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Saturday, 04 December 2021 19:19

The Joker in the Jet Effect

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Soon after this story was published, I got a call from a physicist at Cal Tech. He said my find was “astonishing—it was right under our nose—and yet had gone unnoticed.” The story was first published in The Fourth Decade, January, 1996. It shows exactly how low an esteemed scientist will go to sell the government approved version of the Kennedy assassination. This latest version contains a little more, and a little less than the original.

Nobel prize-winning physicist Luis Alvarez, with the sponsorship of the Department of Energy, designed experiments to “prove” Kennedy’s brain spatter sent his head backward, and published the results of these experiments in a low level publication, the American Journal of Physics in 1976.

Alvarez assassinated ripe melons wrapped in tape (to simulate a human head), blowing out large exit holes, causing the melons to whizz impressively away from the direction of the exiting spatter in front—and toward the shooter in back. The jet effect. It is supposed to nullify the idea that JFK’s head moved backward because of a shooter in the front.

The story—an infomercial rather than a scientific report—is written in the same manipulative, ingratiating style that lubricates so much of the pseudoscientific writings of John K. Lattimer MD and it vibrates with buzz words designed to earn your trust: Life Magazine…Thanksgiving…Christmas…football…the American flag…Lattimer’s service in World War II…his own service in World War II. (Somehow, he omitted references to mother, apple pie, church, and the family dog.)

The following statement on page 819 contains the key to the jet effect as an explanation for the behavior of Kennedy’s head during the shooting:

The simplest way to see where I differ from most of the critics is to note that they treat the problem as though it involved only two interacting masses: the bullet and the head. My analysis involves three interacting masses, the bullet, the jet of brain matter…and the remaining part of the head…

Translated: Mass #1, the bullet, causes Mass #2, the brain, to explode, which, in turn, causes Mass #3, the “remaining part of the head” to move backward, away from the direction of the spatter.

What’s wrong with this picture? Something critical is missing—the most important “interacting mass” in this entire event: The hard bone in the back of the head, the first thing the bullet is alleged to have hit, and with the full force of its energy!

In this way, he eliminated the competition—the idea that JFK’s head moved backward because it was hit from the front, through transfer of momentum.

The interaction between bullet and back of head was so violent, says the government, that it broke the bullet into two jacketed fragments and imbedded a disc of metal in the area of the cowlick. (Another interaction between bullet and bone takes place when the bullet exits, but I could find no data on it effects.)

Note: Perforating metal-jacketed bullets don’t always move heads very much, especially if the bullet is perpendicular to the surface, and if the head is attached to a neck. Once the bullet enters, knocking a plug of bone aside, and is no longer in contact with bone, it no longer propels it (unless it moves it as it exits). But in a tangential hit, bullet and bone are in direct contact over a larger area for a longer period of time, often causing impressive movement. [The Parkland Hospital doctors did not look under the scalp to examine the top or front of the head, but did report a large area of missing scalp and skull in the right rear (in occipital-parietal bone). William Kemp Clark, former chief of neurosurgery, thought the wound was caused by a tangential hit. This would mean that at least one head shot came from the right, or north side of Elm Street. It could even have come from the right front: JFK’s head was rotated to his left, presenting a small part of the back of his head to a shooter on the grassy knoll.]

Math: The Barbed Wire Protecting the Damaged Fruit

Mathematical formulas tend to scare people away, discouraging close examination. They also provide the prickly appearance of intellectual rigor. But if you take a good look at his squirming calculations, you will see that, once again, he has left out the first interaction: Among the symbols, you will find none representing the back of the head.

Thus, he not only eliminated the competition verbally, as mentioned above, but did it mathematically. In his equations, he has but one symbol for the melons that he shot, “M.” Alvarez’s theory contains the inherent assumption that the human head is as homogeneous as the melon.

Well, the most relevant symbol that belongs in this formula is “BS” and you know what that stands for.

Assassinating Melons

How did Alvarez eliminate this high impact (in real life) collision between s pristine bullet and pristine (still intact) bone, in his experiments?

He used melons wrapped in Scotch glass filament tape. Melon rinds are not much denser than the pulp inside. You can push a hole in one with your finger.

How much resistance would a melon present to any bullet? And what about the bullets Alvarez used? He fired, at close range, 150 grain soft-nosed bullets with an impact velocity of 3000 ft/sec. What is the difference between the impact velocities of these two very different bullets? Ballistics expert W.E. DeMuth, Jr., M.D.:

The kinetic energy theory…[that] energy = M x V2/2g, indicates that energy is directly proportional to mass and to the square of the velocity…doubling velocity quadruples it. (DeMuth, 1966)

How much energy did Alvarez’s bullet lose on impact with the melon? How much energy would a Carcano bullet lose on impact with a skull, especially if breakage of the bullet results? How much momentum would be imparted to the skull? Alvarez answered none of these questions.

Did Alvarez’s bullets break on the occipital-parietal region of the melon? He never even brought up the subject. Despite the omission of this most significant interacting mass (bone), Alvarez’s said his thesis includes “all the material in the problem:”

I concluded that the retrograde motion of the President’s head, in response to the rifle bullet shot, is consistent with the law of conservation of momentum, if one pays attention to the law of conservation of energy as well, and includes the momentum of all the material in the problem. (Alvarez, 1976, p. 819)

Luis Alvarez is like a third-rate magician, the kind that pulls a rabbit out of a hat, without first showing you the “empty” hat—and the rabbit turns out to be stuffed.

A Professor Spreads Bullshit on a Slide

How do these con artists manage to fool so many people? Harry Frankfurt, a former Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University, has made an in-depth study of the sort of thing produced by Alvarez, as well as the reasons it is accepted:

The contemporary proliferation of bullshit…has deeper sources, in various forms of skepticism which deny that we can have any reliable access to an objective reality and which therefore reject the possibility of knowing how things truly are. (Frankfurt, 1988, p. 133)

We may never know “how things truly are,” but thanks to various disinformation engineers, we actually do have “reliable access to an objective reality”—but it’s the reality that all kinds of people are trying to cover up the facts in this case. And they’re still doing it. Right before your eyes. (Go here to see a more recent example I’ve analyzed.)

Last modified on Sunday, 05 December 2021 00:17
Milicent Cranor

Milicent Cranor is currently a senior editor at She has been a creative editor at E.P. Dutton (fiction, non fiction); comedy ghostwriter; co-author of numerous peer-reviewed articles for medical journals; editor of consequential legal and scientific documents; former member of the American Mensa Society. Milicent was a frequent contributor to Probe.

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