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Aliens Found In Ohio? The 'Wow!' Signal

May 29, 2010

Listen To A Possible Signal From E.T.

May 29, 2010

When something truly startling happens, people say: "OMG!" or the dreaded, "Awesome!" But when Jerry Ehman sat at his kitchen table on Aug. 18, 1977, and saw six numbers and letters on the computer printout in front of him — six symbols that have become one of the grandest riddles in modern science — he chose the simplest expression of all. He took a red pen, circled the letters and then wrote:
The word  "Wow!" is scrawled in red next to a row of numbers on a  computer printout
Image courtesy of the OSU RO and NAAPO

When Jerry Ehman wrote that three-letter word, "wow," he was a professor at Ohio State University volunteering with SETI, the Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence. Every few days, a messenger would bike over from "The Big Ear," Ohio State's giant radio telescope in Delaware, Ohio, and hand Jerry computer records of sounds coming in from deep space. If something surprising popped up, he was to notify the other SETI folks.


What he saw that day was like an answered prayer.
The  six numbers and letters of the "Wow!" signal, in a vertical  column, circled in red
Image courtesy of the OSU RO and NAAPO

The six numbers and letters of the "Wow!" signal.

If I Were An Alien ...

Eighteen years earlier, two Cornell physicists, Philip Morrison and Giuseppe Cocconi, had tried to imagine how an intelligent alien civilization might try to signal Earth. We should look, they said, for a radio transmission. Radio waves are cheap to produce, don't require much energy and travel vast distances across space.


Cocconi and Morrison guessed that the aliens would choose a frequency that would mean something to creatures who know math and chemistry. Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe. Zap a hydrogen atom and it will resonate at a particular rate: 1420 megahertz (MHz). So look, they said, for a signal coming in at 1420 MHz. And look for something loud, something that would catch our attention.


And on Aug. 15, in it came, exactly as predicted.


What Jerry saw was, yes, a radio signal and, yes, a radio signal very, very close to 1420 MHz (it was 1420.4556, just a smidge from where it was expected). It lasted 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. It was loud. And the transmission had the shape that Cocconi and Morrison had predicted. If you look at this printout, you will see this sequence of letters and numbers: 6EQUJ5.


According to science writer Michael Brooks in his book 13 Things That Don't Make Sense, "The letters and numbers are, essentially, a measure of the intensity of the electromagnetic signal as it hit the receiver. Low power was recorded with numbers 0 to 9; as power got higher, the computer used letters: 10 was A, 11 was B and so on." So by the time you get to the last letters of the alphabet, you are getting a very powerful signal.


That's why when Jerry saw this letter U on his printout (U is the 21st letter of the alphabet) he knew something was up.
An  illustration of detail from the "Wow!" document, highlighting  the letter U
Maggie Starbard/NPR
An illustration of detail from the "Wow!" document.


"I had never seen any signal that strong before," Jerry says. "U," in a logarithmic way, means about 30 times louder than the ordinary noise of deep space. That's kind of a "Hello!" level. And that explains Jerry's reaction.


"That's the nice thing about the word 'wow.' I was, uh ... I was astonished," he says.


The Universe Is A Noisy Place


As surprised as he was, Jerry was also puzzled. Where did the signal come from? SETI scientists traced it back to the constellation Sagittarius, just to the northwest of the globular cluster M55. But when they looked for the source, there was nothing there, no planet, no star. Still, the shape of the signal, its narrow AM/FM-like focus, not to mention its surprisingly tantalizing frequency suggested intentionality. Maybe whoever or whatever sent the signal had moved on?


The M55 globular cluster, inside the  constellation Sagittarius.
B.J. Mochejska (CfA), J. Kaluzny (CAMK), 1m Swope Telescope


SETI scientists traced the Wow signal to an area just northwest of M55, a cluster of 100,000 stars inside the constellation Sagittarius.

Or maybe not. Maybe there was no signal. Jerry and his colleagues checked all the alternative explanations they could think of. Was it a satellite transmission (no), a military signal (no), an aircraft signal (no), a broadcast beam (no), an accidental beam ricocheting off space debris (no)? Could it have been something natural? A pulsating star? That's where things began to unravel.


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SUBTITLES IN ENGLISH, ESPAÑOL, PORTUGUÊS

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MUFON

How to Digitally Record/Video a UFO sighting:


Como registar digitalmente ou gravar um vídeo de um avistamento de um UFO:




Stabilize the camera on a tripod. If there is no tripod, then set it on top of a stable, flat surface. If that is not possible lean against a wall to stabilize your body and prevent the camera from filming in a shaky, unsteady manner.

Estabilize a camera com um tripé. Se não tiver um tripé, então coloque-a em cima de uma superfície estável. Se não for possível, então encoste-se a uma parede para estabilizar o corpo e evitar que a camera registe de maneira tremida e instável.

Provide visual reference points for comparison. This includes the horizon, treetops, lampposts, houses, and geographical landmarks (i.e., Horsetooth Reservoir, Mt. Adams, etc.) Provide this in the video whenever is appropriate and doesn’t detract from what your focus is, the UFO.

Forneça pontos visuais de referência para comparação. Isso inclui o horizonte, cimo das árvores, postes de iluminação, pontos de referência geográficos (como o Reservatório de Horsetooth, Mone Adams, etc) Forneça esses pontos no vídeo sempre que for apropriado e não se distraia do que é o seu foco, o UFO/a Nave.

Narrate your videotape. Provide details of the date, time, location, and direction (N,S,E,W) you are looking in. Provide your observations on the weather, including approximate temperature, windspeed, any visible cloud cover or noticeable weather anomalies or events. Narrate on the shape, size, color, movements, approximate altitude of the UFO, etc and what it appears to be doing. Also include any unusual physical, psychological or emotional sensations you might have. Narrate any visual reference points on camera so they correlate with what the viewer will see, and thereby will be better able to understand.

Faça a narração do vídeo. Forneça pormenores sobre a data, hora, local e direcção (Norte, Sul, Este, Oeste) que está a observar. Faça observações sobre as condições atmosféricas, incluindo a temperatura aproximada, velocidade do vento, quantidade de nuvens, anomalias ou acontecimentos meteorológicos evidentes. Descreva a forma, o tamanho, a cor, os movimentos, a altitude aproximada onde se encontra o UFO/nave, etc e o que aparenta estar a fazer. Inclua também quaisquer aspectos pouco habituais de sensações físicas, psicológicas ou emocionais que possa ter. Faça a narração de todos os pontos de referência visual que o espectador irá ver e que, deste modo, será capaz de compreender melhor.

Be persistent and consistent. Return to the scene to videotape and record at this same location. If you have been successful once, the UFO sightings may be occurring in this region regularly, perhaps for specific reasons unknown, and you may be successful again. You may also wish to return to the same location at a different time of day (daylight hours) for better orientation and reference. Film just a minute or two under “normal” circumstances for comparison. Write down what you remember immediately after. As soon as you are done recording the experience/event, immediately write down your impressions, memories, thoughts, emotions, etc. so it is on the record in writing. If there were other witnesses, have them independently record their own impressions, thoughts, etc. Include in this exercise any drawings, sketches, or diagrams. Make sure you date and sign your documentation.

Seja persistente e não contraditório. Volte ao local da cena e registe o mesmo local. Se foi bem sucedido uma vez, pode ser que nessa região ocorram avistamentos de UFOs/naves com regularidade, talvez por razões específicas desconhecidas, e talvez possa ser novamente bem sucedido. Pode também desejar voltar ao mesmo lugar a horas diferentes do dia (durante as horas de luz)para ter uma orientação e referência melhor. Filme apenas um ,inuto ou dois em circunstâncias “normais” para ter um termo de comparação. Escreva tudo o que viu imediatamente após o acontecimento. Logo após ter feito o registo da experiência/acontecimento, escreva imediatamente as impressões, memórias, pensamentos, emoções, etc para que fiquem registadas por escrito. Se houver outras testemunhas, peça-lhes para registar independentemente as suas próprias impressões, pensamentos, etc. Inclua quaisquer desenhos, esbolos, diagramas. Certifique-se que data e assina o seu documento/testemunho.

Always be prepared. Have a digital camera or better yet a video camera with you, charged and ready to go, at all times. Make sure you know how to use your camera (and your cell phone video/photo camera) quickly and properly. These events can occur suddenly, unexpectedly, and often quite randomly, so you will need to be prepared.

Esteja sempre preparado, Tenha sempre uma camera digital, melhor ainda, uma camera vídeo consigo, carregada e pronta a usar sempre que necessário. Certifique-se que sabe como lidar com a sua camera (ou com o seu celular/camera fotográfica) rápida e adequadamente. Esses acontecimentos podem acontecer súbita e inesperadamente e, por vezes, acidentalmente, por isso, necessita estar preparado.

Look up. Be prepared. Report. Share.

Olhe para cima, Esteja preparado, Relate, Partilhe.

MUFON.COM

ESOTERIC



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