the wow! signal
Has Earth already made contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence more than thirty years ago? No, not through UFOs or some other paranormal means by via a radio signal in 1977 which matched virtually all of SETI’s criteria of what a signal from an alien civilization should sound like. It’s known as the Wow! Signal. But oddly, this event is mentioned very rarely if at all when discussing the possibilities of alien life in popular science.
The reason why so many astronomers are skeptical is also somewhat puzzling. Because the signal didn’t recur in the same location and couldn’t be tracked as it moved along, they’ve chalked it up to an anomaly. However, there’s really no other way to explain this strange signal as anything other than an alien event and who says that an alien civilization will be targeting us and sending signals to Earth for any extended period of time?
When our radio and analog TV broadcasts streaming into space at the speed of light may be detected by intelligent beings, it’s not because they were targeted by us, but because we just didn’t care about sending a beacon into deep space. Our attempts to say hi to ET weren’t all that long either. The longest directed transmission to an alien world was only 4.5 hours. The Arecibo message in 1974, a little less than 3 years before the Wow! Signal was detected, was just 3 minutes. It would be amazing, shocking and to be honest, really disconcerting if the message was beamed to Earth over and over again. It would be like a stalker leaving messages on our answering machine for years, telling us that he knows we’re there and we might as well pick up.
It seems that some scientists think we might have intercepted a communication between two passing spaceships or accidentally cued in on the last bit of an alien signal not really directed to us per se. Whatever the true intentions of those sending the signal might have been, it does seem that SETI might have fulfilled its mission on August 15, 1977 when a narrowband signal of alien origin hit the Big Ear telescope at the Ohio State University. Well what did you expect? Fanfare, an alien invasion or instructions to build a space ark to ferry astronauts to their home world? That only happens in the movies…