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The "Wow!" Signal

Article #84 • Written by Alan Bellows

▼ Scroll to Continue ▼

It's no rare occurrence in science fiction: The introverted researcher working the graveyard shift at a SETI radio observatory jumps out of his seat in surprise when the red light blinks on the control panel. "We're getting a signal!" he shouts into a phone as needles dance across paper chart recorders, and scientists rapidly converge on the scene. At some point someone yells, "Get me the President!" at the person whose job it is to get presidents.

On August 15th, 1977, such a signal was received at the Big Ear radio observatory in Ohio, though the ensuing drama was considerably more subdued. The volunteer who spotted the pattern on the paper logs circled the data and wrote "Wow!" in the margin. The radio telescope was observing space as part of the Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) program, and it was the most compelling signal the receiver had recorded in its fourteen years of operation. It was powerful enough to push the Big Ear's monitoring device off the charts.

The signal came from the direction of the constellation Sagittarius, and lasted seventy-two seconds at about 1420.456 MHz before it faded away. The volunteer who found and circled the data in the paper printout was Jerry Ehman, who was amazed at the signal's intensity and what a narrow range of frequencies it appeared in. Seventy-two seconds also happened to be the exact length of time it would take for the Earth to rotate the Big Ear through a signal from space. He did some analysis of the data, and by all indications this powerful, narrowband radio signal was from outside of our solar system. But was it sent by an advanced civilization?

Curiously, the signal was picked up by only one of the scope's two detectors. When the second detector covered the same patch of sky three minutes later, it heard nothing. This indicated either the unlikely possibility that the first beam had detected something that wasn't there, or that the source of the signal had been shut off or redirected in the intervening time. The observatory researchers trained their massive scope on that part of the sky for a full month, watching closely for a repeat of the mysterious signal. Nothing interesting was observed during those thirty days, yet scientists were at a loss for an explanation of the original event. Planning to return to that patch of sky periodically, the Big Ear continued its broader purpose.

Several times over the next twenty years, longtime SETI researcher Robert Gray and his colleague Kevin B. Marvel arranged for further scans of that region of space. They managed to obtain some time on the META array at the Oak Ridge Observatory in Massachusetts, and the extremely sensitive Very Large Array (VLA) in New Mexico, which is made up of twenty-seven 25-meter radio dishes. They detected some extremely faint sources of radio emissions in the infamous patch of sky, but nothing like that of the "Wow!" signal. However their findings did essentially disprove the only working theory as to the cause of the original event: "interstellar scintillation." It was thought that perhaps some weaker radio signal from space had been temporarily focused on the Big Ear in a way similar to stars twinkling... but the VLA is sensitive enough that it would have detected such a source, and it did not.

The Big Ear maintained its periodic scan of that part of space for almost forty years, and never again came across such a compelling signal. It was dismantled in 1998 to make way for a golf course.

"Wow" remains the strongest and clearest signal ever received from an unknown source in space, as well as the most fascinating and unexplainable. The signal's original discoverer Jerry Ehman doesn't care to speculate on its source, and he remains scientifically skeptical. "Even if it were intelligent beings sending a signal," he said in an interview, "they'd do it far more than once. We should have seen it again when we looked for it 50 times."

Perhaps. But consider that when humankind used the Arecibo radio telescope to send a message out into space in 1974, it was only sent once.

Article written by Alan Bellows, published on 03 January 2006. Alan is the founder/designer/head writer/managing editor of Damn Interesting.

Article design and artwork by Alan Bellows.
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77 Comments
Bucky
Posted 03 January 2006 at 07:22 pm

The SETI team has it all wrong. The aliens were clearly trying to send the message "MOM."


Furnace
Posted 04 January 2006 at 05:07 am

How funny would it be if an advanced civilization really did make contact, but they speak exactly like an alien from the Jetsons? "Meep! Zorp! Take me to your leader."


Tapetum
Posted 04 January 2006 at 08:40 am

Good grief. I can come up with a half dozen reasons why the signal could be from an advanced civilization but was only sent once without even breaking a sweat. All you have to do is assume that they're no more perfect than we are. "Who pointed the damn attenna that way? Bleeping students!"


Dave
Posted 04 January 2006 at 10:46 am

Interesting. What if the SETI researchers did receive such a signal? After all, it happened to Jocelyn Bell in
1967:

http://www.bigear.org/vol1no1/burnell.htm

Were they really Little Green Men (LGM?) or were they a new type of star (Pulsar)?

Dave


JustAnotherName
Posted 05 January 2006 at 06:52 am

ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. What? Oh. What Dave Said. ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzz


fluffyb
Posted 05 January 2006 at 08:08 am

What if the aliens knew when/where we would be listening...


MasterM
Posted 06 January 2006 at 05:59 pm

I have seen about that on the Discovery Channel and they also had an interview with Stephen Hawking who claimed there are aliens out there and it would be better for us if they didn’t know about our existence.
One guy said the WOW Signal were probably two space ships communicating to each other.
I think if it had happened nowadays it would be the OMG Signal rather than WOW.

“But consider that when humankind used the Arecibo radio telescope to send a message out into space in 1974, it was only sent once.“
Is what I find to be very interesting.
-Could it have been our signal that came back?
-Why did we only sent one?
-Was it ONE reply to the ONE message we have sent?


Scrappy
Posted 06 January 2006 at 08:25 pm

rotfl, this is a cute article. Thanks for the post dave. If you think there are aliens out there, there are; if you think they're smart, they are; if you think they're out to get you, they are. I know their name.

Figment


Berkana
Posted 22 January 2006 at 02:22 am

Doesn't it strike you as hypocricy to infer intelligence in this signal (without a second thought to whether or not doing so is scientific) while inferring intelligent design from the improbability and complexity of the nanotechnology we observe in even the most primitive cells is decried as pseudoscience? The latter is easily more complex and improbable by many orders of mangitude.


Anonymous User
Posted 14 February 2006 at 08:55 am

very interesting though hte "We're getting a signal!" part reminded me of

All your Base are belong to us


EuGenus
Posted 24 July 2006 at 10:43 am

Berkana said: "Doesn't it strike you as hypocricy to infer intelligence in this signal (without a second thought to whether or not doing so is scientific) while inferring intelligent design from the improbability and complexity of the nanotechnology we observe in even the most primitive cells is decried as pseudoscience? The latter is easily more complex and improbable by many orders of mangitude."

Why, yes, I do! Which is why I do NOT infer intelligence from this signal. Neither do any serious scientists. An adequate explanation has not been found, but this does not mean that we have to resort to exrasolar intelligence. Likewise it is ridiculous to defer to intelligence the origin of life on earth - just because we have not as yet formulated an explanation covering all bases it doesn't mean that there isn't one.


sh0cktopus
Posted 03 October 2006 at 04:27 pm

To me, this brings up an interesting point, which I'm surprised no one has brought up. If the "Arecibo message" ever does reach an extraterrestrial intelligent civilization in the M13 globular cluster, it could be their "Wow!" signal. If they scanned the sky three minutes later, and fifty times in the next twenty-five years, they would get nothing. They would probably "detect some extremely faint sources of radio emissions in the infamous patch of sky, but nothing like that of the 'Wow!' signal" just as we have. If we are really serious about contacting possible other civilizations, we should be beaming out transmissions to all promising sectors at all times. And I'm sure we could come up with a more intelligent transmission than that, after 30+ years. If you take out the false color from the Arecibo transmission, it doesn't really look like anything, just a semi-symmetrical fractal structure like nature is so fond of producing.


mooosic
Posted 27 November 2006 at 06:31 am

SETI is still working??


Pascal Leduc
Posted 14 March 2007 at 05:19 am

Strictly speaking, SETI is not looking for intelligent signals, or even irreducibly complex signals. What SETI is looking for are artificial signals, signals that could not have been produced by natural means.

A sine signal, though the simplest signal known to man is however extremely artificial. Thers nothing realy wrong when the ID movement looks for artificiality in life, the problem is when they say they found it when they quite obviously didnt and arguing that something is artificial when they cant think of any other way it could have been done.


adastra
Posted 14 March 2007 at 05:26 am

I think it much more likely that any SETI signal that becomes verified will be the result of "overhearing" some other civilization's normal communications and not something purposely directed this way. I also think we ought to search much more seriously for coherent light communications.


another viewpoint
Posted 14 March 2007 at 05:30 am

..."WOW"....now what if it was really suppose to be...HELP!

...maybe it was just a bunch of intergalactic gremlins having fun with us.

Nanu, Nanu! ...and over and out.


shanachie
Posted 14 March 2007 at 05:52 am

My old astronomy professor pointed out that we've been continuously sending clear radio signals to any surrounding civilizations since about 1948, in the form of defense radar systems. (Apparently, broadcast radio is much weaker and less detectable.) He also said that we would be able to detect similar signals at around 100,000 light years distance. So these signals have thus far only propagated to a interstellar sphere of about 60 light years' radius, 99,940 light years to go.

The question becomes, How long can a civilization sufficiently advanced to generate radio signals continue to survive? If it's, say, 10,000 years, that signal will have only covered 10% of the distance or 0.1% of the volume of space in which it would be detectable. (And I feel that 10,000 years is really quite optimistic.) So the probablility that anyone who detects the signal does so after we're gone is 99.9%. (Feel free to substitute other values if you like; they're made up anyway, like 97.3% of all statistics. {g})

So if in all the galaxy, there are x many civilizations which each have 10,000 years of "airtime", in the stellar timeframe, that's like looking for a flashbulb, even if x is a large number. You might see it if you're really, really lucky.

Anyway, "Hello? Hello? Anybody out there?"


Radiatidon
Posted 14 March 2007 at 07:48 am

Receiving an “intelligence” produced radio signal is based on the assumption that another civilization has technology similar to ours. That is a mighty “Big” assumption since the energy spectrum that they are analyzing is such a small portion. We could be literally bathing in Alien civilization produced signals. We just haven’t discovered the instrument that can receive these transmissions.

Scientist at one point “assumed” that extraterrestrial life would have to be similarly based on carbon based life here on Earth. You know, the basic stuff that survives on oxygen, sunlight, water, and is composed mainly of organic carbon. That is until they discovered the Archaea, microorganisms that survive in the deepest parts of the ocean around sulfur vents. These were unusual but still contained organic carbon.

Then they decided to search Yellowstone, home of over 80 percent of the world’s geysers and half of its geothermal features. Strange organisms survive in these harsh environments but still fit the above mentioned because they still contained organic carbon. The hot spot that is the driving force behind Yellowstone’s features also formed the harsh environments of the Snake River Plain in Idaho. It was here that a new type of life was discovered, one that does not fit the normal “assumption” of life, as we know it.

They discovered a unique Archaea 660 feet down in the 137-degree waters of Lidy Hot Springs in Idaho. These microbes thrive without benefit of sunlight, oxygen, and organic carbon, the first of their kind ever found. Also the water they exist in passes through rhyolite deposits making their environment radioactive.

Follow this link for more information. http://www.space.com/searchforlife/life_methane_020116.html


Rinson Drei
Posted 14 March 2007 at 08:08 am

In order to prevent the impending invasion when the Vogons discover we haven't been paying our GCC fees on time, I propose that we use our present communications gear to simulate a massive, Earth-ending war.
I just hope that American Idol's demographic doesn't spread outside the system. Imagine the auditions!


misanthrope
Posted 14 March 2007 at 08:30 am

For a little serious info about the content of the Arecibo message (the one mentioned above), and a whole heap of 'research' into the crop circle 'reply' left in Chilbolton, UK, look no further than here: http://www.cropcircleresearch.com/articles/arecibo.html


Wolfie
Posted 14 March 2007 at 09:06 am

Does anybody else notice the really sad fact here. They pulled down the only thing that may have picked up ETs call to make another golf course. Like the world doesnt have enough bizarre people in sweaters already?


Xoebe
Posted 14 March 2007 at 09:17 am

Actually, I know what the Aliens said. And there is a good reason they only sent the message once.

The message was - "First!"


dylanfan
Posted 14 March 2007 at 10:56 am

I also think it's sad that they turned the area into a golf course. I understand that maybe SETI isn't worth the money and energy in the minds of many people, but it seems to me like the SETI people are hopeful, imaginative and with a great desire to discover something amazing. We don't have enough of that.


Sartorius
Posted 14 March 2007 at 01:30 pm

I've seen the WOW printout. It was on display for a while at the Ohio Historical Society. It's in blue ballpoint. :-)


1c3d0g
Posted 14 March 2007 at 02:49 pm

What I really disliked is when I read this part: "It was dismantled in 1998 to make way for a golf course." Uhm, what the hell?!? Someone deserves a beating for bringing that idea to the table, materializing it and thereby ruining precious scientific equipment.


Tink
Posted 14 March 2007 at 03:40 pm

Xoebe said: "Actually, I know what the Aliens said. And there is a good reason they only sent the message once.


The message was - "First!""

LOL, I think God has a great sense of humor and it was She just blowing in our ears, to keep us on our toes. Ha!


Silverhill
Posted 14 March 2007 at 05:25 pm

The signal was clearly from an "Oh-my-God" particle! :-D


Ironclaw
Posted 14 March 2007 at 08:45 pm

I just wonder - was it an semi-industrious engineering student looking for free satellite tv?


flyinpiper98
Posted 14 March 2007 at 09:24 pm

Something DI just happened to me. Today I finished up an EM class for my MSEE. The prof gave me a tape made in 1982 of Dr. John Kraus explaining EM propagation, it was really interesting so I googled his name. It turns out he designed the BIG EAR in the 50's and 60's. Odd that the day I watch a video that is 25 years old is the same day DI re-postes this article.


kwiksand
Posted 14 March 2007 at 10:27 pm

Links to the baader-meinhoff article are getting just as common as "first", "second", "fiftieth" but look it up anyway.. Amazing stuff.


noway
Posted 15 March 2007 at 11:51 am

Wolfie said: "Does anybody else notice the really sad fact here. They pulled down the only thing that may have picked up ETs call to make another golf course. Like the world doesnt have enough bizarre people in sweaters already?"

No, what's sad is all that money wasted on this BS program. What a bunch of tards...


Silverhill
Posted 15 March 2007 at 02:45 pm

No, noway, what's really sad is comments like that, which are made from a lamentable (but curable) ignorance.

Have you ever known anyone with breast cancer, for instance? It's likely that you have, or that you shall. The potential cost of a biopsy has been greatly reduced lately, thanks to digital imaging technology that is a spinoff of things developed by, or for, NASA. (See this NASA page for that story, and many many more.)

Basic research is not meant to be a paying enterprise (one with a guaranteed ROI [Return On Investment]), but many surprising (and valuable) things have come from it. Do you drive? Be thankful for Charles Goodyear's research into strengthening rubber (and the accident that showed him the way).
Be thankful for Nikola Tesla's basic research into electricity: the motor that drives the cooling fan in your computer resulted from his work.

SETI has returned no statistically significant results, so far. Regardless of whether it ever detects signals from beyond, however, the result will be significant to biology (not to mention theology!). Remember the words of R. Buckminster Fuller: "Sometimes I think we're alone. Sometimes I think we're not. In either case, the thought is staggering."

P.S.--what about "all that money" that was thought by many to be "wasted" on the "BS program" of finding a western route to the East Indies in 1492? That project was a real loser, eh?


Zaphod2016
Posted 15 March 2007 at 04:44 pm

Kudos to Silverhill for a great comment.

And feel free to add my bed to the list of "cool stuff that benefits me, even though it was developed by NASA with no hope of ever making a profit". Those Temperpedic mattresses are damn comfy.

Regarding alien life, and I think I'm stealing this from a Calvin & Hobbes strip: "the most concrete evidence that intelligent life exists out in the Universe is the fact that it has not yet attempted to contact us".


Tink
Posted 15 March 2007 at 09:48 pm

Silverhill said: "The signal was clearly from an "Oh-my-God" particle! :-D"

Zaphod2016 said: "Kudos to Silverhill for a great comment.
And feel free to add my bed to the list of "cool stuff that benefits me, even though it was developed by NASA with no hope of ever making a profit". Those Temperpedic mattresses are damn comfy.
Regarding alien life, and I think I'm stealing this from a Calvin & Hobbes strip: "the most concrete evidence that intelligent life exists out in the Universe is the fact that it has not yet attempted to contact us"."

Yeah I second that emotion! GG.
Silverhill, you might concider changing your moniker to Quick_Silver#1. LOL,JK, Luv Ur Comments.


Rinson Drei
Posted 16 March 2007 at 08:21 am

First!


Rinson Drei
Posted 16 March 2007 at 08:23 am

Oh, sorry. Too late.


1c3d0g
Posted 16 March 2007 at 09:39 am

Silverhill: well fucking said.


Dr. Evil
Posted 16 March 2007 at 06:13 pm

i havent put a comment on this site for ages...did anybody miss me?


Tink
Posted 16 March 2007 at 06:49 pm

Dr. Evil said: "i havent put a comment on this site for ages…did anybody miss me?"

Yep.

Where ya been?

:)


inmyopinion
Posted 17 March 2007 at 03:00 am

Berkana said: "Doesn't it strike you as hypocricy to infer intelligence in this signal (without a second thought to whether or not doing so is scientific) while inferring intelligent design from the improbability and complexity of the nanotechnology we observe in even the most primitive cells is decried as pseudoscience? The latter is easily more complex and improbable by many orders of mangitude."

Without a second thought? Are you talking about the above article or not?
Cant you bloody creationists leave everyone else alone?! Religion is something personal, just keep it to yourselves.

Besides, noone can be persuaded to become a creationist... if someone isnt raised as one chances are as good as zero that they will become one. You know why? Cause there is only a very small window of opportunity for a developing child in which it is gullible enough to believe everything it is told.


Byrden
Posted 17 March 2007 at 11:31 am

Berkana said: "Doesn't it strike you as hypocricy to infer intelligence in this signal

No scientist is inferring that. What article did you read?

while inferring intelligent design from the improbability and complexity of the nanotechnology we observe in even the most primitive cells is decried as pseudoscience?

What improbability? I can confidently state that you have no idea how probable the a-priori evolution of a cell is. Because nobody else has.

The latter is easily more complex and improbable by many orders of mangitude.

Nobody said the 'wow' signal was complex. What article did you read?


Bolens
Posted 17 March 2007 at 12:08 pm

inmyopinion said: "Cant you bloody creationists leave everyone else alone?! Religion is something personal, just keep it to yourselves. Besides, noone can be persuaded to become a creationist… if someone isnt raised as one chances are as good as zero that they will become one. You know why? Cause there is only a very small window of opportunity for a developing child in which it is gullible enough to believe everything it is told."

Some interesting math and science there. I am sure it will find support.

You can believe anything you want. If such mental exercise so threatens your philosophic beliefs, it may be good to search for the underlying cause within yourself. I seriously doubt that those in support of intelligent design believe everything they are told. Their opinions are as valid as yours. Consider Al Gore's success with his "global warming" money grab. That alone seems to counter your arguement that only developing children unquestioningly believe all they are told.


Cobalt65
Posted 17 March 2007 at 12:09 pm

I remember this one time I was kinda angry because they weren't writing any new articles on DI, and then they told me they were going to write new ones really soon...and then I smiled and thought o myself, "That's kick ass."


Cobalt65
Posted 17 March 2007 at 12:09 pm

I remember this one time I was kinda angry because they weren't writing any new articles on DI, and then they told me they were going to write new ones really soon...and then I smiled and thought o myself, "That's kick ass."


inmyopinion
Posted 18 March 2007 at 03:43 am

Bolens said: "Some interesting math and science there. I am sure it will find support.

I doubt it is the "math and science" aspect that you care about. Also, just because someone uses some terms, doodles a diagram or invokes some numbers doesn't mean it's science. Argumentation has to make sense in order for it to be valid science.

You can believe anything you want. If such mental exercise so threatens your philosophic beliefs, it may be good to search for the underlying cause within yourself.

Mental exercise? All I see is a bitch slap marathon rephrased in pseudo-scientific lingo.
Maybe my education as an ACTUAL scientist made me critical of all the circular science that people flutter around on the internet and which they use to prove everything from 'the Earth is flat', to 'the Earth is hollow' and 'the Earth is 6000 years old'.

I seriously doubt that those in support of intelligent design believe everything they are told.

No, only what they are told by their parents and other people they placed their trust in, during that critical period in childhood where everything from Santa Claus to Jezus is fed into their little brains. Unlike Santa Claus, the believe in Jezus & Friends is ofcourse thouroughly encouraged and it's disbelieve thouroughly PUNISHED. No child wants to make their parents upset, or burn4ever in the place down'unda.

Their opinions are as valid as yours. Consider Al Gore's success with his "global warming" money grab. That alone seems to counter your arguement that only developing children unquestioningly believe all they are told."

.. Global warming actually IS occuring. Al Gore undoubteldy showcased it, using every trick from the Hollywood book of theatrics available to him, but that's the case for such movies as 'The passion of the christ" and refilmings of the Bible as well. And you don't disbelieve in Jezus cause someone dramatized the story, now, do you?

But the most important difference between Al Gore and creationists is that Al Gore manages to convince people because underneath the layer of special effects, he actually has at least a few FACTS to back him up. On the other hand, creationists merely try to work on emotional level. That's what arguments like "you know it is too complex to be natural" do. They work on emotional level and have nothing to do with science, which is based on objective observations, and not subjective opinions.

So dont you talk about mental exercise.


Dr. Evil
Posted 19 March 2007 at 01:49 am

Tink said: "Yep.

Where ya been?

:)"

i was at rhe station coz my train of thought left without me

;-D


Bolens
Posted 19 March 2007 at 06:53 am

inmyopinion said: "So dont you talk about mental exercise."

opinions don't require mental exercize.


WOLF
Posted 20 March 2007 at 05:11 am

Very intresting.

I must say,most of the articles on Damm Intresting are just that-"intresting"!
Im glad i found this site.


kenfo
Posted 08 April 2007 at 12:53 pm

Wow "inmyopinion"! You are one angry, God and cat hating fundamentalist! You are clearly either canadian or a midget. Also, global warming is caused by heat, not carbon dioxide emissions. DUH. If you don't believe me, hold your breath for (scribble..scribble..scribble) 50k years and see if the earth cools off. Al Gore is an angry, non-sensical robot, powered by old peoples' smell and medications. The NSA and I are working together using satellite imagery to discern if he has a "made in canada" sticker on him. The NSA is just like the NASA, only without the "A" for "Awesome".


Emmy
Posted 11 April 2007 at 05:09 pm

The moral of this story:

We should send more messages to space!!!


Zoolook
Posted 13 October 2007 at 07:18 am

I think Eric Idle says it best...

So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure,
How amazingly unlikely is your birth.
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space,
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth.


Eve
Posted 24 February 2008 at 10:22 pm

This "Wow!" signal might be from the Elohim aliens that the prophet Rael talked about after his encounter with them back in 1973. See Rael's book "Intelligent Design: Message from the Designers" which you can download for free from http://www.rael.org/ or see http://www.raelianews.org/news.php?all

From Eve.


JonnyC
Posted 13 June 2008 at 07:10 am

Was there any information contained in the signal?

Thanks for the great article!!


GilaMonster
Posted 01 July 2008 at 02:28 pm

Does anyone know what criteria scientists use today to screen for extraterrestial signals? The "Wow!" signal was simply intense, but an extraterrestial signal wouldn't necessarily need to be more intense that the ambient noise. And it might be much more complex than just a repeating pattern. Considering that the government has provided lots of funding for these efforts, it seems likely that some of this has gone into the signal processing.


DanThinksDances&femaleGspot
Posted 28 September 2008 at 11:14 pm

Enter your reply text here. OK

Don't know the answer, But, HELLO:
WHY DOES THE CODE TRANSLATE TO ENGLISH?


Mirage_GSM
Posted 15 October 2008 at 01:32 am

The Big Ear maintained its periodic scan of that part of space for almost [b]forty years[/b], and never again came across such a compelling signal. It was [b]dismantled in 1998[/b] to make way for a golf course.

I think that's pretty damn impressive considering the signal was received in 1977...

Kenfo: Also, global warming is caused by heat, not carbon dioxide emissions. DUH.

Thank you for bringing a smile on my face. I can tell that discussing that topic with someone as informed as you would be really fruitful ;-)


Mbobe
Posted 19 January 2009 at 02:48 am

Im new, and I already love this site. I just had to reply to Bolens "opinions don't require mental exercize." - well for some people it does- clearly not to you. My problems with all the pseudoscientific crap out there is exactly that they
DO have a right to their opinion, (damn democracy :) ) but they're not self-reflective, they speak a different language and are unable to discuss with the rest of us. How could Man ever grow better than his nature if people do not recognize or acknowledge human nature- or nature itself. Most fundamentalist could never ever philosophise, get ideas and wonder at life- thats what I like- and I know shit about science. To end my long post: I like the post and all the ideas people have - great site. (I guess Im kind of a sucker for the bantering of pseudoscientific- non rationalistic- sad fundamentalists. Creationists have no respect for science and the extreme critique and self-critique REAL scientist put themselves through. Great site. Mbobe.
Ps. pls correct my spelling if it sucks anywhere, Im still learning English.


ttownbeast
Posted 30 March 2009 at 11:14 am

Maybe the signal was genuine but it was a focused beam of radio waves like a lazer perhaps. lets say for the sake of optimism there is other intellegent life out there and they are sending out signals. Perhaps the message was not meant for us but it was meant for somebody, perhaps that signal is still transmitting along a beam adjusting itself to its inended recipient to transfer some sort of data. We may have been in a position astrologically e.g,earths position in the solar system the solar systems position in the galaxy etc etc) to manage to capture only 72 seconds of a focused beam of very powerful high frequency radio waves that itself may have been adjusting its transmission to keep in line with a reciever elsewhere in space. Perhaps the signal was extra galactic in origin and if it were such a powerful radio signal it is more likely it would be used to transmit more important data than "hello"


XAVIER
Posted 25 August 2009 at 02:57 pm

Does anyone know if the subsequent search for the same signals adjusted for the movement of the possible source signal? I mirror ttownbeast's same inquiry. BTW the discoverer of the signal has a site explaining the methods followed.
Dr. Jerry Ehman 20th Anniversary report
http://www.bigear.org/wow20th.htm


jackmagic
Posted 16 November 2009 at 04:52 am

apparently the signal contained a massive amount of information, including designs for some sort of instant transport system and Jodie foster is going to.........oh........wait, forget you read this.


Arnus68
Posted 30 January 2010 at 05:23 am

Dr. Evil said: "i havent put a comment on this site for ages…did anybody miss me?"

Aye, missed you like I'd miss a boil on my bell-end.


WOWSOS
Posted 10 May 2010 at 06:00 pm

I think the WOW signal is like an SOS therefore if it was like an SOS that would explain why there was no other message sent back. IF they were anything like us they wouldnt just stop sending messages at least not until someone answered them.Thats why I think the wow signal is like an SOS


koalee110
Posted 22 June 2010 at 01:04 am

Maybe the aliens ran out of text messages.


chandrashekar
Posted 29 September 2010 at 05:44 am

wow........... wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww............. wowwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww.... actually i did that after getting up from my bed....


Incubo
Posted 31 July 2012 at 12:19 am

IF! the signal was of InTelLIgeNt origin, chances are, it would read:
"Fuck this shit! Let's get the hell out of here!"


Gobobo
Posted 15 August 2012 at 05:41 pm

Is this going to be reposted until a visiting alien replies? If so;

NA NOO, NA NOO.


Zack
Posted 05 November 2012 at 04:34 pm

ok so i came up with something completely random about the wow message. Ok so wow in text is 8866688. Now in Roman Numerals that is L, if you add up the letters its 50 and 50 in Roman Numerals is L. I hope that someone can help me out with this because... WE COULD BECOME D*AMN FAMOUS :D


Kirk
Posted 21 April 2013 at 04:36 pm

if it was a radio signal that bounced off of something in space wouldnt they have picked up something again after 20 years of searching again?


Kirk
Posted 21 April 2013 at 04:41 pm

i think the fact that they didnt pick up another signal like it again after searching for another 20 years suggests that the wow signal did indeed come from something outside our solar system


Amanda
Posted 27 December 2013 at 05:58 pm

I don't think we'll find intelligent life, because we are so lacking in said intelligence. Seriously, we pick up a from space and we

1) Spend loads of time trying to find that same signal again. (Wtf?! Why?!)

2) Assume we are the center of the universes and any and all life forms have their message-beamers pointed at Earth's tiny portion of their sky 24/7. HELLO obviously they probably don't know we are here and are doing the same thing we are.

3) Didn't send a response until 3 DECADES later.

4) Sent a response that included celebrity videos and twitter messages.

Why bother to look for messages in the first place? So embarrassing.


aic561
Posted 10 January 2014 at 10:36 pm

sh0cktopus said: "To me, this brings up an interesting point, which I'm surprised no one has brought up. If the "Arecibo message" ever does reach an extraterrestrial intelligent civilization in the M13 globular cluster, it could be their "Wow!" signal. If they scanned the sky three minutes later, and fifty times in the next twenty-five years, they would get nothing. They would probably "detect some extremely faint sources of radio emissions in the infamous patch of sky, but nothing like that of the 'Wow!' signal" just as we have. If we are really serious about contacting possible other civilizations, we should be beaming out transmissions to all promising sectors at all times. And I'm sure we could come up with a more intelligent transmission than that, after 30+ years. If you take out the false color from the Arecibo transmission, it doesn't really look like anything, just a semi-symmetrical fractal structure like nature is so fond of producing."

I completely agree. Here's what I think should happen: SETI should collaborate with as many countries as possible in international cooperation to build 55,000 2.2 gigawatt radio transmitters at 1420 MHz all over the world. We would constantly send as many signals as possible, for as long as possible. And just as often as we send the signals, there would also be 55,000 radio telescopes next to them, so that if we heard anything resembling the "Wow!" signal in any direction, we could shut off all the other transmitters and just focus on where the signal is coming from, and hopefully try to mimic any type of pattern we may hear. And heck, why only do it on Earth? Why not send spacecraft equipped with transmitters & telescopes (radio) out into deep space? And if the spacecrafts "hear" anything, they can reposition to send signals in the direction from which they detect a signal.


aic561
Posted 10 January 2014 at 11:04 pm

aic561 said: "sh0cktopus said: "To me, this brings up an interesting point, which I'm surprised no one has brought up. If the "Arecibo message" ever does reach an extraterrestrial intelligent civilization in the M13 globular cluster, it could be their "Wow!" signal. If they scanned the sky three minutes later, and fifty times in the next twenty-five years, they would get nothing. They would probably "detect some extremely faint sources of radio emissions in the infamous patch of sky, but nothing like that of the 'Wow!' signal" just as we have. If we are really serious about contacting possible other civilizations, we should be beaming out transmissions to all promising sectors at all times. And I'm sure we could come up with a more intelligent transmission than that, after 30+ years. If you take out the false color from the Arecibo transmission, it doesn't really look like anything, just a semi-symmetrical fractal structure like nature is so fond of producing."

I completely agree. Here's what I think should happen: SETI should collaborate with as many countries as possible in international cooperation to build 55,000 2.2 gigawatt radio transmitters at 1420 MHz all over the world. We would constantly send as many signals as possible, for as long as possible. And just as often as we send the signals, there would also be 55,000 radio telescopes next to them, so that if we heard anything resembling the "Wow!" signal in any direction, we could shut off all the other transmitters and just focus on where the signal is coming from, and hopefully try to mimic any type of pattern we may hear. And heck, why only do it on Earth? Why not send spacecraft equipped with transmitters & telescopes (radio) out into deep space? And if the spacecrafts "hear" anything, they can reposition to send signals in the direction from which they detect a signal."

I forgot to add, and very importantly, that the spacecraft would also need to be equipped with 2.2 gigawatt radio transmitters. As far as I know, we still don't have even one down here on the planet.


Ata
Posted 30 January 2014 at 03:40 pm

Bucky said: "The SETI team has it all wrong. The aliens were clearly trying to send the message "MOM.""

there is no such thing as aliens


georgia thomas
Posted 03 April 2014 at 11:45 pm

decoding message with base subtraction. will bet back with you soon;
)


Sherman
Posted 21 June 2014 at 10:13 pm

The big "it wasn't found again" skeptacism has some weight to it for sure, simply because this way the signal has never been truly "verified". However, I don't agree with it being said that "they would send it more than once" as to imply that our not relocating the signal even means that it only occurred once.

As other pointed out, we have on several occasions sent one-time brief "METI" signals out into the cosmos.

I would, in fact, be more surprised if we WERE able to relocate it. I think that, given what we all know about this WOW signal thing, that unless it was an elaborate hoax or equipment malfunction, that it's very likely to have been a chance encounter with an ET signal.

Assuming it WAS ET, I think it is highly unlikely to have been purposely aimed at us. And, I think it is highly unlikely that it would ever be detected again unless we are able to constantly monitor that space 24/7 for years. Even if we were able to monitor that region non-stop indefinitely, there are still multiple reasons we would never hear it again... by now we would have to assume the source continued to broadcast at whatever interval, 4 decades beyond the instance that we intercepted the presumably ancient signal. It's just as likely to have been taken down on their planet in that space of time as it is likely that we would happen to dismantle the "BIG EAR"!!!

Exciting stuff here. My main skeptacism, again, lies in the sneaky but slim odds of an unauthentic cause due to hoax or malfunction.


Troy
Posted 06 September 2014 at 03:50 pm

Maybe the radio signal wasn't generated by some alien civilization as a means of communation. Maybe in the course of doing what they do, they inadvertently sent a signal with some piece of unrelated technology.


Chris
Posted 01 January 2015 at 09:44 pm

What about the crop circles? Much better signals then WOW radio signal! They are visible to everyone but we still don't hear enough about them!? Not enough publicity!?!


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