The Wow Signal

Astronomy

SETI is a scientific project using large telescopes in the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence. On August 15, 1977 the Ohio State Radio Observatory detected the most promising extraterrestrial candidate signal to date. The so-called "Wow!" signal received its name from the note written in the margin of the computer printout by Dr. Jerry Ehman. The signal rises about 15 dB above the mean background noise, in a single channel.

An analysis of the Wow! signal indicates that its source was moving with the background stars. From its Doppler shift signature, terrestrial interference, aircraft, and spacecraft can be ruled out as possible origins of the signal. The antenna coordinates indicated that the signal was coming from no known nearby solar-type stars. The only condition required for a SETI signal not met was that of repeatability. However, since the Ohio State Big Ear radiotelescope has an extremely narror beamwidth, viewing just one part in a million of the sky at any given time, one would not expect the signal to repeat. Assuming the Wow! signal is a typical SETI-like transmission, then we can expect valid SETI hits to be very strong, high intermittent signals which appear once (as the transit beam sweeps past Earth), and never repeat again. Unless the signal is detected again, we may never know for sure.

Ask a scientist

Science

What do you mean, you don't know nothing about the temperature of the sun, mersene primes or cyclotrons ? Well, ask a scientist, then !

Periodic Table

Science

Damn. I lost an hour again by browsing the beautiful Periodic Table Table.

Mushrooms

Environment

Yep, it's that time of the year again : Kinoko-ya has stunningly beautiful pictures of mushrooms.

Cosmos on DVD

TV

"To make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe."
-- Carl Sagan

22 years ago, 13 hours of television changed my life. I was just 10 years old when I saw Cosmos for the first time. Carl Sagan's explanation of the "Billions and Billions" of stars in our universe was often heckled, but I always related to the wonder of the magnitude that he was trying to relate. Vangelis was responsible for the soundtrack (the same guy behind the music from Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner), and thinking back at it today, I feel the stirrings of emotion that brought me running to Science at an early age.

If you're looking for a gift for a child in your life this holiday season, I suggest the DVD Compilation. Make sure to buy it from the carlsagan.com site, as 10% of the proceeds go to the Carl Sagan Foundation.
I recently bought the DVD compilation from carlsagan.com, and I must say that I'm not dissapointed : great show, great music.

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