El Fathead, red noses and Yankee imperialists

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez has blamed the US for the earthquake that recently struck Haiti, killing an estimated 200,000 people. The cause of the quake was a “tectonic weapon”, says Chávez, with his country’s largely state-run media reporting that the alleged weapon is based on the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP).

HAARP is a science facility in Alaska which sends powerful pulses of radio waves into small regions of the local ionosphere. These radar pulses briefly heat the molecules of this extremely rarified layer of the Earth’s atmosphere. When these molecules cool down they release energy which is then detected by a sensitive radio receiver, providing physicists with information on the state of the ionosphere. The system is used to simulate in a controlled manner radio propagation through the ionosphere during geomagnetic disturbances caused by solar storms.

Possibly interesting fact: By the time HAARP radar pulses reach the ionosphere, their intensity is no more than a few microwatts per square metre.

Over the years HAARP has been blamed for many things. Some say it makes Alaskan reindeer walk backwards, others that it turns the heads of marginally stable South American politicians. Hugo Chávez clearly has an ultra-sensitive brain.

Support the people of Haiti!

Hat tip: Norm

Update (25 January 2010)

It seems that the Chávez story was a wind-up started by some loony conspiracy theorist, and subsequently propagated by Venezuelan state media. Still, it was fun, and given that El Fathead is given to making outlandish claims, it serves him right that his own propagandists fell it.