Regular readers of this site may recall an individual who played a relatively minor role in the ‘pyramids’ affair, Dr. Mensur Omerbashich, with whom I exchanged a few emails in 2007. Dr. Omerbashich, a geophysicist, claimed that he offered an alternative interpretation of the Visoko ‘pyramids’. Although critical of some aspects of Mr. Osmanagic’s work, he fastened onto Osmanagic’s idea of terraformed pyramids, which Omerbashich attributed to the Romans. According to his blog the Romans made monumental efforts to transform Visocica  into an impregnable observation post. They were also supposedly responsible for digging the Ravne tunnel, interpreted as a sapping tunnel. But Mr. Omerbashich, despite his scientific background, was making the same mistakes as Mr. Osmanagic, interpreting completely natural phenomena (orthogonal fractures, Liesegang Rings...) as man-made objects, and - in common with other adherents of pseudo-science - showing the same scorn for serious historians and archeologists, whose work he freely admitted not having read.
However, it soon became clear that his purpose, with that blog, had little to do with science, and rather more to do with Bosnian ultra-nationalism. He was trying to claim very ancient origins for Bosnians (the only ‘true Illyrians’!) in the Balkans, and used every means in his power to denounce ‘Serbian barbarity’. In this article  for example, the Serbs are called a “psychopathic tribe”, violence and murder being “written into their genetic code”. At the same time, they are also described as “treacherous” and “cowardly”. Thus, the author blames the Serbs for all massacres, described as “genocides”, committed in the Balkans since the early sixth century. Mr. Omerbashich obviously has no idea about historical methodology and historical criticism; his only source for this claim is a rather outdated work from the very early twentieth century. To support his claim, therefore, the author unhesitatingly makes use of a distinctly weird and wondrous combination of images. For example, the taking of Dyrrhachium in 548 is illustrated with photographs of Srebrenica and with a fifteenth century illumination of the taking of Antioch (fr) by the Crusaders. The “cruel nature” of a “horde” of Slavs is illustrated with a photograph of a detail of the Portonaccio sarcophagus which, made as it was for a second century Roman general , almost certainly portrays Germans or Marcomanni, and certainly not a “Slavic horde”. The taking of Topeiros in 549 is accompanied by a photograph of Chetniks during the Second World War... In short, much ado about very little, most of it more indicative, one suspects, of intellectual dishonesty rather than amateurism.
In his emails, Dr. Omerbashich exhibited a degree of smugness and arrogance that got on my nerves to the point where our exchange soon came to an end, and Dr. Omerbashich and his activities dropped off my radar. That is, until recently, when, noticing a large number of hits with his name leading to my website, I tried to find out what had suddenly impelled so many Web-users to type ‘Mensur Omerbashich’ into a search engine. The explanation is to be found here: http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/1104.2036. This is an article by Mr. Omerbashich, entitled “Astronomical alignments as the cause of ˜M6+ seismicity”, loaded on arXiv on April 11th. Even though the title might look rather daunting, the paper contains two aspects that triggered vast excitement on ‘alternative’ forums. One part deals with very large magnitude earthquakes, which, one month after the Tohoku earthquake, of course generates great curiosity. The other is where the author mentions the effect that the comet Elenin, discovered by the eponymous Russian astronomer, would have on Earth and its seismicity, and, on a global scale, makes a connection between seismicity and planetary alignments.
No more was needed for the paper to promptly unleash a veritable earthquake - no pun intended - among followers of various apocalypses due in 2012 or 2011 (the comet will approach closer to Earth in September 2011, remaining however at a very reasonable distance of more than 34 million km, nearly the distance that separates us from Venus when that planet is at its closest point to us, see the FAQ on the website of the comet’s discoverer, Leonid Elenin), and also among planet Nibiru believers, or believers in reversals of the poles or other cataclysms. After being mentioned in a YouTube video, the paper was immediately copied on numerous forums and blogs under the title of “Scientific Proof”, by people who do not really understand how arXiv (a preprint server) works (and therefore cannot tell the difference between an e-print and an article in a peer reviewed journal), and are easily impressed by Mr. Omerbashich’s titles.
This article happens to be the latest in a series only one of which has been published in Geodinamica Acta :
– “Springtide-induced magnification of Earth mantle resonance causes tectonics and conceals universality of physics at all scales”, 2006
– “Magnification of mantle resonance as a cause of tectonics”, Geodinamica Acta 2007, 20-6
– “Scale invariability”, 2008
– and lastly, “Astronomical alignments as the cause of ˜M6+ seismicity”, 2011.
In this series of papers, the author claims to demonstrate, amongst other things, that almost all of Earth’s tectonic and seismic movements are triggered by a phenomenon of mechanical resonance connected with the attraction of celestial bodies in the vicinity of the Earth, and he illustrates this theory with the analogy of a bridge collapsing beneath the feet of a troop of marching soldiers. While the effects of the Moon and Sun on tides are well known, and while it might be reasonable to examine the impact of Earth tides on seismicity , M. Omerbashich is prepared to go much further: he proposes, first, to overturn the accepted plate tectonics theories, and substitute his own theory instead (“Thus, regarding the Earth as a forced mechanical oscillator could perhaps help to explain the Earth tectonics” http://lanl.arxiv.org/ftp/physics/papers/0612/0612177.pdf page 10, and “the Earth tectonics is generally a consequence of the springtide-induced magnification of mechanical resonance in the Earth’s mantle” http://arxiv.org/ftp/physics/papers/0608/0608026.pdf page 1); and, second, to introduce into the equation - in addition to the two celestial bodies whose influence on the Earth is not questioned by anyone - not only all the other planets, but also bodies of much smaller mass, such as the comet Elenin.
I do not pretend to discuss or even understand the math and physics presented in Mr. Omerbashich’s papers; I leave others to examine their scientific logic (see the update at the bottom of the page). I’ll just make a few remarks from a common sense point of view:
– I have some trouble in believing that the planets could have such a significant influence on the Earth. The Sun may well have a mass 25 million times larger than the Moon, and contain more than 99% of the total mass of the solar system. But its effect on the Earth is actually 2.5 times less than that of the Moon, because of its distance (tidal forces are inversely proportional to the cube of the distance). Even the largest planet, Jupiter, whose mass is a thousand times smaller than the Sun and which is at least four times further from Earth (588 million km at the closest point, as against 150 million km for the Sun), has only a negligible effect on ocean tides . So I have difficulty in seeing how such an alignment as Saturn/Earth/Uranus, even taking into account the famous ‘mechanical resonance’, could trigger an earthquake in the Earth’s mantle (for example, the earthquakes of June 23, 2010 in the Philippines, over 600 km in depth, according to http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1104/1104.2036.pdf).
– Similarly, on the question of the potential influence of comet Elenin on the Earth and on possible earthquakes, I cannot help thinking that there’s still a certain disproportion between cause and effect. The mass of Halley’s Comet, whose nucleus was about 15 km long, was estimated at 1014 kg; that of Elenin would be rather smaller, with a nucleus of 3 to 4 km according to its discoverer. On the other hand, the Earth’s mass is approximately 6x1024 kg! This means that the ratio is at best 1/10.000.000.000 (one to ten billions) between the two of them. For the purposes of comparison, the total weight of the Normandy Bridge is estimated (fr) at 200 000 tonnes, which means that, taking a hefty man of 100 kg, the ratio between a man and a bridge is 1/2.000.000 (one to two million). Could a regiment of ants, even marching in step, have brought down the Basse-Chaîne Bridge? And why take into account only Elenin? There are much larger asteroids constantly circling around the Earth (Eros, 7x1015 kg; Cruithne, 1.3x1014 kg; Phaeton, 1.4x1014 kg...); don’t they have any effect on earthquakes?
– Furthermore, if I understand Dr. Omerbashich’s ‘demonstration’ correctly, it relies on a search for correlations between major earthquakes and potential planetary alignments in the days before these earthquakes. However, supposing he had not cherry-picked the earthquakes ... ? For example, for 2010, Dr. Omerbashich presents a table featuring 90 earthquakes that have a correlation with a planetary alignment. According to the legend, these are earthquakes of a magnitude greater than 6, although the table reveals a significant number of earthquakes between magnitudes 4.9 and 6. However, using the full catalog of earthquakes available here (USGS/NEIC data-base), and selecting, for the year 2010, earthquakes above magnitude 4.9, the result shows 2850 earthquakes... As a poster on this forum wrote: “Nothing like selective data collection to support your own theories”! Moreover, given the number of items taken into account for these ‘alignments’ (Moon, Sun, seven planets, a comet...), I suspect it should not be extraordinarily difficult to find an alignment close to any selected date . I wonder what the result of a search for the reverse correlation would be: take all the alignments that occurred during a given time, and check how many of these alignments are followed by a major earthquake? For example, although there was an impressive alignment between Earth, Venus and the Sun, I do not remember the transit of Venus of 8th June 2004 ‘causing’ a strong earthquake within a few days...
– As mentioned above, only one of these papers was published in a peer-reviewed journal; that doesn’t necessarily mean anything in itself, for there are some excellent papers on arXiv which were never published in a journal, but are still used and cited by many scientists. But the number of citations of Dr. Omerbashich’s articles, as analyzed in Google Scholar, is relatively low: “Magnification of mantle resonance as a cause of tectonics” for example is cited eight times, but each of those eight times by... the author himself! “Scale invariability” is cited once, again by its own author; “Springtide-induced magnification of Earth mantle resonance causes tectonics and conceals universality of physics at all scales” is not cited at all ...
– Yet Dr. Omerbashich claims nothing less than having solved the problem of quantum gravity, that is to say, devising a theory applicable to all scales, macroscopic (field of the theory of relativity) and microscopic (field of the quantum theory): “Theoretical proof (2008), by showing that absolute generalization - so to apply to all universes at all times - of georesonator to hyperresonator (our Universe thought of as a mechanical oscillator tidally forced by outer universes), results in a first-ever analytical expression for a physical constant : the Newtonian gravitational constant, G. Gravitation, and not physics, is scalable along a scale, s, so that : G = s e^2, thus disproving both Einstein’s and Planck’s assumptions on modifiable physics along largest and smallest scales respectively, as being fundamentally flawed” (http://bosniafordummies.blogspot.com/index.html#8649538803941270988). It is difficult to understand how articles proving Planck’s as well as Einstein’s errors are not cited more often ... especially since the author promises us, through this new fundamental theory, the ability to levitate as well as the possibility of space travel without propulsion: “Gravity is found herein to be the repulsive mechanical vibration of the aether (i.e., the vacuum’s structure, or ‘fabric’), meaning that aether-detection experiments have yet to become sensitive enough. The benefit of the here derived expression for G, which represents the levitation equation, is propulsionless Space travel via gravity sailing” (http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/0801/0801.0876.pdf, page 7)...
Time will tell if Mr. Omerbashich is a new Einstein, Newton or Galileo, or just another crank . Meanwhile, we seem to be dealing with a bit of a character: not content with trying to revolutionize physics, he is also ... Pretender to the throne of Bosnia! Indeed, he uses the titles of “Duke of Dubotchatz”, “Count of Srebrenik” and “Sovereign Duke of Bosnia”, and claims to be a direct descendant of the first ‘Ban’ in Bosnia, Ban Boric and heir to the Kotromanic dynasty. As heir to what would be the oldest dynasty in the Balkans, his claims relate not only to the thrones of Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia, but also - just listen to this - to the British throne! Indeed, in a re-working worthy of Dan Brown , he makes Ban Boric the rightful heir to the throne of England: the guise of Boric, proclaimed Ban in 1154, was really a cover for his true identity of Eustace IV of Boulogne, son of King Stephen of England; Eustace did not die in 1153, as the historians thought, but, removed from the throne by the Plantagenet dynasty, and disguised as a ‘black knight’ or Templar, was sent by the Pope to Bosnia to create a buffer state between the West and the Byzantine Empire. All English monarchs since 1154 are usurpers, and Mr. Omerbashich claims to be not only the sole legitimate pretender - by divine right - to the English throne, but heir to King Arthur into the bargain , as he considers Arthur the direct ancestor of King Stephen, Eustace IV being “the last Celtic prince” (however, he probably forgets that Eustace, like his father Stephen, belonged to the Norman dynasty, and also that the historical existence of King Arthur has yet to be proven!).
Abandoning for the moment his aspirations to the English throne, Mr. Omerbashich merely ‘governs’ the kingdom of Bosnia. He issues multiple press statements, proclaiming the restoration of the monarchy in Bosnia, demanding that “usurping foreign powers” restore authority to him, cancelling the legislative elections of October 2010 ... He has created an entire virtual network of blogs: “Bosnia For Dummies”, “Bosanska Kraljevska Porodica” (bs), ditto (bs), "World for Dummies" (en); sites: “Bosnian Royal Family” (bs); Facebook accounts: “Bosanska Kraljevska Porodica” (bs), “Suvereni Bosanski Vojvoda” (bs); Twitter accounts: “Bosnian Royal Family”... Not forgetting his main website on Google.com, generally concerned with his scientific activities (it’s there, for instance, that you’ll find the formula for his “levitation equation”), but where he could not resist placing the image of a crown. Similarly, in his famous paper on astronomical alignments and earthquakes, his name is followed by a reference to a “European Royal Society” of which he is very probably the only member, and of which he has obviously bought the domain name.
All this would be amusing, and I would even be ready to wholeheartedly applaud such a vivid imagination, were it not that some of the things written by this character suggest that he has a far less comic side. Like many others, the man is obsessed with conspiracy theories: the September 11 plot (see under “Missiles, not airplanes hit the Towers on 9/11”, 14.12.2008 ), the stranglehold of the CIA on Wikipedia (see “We, King Arthur II”, 18/02/2010), volcanic eruptions triggered by NATO (“Why volcanoes go off (I mean really”, 04/27/2010), global warming ‘conspiracy’ (http://joannenova.com.au/2009/12/the-tenth-translation-balkans-bosnian-serbo-croatian/)... He claims that one of his ideas has been stolen by the U.S. government (see “Den of Thieves” and the follow-ups), and is hence claiming no less than $10 billion in compensation.
But, as far as Mr. Omerbashich is concerned, behind all these plots is only one group of leaders: an “Anglo-Zionist conspiracy” , that has been running for centuries, and whose main purpose - besides of course world domination - is the eradication of Bosnia. I will not go into the details of the historical conspiracies dreamed up by the pretender to the throne; some of them are partly exposed on this English blog, with more details on these Bosnian pages: http://bosanskakraljevskaporodica.blogger.ba/ and http://bosnianroyalfamily.org/eknjiga_web.pdf for example. We quickly get the idea that the author is reinterpreting the entire history of Europe, or even of the world, denouncing the British monarchy as the ultimate evil power, bent on the destruction of Catholicism and Bosnia, and manipulating all kinds of secret societies, states and political and cultural personalities or movements (from the Bolsheviks to the Nazis, from the Grimm brothers to Luther, from Bogomils to Death Metal music, see “Case XYZ: Elisabeth II as Barbarossa, as Sigismund, as...”). The Anglophobia is accompanied by anti-Semitism, relatively subdued on the English pages, but more pronounced in the Bosnian ones, such as in this text where on page 24 the author compares the anthropological characteristics of true Bosnians, “Illyro-Celts” (“longevity, tall stature, fighting spirit”), to those of “Sephardic and Kabbalist” families (“predominance of cancers and other diseases, loss of hair, distorted forehead” and “other known anthropological characteristics of Jewish people”). As with many conspiracy enthusiasts - but, fortunately, not all - you’re never far from racist, anti-Semitic ravings, to which our “Sovereign Duke of Bosnia” by divine right adds a strong dose of fundamentalism.
And the role of the ‘pyramids’ in all this? They are obviously part of the plot: according to this text (bs), the case of the ‘pyramids’ was prepared “in 1999” in the “NATO laboratories”, and the principal organizer of the conspiracy is Professor Bruce Hitchner, archaeologist and organizer of the conference of the Dayton Peace Accords. The pyramids question, according to Mr. Omerbashich, is nothing more than an attempt at a diversion, seeking to turn Bosnian attention away from political affairs and the hold exerted by foreign powers on Bosnia through the Dayton Accords and the Constitution imposed by them. As for Mr. Osmanagic, a member of an “old family of Freemasons”, he is obviously a puppet manipulated by England. The proof of the Masonic conspiracy behind the Bosnian pyramids? It is provided in images:
The image above indeed comes from the site of a petition (bs) (English version here). Even if described as the work of a “group of intellectuals”, it is highly likely that is is the work of Mr. Omerbashich alone, as it offers the same obsession with ‘Masonic conspiracy’. The same could be said of a certain ‘PETITIONer’, who promotes the same petition on Archaeology forums, and who, like Mr. Omerbashich, is convinced that the petition website is continuously monitored by spies and military forces worldwide ...
If, at the end of the day, there is one thing demonstrated by this story, it is the lack of validity of the argument from authority: one may be a Doctor of Science and say - or write - things that make absolutely no sense whatsoever!
Update - May 2011
Happening to visit again at Dr. Omerbashich’s main website, I had a look at the websites of the various institutions he says to have worked at, or to be affiliated with. The result is quite surprising:
– A research with ‘DGT Inc. Boston’ and ‘Omerbashich’ on Google gives only links to his own articles, or to forums and blogs which cite these articles.
– The website of the Physics Department of the Faculty of Sciences in Sarajevo University doesn’t have a search engine; but Mr. Omerbashich’s name doesn’t appear on the members page of this Department, nor on any other page of the website as far as I know. He actually uses an email address with @pmf.unsa.ba, but it seems to be his only link with Sarajevo University, where the least that can be said is that he’s not very active!
– He actually worked in Berkeley National Laboratory, as is confirmed by two activity reports in 2004 and 2005, where his name appears in the list of all those who worked at Berkeley Lab cyclotron (Advanced Light Source) during these two years; however he doesn’t appear there as “lead geodesist”, but rather, among tens of people, and without any special qualification, under the title “Mechanical Engineering”.
– He mentions the prestigious Massachussetts Institute of Technology, but it seems he only took there a course in computer-aided drafting and design (CADD)...
– Actually, the only website where he is cited in a fair measure is the one of the University of New Brunswick, where he got his diplomas (Master and PhD) under the supervision of Petr Vanicek, with whom he co-signed some papers - but not the famous papers about seismicity or levitation!
So, if Mr. Omerbashich has most probably actually worked with these institutions, it cannot be said that he has left lasting marks of his passage. For the rest, it doesn’t make much sense to claim being a referee for such and such scientific journal: the referees’ names are never communicated by the journals; and the membership of such and such Union or Society is not a valid reference: the membership of these Societies is open, there isn’t any co-opting based on the value of the scientific work.
In short, how to embellish a biography in order to appear as a renowned scientist...
Update, May 27th
As far as I know, the first scientist who reacted to Mr. Omerbashich’s paper is the astronomer Florian Freistetter, a specialist in celestial mechanics at the University Heidelberg, and he doesn’t appear to think much of it, see here (de).
More recently, Dr. Ian Musgrave of University of Adelaide has studied this paper. The longer summary is a thorough analysis of Dr. Omerbashich’s inaccuracies, errors and approximations, including some I have pointed above. The short summary, which will probably satisfy the hurried reader: “It’s nonsense on stilts” .
Update, July 31st
Dr Ian Musgrave about Mensur Omerbashich’s "theories": http://astroblogger.blogspot.com/2011/07/revisiting-comet-2010-x1-elenin.html. Quite impressing!