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E.T. Phoning Earth?

Deep SkyUPDATE: A false alarm this time, but still a possibility at any time! Read Charley McLane's comment for the official SETI@home response.

An announcement through the SETI (Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) program sponsored by the Planetary Society has found what may turn out to be the first signal from another world. A signal from the area between Aries and Pisces and centered at the radio frequency matching that of the Universe’s most abundant element, hydrogen, was reported in New Scientist magazine Thursday, September 2. The report states that the signal was found in the exact same location on three separate occasions when the giant 1000 foot diameter radio telescope at Arecibo in Puerto Rico scanned that portion of the sky. For the signal to have been found on more than one occasion and at that particular frequency is highly unusual. More searches in that area will conducted and if the same results are found on the fourth, fifth, or even sixth time, the scientific will be clamoring for a public announcement that a possible alien signal has been found. Scientists are excited about the possibility that this could really be it, a possible signal from a far-off civilization. If it turns out to be so, how will we proceed with trying to communicate with that civilization? Any signals we send in that direction will take the same amount of time to reach them as their signal took to reach us. If it turns out to be that the signal came from a star 20 or 50 light-years away, then that would mean that our signal would take 20 to 50 years to reach them, then another equal amount of time for us to expect a response back. Millions of people around the world are running a screensaver on their computers which analyze signals received by Aricebo. Anyone can download a copy of this same program known as “SETI@ Home”. Our links section contains an address if our readers would care to join in the search. STAY TUNED! This could be the start of the most exciting thing in human history. Better yet, download SETI@ Home and join in the excitement yourself.
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E.T. Phoning Earth?
Authored by: Charley McLane onSaturday, September 04 2004 @ 04:54 am EDT
E.T. Lacks Calling Card
From a link of the SETI at Home site (http://setiathome.ssl.berkeley.edu/) to http://planetary.org/news/2004/seti_signal_0902.html
"Reports of SETI@home Extraterrestrial Signal Highly Exaggerated
by Amir Alexander September 2, 2004:
A rash of reports in recent days that SETI@home has discovered a likely signal from an alien civilization are highly exaggerated, says SETI@home Chief Scientist Dan Werthimer of U.C. Berkeley.
The storm was initiated by an article in New Scientist magazine, which reported about SETI@home’s most promising candidate signal to date, and speculated about its possible origins. Like all of SETI@home’s 5 billion potential signals, this candidate, labeled SHGb02+14a, was assigned a numerical score representing the statistical likelihood that it is indeed an intelligent extraterrestrial signal. Its relatively high score placed it among the 200 “top candidates” selected for the targeted reobservation sessions that took place in March of 2003 at the Arecibo Radio Observaotry. Of all the candidates targeted in the sessions, however, SHGb02+14a was one of the very few to be confirmed during the reobservations, and the only one whose score following the sessions actually went up.
While this makes SHGb02+14a interesting, the chances that it actually represents an intelligent signal from beyond remain extremely slim. Random chance alone would make it probable that at least one of the billions of candidates detected by SETI@home would be observed on three separate occasions, as was the case for this candidate. Furthermore, as we reported in the SETI@home Update of May 17, 2004, the fact that this candidate’s frequency drifts rapidly makes it extremely improbable that it is a transmission from extraterrestrials. Because of the drift, explained Werthimer, “if we had looked at the sky even a few seconds later we wouldn’t have found a match” for this candidate. A signal that drifts so quickly that it can only be heard for seconds at a time at a given frequency can only be detected by blind luck. Needless to say, such a transmission is an unlikely vehicle for message from an advanced civilization.
In addition, SETI@home Project Director David Anderson of U.C. Berkeley pointed out that SHGb02+14a is a candidate of a type known as a "barycentrically corrected gaussian." A true transmission of this type, he explained, would remain in a more or less fixed narrow-band frequency, and not drift rapidly as this signal does.
At Arecibo the giant radio telescope still scans the sky, looking for an alien transmission. Around the world, millions are still crunching SETI@home data on their personal computers. The Search for extraterrestrial intelligence continues at full speed, but as of now there is no breakthrough.
Of course, this could change at any time… We promise to keep you posted.
To be a part of space exploration,
Join The Planetary Society Today! "

In a past life, SETI at home ran on my machines. They even offer printable certificates for 500, 1000, etc. units returned after processing. SETI at home uses the reserve computing capacity of your home computers to crunch data units. It is like a screensaver that starts to work when you aren't using the computer. If you’re hooked up to DSL or cable and leave your computers on then you ought to be running this distributive computing program. You can select to send and receive units automatically or await your keystroke permission. On older versions of the program downloaded, I copied the received unit and if there were "strong" signals or "interesting" events during the processing I would load the copied unit. Having the information from the finished unit that was to be sent back I reset the processing to the points just before the events. In this way the highlights of the screensaver passed before my eyes. Later versions of the program just reset to time zero if you tried to manipulate / hack them. Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft's former chief technology officer, together will donate millions to build the Allen Telescope Array at the Hat Creek Observatory near Mt. Lassen, some 290 miles (467 kilometers) northeast of San Francisco, California. The primary electronics laboratory that supports the array will be named for Myhrvold. More by Leonard David Senior Space Writer posted 01 August 2000 at http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/astronomy/seti_funding_000801.html
Charley McLane

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