surprise that a ray bundle 3 mm. in width could be split up into a spectrum with maxima and minima less than 0.1 of a millimetre apart, and was told that this was one of the inexplicable and astounding properties of the rays. I was unable to see any change whatever in the brilliancy of the phosphorescent line as I moved it along, and I subsequently found that the removal of the prism (we were in a dark room) did not seem to interfere in any way with the location of the maxima and the minima in the deviated (!) ray bundle.
Just in case it looks as though the removal of the prism was an accident, Wood goes on to add:

The approach of a large steel file was supposed to alter the appearance of the spots... A clock face in a dimly lighted room was believed to become much more distinct and brighter when the file was held before the eyes, owing to some peculiar effect which the rays emitted by the file exerted on the retina. I was unable to see the slightest change, though my colleague said that he could see the hands [of the clock] distinctly when he held the file near his eyes, while they were quite invisible when the file was removed...My colleague could see the change just as well when I held the file before his face, and the substitution of a piece of wood of the same size and shape as the file in no way interfered with the experiment. The substitution was of course unknown to the observer.

This was the end of the N-ray era, though Blondlot never conceded that he had been duped, or had duped himself, or deliberately faked any results. He believed for the rest of his life that his guest had betrayed him by acting in such a duplicitous manner.

I will tell you more about my fraud that I have been fighting with, once I see the money, but the skinny is that he has agreed to pay me the money that was taken fraudulently, but not agreed to meet my other conditions. Meanwhile, a curious file of Chinese origin, a0465032.exe has appeared on my computer and been deleted.  Googling that revealed only a page in Chinese, and my guardian software advised me against seeking to have it translated.

Curiouser and curiouser...

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Rogues or incompetents?

Comment added September 2016: the authorities have finally caught up with these crooks, and NSW Fair trading has warned the public about them.

See this link for a news story.

Comment added at the end of 2015: in the past couple of years, 1200 people have looked at this page. I hope that means I have stopped 1200 people from being treated as I was.  If you are cranky with this bunch of shonks, please post the URL for this page somewhere on their website, because they have blocked me from posting or commenting. 

And in late March 2016, this entry is getting more than 200 hits a month. That tells me these people are still taking people's money for trash.  PLEASE: document your experiences and publish them as I have done. Also, go to online forums where you can post reviews, and either share the URL for this page, or tell your own story, to show that this isn't just the whining of a single crank: it is the outrage of the mob.

After all, in real life, I am a professional writer whose interests are history, technology and science. I don't really have time for stuff like this.

I realise that this will be of small interest to my usual readers, but I am placing this here, so that anybody Googling CameraSky or Android Enjoyed (that's CameraSky or Android Enjoyed) will find it, and be warned not to deal with these totally unreliable idiots. There are also some useful tricks here that you can use when dealing with slippery characters.

CameraSky, you may be able to stop me commenting on your Facebook page, but good luck in blocking THIS!  You lied to me repeatedly, you swindled me, you dodged the hard questions, so now it is time for you to take your medicine.
A bit of background: over the years, I have unravelled a number of frauds. One was Dulong and Petit's 19th century chemistry fraud, another was the exposure of the Control Data Corporation's fraudulent selling of a dodgy computer-based system called PLATO to the New South Wales government, and another involved exposing a ring of public servants working a swindle based on penalty rates. I understand fraud.

I also understand making misbehaving companies toe the line. I have done this to quite a few corporations over the years, but I will just mention two here: Virgin Australia and the St George Bank.  I do not appreciate being messed around with.  So CameraSky and Android Enjoyed, who were warned of my habits, can have no complaints when I take them to the cleaners.

Image 1
I made the mistake of purchasing a camera from what appeared, to all intents and purposes, to be an Australian company.  I chose them because they held themselves out, falsely, to be located in Australia.

They call themselves CameraSky, and if you Google them, you find this website: and that page features this: "Call Us Now: NSW (02) 8005 7891 or VIC (03) 9018 5439 10am - 10pm AEST 7 Days a week".

Sounds Australian doesn't it?  Notice how they cleverly imply an Australian presence without ever actually saying so? (Image 1).

Incidentally, they managed to register that domain without disclosing any address, which I would have thought was illegal.  That evasion is understandable though, if they are trying to pretend that they are Australian.

They also trade as Android Enjoyed, and that company similarly pretends to be located in Australia (Image 2):
Image 2
Please, dear reader, don't be fooled, as I was. They may have one or two telephone answerers here in Australia, but they are a Hong Kong-based operation.  As such, they think they can cheat as much as they like, and never pay any penalty.

Muggins here was prepared to pay a bit more for his camera, in order to use an Australian supplier, and I trusted their promise of delivery in four to seven days, because I was attending an awards ceremony in Perth, where I was collecting a prize, and I wanted a new camera to record it.

I placed the order on about September 4, knowing that I was leaving Sydney on September 15.
Image 3

At 15:06 on September 4, they sent off confirmation, as you can see here. (Image 3)

Plenty of time, I thought, Sydney isn't a remote area.  By Monday 9th, the order was on their records, but on Wednesday 11th, it still hadn't moved.  It was just "queued for shipping". I had been onto them the day before to ask what the delay was, but now I was getting annoyed.

OK, this wasn't an expensive item, but any delay was going to cause me problems, and when something causes me problems, I cause problems right back. As you can see :-)
Image 4
Time was running out, so I made contact again, using their online system.  That meant I had records, and I warned them at the start that I was taking screen grabs.  Hey, maybe they were just incompetent...

Anyhow, I got the run-around. (Image 4)

Here, below, is how I explained it, nicely, but firmly. (Image 5)

Image 5
The careful observer may notice the names being used: "Marie" and "Claire".  I'm not sure whether they were one and the same, or where they were, but they stone-walled. Well, actually, they lied.

Image 6
Inage 7
I suspected as much, hence the increased strength of my response, when I promised to  make an example of them. So, you people at CameraSky, argue you way out of this blog, if you can!

By the 12th, I was definitely smelling a rat, because no tracking number had been provided. (Image 6)

I finally got an answer, which you can see on the left: "your order will be ship today".

Curious: they said (see Image 5) that it had already been shipped the day before!

Clearly, these people were in the dodgy category.  You may call them crooks, but I don't. (Image 7)

Well, I was obviously dealing with muppets, so I stopped using the web-based system, and started firing off emails.

Later on the night of the 12th, eight days after the order was placed on a promise of 4-7 days for delivery, I got this email: I have corrected their shoddy typing, but this does not change the meaning, and guys, if you want to take this to court, I am only providing part of the evidence here.

"We are ready to ship your parcel however the last piece of the item for the product that you ordered was found with dented box and to ensure quality, we will not be able to ship it immediately, please let us know if you can wait until we receive the new stocks, it normally takes around 1 week. I understand that this is highly unacceptable. Rest assured that we have applied measures to ensure that this does not happen again. I am looking forward to hear from your very soon. Thank you!"
On the 14th, some nameless drone said that he or she had
"...escalated this issue to our management team, unfortunately no one is available on weekends except for customer service.  We will notify you by Monday as soon as we get a word from them."

In other words, more obfuscation.  Oh, and remember that the time limit had now run out.  Well, on September 19, 15 days after the 4-7 day order was placed, they sent me an email to say the items were sent. I questioned the charging of "express delivery", and got this brush-off:

"Please be informed that your order was shipped on September 19 and your tracking number is 218706137215.  You have paid for express shipping that means you will receive the item 4-7 working days FROM THE TIME LOT WAS SHIPPED and not form the time you purchased it."
In other words, "hello sucker!".  Well, the goods arrived on September 23, 19 days into a promised 4-7 day wait.  The camera was fine, but there were two outstanding issues, and I taxed them with them.

I will give them one thing: they are good at offering empty apologies and not making any restitution.

Well, I started pushing them for a refund and required an admission concerning the lies I had been told.  They tried a new gambit:

Image 8
"Once again, we sincerely apologized for all this confsuion, however I cannot find any email from us sent to you last Sept 9 saying we have shipped your order, however rest assured we will do our best to improve our service, we hope you will recieve your parcel very soon. Thank you so much."
Now as the careful observer will note, the claim wasn't made in an email, but in a web-based conversation, one which I had warned them I was recording, right at the start.

You can see that first warning, right here, on the right. (Image 8) Later, there were other warnings.

So I dressed them down, listing what I deem to be their various acts of misleading and deceptive conduct. They had implied that they were Australian, they offered fast service, and they lied about having sent the goods. Also, they had charged me for a warranty, but none was provided.

I got this response:

"We are very sorry for the confusion, please do know that it is not our intention to mislead you. We have our Company Registered in Australia. Operation in Hong Kong for Shipments, Stock  and Logistics.Customer service is partly located in Australia, partly in Asia and in Hong Kong. Orders will be processed in Hong Kong's centralized and shipped to customer as Direct Import in Australia, New Zealand and Europe.

"Australian phone number we have provided on our website. We only provide that number so our Australian customers will be able to call us locally without an expensive international call rate. And with regards to the refund for your express shipping fee of $36, i will have to check that from our management. Allow me to get back to on you on this tomorrow. Hope you will accept our sincere apologies for this inconvenience. Thank you!
Image 9
All very nice, but what about my warranty, I asked?

On September 29, "Marie" was still checking with management, but the next day, I was sent this jpeg which was held out to be my warranty. (Image 9).

I said to them, surely you don't expect me to accept that: it has no date, no address for return of goods, no identification of the product, no details at all: it isn't worth the paper it isn't printed on (and it wasn't printed in any case, but I was waiting for them to point that out). I wanted to cancel it, right now, but I wasn't about to leave quietly!

I got this in return:
"Please be informed the warranty is card that comes with the product will not apply in Australia, because item ships from overseas, we can only provide you the soft copy of our warranty card and now our Finance Officer is processing your refund for the express shipping cost."
So they were paying up on the completely spurious express delivery, but not on the worthless warranty.  They fell silent for a couple of weeks, then "Marie" came back with this:

"I have just make a follow up with our Finance team regarding your $29.95 refund. We will get back to you as soon as we received advise from them."
Again there was silence until October 22, when I got this email from "Althea":

Your request (2445) has been solved. To reopen this request, reply to this email.

Hello Peter,

We are sorry but we can't provide you with a refund for express shipping since this is demanded by courier and we can't shoulder that cost.
I replied to the effect that I would decide when it was solved, and I wasn't asking for the express delivery refund (which, recall, I had in my hot little hands!).  I wanted, and expected, a refund on the worthless warranty.

Then I went to write some corrosive messages on the CameraSky Facebook page, comments were blocked. When I started the same ploy on Android Enjoyed, a pop-up window said that I had been denounced as a spammer and blocked.  OK, I WAS repetitive, but I am merely trying to get justice.

Image 10
This morning, October 24, they posted on the Android Enjoyed Facebook page, which I am unable to reply on, the following non-response  (Image 10).  They are still talking about the $36 that they already refunded, I am talking about the totally fraudulent charge for a worthless "warranty".

So, friends who have read this far, please go to the Facebook page of either CameraSky or Android Enjoyed, and post the URL of this page as a message, just once, in one of their ads.  Maybe add a little suggestion that people considering buying there should read my comments on their standards of probity and service before buying themselves a lot of annoyance.

Or if you feel like it, use this link to go to their comment and remind them that the subject is a refund of $29.95 for a worthless warranty.  Remind them that they can't hide.

CameraSky and Android Enjoyed, understand this: you have 48 hours from when I post this to pay up, or this post is going to stay here.  Say or do anything to annoy me, and it stays here.  Fail to admit all of your faults in a detailed list, and it stays here.

The customer is always right, but sometimes, the customer is right on your hammer. When that happens, discretion is the better part of valour.

Postscript, March 2014

Well, the wretches finally, after a great deal of badgering, finally realised that I was determined to trash their brand, refunded the warranty money.  They did not meet my requirements that I set as a condition of removing this post.  They did hand over the money, but that only reflects credit on me, not them.

There were other tactics I used, like product reviews like this one.  Now, today, 28 March, they posted this response:

Hi Mcmanly, we noticed our records show you received your refund, please note the extended warranty is not worthless and that the extended warranty is a shop level extended warranty as described not a manufacturers extended warranty as presumed.
Here is how I responded:

My statement stays. Your potential victims need to see it, and be warned by it.

BECAUSE, and only because, I turned up the heat and mounted a full-scale Facebook and web offensive against you and your totally dishonest, fraudulent and worthless warranty, you grudgingly and belatedly gave back my money — and now you think I should be grateful? Dream on!

You people pretend on your website that you are located in Australia, but you are what is called a "grey" retailer, operating out of Hong Kong. I made THAT clear as well.

It wasn't really as if you were cheerily refunding the money you had cheated me out of. The fact that you hope I will now say nice things about you tells me that I was wrong in one respect: I thought you were clever criminals, but I now think you are just stupid and bumbling incompetents.

Now I suggest you go and read my blog entry at

I think I might add a bit more, later today.
And as you can see, I did.

Dear CameraSky, quit while you are only slightly behind, or I will come after you again.  Take my word for it, you will never be ahead.

On my patch, on my watch, traders do not dictate to customers — and I am watching you now.  Think carefully: do you really want to remind me again that you exist?
Postscript April 7:
These characters had my comments pulled.  Obviously the truth hurts.  I have just replaced those comments with a toned-down version, but you can read the original here.

Postscript September 4, 2014
They are still at their old tricks. In the past few months, I have had four spams. I just went to their Facebook page, and discovered that I am STILL blocked from posting there. I also found that they are still conning people. If you read this, please go to their site and post this link on their Facebook page:

Monday, 21 October 2013

South Coast trip, part 5

The Pinnacles are between Pambula and Eden in Ben Boyd National Park. They look for all the world like the areas of California where gold miners practised "sluicing" (or the gold fields in Victoria where the same operation took place, like Oriental Claims), as I posted last year.

But, it seems, this is all natural. The white sandstone was below an ancient water table, the red was above.  Inter4esting, but not highly important in my mind.

Up north, on our way home, Myrtle Beach was important. I am fascinated by unconformities, and I will be off in about six weeks to revisit another one and to record it properly.

An unconformity is a gap in the geological record, but before we get to that, a bit about getting there, because the published details in an otherwise very useful leaflet called Ancient sites: a geological journey, left a lot to be desired.  Here is my take on it:

On the highway, take the South Durras turn-off about 10 km north of Bateman's Bay: it is well sign-posted. Follow the signs to the Murramarang Resort, ignoring the leaflet.

On the far side of the car park, you come to this sign, which is between two roads.  I took the right fork, and that worked.  Drive along to the Myrtle Beach/Dark Beach turn-off and drive to the parking area.

The sign below shows you where to go. Follow the path for about 250 metres (leaflet says 200) and look for an unmarked path on the right, going downhill with log "steps".

Close to the beach, you will come to some timber steps. Somebody has written on these that the beach is a nude beach. There was nobody there, so we had no idea whether the sign has any validity and didn't care.

At the bottom of the steps, we turned left (north) and walked along the grassed area at the back of the beach, until we saw this, perhaps 60 metres from the steps.  This is it.

It isn't all that obvious, but the beds coming out of the ground are tilted and obviously metamorphic, unlike the rubbly conglomerate just above.  Look closer, where Chris is pointing:

And closer again:

And even closer. Her hand is spanning about 150 million years of history, because the old Ordovician rocks were buried deep, metamorphosed by heat and/or pressure, tilted, uplifted, eroded, and then cast down into a deep depressions where new sediments could be deposited, some time in the Permian.

Pretty neat, huh?  Chris was neat, too.  On the way up, she spotted these tilted beds behind the first landing on the stairs. This reminds us that the base level that the first sediments were dumped into was by no means a level area: these would be 8-10 metres higher than where Chris had placed her hand on the boundary.

Links to the other four parts:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

South Coast trip, part 4

Bingie Bingie Point is south of Moruya: turn off at Bergalia.  It offers two interesting dykes.  The first one is basalt cutting through granite, though curiously, there seems to be a granite dyke running down the centre of the basalt: I assume that what has happened is that the basalt came up both sides of a sliver of granite. That was on the southern side.

 After scrambling over boulders, we got onto the point and headed out to where we found what Chris found in one of the pamphlets was said to be an aplite dyke: that's the pink rock.
 A close view of the margin, showing the granite as well.

 And here is what appears to be a later basalt dyke, running through the aplite. Can anybody comment helpfully on this and set me straight?

 If you look carefully, the basalt is cutting across the aplite!

Cuttagee is south of Bermagui. We only stopped off there because there was a lagoon that I wanted to photograph, but we found these (tested for hardness) quartz veins in a sort of sandstone, and above, some interesting honeycomb weathering in the headland at the northern end of the beach: we could access it at high tide.

Next time: The Pinnacles, and Myrtle Beach, which has an unconformity, as it lies at the base of the Sydney Basin.

Links to the other four parts:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 5

South Coast trip, part 3

Let's start with Camel Rock, about five minutes' drive north of Bermagui. The rock gets its name from the distinctive shape, as seen by Bass and Flinders in an early mapping trip along the coast.

 This is a great place to sample Ordovician turbidites, sedimentary rocks that formed on a deep ocean floor when unstable sediments avalanched down the continental slope, sorting as they went and slumping and bending as more weight was dumped on top of them. This shot is a little hazy, as it was taken during the October 2013 NSW bushfires.

Here is a clearer, more close-up shop, where you can see that some of the jagged bits are actually birds:

 This is the place for folds and curly stuff.

The scale here, and in all of the photos where it appears, is a 50-cent coin which is 32 mm across. Now here is some faulting, in two views.

We got more of the same at Mystery Bay, which got its name when a geologist and his party disappeared:

From somewhere else, I gathered that the boat was not only holed, but it was stove out, rather than stove in, indicating foul play, as did the presence of personal property in the boat. There is more detail here. The source is the Illustrated Sydney News of November 20, 1880. If you turn over to page 12, you will find this picture:

 But we were here for the rocks, so here are some of them: enjoy!

 The second shot below has a 32mm 50-cent coin for scale.

Next time: Bingie Bingie point with dykes and some interesting Cuttagee sedimentaries.

Links to the other four parts:

Part 1
Part 2

Part 4
Part 5

South Coast trip, part 2

Now for some serious geology.

The area we were working along contains rocks as old as 510 million years, and it is a coastline that developed 90 to 70 million years ago, at a time when there were still dinosaurs around.  That was when the Lord Howe Island Rise came away from the Australian mainland and set off out into the Pacific.

Mind you, the actual coastline is even newer, because in the past few million years, sea levels have gone up and down, due to assorted ice ages taking water out of the oceans.  This is good, though, because it exposes fresh rocks at regular intervals.

We have faulted, folded mudstones, cherts, basalt intrusions and blocks of granite as well, all mixed in together.  As I indicated in Part 1, I am no geologist., just a rock watcher, so none of my comments should be taken as gospel, though they are reasonable commonsense in most cases.
Mimosa Rocks
 The Mimosa Rocks National Park lies between Bermagui and Tathra, and takes its name from a paddle steamer that was wrecked near there in 1863.  Most references seem to suggest that she was wrecked on the rocks, but the captain of Mimosa reported striking a "detached rock", a mile off shore.

Still, the pyramid form that you reach by heading north from the Aragunnu Beach car-park is worthy of note for the rhyolite capping which shows columnar jointing which is more visible here, where I zoomed in:

 There was more fun to be had down on the shore, where there were some cliffs worth looking at: to my eye (note the qualifier!!), these appear to be faulted and folded varved shales.

Then there were the pebble beaches:

 And in the distance, a strange white rock:

 A closer look solved the mystery, it was covered with seabird by-products. I should have known!

 We then headed north into the Tilba Valley, stopping at Central Tilba for shopping, Devonshire tea and this shot of a rather impressive granite dome, which is actually on the other side of the highway:
Then we headed north, looking for 1080 Beach (pronounced ten-eighty). The name 1080 is used for a rabbit poison which is actually sodium fluoroacetate, but I have no knowledge of the origin of the beach's name.

The beach is little known in the area, so here are instructions:

Drive to Mystery Bay, about 10 km south of Narooma.  Follow the tar until you see the sea, go right into Lamont Young Drive on a good road, looking out for a National Parks road with cryptic signage on the left.  Find that road and drive carefully (it's narrow, with many blind corners: I used my horn quite a bit) along to the end, where there is a car park. Find your way down to the beach.

It's worth it for this dyke:

Incidentally, on the way in and out, watch out for locals:

Next time: Camel Rock and Mystery Bay.

See also 

* Rhyolite-Basalt-Soft Sediment Relationships at Bunga Beds, Aragunnu, Mimosa Rocks, Southern NSW, Australia;

* The Story of Granite and Bega Cheese.

Links to the other four parts:

Part 1

Part 3
Part 4
Part 5