- Education and Science»
- Astronomy & Space Exploration
The Wow! Signal -- Have Extraterrestrials Responded To Our Radio Signals?
You know how we have been sending radio signals out into the cosmos for decades hoping to contact intelligent life somewhere ‘out there?’ Yes, hoping to receive a response to our radio signals, because that would prove that intelligent life (besides what passes for our own) exists somewhere else in the universe besides here on planet Earth.
Guess what? We received a response all the way back on August 16, 1977! Here I have been interested in this subject since I was a young child, and I used to devour everything related to outer space and extraterrestrials, yet I had never heard about this thing called “The Wow! Signal.”
Since it happened so long ago, and since my research shows The Wow! Signal has been, according to Wikipedia, “the subject of significant media attention,” from the time it was received, I am wondering how many other people were unaware of this Wow! Signal, like myself.
All of my adult life having been an avid reader of magazines, and periodicals (Scientific America and the likes – not just Martha Stewart Living), and having watched the various network’s news daily (CNN, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, etc.) when I still had a television, I have never heard of the Wow! Signal until just a few days ago. How did this Wow! Signal happen without my having heard about it!? I asked a few people over the last few days if they knew about it, and they said they had not heard of it before either.
National Geographic Is Publicizing the Wow! Signal and That Is Where I First Heard of It Just a Few Days Ago.
Then I thought if I had not heard about the Wow! Signal that happened nearly 35 years ago until recently, and several other people I know have not heard of it, then maybe there are other people around the world who may not have heard of it either. Maybe those of us who have not heard about this signal before are not alone – no pun intended.
For people not familiar with space alien talk, the often-used phrase, “we are not alone,” when talking about the possibility of extraterrestrial life, is quite common. You will often hear that question posed by someone with a Rod Serling like voice at the beginning of documentaries about space exploration.
On the chance that there are other people in the world as uninformed about this “Wow! Signal” as I have been, I decided to write a hub about it. I came across news of this Signal quite by accident or I would still not know about it. Being a news junkie, on most subjects, not only outer space and alien life, I am still puzzled as to how the media could have been so abuzz (as Wikipedia says they have been and still are), about this event without my hearing about it sooner.
What is the Wow! Signal? How did it get that name?
So lets backtrack a bit and determine first of all, what exactly is meant by the Wow! Signal?
The Wow! Signal was a strong narrowband radio signal observed by Jerry R. Ehman on August 16, 1977. Ehman was at the time of discovery working on a SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project at the Big Ear radio telescope located at Perkin’s Observatory in Delaware, Ohio, at the Ohio Wesleyan University.
The Signal lasted for 72 seconds and had the distinctions scientists expected an extraterrestrial (not of this Earth) signal coming from an intelligent source outside of our solar system to have.
One thing that sets artificial (not occurring naturally) radio signals originating from an intelligent source apart from normal signals in space (static of sorts) is that they are usually narrow band. According to DoItYourself.com, “a narrow band radio system uses a point to point connection because the broadcast aims at numerous receivers within a specific region. The point-to-point communication station can operate only when needed. In other words, it does not just happen by itself. The narrow band system ensures more stable and longer connections than a wide band frequency can provide.”
Ehman was reportedly so amazed that the radio signal he had detected was a strong narrowband signal all but certain to have come from an intelligent source, that he circled the signal and wrote “Wow!” on the left side of the computer printout. This “wow!” became the name of the signal.
The numbers and letters Ehman circled indicate the intensity variation of the radio signal received. The original computer printout is preserved at the Ohio Historical Society.
What is SETI?
The abbreviation SETI stands for Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence. It is the name under which many different people and organizations operate that are searching for intelligent life beyond the planet Earth.
Some of the best known projects are carried out by the University of California at Berkeley, and Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts, using a variety of different scientific methods to search for intelligent extraterrestrial life.
Initially the U.S. government contributed to SETI projects, but more recently most funding comes from private sources.
What Have We Learned Since the First Signal Was Detected?
Despite searches by Ehman and other scientists in the 1980s and 1990s, the signal has never been picked up again. Wikipedia reports that “In 1995 and 1996, [Robert] Gray also searched for the signal using the Very Large Array [radio telescope], which is significantly more sensitive than Big Ear.
Gray and Simon Ellingsen later searched for recurrences of the event in 1999 using the 26m radio telescope at the University of Tasmania’s Mount Pleasant Radio Observatory. Six 14-hour observations were made at positions in the vicinity [where the original radio signal came from], but did not detect anything similar to the Wow! Signal.”
It seems we are no closer to solving the mystery of the Wow! Signal than we were when it was first detected and recorded.
E. T. Is Here!
More from Au Fait and Friends About UFOs and Extraterrestrials
- E.T. Is Here!! And He's Watching Us! Maybe Even Living Among Us!
Some very credible people, former astronauts, former U.S. presidents, and others, say that aliens from other planets are here.
- Mars moon Phobos: Are Aliens From Another World Living Inside Phobos?
There is a monolith on the Mars moon known as Phobos. Is it a natural phenomenon, or did somebody put it there? Is Phobos really a moon, or an alien space station in disguise? Could Phobos be a base from which other world beings observe the Earth?
- 30 Years of UFO Sightings in Canada
Dorothy Izatt, an 85-year-old woman from Vancouver, British Columbia has been 'visited' by UFOs for 30 years. Sound absurd? Mrs. Izatt has 30,000 feet of 8mm film to prove that there's something out there . . .
© 2012 C E Clark