Your work might have paid off :)
Space signal studied for alien contact
Thursday, September 2, 2004 Posted: 9:52 AM EDT (1352 GMT)
LONDON, England (Reuters) -- An unexplained radio signal from deep space could -- just might be -- contact from an alien civilization, New Scientist magazine reported on Thursday.
The signal, coming from a point between the Pisces and Aries constellations, has been picked up three times by a telescope in Puerto Rico.
There are other explanations besides extraterrestrial contact that may explain the signal. New Scientist said the signal could be generated by a previously unknown astronomical phenomenon or even be a by-product from the telescope itself.
But the mystery beam has excited astronomers across the world.
"If they can see it four, five or six times it really begins to get exciting," Jocelyn Bell Burnell of the University of Bath in western England told the magazine.
It was broadcast on the main frequency at which the universe's most common element, hydrogen, absorbs and emits energy, and which astronomers say is the most likely means by which aliens would advertise their presence.
The potentially extraterrestrial signals were picked up through the SETI+home project, which uses programs running as screensavers on millions of personal computers worldwide to sift through the huge amount of data picked up by the telescope.
But my excitement lasted all of thirty seconds after Khay sent me the link when I saw another link on livejournal:
Astronomers deny ET signal report
By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor
Arecibo radio telescope
The giant Arecibo telescope is used to scan the skies
Astronomers have moved swiftly to quell speculation they may have received a deep-space radio signal from ET.
It was reported on the internet that the signal had been found using the Seti@home screensaver that uses computer downtime to analyse sky data from telescopes.
But researchers connected with the project told BBC News Online on Thursday that no contact with extraterrestrials had been made.
"It's all hype and noise," said its chief scientist, Dr Dan Wertheimer. "We have nothing that is unusual. It's all out of proportion."
And Dr Paul Horowitz, of Harvard University, who specialises in hunting for possible alien contacts added: "It's not much of anything at all. We're not investigating it further."
Not a signal
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.
The data has been collected by radio telescopes scanning the sky for any unusual signals from space.
It is believed that any extraterrestrial intelligence might want to send radio messages across the cosmos to make contact with other intelligences.
Over the years, Seti@home has detected many hundreds of thousands of spurious signals and has used statistical techniques to identify them as interference.
About 150 signals survived the process and were subjected to further scrutiny but none passed the final test to be classed as a potential signal from ET.
The "signal" that kicked off furious media excitement on Thursday is called SHGb02+14a and was first detected by computers running Seti@home software in Germany and the US.
It has a frequency of 1420 megahertz - one of the principal frequencies of the most abundant element hydrogen.
Speaking to BBC News Online from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico, where he is preparing an observing run to follow up Seti@home analysis, Dr Wertheimer said: "It's all hype. We don't have anything we are excited about.
"At the moment, we have no candidates that we are particularly excited about and the new 'signal' is not a priority."
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."
Dr Horowitz, who looks for alien signals using optical telescopes, told BBC News Online that it was "not new and definitely not a signal".