(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘SETI

“Everyone’s quick to blame the alien”*…

 

In August of 1977, volunteer astronomer Jerry Ehman reviewed readings from Ohio State’s Big Ear Radio Observatory (that’s a scan, above, of Ehman’s notations on the print-out he was assessing)…

He was sitting in his kitchen when he spotted a pattern that a couple of physicists had theorized 18 years earlier would signify alien chatter, according to Michael Brooks, the author of 13 Things That Don’t Make Sense . The printout read 6EQUJ5, a human way of cataloging the 72-second burst of sound registering at a frequency of 1420 MHz. The significance? E.T. may have phoned our home long before Spielberg set otherworldly hearts aglow with his 1982 film…

Scientists have rules out terrestrial sources– the signal came from “out there.”  So there are two possibilities: It was an actual alien communication, or Ehman stumbled across a previously undiscovered natural astrophysical phenomenon.  And as H. Paul Shuch (an engineer, radio astronomer, and executive director emeritus of the SETI League) observes, “either one would be worthy of a Nobel Prize, if only we knew which.”

Read the whole story at “The ‘Wow’ Signal. or That Time Jerry Ehman May Have Heard From Aliens.”

* Aeschylus, The Suppliant Maidens

###

As we phone home, we might spare a thought for Martin Gardner; he died on this date in 2010.  Though not an academic, nor ever a formal student of math or science, he wrote widely and prolifically on both subjects in such popular books as The Ambidextrous Universe and The Relativity Explosion and as the “Mathematical Games” columnist for Scientific American.  Indeed, his elegant– and understandable– puzzles delighted professional and amateur readers alike, and helped inspire a generation of young mathematicians.

Gardner’s interests were wide; in addition to the math and science that were his power alley, he studied and wrote on topics that included magic, philosophy, religion, and literature (c.f., especially his work on Lewis Carroll– including the delightful Annotated Alice— and on G.K. Chesterton).  And he was a fierce debunker of pseudoscience: a founding member of CSICOP, and contributor of a monthly column (“Notes of a Fringe Watcher,” from 1983 to 2002) in Skeptical Inquirer, that organization’s monthly magazine.

 

 source

 

Written by LW

May 22, 2015 at 1:01 am

Oh, THERE you are…

image by Lynett Cook

From i09:

Astrophysicist Ragbir Bhathal works with SETI [Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence] to scan the skies for possible communications from extraterrestrial intelligences. Unlike most SETI facilities, which look for radio signals, Bhathal’s looks for laser pulses. And now he’s found one.

Several years ago Bhathal, a researcher at the University of Western Sydney, suggested that a likely form of extraterrestrial communication would be laser bursts. He set up a facility at his lab which sweeps a nearby volume of space, within about 100 light years, for laser bursts that come in a regular pattern. Any kind of communication would likely be distinguished from background noise by coming in repeated or non-random patterns.

And a few months ago, Bhathal found the kind of regular pattern he’s been looking for. He’s been analyzing it and seeking a repeat pattern in the same area of space ever since. Though he’s cautious about claiming it as a genuine extraterrestrial signal, his discovery has been making local news. Read all about it in The Australian.

As we rethink our place in the cosmos, we might that it was on this date in 1953 that the first 3-D science fiction film, It Came from Outer Space, opened– the anniversary of Irish novelist Bram Stoker’s 1897 introduction of “the thirsty Count,” Dracula.  (Stoker’s buddy, the great Victorian actor Sir Henry Irving– with his dramatic presence, gentlemanly mannerisms and affinity for playing villain roles– was the model for the Count. Irving, however, never agreed to play the part on stage.)

%d bloggers like this: