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|No. 32, October 2010
JFK's 'Head Shot' Under Scientific Scrutiny
Single-gunman theory shot down using physics
It's possibly history's biggest conspiracy theory--one that over and over has begged the question: was there really only one gunman in the JFK assassination?
Not according to science, says physicist and ballistics expert Dr. G. Paul Chambers in Head Shot: The Science behind the JFK Assassination--the first book to accurately solve the crime of the century through science and reclaim contemporary American history.
A former research physicist in detonation and radiation sciences for the US government, Chambers uses the laws of physics and motion to prove compelling new information about the course of events that forever changed the landscape of American leadership. He confirms the presence of a second gunman at the time of President John F. Kennedy's murder, identifies the locations of the assassins, and confirms conspiracy without a doubt.
Chambers extensively researched this controversial topic and ultimately wrote Head Shot because the assassination has intrigued him since childhood.
"I have always had an interest in this subject, ever since I first heard Kennedy was shot when I was a child in first grade," he said. "It was a dramatic and traumatic moment in my life that I will always remember."
From then on, Chambers maintained a deep fascination with JFK's murder, and read many books on the event, including Vincent Bugliosi's Reclaiming History, which strongly affected him.
"I knew right away that his science was wrong. It is difficult for me to read that book without becoming irritated and upset," said Chambers.
Flawed physics with regard to bullet momentum, and thus, its entry and path once inside Kennedy's body, make Bugliosi's version of events--the single-bullet theory--scientifically impossible, he noted. "Bugliosi doesn't understand momentum conversation because he 'avoided taking physics in high school'--an admission he makes on page 488 of his book."
Chambers hopes the conclusions presented in Head Shot will correct the bad science and misinformation he says has been disseminated to the American public over the last forty-five years.
"There has been a steady stream of television specials, books, and re-enactments from trusted sources that have the air of authority about them but instead have been horribly misleading," said Chambers. "I hope that when people see real science applied to the assassination, they will realize that they have not been told the truth from sources they trust. This is obviously unsettling on a number of levels, and I hope that people who realize this truth will respond accordingly."
As the forty-seventh anniversary of JFK's assassination approaches on November 22, we talk to Chambers about the fascinating research that will likely spur some of the most controversial new theories surrounding the murder.
Prometheus Books: What is the most valuable piece of evidence in proving the second gunman?
Dr. G. Paul Chambers: There are two pieces of equally valuable evidence. The first is the Zapruder film. The second is the acoustic evidence compiled by the House Select Committee
Dr. G. Paul Chamberson Assassinations (HSCA) in 1978. In the high-speed science world, the film record is the most important and telling record you have of an experiment. Then you expect other measurements, such as pressure gauges, strain gauges, laser interferometers, and so forth, to be consistent with the film record. When you have this consistency, the work is publishable. The experimental results support and buttress each other. Because the film record and acoustic records in this case agree so well, we can have an enormous degree of confidence in the conclusions that stem from them, in this case the presence of a second gunman firing from behind the west side picket fence on the grassy knoll.
PB: Would a non-science reader be able to understand the physics presented?
GPC: The chapter on the analysis of the physics of the backward head snap on the Zapruder film is the most important one in the book, and I have worked hard to make this material accessible. I have had to use a little math in this chapter, but I believe it is worth a reader's effort to try to understand it in order to uncover the truth about what really happened to Kennedy.
PB: What is the most compelling piece of medical evidence used in your research?
GPC: The only pieces of medical evidence I consider reliable are the photographic appearance of an entry wound from a shot incident on the right front side of Kennedy's head--the Harper fragment--which appears to be of parietal bone sheared from this area, and the autopsy determination of copious lead fragments in the right side of Kennedy's brain, while the left side of his brain remained undamaged. This evidence is consistent with a frangible round impacting from the right front side of Kennedy's head.
PB: What about eyewitnesses? How did their stories factor into your research and discovery?
GPC: In science, eyewitnesses can be very important in guiding an investigation. Many major scientific discoveries, particularly in paleontology, anthropology, and astronomy, have been brought to the attention of the scientific community through amateur eyewitnesses. Eyewitness testimony often points scientists in the right direction.
In this case, the two relevant issues are the single-bullet theory and the source of the head shot, the motivation for the title of the book. All the eyewitnesses in Kennedy's car, Mr. and Mrs. Connally as well as Secret Service Agent Roy Kellerman, believed that Kennedy and Connally were hit by separate bullets. This calls the single-bullet "theory" into serious question and so suggests that multiple assassins were involved in Kennedy's death. The testimony of these witnesses begs a serious scientific inquiry into the validity of this theory, which is readily found wanting through scientific analysis. Failure of the single-bullet theory means that one person could not have fired all the shots in Dealey Plaza, which pulls the rug out from under the conclusion of the Warren Commission that "[Lee Harvey] Oswald acted alone."
At least forty witnesses to the assassination, some say more than fifty, in Dealey plaza reported hearing gunshots, seeing smoke, smelling smoke, seeing an assassin, seeing flashes of light, or seeing assassins carrying a rifle and fleeing from behind the west side picket fence on the grassy knoll. This information was used by the HSCA in 1978 to conduct a live-fire test of shots from the grassy knoll to validate acoustical analysis of a Dictabelt recording taken at the time of the assassination. A very good match was found to the acoustic data for a shot coming from this position behind the fence on the grassy knoll. The eyewitnesses were therefore very important in guiding the scientific investigation.
PB: How exactly is Vincent Bugliosi's science, as presented in Reclaiming History, flawed?
GPC: Bugliosi thinks that because a bullet doesn't weigh very much, less than an ounce, it wouldn't have been able to push Kennedy's head backwards. However, it's the bullet's momentum that counts. Momentum is a compounding of mass and velocity. The bullet carries substantial momentum because it moves very, very fast. Although small, a micrometeorite, about the size of a sand grain, will still punch a hole in your spaceship because it is moving at extremely high velocity, tens of thousands of miles per hour. Bugliosi points to videos of prisoners being executed by gunshots to the head. The prisoners do not recoil backwards, but merely sink to the ground. This is because the bullets entered and exited their heads. In this case, the bullet carries away its own recoil momentum as it exits the body.
However, as in the case of Kennedy, if a bullet enters and remains inside, as it would if it were small caliber and frangible, then the head must absorb this recoil momentum, and would be propelled backwards. This is the principle behind the ballistic pendulum, a device for measuring the velocity of a bullet using a wooden block suspended on a rope. The height the block rises due to recoil from the entering bullet, which sticks inside the wood, gives a measure of the bullet's velocity prior to impact. The device employs the physical principle of momentum conservation, and the physics is similar to pushing a child on a swing. Bugliosi's version of events is scientifically impossible. Sadly, he has spent twenty years of his life essentially trying to prove that the sun revolves around the earth.
PB: What, if anything, shocked you most about what you discovered?
GPC: There is a high degree of confusion, misinformation, and polarization surrounding this case. It permeates the entire subject of the assassination. Cutting through this clutter was the hardest thing about writing this book. After a while, the shock factor wears off, and you begin to expect mystification as the norm in this case.
PB: Why hasn't the consistency of the film and acoustic records been previously discovered?
GPC: The striking consistency between the acoustic records and the Zapruder film was first noted by the HSCA in 1978. They realized that if they synced the shot from the grassy knoll to frames Z312-Z313 of the Zapruder film, they got a very good match with the timing of the other shots as determined from talking to witnesses in the plaza and comparing this testimony to the film frames. However, they did not finally settle on this synchronization because they believed that the shot fired from the grassy knoll missed, and therefore was not the shot that produced Kennedy's head wounds apparent on frame Z313 of the film. They made this determination based on the medical evidence, in particular, a wake pattern in the brain, and supposed "beveling" of the wound on the side of Kennedy's head that indicated a wound of exit, something not observable on the x-rays or photographs of Kennedy's head.
PB: After almost fifty years, why does disproving the single-gunman theory matter?
GPC: The single-gunman theory is the cornerstone of the Warren Commission report. If there were multiple gunmen involved, then there was a conspiracy to kill Kennedy. Where that conspiracy leads is anyone's guess. But neither our government nor the news media has ever attempted to identify anyone else as associated with Kennedy's assassination, a tragic and disastrous alteration in the course of history of the United States. Unfortunately, the single-gunman theory does not stand up to scientific scrutiny. Therefore, after nearly fifty years of insisting that "Oswald acted alone," our government and mainstream news media have some serious explaining to do to the American people.
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