Tag Archives: By Seth Shostak

Finding Proof of Space Aliens, What Happens Next?

Finding Proof of Space Aliens, What Happens Next?

Protocols for responding to the discovery of extraterrestrial
intelligence have been created, but they might not be followed.

     First came the suggestion that an “alien megastructure” had been observed around KIC 8462852, a.k.a. Tabby’s Star. Months later, people were talking about a signal seen by a Russian telescope that some thought was transmitted from the environs of a stellar cousin of
By Seth Shostak
NBC News
8-1-17

the sun. And not long after that, the Cyclopean Arecibo antenna in Puerto Rico reported weird signals that seemed to come from the dwarf star Ross 128, a scant 11 light-years away.

[…]

These three claims purporting to show the existence of aliens haven’t panned out. But what happens if some future claim does? What preparations are in place to deal with the discovery of a radio signal or a laser flash that would prove beyond doubt that we have cosmic compeers? Does the government have a plan? Does anyone?

[…]

… Back in 1989, when a now-defunct NASA program to search for extraterrestrial intelligence was gaining steam, protocols were drafted to spell out best practices in case the search proved successful. These were later updated and streamlined by the International Academy of Astronautics SETI Permanent Committee. (Click here to see the revised protocols.)

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WOW Signal: Was It Aliens Or Just a Comet?

WOW Signal: Was It Aliens Or Just a Comet?

     There’s no such thing as a “close call” in SETI – either the radio telescope has picked up an alien signal, or it hasn’t. “Close” doesn’t exist in this one-bit experiment, any more than it does in pregnancy.
By Seth Shostak
www.seti.org
6-13-17

[…]

… At close to midnight on August 15, 1977, the massive radio telescope of the Ohio State University, known to its friends as the Big Ear, recorded a signal so impressive to the astronomer examining the instrument’s logs, he wrote “Wow!” on the computer printout.

It had all the characteristics one would anticipate from a signal produced by a deep space transmitter. This agreement with hopeful expectation, coupled with the undoubted appeal of the signal’s beguiling moniker, led to many efforts to find the WOW signal a second time. These attempts were made on such radio telescopes as the Very Large Array in New Mexico and, of course, the Big Ear itself. However, the result was always the same: radio silence.

[…]

But a paper published more than a year ago by Antonio Paris and Evan Davies makes a different claim: a natural solution to the puzzle of the WOW signal. It wasn’t earthly interference, problems with the equipment, or even ET; it was natural radio emission from hydrogen gas streaming off a nearby comet. …

The comet hypothesis, in my opinion, doesn’t work….

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Winston Churchill and E.T.



Winston Churchill

     It was 1939, and the storm of history’s greatest conflict was gathering on the European continent.

The situation for Britain was ominous. But even in those terrible,

By Seth Shostak
SETI
2-28-17

turbulent times, Winston Churchill took the opportunity to speculate on the possibility of intelligent beings elsewhere in the cosmos, and commit his ideas to paper. (He was a prodigious scribe, averaging several thousand words a day over the course of his life.) His largely unknown essay on this subject has been recently reviewed by astrophysicist Mario Livio, and reported in the February 16 issue of the journal Nature.

Given Churchill’s broad interests and catholic knowledge, it’s not surprising that he thought about the idea of life in space, although one might argue that his timing was influenced by the famed radio adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds broadcast the year before. But the remarkable thing is not that Churchill wrote about the possibilities for extraterrestrial biology, but that he thought about the subject in a way very similar to contemporary researchers.

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Intelligent Life 94 Light-Years Away? | VIDEO

Intelligent Life 94 Light-Years Away?

A SETI Signal?

     A star system 94 light-years away is in the spotlight as a possible candidate for intelligent inhabitants, thanks to the discovery of a radio signal by a group of Russian astronomers.
Seth Shostak
www.seti.org
8-30-16

HD 164595, a solar system a few billion years older than the Sun but centered on a star of comparable size and brightness, is the purported source of a signal found with the RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya, at the northern foot of the Caucasus Mountains. This system is known to have one planet, a Neptune-sized world in a very tight orbit, making it unattractive for life. However, there could be other planets in this system that are still undiscovered.

The signal seems to have been discussed in a presentation given by several Russian astronomers as well as Italian researcher, Claudio Maccone, the chair of the International Academy of Astronautics Permanent SETI Committee. Maccone has recently sent an email to SETI scientists in which he describes this presentation, including the signal ascribed to star system HD 164595.

Could it be a transmission from a technically proficient society? …

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Gravity Waves and ET

Gravity Waves and ET

     The other shoe has dropped.

After a century of speculation and a half-century of searching, science teams using instruments built by Caltech and MIT have made a discovery that will take up permanent residency in physics textbooks from now to the end of textbooks. They’ve found the gravity waves that Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity predicted must pervade the cosmos.

By Seth Shostak
www.huffingtonpost.com
2-11-16

[…]

I often get correspondence from folks who think that listening for radio signals or looking for laser flashes are fundamentally flawed approaches to hunting down evidence for alien beings. The extraterrestrials, these people suggest, will have moved on to a more avant-garde communication mode: gravity waves.

There are, indeed, some positive arguments for aliens with a penchant for palaver to opt for gravity wave communication. Gravity waves can travel unhindered through the dusty material that suffuses interstellar space — unlike laser light. And gravity waves aren’t distorted and scattered by the ionized gas that clutters the cosmos — unlike radio waves.

In addition, you don’t have to aim your gravity wave detector in any particular direction: the waves go right through the Earth and reach you from everywhere. […]

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Planet Nine: What Would It Mean?

Planet Nine: What Would It Mean?

By Seth Shostak
The Huffington Post
1-21-16

      It could be the first new planet discovered in the last 170 years — or at least the last 85, if you’re one of those stubborn folk who still insist on calling Pluto a planet.

Two Caltech astronomers, Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin, have noticed some weird behavior in the outer solar system they think is caused by an unseen world orbiting roughly 500 times farther from the Sun than Earth does.

The evidence consists of a strange alignment of some so-called Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) — ice-bound orbs that are cousins of Pluto. These oversized hailstones are strewn throughout the dim and distant nether regions of our solar system. Their discovery almost a decade ago led to Pluto’s loss of membership in the pantheon of planets. […]

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Are There Signals Coming from Deep Space?

Are There Signals Coming from Deep Space

By Seth Shostak
The Huffington Post
11-5-15

     The star KIC 8462852 may have an unpronounceable name, but just about everyone with an interest in aliens has been talking about it. As of today, they can elaborate their discourse with some new results.

The conversations started about three weeks ago, when a paper written by a small battalion of astronomers pointed out that this star – an imposing 1400 light-years from where you’re sitting – occasionally dips its headlights. Every few weeks or months, it will blink, temporarily dimming to as little as 80 percent of its normal brightness. There is no indication (and little likelihood) that this bizarre behavior is caused by planets orbiting the star. Even Jupiter-size worlds would only block about one percent of the star’s light.

So what is going on? The astronomers who discovered this strange behavior considered several possible explanations for the dimming. Their favorite was the presence of cometary debris in orbit around the star – an idea they liked, but didn’t love.

However others – and especially the press – were jumping on another, sexier bandwagon. The occasional dimming of KIC 8462852 might be due to “megastructures” – giant astroengineering projects that aliens had undertaken in their solar system. These could be space habitats or phalanxes of orbiting solar energy collectors (so-called Dyson swarms, named after the physicist who popularized the idea). They might even be giant, opaque “cut outs” whose blockage of starlight would be a beacon to other worlds, indicating that KIC 8462852 was an oasis of intelligence in the galactic desert.

All nice ideas. Exciting ideas. But how would you prove any of them? […]

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SETI’s Follow up on Mysterious Star That Might Be Home To ET

SETI’s Follow up on Mysterious Star That Might Be Home To ET

The Mysterious Star KIC 8462852

By Seth Shostak
www.seti.org
10-27-15

      The SETI Institute is following up on the possibility that the stellar system KIC 8462852 might be home to an advanced civilization.

This star, slightly brighter than the Sun and more than 1400 light-years away, has been the subject of scrutiny by NASA’s Kepler space telescope. It has shown some surprising behavior that’s odd even by the generous standards of cosmic phenomena. KIC 8462852 occasionally dims by as much as 20 percent, suggesting that there is some material in orbit around this star that blocks its light.

For various reasons, it’s obvious that this material is not simply a planet. A favored suggestion is that it is debris from comets that have been drawn into relatively close orbit to the star.

But another, and obviously intriguing, possibility is that this star is home to a technologically sophisticated society that has constructed a phalanx of orbiting solar panels (a so-called Dyson swarm) that block light from the star.

To investigate this idea, we have been using the Allen Telescope Array to search for non-natural radio signals from the direction of KIC 8462852. This effort is looking for both narrow-band signals (similar to traditional SETI experiments) as well as somewhat broader transmissions that might be produced, for example, by powerful spacecraft. […]

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UFOs: The Trail Is Stale

UFOs: The Trail Is Stale

Seth Shostak By Seth Shostak
The Huffington Post
9-1-15

     One thing that strikes me about claims of alien visitation is that so much of the evidence is musty and fusty.

Every day, I get stories and articles from people around the world who aggregate UFO news. But much of it is not news — it’s olds. The folks who think there’s good proof that Earth is a stomping ground for extraterrestrials are still hung up on the Roswell incident of 1947 or its British opposite number, the Rendlesham Forest event of 1980. They’re still citing the testimony of aging politicians, defense establishment types and Apollo astronauts who “know something.”

The few alternatives to this vintage archive are contemporary photos and videos of vague lights in the sky, low-resolution and low-confidence material that isn’t likely to sway many scientists. The good stuff seems to be the old stuff.

To better judge if this is really true, I trawled the web for listings of “the best UFO cases.” I quickly collected nearly 100 events that were considered worthy, of which 60 were unique, in the sense of not being repeats […] .

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SETI’s Seth Shostak Chimes in On The Roswell Slides

Roswell Slides Mummy

Roswell Aliens Not So Alien

By Seth Shostak
The Huffington Post
5-25-15

    Nearly 70 years after extraterrestrials supposedly pushed the wrong button in their spacecraft and nose-dived into scrubby ranchland near Roswell, New Mexico, that town is again in the news.

This time the headlines are centered on the discovery of an old Kodachrome slide showing a small, atrophied body laid out in a display case. It seems that the slide was found two dozen years ago in the house of a deceased Arizona couple, although its true provenance is sketchy. Recently, a handful of UFO researchers has decided that this old photo actually depicts an alien corpse, and possibly a victim of the 1947 crash that put Roswell on the public’s mental map.

That would be important, if true. . . .

. . . Just one look at this lugubrious photo should trip your baloney detector. . . .

Continue Reading . . .

See Also:

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Roswell Slides Update: Mummy is Identified; Mea Culpa Issued and Blame Game Begins

The Roswell Slides: Analysis of The Placard Image Released By Adam Dew

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The Roswell Slides Time Bomb: Tick, Tick, Tick (Redux)

Stanton Friedman Chimes in On Alleged Roswell Alien Slides (Redux)

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The Roswell Slides and Stan Friedman

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The Roswell Slides Saga: Some Claims vs Some Facts

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The Roswell Slides: Adios

‘Roswell Alien Slides’ Owner Speaks Out

The Roswell Slides and Me (Kevin Randle)

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REPORT YOUR UFO EXPERIENCE

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