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Space Science

No, SETI Has Not Detected Alien Signals From Space 160

Posted by Soulskill
from the feel-free-to-panic-anyway-though dept.
The Bad Astronomer writes "Rumors are going around that SETI astronomers have detected possible alien signals from space. Bottom line: signals were detected when the Green Bank Telescope was pointed at target planets discovered by Kepler, but the signals are almost certainly interference from man-made satellites orbiting the Earth. This happens pretty often, so we need to be aware that these kinds of false positives pop up."
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No, SETI Has Not Detected Alien Signals From Space

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  • by mehrotra.akash (1539473) on Friday January 06, 2012 @02:37PM (#38613190)
    So, theres still a chance of aliens
    • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Friday January 06, 2012 @02:57PM (#38613474) Journal
      It's a smegging garbage pod!
    • by Columcille (88542)
      I trust you said it like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KX5jNnDMfxA [youtube.com]
    • by Ofloo (1378781)
      What do you mean chance, .. are you all claiming that live only exists on this planet in all those universes ? I mean they might not be intelligent, but life will find a way no matter what, thinking life only exists here is just plain stupid. I'm not claiming they came here to abduct people and shit like that, just suggesting out of all the solar systems out there, do any of you really believe that life only exists here ? To me that's just being naive.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        The thing is, we have no idea how common life is. So far there is no indication is exists anywhere but here.

        Now if we could just find something, anything that shows life is or was on another planet (even within this solar system) then that changes things.

        We need to be putting more money into exploring Mars.

        • We know that intelligent life not very common, or if it is then it's very shy. Life began on this planet well over a billion years ago and we're in orbit around a second-generation star. Anyone evolving around a first-generation star would have a few billion years head start, although a shortage of heavy elements would make technology difficult. We are less than a thousand years away from being able to build self-replicating probes that can explore the entire galaxy within a million years. Compared with
          • shy is another word for developed-efficient-point-to-point comms and gave up on radio a long time ago. Then again, i suppose you'd have a peep or two... if we were in the right 100,000 years or so. You never know what civilization might pop up to radio intelligence out there... or when.

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Grishnakh (216268)

            A few problems with your ideas:
            1) Maybe intelligent, star-faring species don't want to disturb others. After all, if your intention is to observe, you don't want your presence to be known or else your observations won't be useful. When we observe the behavior of, say, dolphins when they're mating, we don't go down there and swim around with them and annoy them as they're having their orgies. We watch with cameras, undetected, so we can see what their normal, natural behavior is, not what their behavior i

            • by Aighearach (97333)

              When we observe the behavior of, say, dolphins when they're mating, we don't go down there and swim around with them and annoy them as they're having their orgies. We watch with cameras, undetected

              Dude, you should totally get youtube, you would be amazed at the things people videotape while actually holding the camera.

              The dolphins don't care. They actually don't even know you're filming most of the time. You're like a bird that can see in a human's window... not really a big deal to the human, and the human assumes the bird doesn't care.

              • by Grishnakh (216268)

                Ok, maybe it was a bad example, as I'm not a dolphin expert; perhaps a better example is a bird, like you mention. Most of those seem to get spooked by humans and fly away unless you're good at staying still. Or how about deer? Every time I catch a glimpse of one while hiking, it takes off and all I see is a little white tail.

            • by Phoghat (1288088)
              You sir, have been watching far too many movies, and television shows.
            • by Aphoxema (1088507)

              SETI isn't necessarily looking for an intentional signal (though if one weren't intentional it would be unlikely to reach us), just anything that demonstrates artifice. It doesn't have to be something like an alien soap-opera perfectly displayed in NTSC format, but the kind of noise generated by that kind of broadcast is generally different than natural noise.

              For one, since we can't test every signal for every kind of imaginable modulation, format, encryption or whatever, we have to look instead for a patte

      • by phrostie (121428)

        all efforts for find intelligent life are out bound.

        no one is looking here.

        wait,,,,.

      • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

        To me that's just being naive.

        Asserting certainty for a fact for which you have zero evidence and you're calling other people naive.

        Slashdot never ceases to amuse.

        • by Phoghat (1288088)

          To me that's just being naive.

          Asserting certainty for a fact for which you have zero evidence and you're calling other people naive.

          Slashdot never ceases to amuse.

          You forget, it is early on a Saturday morning, and he is at home, and posting on /.

          I've got an excuse, I have insomnia, and am married, therefore celibate by choice.

      • by Aighearach (97333)

        out of all the solar systems out there, do any of you really believe that life only exists here? To me that's just being naive.

        How many stars can there be named Sol?

        • by Phoghat (1288088)

          out of all the solar systems out there, do any of you really believe that life only exists here? To me that's just being naive.

          How many stars can there be named Sol?

          Just one, and he's from the lower East side in Manhattan, or is that Saul? I forget.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      I'm not saying it's aliens, but, It's aliens.

      • "For the fundamental truth self-determination of the cosmos, for dark is the suede that mows like a harvest. "
    • by slick7 (1703596)

      So, theres still a chance of aliens

      Considering what humans do to other humans in the name of :god, king, money, family, tradition, just for shits and giggles, is it any wonder why the don't respond to our calls.
      If they do respond, it'll probably be "We're the new sheriff in this quadrant, and we're gonna clean this place up once and for all. Decent peaceable folks here deserve this much."

    • by cshark (673578)
      If there were aliens, why on earth would they use as slow , dirty and brutally inefficient a medium as radio waves?
  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Friday January 06, 2012 @02:37PM (#38613208) Homepage Journal

    It's the North Koreans. They're up to something, sure as eggs is eggs.

    • Re:Beh (Score:5, Funny)

      by discord5 (798235) on Friday January 06, 2012 @02:42PM (#38613280)

      It's the North Koreans. They're up to something, sure as eggs is eggs.

      It is space saying mourning the honorable half-god Kim Jong Il's departure. Spontaneous radio broadcasts from space are known to happen when the heavens weep.

    • It might actually be the ghost of Kim Jong Il sending signals from the afterlife. I heard on a very respectable North Korean news network that he can do that.
  • Uh-huh (Score:5, Funny)

    by warrax_666 (144623) on Friday January 06, 2012 @02:38PM (#38613226)

    That's just what the aliens want us to believe!

    • by ackthpt (218170)

      That's just what the aliens want us to believe!

      Yeah. Well, what do you think of aliens on other worlds deciding to believe we do not exist?

      such temerity!

      • by nschubach (922175)

        Deciding to believe we don't exist, or covering up that we exist so their populace won't be scared of us...

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Yes, scared of a civilization that can't do anything to them.

          Now, some global cult hiding are existence because it would be against the religious doctrine..THAT'S plausible.

          • by ackthpt (218170)

            Yes, scared of a civilization that can't do anything to them.

            Now, some global cult hiding are existence because it would be against the religious doctrine..THAT'S plausible.

            How about we sic Lady Gaga on them?

            or her fashion consultant!

  • ...pluck me from my miserable existence and take me to your glistening planet!
    Oh. Never mind.
    • Don't worry, they are here to serve us.

      • by dmbasso (1052166)

        I only hope they are not here to "serve and protect" [and pepperspray] us.

        • by laejoh (648921)
          OB Simpsons: I only hope they are not here to "serve and protect" [and pepperspray] for forty of us. Damn space dust!
    • Aliens: OK, here you are. Oh, that glistening? That's just what we spray on our food to make it brown up nicely. Here, step into this heat box and let us show you...

  • But that doesn't mean they do not exist.

    Let's give SETI another 20 years! T'is better to hope for alien contact than to have no hope at all! =)

    • I remember seeing somewhere that although our radio signals reach on for long time. About when it leaves our solar system they become so intertwined with all the other sources of radio that it becomes unreadable.
      It will be like encrypting a message with using a true random message that you cannot find the seed.
  • I sure hated when they deprecated my old SETI account, I was just about to earn a new (100,000 unit) certificate. bastards. see ifn I bother to install the new program.

  • I for one welcome our new alien communication overlords.
  • Warning. (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 06, 2012 @02:47PM (#38613362)

    Phil Plait is the official PR person for the Illuminati's Extra Terrestrial Embassy Group. The goal is to keep the occupation of Earth quiet until such a time that Their footsoldiers are placed at strategic positions around the world. Bodyguards for high ranking politicians and diplomats, military personnel, etc.

    He is NOT to be trusted.
  • Oblig (Score:5, Funny)

    by should_be_linear (779431) on Friday January 06, 2012 @02:48PM (#38613366)
    I, for one, welcome our new satellite-interference-simulating-before-landing-and-raping-us overlords.
    • Hell, they can take some of the water too if that's what they want. We can use some more landmass around here.

      Just leave us some of those cool looking walking missile launchers.

  • It does go to prove that the system is working. If it can't detect terrestrial signals, then it certainly isn't going to detect extraterrestrial signals.
  • Call me an idiot ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 06, 2012 @02:58PM (#38613496)

    If you’re pointed at an alien transmitter, then moving the telescope will point you in a different direction, and the signal should go away. On the other hand, strong satellite signals can be detected by radio telescopes even when they point in another direction; the signal can leak into the telescopes even when you’re pointed well away.

    If you move a thousand miles and the source is a thousand light years away, the angular deviation is almost precisely zero.

    But if you move a thousand miles and the source is ten miles away, you're basically moving out of the source's way.

    So wouldn't you expect the signal to go away for a man-made satellite, and stay for an alien signal? That's the precise opposite of what they're saying.

    And if telescopes in any location, pointing to some specific direction, pick up the same satellite, surely they also pick it up when pointing to other stars? So this satellite that magically interferes with two different telescopes must be a real problem for those telescopes.

    Something smells fishy to me.

    • >>Something smells fishy to me.

      I agree. A coverup must be in the works.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by methamorph (950510)
      Idiot. :) They don't suggest that the telescope moves from one place on the earth to another (while keeping the same angle) but rather change the angle of the telescope that will cause the signal from a remote source to disappear.
      • by Achra (846023)
        Mod parent up. People that don't understand radio shouldn't comment about radio.
    • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Friday January 06, 2012 @03:21PM (#38613836) Homepage

      If you move a thousand miles and the source is a thousand light years away, the angular deviation is almost precisely zero.

      But if you move a thousand miles and the source is ten miles away, you're basically moving out of the source's way.

      So wouldn't you expect the signal to go away for a man-made satellite, and stay for an alien signal? That's the precise opposite of what they're saying.

      Side lobes [wikipedia.org]. Radio transmitter antennas typically do not radiate in a perfectly spherical, cow shaped arrangement. There are strong lobes and weak (side lobes). If you track the signal through space, you should get a pretty good idea what the shape really is. You can compare that to the generalized, known shapes of the antenna radiation patterns are on various spacecrafts and get a pretty good idea if it's either a satellite or the most godawful giant radio transmitter the universe has ever seen.

    • by joebok (457904)

      I think the original statement isn't as clear as it could be. It isn't talking about "moving" the telescope relative to the source, but rather just changing the point of aim - i'd swap "moving" out for "rotating" in the quoted blurb. A local, strong source will be detected regardless of the aim, but a distant, faint source can only be detected by precise aim.

      If you’re pointed at an alien transmitter, then rotating the telescope will point you in a different direction, and the signal should go away.

  • ...or alien satellites orbiting Earth! BOOM, blew your mind right there.
  • Really bad article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mbone (558574) on Friday January 06, 2012 @03:06PM (#38613622)

    Yeah, I had to really dig through the Berkeley web site [berkeley.edu] to figure out what they were actually claiming. It's no wonder people are confused.

    It's as if I took pictures of some distant airplanes and posted a blog about taking pictures of UFOs, highlighting my pictures, and talked about how these pictures had all the confirming points I was looking for in a UFO picture, with a note at the bottom saying that, as I didn't have any actual UFO pictures, I substituted these.

    It would be hard to claim sympathy if I was then ridiculed, which I suspect they will be.

  • Get Seth (Score:5, Interesting)

    by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Friday January 06, 2012 @03:29PM (#38613976) Homepage Journal

    to do an interview on slashdot.

    Also, get their podcast. It's lame puns and excellent science

    http://radio.seti.org/ [seti.org]

    • to do an interview on slashdot.

      Also, get their podcast. It's lame puns and excellent science

      http://radio.seti.org/ [seti.org]

      Seconding the interview request for Seth Shostak [wikipedia.org]. He's an incredibly bright, level-headed skeptic who looks up at those same stars we all do and thinks big thoughts.

      Also, I enjoy that podcast a great deal. Any podcast that gets Leonard Susskind as a guest (he's in the latest episode) is pretty cool in my opinion.

  • by pclminion (145572) on Friday January 06, 2012 @03:52PM (#38614270)
    Humans should module some very low bit-rate, spread spectrum, wide band signal onto every single transmission we generate, which identifies that transmission as being human in origin. In the future, if we detect a signal we can just check if this signature is there. If it is, question answered. If not, something interesting is happening.
    • by netsavior (627338)
      Good idea! That would make hoaxes way easier.
      • by pclminion (145572)
        It does nothing of the sort. It would make it easier to rule out many signals as being extraterrestrial in origin. It has no effect on the difficulty of hoaxing.
  • A sense of scale (Score:5, Interesting)

    by IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) on Friday January 06, 2012 @03:55PM (#38614304) Homepage Journal
    I have photographed the Green Bank Radiotelescope a few times, that place is *massive*, pictures don't do it justice, I mean it's really friggin' big. Best I can show is this pic I took of the area http://plaguedbethyangel.blogspot.com/2011/10/closer.html [blogspot.com] I love it made the news (the GBR, not my pics) today
    • by isorox (205688)

      I have photographed the Green Bank Radiotelescope a few times, that place is *massive*, pictures don't do it justice, I mean it's really friggin' big.

      You think it's a long way down the road to the chemist, but that's peanuts compared to the GBR?

  • If we did find Aliens, the public would never find out.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I have also decoded it:

    Dear distant new friend,
    I am Zoltag Sxrrfltz, with the Directorate of the New United Federation of Lesser Planets,
    and represent the former ruler of the Sigma Tau confederacy, who even now is
    illegally incarcerated by rebels. Because of my high position within our government,
    I have access to certain secret storage areas which contain great wealth. At the moment I have
    a large number of adamantine/polyvez transport modules (each containing over one hundred
    million galactic credits) sitting

  • This better not be another damn Russian spy job

  • by CheerfulMacFanboy (1900788) on Friday January 06, 2012 @05:32PM (#38615436) Journal
    Man-made satellite circling around distant star.
  • Optical SETI has higher gain and better SNR due to higher EIRP. We will soon identify worlds likely to have life and within a few decades be able to target them with laser systems (of infrared or higher). We should assume some ET life has already done the same. We don't even have to worry about "magic frequencies" in the optical realm, can do observations of wide swaths of optical or higher frequency spectrum to first find signal, then later worry about decoding it.

Facts are stubborn, but statistics are more pliable.

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