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Space Science

SETI Researcher Quashes Signal Rumors 379

Posted by michael
from the killing-my-dreams dept.
brainstyle writes "According to Dan Wertheimer of SETI the whole ET signal excitement is more hype than science. I told myself it was in all likelihood nothing special, but I'm still disappointed. Darn."
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SETI Researcher Quashes Signal Rumors

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  • Wow... check out these segments from the article:

    Astronomers deny ET signal report

    Astronomers have moved swiftly to quell speculation they may have received a deep-space radio signal

    It's all hype and noise

    We have nothing that is unusual. It's all out of proportion.

    It's not much of anything at all. We're not investigating it further.

    At the moment, we have no candidates that we are particularly excited about

    It's all hype. We don't have anything we are excited about.

    we have no candidates that we are particularly excited about and the new 'signal' is not a priority.

    it is not surprising that a signal like this occurs purely due to chance.

    not new and definitely not a signal


    With that much denial in one news report, you know it has to be a cover-up :).
    • by Eloquence (144160) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:22PM (#10141493) Homepage
      The BBC article is certainly high on denial and short on substance. I particularly dislike the intro: " It was reported on the internet that the signal had been found .." - Oh, these wacky Internet people are at it again. The New Scientist is also a print publication, and it did not report that a signal had been found, it reported that there was a particularly strong candidate signal, which showed certain interesting oddities which may very well rule it out from being artificial:

      There are other oddities. For instance, the signal's frequency is drifting by between eight to 37 hertz per second. "The signal is moving rapidly in frequency and you would expect that to happen if you are looking at a transmitter on a planet that's rotating very rapidly and where the civilisation is not correcting the transmission for the motion of the planet," Korpela says.

      This does not, however, convince Paul Horowitz, a Harvard University astronomer who looks for alien signals using optical telescopes. He points out that the SETI@home software corrects for any drift in frequency.

      Fishy and puzzling

      The fact that the signal continues to drift after this correction is "fishy", he says. "If [the aliens] are so smart, they'll adjust their signal for their planet's motion."

      The relatively rapid drift of the signal is also puzzling for other reasons. A planet would have to be rotating nearly 40 times faster than Earth to have produced the observed drift; a transmitter on Earth would produce a signal with a drift of about 1.5 hertz per second.

      What is more, if telescopes are observing a signal that is drifting in frequency, then each time they look for it they should most likely encounter it at a slightly different frequency. But in the case of SHGb02+14a, every observation has first been made at 1420 megahertz, before it starts drifting. "It just boggles my mind," Korpela says.

      Now, in light of these facts, which are not denied in the BBC article, the "We're not investigating it further" type responses certainly sound like an attempt to prevent the media from getting their panties in a twist. "Actually it was a reflection from a weather balloon..."

      I hope SETI does investigate. That's the whole point of the project, isn't it?

      • "The signal is moving rapidly in frequency and you would expect that to happen if you are looking at a transmitter on a planet that's rotating very rapidly and where the civilisation is not correcting the transmission for the motion of the planet," Korpela says.

        The bionic Lemming says :

        A navigational Beacon? Rotating on a repair facility? Made to cover as much of an area as possible in times of distress?

        Or do the aliens have Software written by their version of Microsoft - and they accidentally have a
        • A navigational Beacon? Rotating on a repair facility? Made to cover as much of an area as possible in times of distress?

          Maybe a hollow sphere or ring rotating for artifical gravity? ie. DEATH STAR. /me runs

          -molo
        • >> The signal is moving rapidly in frequency

          Isn't that the whole point of FM? (i.e. frequency modulation... varying the frequency to encode data?)

          Couldn't it be a signal from a stationary source that's being modulated as a carrier wave? Think outside your tiny box once in a while... :)
      • by Ayaress (662020) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @03:20PM (#10142116) Journal
        "If [the aliens] are so smart, they'll adjust their signal for their planet's motion."

        Only one thing I always say about this: It's a very naive to assume aliens are smart. We're not all that bright by the standards we seem to expect of aliens, and we used to be a lot dumber. We're just as likely to detect an early industrial civlization by their sitcom broadcasts as we are to detect some hyperadvanced godlike race beaming lasers at us accross the galaxy.
        • I dont believe any project has the equipment to detect a typical TV broadcast off-planet. SETI is banking on another SETI-like program on an alien world which sends radio waves out seeking seekers, as they are not (to my knowledge) capable of detecting the kind of thing you're suggesting. Which makes it even more of a gamble and means no one is going to find anything through "stupidity."

          Also, considering the "WOW" signal from a few decades ago it seems that perhaps the odds are against us. Maybe there was
        • A recent (September 1) article in New Scientist magazine, entitled " Mysterious signals from 1000 light years away," implies that the Berkeley SETI@home project has uncovered a very convincing candidate signal that might be the first strong evidence for extraterrestrial intelligence.

          Alas, this story is misleading. According to Dan Werthimer, who heads up the Berkeley SERENDIP SETI project, this is a case of a reporter failing to understand the workings of their search. He says that misquotes and statements
        • hyperadvanced godlike race beaming lasers at us accross the galaxy.

          You mean....

          Aliens with frickin' lasers on top of their heads?

      • by Qzukk (229616) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @03:22PM (#10142141) Journal
        Can someone explain to me why the shift in frequency is not being considered as the signal itself? It doesn't take rocket science to create and broadcast an FM signal, and we've even learned how to cope with the doppler effect as we drive along listening to the radio in our cars.

        Perhaps 1420 is the start-of-message signal?

        Realistically speaking, if I took a reading of a signal that always started the same way and behaved the same way no matter when I started, I would suspect an artifact of the equipment or software.
        • by Rich0 (548339) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @04:14PM (#10142646) Homepage
          Well, I'd be the last person to expect aliens to come calling from space, but I'm not against investigation. If you have several interesting signals from the same area of the sky, then it only makes sense to point a radio telescope at it for at least a few days and both monitor the hydrogen emmission continuously for a while, and also check the rest of the spectrum.

          I wouldn't be surprised if the signal only showed up periodially if it were artificial. After all, they would probably be scanning the sky with a high-gain antenna. They'd expect a recipient to figure out the period and then be ready to capture whatever higher-speed data is being sent on some other frequency, or something like that.

          Most likely this is just a natural phenomena. However, that makes it just as useful to study - it means we can learn something just the same...

      • From the horse's (Score:5, Informative)

        by SETIGuy (33768) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @03:50PM (#10142441) Homepage

        Unfortunately, reporters, editors and scientists often work at cross purposes. Reporters want to sell stories, editors want to sell magazines, and scientists want the public to hear about their research. When the science won't sell the story, there is often some creative writing that goes on.

        That said, I was both misquoted and quoted out of context in the New Scientist article. The crux of the issue is that there really isn't much chance that the "signal" is actually extraterrestrial or even real. The point I was trying to make to the "New Scientist" reporter was that the combination of a stable frequency between observation and the rapidly changing frequency during an observation meant that it was unlikely that it was real, and that it was likely to be a spurious signal due to noise or interference. I reiterated that several times.

        I don't know how that got misinterpreted to the point where the article claims I said the signal was unlikely to be interference or noise.

        We don't have any plans for reobservation or monitoring, and I'd give 1000:1 odds that there's nothing there.

    • by goombah99 (560566) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:23PM (#10141505)
      They know its not a real signal because it said so.
    • by DHR (68430) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:31PM (#10141575) Homepage
      Lots of denial, without any explanations. We want to know why its all hype and noise, why it's not unusual, and why it's not a signal. In short, what did they realize it was?
    • by fbg111 (529550) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:32PM (#10141577)
      I for one welcome our new non-existant alien overlords.
    • It was really a couple guys on a polished part of the dish cracking open a Pepsi...
  • to believe this too. When will the aliens come so that we may bring rise to the war on inter-galactic terrorism?
  • by AnswerIs42 (622520) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:14PM (#10141378) Homepage
    That when I first clicked the "Read More".. I see this:

    Nothing for you to see here. Please move along.

    Instead of the story..

    • by TopShelf (92521) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:19PM (#10141447) Homepage Journal
      see... it is a cover-up!!!
      • by commodoresloat (172735) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @04:07PM (#10142594)
        The message has been found and translated. A text of the translation follows.

        Hello,
        I am Mr Buck Francisco, General Manager(Treasury) of Land
        Bank, Helopkino, in the Alpha Centauri System.This is an urgent and
        very confidential business proposition.

        On earth date June 6, 2000,an alien Oil consultant/contractor with
        the Alpha Centauri Institute of Mining and Metallurgy,
        Mr. Darth Vader made a numbered time(Fixed) Deposit for
        twelve earth months, valued at US$26,500,000.00,
        (Twenty-six Million, five hundred thousand of your Earth US Dollars).

        Upon maturity,I sent a routine notification to his forwarding
        address but got no reply. After a month, we sent a reminder and
        finally we discovered from his contract employers, the Centauri
        Petroleum Corporation that Mr.Darth Vader died from a spaceship
        accident.On further investigation,I found out that
        he died without making a WILL,and all attempts to trace his next
        of kin was fruitless.

        I therefore made further investigation and discovered that
        Mr.Darth Vader did not declare any kin or relations in all his
        official documents,including his Bank Deposit paperwork in my
        Bank. This sum of US$26,500,000.00 has carefully been fixed in my
        bank for safekeeping.

        No one will ever come forward to claim it.According to Helopkino
        Law,at the expiration of 5 (five) earth years, the money will revert to the
        ownership of the Government if nobody applies to claim the fund.

        Consequently, my proposal is that I will like you as a Alien to
        stand in as the owner of the money which was fixed deposited in my
        bank. I am writing you because I as a public servant,i cannot operate
        an alien account.

        I want to present you as the owner of the funds so you can be able to
        claim them with the help of my attorney. This is simple.I will like
        you to provide immediately your full names and address so that the
        Attorney will prepare the necessary documents which will put you in
        place as the beneficiary of the funds.

        The money will be moved out for us to share in the ratio of 80% for
        me and 20% for you. The paperwork for this transaction will be done
        by the Attorney.If you are interested, please reply immediately via
        my SETI@home address and Upon your response,I shall then provide you
        with more details and relevant documents that will help you understand
        the transaction.Please observe utmost confidentiality, and be rest
        assured that this transaction would be most profitable for both of
        us because I shall require your assistance to invest my share in real
        estate within your country.

        Due to the nature of confidentiality in this Transaction our
        communication can only be via SETI.

        Awaiting your urgent reply via my email Above.

        Thanks and my regards.
        BUCK FRANCISCO.
    • Most likely not ET.
      But even if it's not, the real question is whether the Government is swooping in to take over management of detecting and decoding of the Signal ala "Contact"

      The denials mean little in themselves, but if the next day includes evidence of some Science oversight committee on flight to SETI@Home and various other radio observatories, and if a suspiciously high percentage of radio dishes start pointing in the same direction in the sky - well then interesting days may be ahead.

  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:14PM (#10141385)

    Dan, did you try to map the signal to a 3 dimensional shape? A cube maybe??

  • oh well (Score:3, Funny)

    by Second_Infinity (810308) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:14PM (#10141388) Homepage
    I guess I'll have to take the signs and flares off my roof now. :(
  • I for one (Score:3, Funny)

    by jcook793 (567065) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:14PM (#10141389) Homepage Journal
    I for one say good riddance to our alien radio-emitting overlords.
  • by Shadow Wrought (586631) <{shadow.wrought} {at} {gmail.com}> on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:14PM (#10141391) Homepage Journal
    First Post.

    Obviously not intelligent.

  • by nizo (81281) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:14PM (#10141392) Homepage Journal
    We should be fine as long as the signal isn't a countdown.
  • Maybe not radio? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Gentoo Fan (643403) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:15PM (#10141399) Homepage
    NPR has a cool piece [npr.org] regarding how radio may not be the best approach to looking for ET life.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:15PM (#10141403)
    It offers a free ipod.
  • by DarkHand (608301) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:15PM (#10141406)
    A mention of a possible signal and someone comes out to vehemently deny it? Tinfoil time!
    • Y'know, I get really tired of all this bullshit I hear. It's bad enough to hear this bullshit when I interact with "normal" people -- do we really need this on slashdot as well?

      Look everyone, making any sort of contact with an alien civilization would be such an incredible discovery, there's no way the government could ever keep it quiet. Christ, they can't even keep China from obtaining detailed blueprints on every single nuclear weapon in the US arsenal. So how are these nincompoops going to keep a bu

  • Well (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:16PM (#10141414)
    I, for one, retract my welcome of our new alien overlords.
  • by fzammett (255288) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:19PM (#10141458) Homepage
    I try to keep the tinfoil hat in the closet as much as possible, but one can't resist...

    Yesterday, we get this quote from Dan Wertheimer:

    "It's the most interesting signal from SETI@home. We're not jumping up and down, but we are continuing to observe it."

    but today we get:

    "It's all hype and noise. We have nothing that is unusual. It's all out of proportion."

    and we also get Paul Horowitz:

    "It's not much of anything at all. We're not investigating it further."

    So yesterday the chief scientist for the project says it's the most interesting signal (which in and of itself just means it was a little different than the rest) and that they will continue to investigate it. But now today it's just a bunch of media hype and they aren't investigating it any further (I'm not sure who Horowitz actually is, but it seems a safe assumption, based on his comment, that he's associated with the project".

    Yes, it COULD just be a case of "Oh wow!... Oh no, wait, nothing". Or it could be an outright coverup. I suspect it's something in between, but chains of comments like these really do lead a person down a particular path.
    • Unlikely .... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gstoddart (321705) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:33PM (#10141591) Homepage
      Yes, it COULD just be a case of "Oh wow!... Oh no, wait, nothing". Or it could be an outright coverup. I suspect it's something in between, but chains of comments like these really do lead a person down a particular path.


      I think you would probably find that the people who want to find extraterrestrial life really, guinuinely want to find it. They would neither risk being considered cranks by repeatedly saying "found one -- oops, psyche" nor would they willingly participate in a cover up if they did.

      A lot of scientists already think of SETI as being a little flaky. Giving people reason to believe that more would be silly.

      [ then again, since I can't prove a negative, I can't completely rule out the assertion either. =]

      • Just to clarify my comments, I certainly don't think they did this on pupose if it was just a mistake. I think they got excited about something, then a few hours later realized it wasn't nearly as exciting as they thought at first.

        If that's the case, I'd really like an expanded explanation. If they figured out it's a telescope malfunction, let us know. If they discovered it corresponds with a Pulsar or something, let us know. If they think someone hacked the software, let us know. They way they left i
    • I'm not sure who Horowitz actually is, but it seems a safe assumption, based on his comment, that he's associated with the project

      Paul Horowitz is a physicist at Harvard who's primary claim to fame is being one of the co-authors of The Art of Electronics [artofelectronics.com]. The other author being Winfield Hill.

      Paul is a damn smart guy, is pretty funny, and has an encyclopedic knowledge of electronics. I took the Physics 123 class with him and Tom Hayes at Harvard about 5 years ago so I have some sense of his intellect.

  • Correct link (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward


    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/sci/tech/3621608.stm [bbc.co.uk]

    see the 2 in the URL ? that denotes US based servers (bbc world edition) if its a 1 its UK servers, great and superquick for the UK but as most of the traffic here is US based its better/quicker to use the designated servers for that area

  • Wait a minute... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cephyn (461066) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:21PM (#10141476) Homepage
    so if this is really nothing and they at SETI aren't interested, where'd all the damn hype come from in the first place? thats what i dont get....who started it, and what happened to them?

    i understand its so very probably not an ET signal...but what if it was?
    • It was probably somebody looking at results who overreacted. SETI's site has a list of their "hopefuls" and such, most of which are nothing like this. I suspect somebody looked at the latest batch of data and saw a "hopeful" signal and didn't realize that those aren't that rare and usually pan out to be nothing.
  • by SunSaw (700981) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:21PM (#10141485)
    My sources indicate that the message was along the lines of "take me to your leader", but the folks over at the SETI project want to wait until after the US election in November before replying. BTW, here's a sample of the results [berkeley.edu] that users have submitted.
  • Alone (Score:4, Funny)

    by HogGeek (456673) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:22PM (#10141486)
    Like most of the geeks on this site, I'm afraid we are really all alone...
  • Although (Score:5, Informative)

    by RsG (809189) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:22PM (#10141489)
    It is worth noting that TFA says that the signal in question in in the hydrogen absorbtion band. I remember reading old sci-fi stories that speculated that these frequencies would be a good candidate for interstellar communications, since interstellar hydrogen absorbs EM radiation in this frequency, sweeping it clear of noise. Obviously SETI feels the same way, or else they wouln't consider this signal to be "of interest".

    If they have found an interstellar signal in this frequency, and it isn't artificial, will we have to revise our understanding of astrophysics? My understanding is that this can't be regular white noise. Maybe it's from our solar system (a naturally occuring local signal rather than interstellar). Or maybe it's something new.
    • ...interstellar hydrogen absorbs EM radiation in this frequency, sweeping it clear of noise. Obviously SETI feels the same way, or else they wouln't consider this signal to be "of interest".

      Eh? Wouldn't that mean interstellar hydrogen would also absorb the signal? Your link would be useles, unless your signalling power was humongous, in which case... Why worry about noise?

    • Not quite (Score:4, Informative)

      by mangu (126918) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:47PM (#10141756)
      interstellar hydrogen absorbs EM radiation in this frequency


      No, it's exactly the opposite. There is very low absorption on this frequency, which means the signal will propagate farther than in other frequencies.


      will we have to revise our understanding of astrophysics? My understanding is that this can't be regular white noise.


      From what I have read, it's a "marginally regular" white noise. That is, it has a shape that's somewhat unusual to find in noise, but not really impossible, just low probability.

    • Well, you also have to remember that SETI looks hardest at the hydrogen absorbtion band, so the likelihood of finding a false positive in this band is higher because that's where they're looking.
  • by JediDan (214076) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:22PM (#10141491)
    warning beacon [amazon.com]. I've been wondering when it would drift close enough to be detected.

    STAY AWAY! Mostly Harmless (but they're getting worse).
  • by MyHair (589485) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:22PM (#10141492) Journal
    I, for one, welcome nobody.
  • 1420 MHz (Score:2, Funny)

    by jmanforever (603829)
    I picked up this signal on my modified home satelite dish, and was able to decode the following:

    "4ll Ur B4s3 r B3l0ng 2 Us"
  • The Amazonians are looking for a little interplanetary snu-snu and Dan Wertheimer's been cooped up for so long "analyzing data" that he doesn't recognize the signal.
  • swamp gas (Score:2, Funny)

    by minus_273 (174041)
    He continued: "With Seti@home having analysed some 50 trillion frequency bands, it is not surprising that a signal like this occurs purely due to chance."

    it was all swamp gas, move along now, nothing to see here
  • Conspiracy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by $lingBlade (249591)
    The thought of a conspiracy to cover this up is nagging at me. Imagine if we *were* to be contacted by aliens, what do you think the repercussions would be with respect to religion, national security (U.S. as well as others), economics, science, politics, and so on? To veer off a bit to make my point, if we were hit by a very large meteor from outer space, society if it weren't completely wiped out *might* stand a chance at rebuilding.

    But if something like extraterrestial contact were to happen to us as
    • But that was before Star Trek, Star Wars, even space flight. Now more young people believe in the existence of UFOs than think that they'll receive Social Security.

      Proving microbes on Mars wouldn't rock the boat much.

      Alf landing in Moscow and eating lunch with Putin might be hard for some to take, though.

    • Yeah, but Orson Welles told people that New York was being actively invaded. That's not quite the same thing as picking up a distant radio signal.

      "five great machines. First one is crossing the river. I can see it from here, wading... wading the Hudson like a man wading through a brook..."

      vs.

      "Hey, I think I hear something."
    • Wasn't it about 60 + years ago that Orson Wells did his famous War of the Worlds radio broadcast? Weren't there more than a *few* people out there that were running around reporting lights in the sky, running for safety?

      Well, in their defence, they thought the aliens were attacking. I don't recall reading about a bunch of people recanting their religious views due to the broadcast. The "invasion" part is what freaked them out. Therefore, I don't think that it is useful to attempt to draw a conclusion a
    • Re:Conspiracy (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Otter (3800)
      Sure -- the obvious way to implement such a conspiracy would be to launch a decades-long program to look for extra-terrestrial signals, recruit however many volunteers to run a distributed client, announce a potential discovery and then suddenly cover the whole thing up!

      FYI, incidentally, Kabbalah isn't a book. The Zohar is the main Kabbalist text. (And, as it happens, deals with all sorts of angels, seraphs and other extra-terrestrial creatures.)

  • About first contact involved ET's hammering earth into a pulp with millions of relativistic missiles before hunting down the remains of humanity?

    Maybe we don't want to find these guys after all.

  • for the hardcorest tinfoil hatters among us in the news today, as silent, flying Big Black Triangles [space.com] sightings are on the rise...

    Personally, I'm hoping this is some kind of military craft that is going to be unveiled soon, so we can check out whatever cool tech is inside.
    • for the hardcorest tinfoil hatters among us

      It's a shame that this whole situation still gets treated like this. A lot of people know and it still continues. All the data is there for anyone that wants to see it. SETI puts the face on it that mainstream scientists are willing to accept.
  • I was really hoping that Jody Foster would decrypt the signals and be able to build a giant metal pod that would drop into the water.

    Or maybe a giant planet would coem towards us and try to eat all our satelites.

    Or maybe parasitic aliens would come use us as hosts and enslave us.

    Oh the possibilities that could have been....
  • by markana (152984) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @02:49PM (#10141777)
    Or at the very least told we have to move along and vacate this planet? After all, we're receiving the signal *outside* of their planet...

    I'm just waiting for the Galactic police to show up.
  • FTA:"For six years, the Seti@home project has used a downloadable screensaver on millions of computers around the world to sift through data for anything unusual."

    I mean, the screensaver might just one day solve one of the biggest questions to mankind. The same perky things that were thought to be obsolete years ago and brought you Hotbar and Gator. This world just keeps amazing me.
  • by another misanthrope (688068) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @03:06PM (#10141977)
    I quoted from this in the last /. topic about this signal - I'd like to hear what he has to say about this article [newscientist.com] from New Scientist which says:

    The relatively rapid drift of the signal is also puzzling for other reasons. A planet would have to be rotating nearly 40 times faster than Earth to have produced the observed drift; a transmitter on Earth would produce a signal with a drift of about 1.5 hertz per second. What is more, if telescopes are observing a signal that is drifting in frequency, then each time they look for it they should most likely encounter it at a slightly different frequency. But in the case of SHGb02+14a, every observation has first been made at 1420 megahertz, before it starts drifting. "It just boggles my mind," Korpela says.

    I can understand they don't want to say there's aliens YET but come on - something weird is there...
  • by powerlinekid (442532) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @03:33PM (#10142269)
    So they've received the same signal 3 times that starts off at 1420 Mhz.

    Now if you look on this site [64.233.167.104] the 1400-1700 Mhz range is used by radio astronomy and weather satellites. So with that 3 questions:

    • Is it coincidental that that signal is the same frequency as what the device receiving it operates on? Could this be why they think it might be interference from the telescope (along with the fact that the telescope already adjusts for shift and this still shifts)?
    • Is it possible Seti has just locked onto an old satellite that happens to be heading in the direction of the area of space between pisces and aries? Like maybe they are receiving a signal from something that some time ago was too far out of range to be picked up?
    • I do agree with some other posters that this looks like a hell of a change of direction. They've gone from "this is the most interesting" to this is nothing, a full 180, in a day. Not only that, but they have failed to give a reason for such a drastic shift. Could someone have told them to keep their mouth's shut until they know more about it? Could it be that after the initial excitement, they realized that it really is nothing and are trying to save face? I'd imagine Seti tries to remain very cautious in their dealings with the public if for nothing else that they are afraid of losing funding.


    • Now I'm probably wrong on all of this. Which is why I love /. since some radio geek can tell me why I'm wrong and I'll learn something.
  • signal "drifting" (Score:3, Informative)

    by cr@ckwhore (165454) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @06:52PM (#10144281) Homepage
    Here's just my observation about the whole signal "shifting" problem ...

    First of all, it's doppler shift. Amateur radio operators deal with doppler shift in radio signals when operating amateur satellites. Basically, when either a transmitting station or receiving station are in motion, the transmitted signal will appear lower or higher in frequency at the receiving station, depending on whether the stations are moving closer together or further apart.

    It was suggested in the article that the cause of the "drifting" would be due to planetary motion ... ie: doppler shift of the frequency. It was also noted by the author that any intelligent life transmitting a beacon signal should be "smart enough" to adjust the frequency to compensate for the shift, and that since the signal doesn't appear to be adjusted for doppler, it can't be an alien signal.

    Here's the problem with that assumption: It assumes that the aliens are intending earth as the recipient of the signal.

    It's most likely that the subject signal is being pointed somewhere else and intended for someone else... not us.

    It's important here to point out that doppler shift will vary between any two points. SO ... a signal pointed toward one recipient and corrected for doppler may indeed be received at another point with increased shift because of doppler plus the correction factor. This would explain the wild swings in frequency shift.

    Additionally, going on the theory here that we are not the intended recipients of the signal... and thus perhaps not directly in the path of the strongest part of the signal, also explains why reception was a bit weak here at earth.

    Armchair scientists unite!
  • Ping (Score:3, Funny)

    by Xybot (707278) on Thursday September 02, 2004 @08:10PM (#10144846)
    ...Your Ping Reply was 1,123,589,647,125,665 Seconds .....DISCONNECTED

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