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  • "The Wow! Signal: The Best Sign of Alien Intelligence?"

    The Wow! Signal: The Best Sign of Alien Intelligence?

    Posted by Ross Pomeroy at Tue, 04 Dec 2012 02:20:04

    For almost half a century, many astronomers have been locked in the enduring Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Sizable telescopes -- astronomers' eyes and ears -- have been trained to the heavens, looking and listening intently for an otherworldly signal. To date, the search has proved fruitless. Apart from the background noise of space and the occasional astronomical event, SETI astronomers have heard naught but silence.

    Except, that is, for a span of 72 seconds in the waning hours of August 15th, 1977, when the Big Ear Radio Observatory of Ohio State University detected a remarkable signal that still, to this day, remains unexplained.

    That signal is known as the "Wow! Signal," named after the initial, astonished reaction of astronomer Jerry Ehman, who, upon sifting through the improbable data three days later, penned the following:



    [...]

    The Wow! signal -- the circled 6EQUJ5 -- meant that Big Ear detected a signal originating from the direction of the constellation Sagittarius that, at its strongest, was thirty times more powerful than the background noise of deep space!

    But what's the big whoop? Scientists have discovered signals just as powerful from pulsars, quasars, supernovae and other natural astronomical phenomena. Why is Wow! special? As Robert Gray, author of the book The Elusive Wow: Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, explained to The Atlantic:


    With the "Wow!" there wasn't any noise on any of the channels except for one, and that's just not the way natural radio sources work. Natural radio sources diffuse static across all frequencies, rather than hitting at a single frequency... It was a very narrow band, very concentrated, exactly like a radio station, or a broadcast, from another world would look.


    Furthermore, the signal was detected at a frequency of 1420 Megahertz (1420.4556 MHz to be precise, according to Ehman). This is almost identical to the frequency at which hydrogen, the most common element in the universe, resonates. Years earlier, two Cornell physicists, Philip Morrison and Giuseppe Cocconi, writing in the journal Nature, postulated that aliens might attempt to make contact using that frequency, since it would likely be meaningful to a society with an understanding of science.

    [...]

    LINK

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  • #2
    I doubt this event had anything to do with aliens.


    I spent 7 years working at the NRAO VLA back in the day, so I happen to know a few detailed things about SETI, radio astronomy and astrophysics.

    If it wasn't a one time event it might have credibility.

    The signal was only ~15 dB above back ground.

    The fact that it was on the Hydrogen line is self full filling prophecy. Radio telescopes look at this frequency by design because 90% of the universe is Hydrogen and the 1.4 GHz transition line is signature for Hydrogen. The Doppler shifting of this line is used to determine the rotation rates of galaxies, cosmological redshifts, etc. etc.

    "The two different values given for the frequency of the Wow! signal (1420.356 MHz and 1420.4556 MHz) are the same distance apart from the hydrogen line—the first being about 0.0498 MHz less than the hydrogen line, and the second being about 0.0498 MHz more than the hydrogen line. The bandwidth of the signal is less than 10 kHz (each column on the printout corresponds to a 10 kHz-wide channel; the signal is only present in one column)."
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wow!_signal

    Line splitting is a common phenomenon in astrophysics as it is used to measure the strength of local magnetic fields. See Zeeman splitting:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeeman_effect

    The constellation Sagittarius is near the center of our galaxy which is known for it's active regions so you expect bright things like this in that area.

    My guess is that it was the discharge of a Hydrogen Maser (radio version of a laser) in a high magnetic field area, which are fairly common in astrophysics although maybe not so well known in 1977. Masers emit narrow bandwidth emissions by their very nature.
    home.fnal.gov/~kubik/FermilabWebsiteDocs/Masers.ppt

    The bright, narrow emission lines observed in the Wow! are exactly what one would expect from a Hydrogen Maser discharge in a high magnetic field (which is common near the center of the galaxy).

    My Hydrogen Maser theory explains all the facts/points made above with scientific analysis and logical deduction, just not wishful thinking.
    Last edited by Pirate-Drakk; 07 Dec 12, 23:49.
    Battles are dangerous affairs... Wang Hsi

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Pirate-Drakk View Post
      I doubt this event had anything to do with aliens.


      I spent 7 years working at the NRAO VLA back in the day, so I happen to know a few detailed things about SETI, radio astronomy and astrophysics.

      If it wasn't a one time event it might have credibility.

      The signal was only ~15 dB above back ground.

      The fact that it was on the Hydrogen line is self full filling prophecy. Radio telescopes look at this frequency by design because 90% of the universe is Hydrogen and the 1.4 GHz transition line is signature for Hydrogen. The Doppler shifting of this line is used to determine the rotation rates of galaxies, cosmological redshifts, etc. etc.

      "The two different values given for the frequency of the Wow! signal (1420.356 MHz and 1420.4556 MHz) are the same distance apart from the hydrogen line—the first being about 0.0498 MHz less than the hydrogen line, and the second being about 0.0498 MHz more than the hydrogen line. The bandwidth of the signal is less than 10 kHz (each column on the printout corresponds to a 10 kHz-wide channel; the signal is only present in one column)."
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wow!_signal

      Line splitting is a common phenomenon in astrophysics as it is used to measure the strength of local magnetic fields. See Zeeman splitting:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeeman_effect

      The constellation Sagittarius is near the center of our galaxy which is known for it's active regions so you expect bright things like this in that area.

      My guess is that it was the discharge of a Hydrogen Maser (radio version of a laser) in a high magnetic field area, which are fairly common in astrophysics although maybe not so well known in 1977. Masers emit narrow bandwidth emissions by their very nature.
      home.fnal.gov/~kubik/FermilabWebsiteDocs/Masers.ppt

      The bright, narrow emission lines observed in the Wow! are exactly what one would expect from a Hydrogen Maser discharge in a high magnetic field (which is common near the center of the galaxy).

      My Hydrogen Maser theory explains all the facts/points made above with scientific analysis and logical deduction, just not wishful thinking.
      Good post, but try not to step so hard on other peoples' dreams.
      Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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      • #4
        The wow was more for the strength of the signal than anything else, correct?
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        • #5
          Originally posted by OpanaPointer View Post
          The wow was more for the strength of the signal than anything else, correct?
          Correct. The signal was just a momentary "bright light" and the telescope scanned over it. The signal was not AM or FM.

          The Wiki space debris reflection theory doesn't work as it does not explain the source and nature of the signal.
          Battles are dangerous affairs... Wang Hsi

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          • #6
            SETI used to have a system wherein they used idle time on home computers to aid in their signal processing. I don't know if they still do, because I no longer allow that kid of access to my computer.
            Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes? Who is watching the watchers?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Mountain Man View Post
              SETI used to have a system wherein they used idle time on home computers to aid in their signal processing. I don't know if they still do, because I no longer allow that kid of access to my computer.
              [email protected] I run it.
              Hyperwar: World War II on the World Wide Web
              Hyperwar, Whats New
              World War II Resources
              The best place in the world to "work".

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Pirate-Drakk View Post
                Correct. The signal was just a momentary "bright light" and the telescope scanned over it. The signal was not AM or FM.

                The Wiki space debris reflection theory doesn't work as it does not explain the source and nature of the signal.
                Signal strength and focused bandwidth.... Hence, “WOW!”

                50 years of SETI and 1 WOW.
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                • #9
                  Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.


                  Philip
                  "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts."— Bertrand Russell

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by PhilipLaos View Post
                    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.


                    Philip
                    Nor is it evidence.

                    Statistically speaking, it's difficult to imagine a universe in which we are the only civilization. It's also hard to imagine that we will ever observe actual evidence of extraterrestrial civilizations. The universe is just too damn big.
                    Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by PhilipLaos View Post
                      Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.


                      Philip
                      Absence of evidence is absence until presence is confirmed by evidence. Until then, it's speculation.
                      Hyperwar: World War II on the World Wide Web
                      Hyperwar, Whats New
                      World War II Resources
                      The best place in the world to "work".

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by The Doctor View Post
                        Nor is it evidence.

                        Statistically speaking, it's difficult to imagine a universe in which we are the only civilization. It's also hard to imagine that we will ever observe actual evidence of extraterrestrial civilizations. The universe is just too damn big.
                        And it's within the realm of possibility that only one communicative civilization exists at any time. We beat long odds to get here.
                        Hyperwar: World War II on the World Wide Web
                        Hyperwar, Whats New
                        World War II Resources
                        The best place in the world to "work".

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by OpanaPointer View Post
                          And it's within the realm of possibility that only one communicative civilization exists at any time. We beat long odds to get here.
                          Quite so, maybe we are even the first.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by joea View Post
                            Quite so, maybe we are even the first.
                            Given the sample size any guess is on the table.
                            Hyperwar: World War II on the World Wide Web
                            Hyperwar, Whats New
                            World War II Resources
                            The best place in the world to "work".

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by OpanaPointer View Post
                              And it's within the realm of possibility that only one communicative civilization exists at any time. We beat long odds to get here.
                              It's also possible that the universe is the way it is because our existence requires it to be that way (Top-down Cosmology). I think it was Davies who said of the apparent fine tuning of the laws of physics that, “It's as if the universe was expecting us.”
                              Watts Up With That? | The world's most viewed site on global warming and climate change.

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