Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Nerd History: Don't Look Up, it's the Wow! Signal!

A few weeks ago, we got word from science that all galaxies are going to have stars that have planets, which has a lot of implications for the search for intelligent life. This, along with (again) 172 Hours To the Moon and a new Dandy Warhols song, reminded me yet again of the famous "Wow! Signal."

The Wow! Signal has its origins with the SETI Project, which exists solely to try and locate intelligent life in the cosmos. The project has had some value, locating quarks and pulsars, but no extraterrestrial life as far as we know. With that said, the Wow! signal was something more.

The signal was picked up by one of the larger satellites. In a 72 second interval, this frequency picked up this signal, which was of significantly larger intensity than what was normally monitored. Dr. Jerry Ehman, who worked at SETI at the time, highlighted this in the printout of the transmission.

SETI has been unable to replicate the transmission, or locate it again. There are a lot of theories, from actual life to a simple reflection of an Earth signal, but it's obviously caught the cultural and scientific eye. I personally hope I live to see us confirming intelligent life on other planets, but, until then...

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