Wil je een videoclip bekijken en stoort het X-files-deuntje jou daarbij. Schakel het deuntje gewoon uit door in deze kolon, helemaal beneden op de 2 witte balkjes in het blauwe cirkeltje te klikken, tot een pijltje verschijnt. Veel kijk- en luisterplezier en bedankt voor jouw bezoek.
The purpose of this blog is the creation of an open, international, independent and free forum, where every UFO-researcher can publish the results of his/her research. The languagues, used for this blog, are Dutch, English and French.You can find the articles of a collegue by selecting his category. Each author stays resposable for the continue of his articles. As blogmaster I have the right to refuse an addition or an article, when it attacks other collegues or UFO-groupes.
Deze blog is opgedragen aan mijn overleden echtgenote Lucienne.
In 2012 verloor ze haar moedige strijd tegen kanker!
In 2011 startte ik deze blog, omdat ik niet mocht stoppen met mijn UFO-onderzoek.
UFO'S - MET HET LAATSTE NIEUWS OVER UFO'S BOVEN BELGIË EN IN ANDERE LANDEN...
UFO's in België en de rest van de wereld In België heb je vooral BUFON of het Belgisch UFO-Netwerk, dat zich met UFO's bezighoudt. BEZOEK DUS ZEKER VOOR ALLE OBJECTIEVE INFORMATIE ww.ufo.be.
Verder heb je ook het Belgisch-Ufo-meldpunt en Caelestia, die prachtig, doch ZEER kritisch werk leveren, ja soms zelfs héél sceptisch...
Voor Nederland kan je de mooie site www.ufowijzer.nl bezoeken van Paul Harmans. Een mooie site met veel informatie en artikels.
MUFON of het Mutual UFO Network Inc is een Amerikaanse UFO-vereniging met afdelingen in alle USA-staten en diverse landen.
MUFON's mission is the analytical and scientific investigation of the UFO- Phenomenon for the benefit of humanity...
Je kan ook hun site bekijken onder www.mufon.com.
Ze geven een maandeliiks tijdschrift uit, namelijk The MUFON UFO-Journal. Since 02/01/2013 is Pieter not only president (=voorzitter) of BUFON, but also National Director MUFON / Flanders and the Netherlands. We work together with the French MUFON Reseau MUFON/EUROP.
Filer’s Files #32 – 2017 Defense of Earth - PART II
Filer’s Files #32 – 2017 Defense of Earth - PART II
UFO Sightings in the United States
Glendale – I was going thru some video camera snap shots from surveillance camera and came across three rod shaped objects floating on September 25, 2016. It was there with bright white arms or wings then it was gone, there are 3 so far I have 34,000 to go thru but all three have different number of arms and about the same length. These are very clear pictures but nothing around for it to have been there. These are possibly a life form taken on different dates and times. Thanks to MUFON CMS
Pine Bluff – On July 31, 2017, I spotted a White Cylinder object heading from the North West to West in a straight-line. There was no noise coming from the object, and the lights did not blink.
After taking the picture zooming in on the object, the object appears to change shape and looks like a face. You can see a face in the
Thanks to MUFON CMS
Garden Grove— Driving east and stopping at a stop sign I caught a glimmer of something 500 feet away on July 27, 2017. There is an airport in the area but this wasn’t a plane. At first I thought it could be balloons but after stopping someone, they were as stunned as I was. I took several photos all the way back to my house. It changed shape and hovered in one spot. Not a helicopter either. Thanks to MUFON CMS
Ansonia — Two friends and I were having a get together with a few drinks on December 15th, 2013 and go outside and noticed orbs in the sky. We see two orbs floating and moving. So I took out my phone to record it and a third orb appeared. The lights had white/gold/green/blue hues to them, and pulsated only a tiny bit. The orbs then form into a triangle shape and then proceeded to go into one another until they vanish. There was sound emitted from the orbs. Thanks to MUFON CMS
Daytona — I was in my family room watching TV on I noticed strange reddish lights in the distance on August 3, 2017. I knew something seemed unusual about these lights. We have an aeronautical university about 5 miles away, and I often see planes in the same general vicinity but they never looked like this, When I first saw them, I suspected they were UFO’s since they looked like nothing I’d ever seen before. At first there were 4 glowing reddish orange things in the sky. They had moved east and hovered in two rows of two. As the others rose to the same height, the first ones began to fly away slowly in a curved pattern heading north and vanished. I am uploading a rough sketch of what I saw. Thanks to MUFON CMS
Pocatello— I’ve seen multiple lights and I took those pictures on June 26, 2017.
I’m sending this one and I have a bunch more
Thanks to MUFON CMS
North Manchester — We were on our way home from a family trip in our Rv and we were stopped at a stop sign on July 30. 2017.
Then I looked over and saw this thing kind of floating in one spot.
My mom didn’t stay very long but I was able to get one picture of what I saw. Thanks to MUFON CMS
Missouri Game Camera
Blue Springs— I have 5 photos taken by a game camera over a 100 minute period the night of July 23 3017. I did not personally observe anything but the main lights of the camera caught 8 rectangle lights in a horizontal string that moved from one photo to the next. In the last 3 photos there’s also a round light that varied in intensity and also moved horizontally with the string of lights. It is to the left of the string.
In the last two photos there was a deer and the last photo the deer and a raccoon were near the lights. I discovered these photos July 29. I have never seen such lights on photos before. Thanks to MUFON CMS
Lake Mead — It was quite a big day on July 21, 2017, but, it also felt so very natural. Once we finally got close to Lake Mead, Debra immediately had memories of she and I being there before and doing ceremonies together. Debra and I did not see the many orbs that were present at my ordination until we looked at the pictures. There are also pictures of a large orb that appeared to follow us back into the city…….how mightily blessed and Protected we are! We saw all of your friends last night and Debra was able to greet Mr. Tompkins and his lovely wife I’d like to also let you know that you have prepared us very well for our attendance here this weekend. Thanks to Debra
Las Vegas– I was on a business trip in April 2016, walking around taking pictures of everything like a normal tourist. I came across the street of the Eiffel tower replica. I snapped a couple of pictures and did not notice the UFO with my own eyes but only noticed it within my photos.
The UFO moves significantly from one picture to the other. With the angle I was at when looking straight up there are no buildings higher than the tower. The object looks like a diamond shaped sheet of electricity with a rectangle in the middle of it that looks like an opening.
There are 10 smaller rectangular openings/holes that are spaced evenly and surrounding the one in the middle. Thanks to MUFON CMS
New Mexico Lights
Lordsburg– Benjic Medina sent this video of a maneuvering white light near the mountain. It seems to be about a mile away and is very bright.
A similar light was videotaped twice by Benjie Medina at night.
Thanks to MUFON CMS
Las Cruses— The event was on July 5, 2017, and this happened to a good friend of mine and his wife. My friend had fallen asleep and is wife was watching TV with the window open about two inches. She states she “heard voices” coming from the left side of their house. She ran into the living room, woke up my friend and he went outside to investigate.
He went into the back yard along with their 5 year old basset hound that ran to the left side of their house and started barking like crazy running the full length of the house. The dog was running back and forth and barking. Then the next day he checked his security system and had recorded this video. On the video, the circular light at the 3 o’clock position is a known street light, The light we want you to investigate is the light at the 9 o’clock position; Due west is the town of Las Cruces and 25 miles west away is the White Sands Missile Range. . This was a MUFON case 85209 listed as “Unknown”. Thanks to MUFON CMS
New York 3 Lights
Oceanside— Three lights forming a triangle traveled south to the ocean above me and three other witnesses who were sitting in my backyard at 9:14 pm on July 29, 2917. The 3 orbs were completely silent and one of the witnesses saw a 4th light following the triangle formation. In the video, you can see a plane so hopefully that gives a reference point to the speed and altitude of the lights. I didn’t want MUFON or anyone else to think that I tampered with or manipulated the video in any way so I have uploaded the video as-is. The original video was shot on my iPhone. Thanks to MUFON CMS
Eire — My son and I saw a UFO.
I videotaped Cylinder on July 27, 2017.
. It was vertical like and exclamation mark.
Thanks to MUFON CMS
Greeneville — While driving to Pigeon Forge my girlfriend noticed an object a slow rotation on July 30, 2017. I saw the white blinking lights on each appendage/of the triangular or square object. Only one light was active at a time. In the centre of the object was a large sphere of plume that extended roughly 5 meters from the sphere. The appendages only produced the white lights from what seemed to be grayish circles.
The object was shaped like the attached drawings. The triangular features seemed build up to the sphere in an overlapping pattern. The speed was around 75 MPH and approached us at about 60 m/s, it slowed to about 25 m/s once it reached me. Its closest point was about 200 meters from us and was 15 meters in diameter. It flew over the road, and then simply vanished. Thanks to MUFON CMS
Hot Springs – I inadvertently caught this in my picture of a sphere on July 30, 2017.
Thanks to MUFON CMS
Fairchild AFB.– John Whichelow captured the puzzling footage during Sunday’s Skyfest event at Washington’s Fairchild AFB on August 1, 2017. When he later watched the video of two Thunderbird jets, he was stunned to see that there was also an odd white object which streaked across the sky.
The jets were said to be flying at 500 miles per hour, which suggests that the speed of the UFO was tremendous. Another piece of footage from Whichelow shows a second unknown object that appears to be black and hovering in the sky. Thanks to Coast to Coast
Worldwide UFO Sightings
Sydney — In the first instance I saw a Qantas A330 aircraft making a slight left turn probably receiving vectors from the airport I am assuming on August 1 2017. . I then turned my glance slightly to the right side and noticed 6-7 triangle objects darting in and out of the clouds at safe distance from the A330. These objects criss crossed each other, and then gliding west, frolicked in and out of the clouds with the sun shining on them. They were not very large .and flew over my workplace at the Holsworthy Base. I also had a work colleague who witnessed this event at 14:27 hours. I managed to take grainy photos. you will need to expand. The other photo has the triangle object. Thanks to MUFON CMS
Oshawa — On July 25, 2017, I was outside having a smoke on my deck in Oshawa and slightly southwest many miles away over Pickering /Ajax, Ontario. I noticed a slow low brilliant white light approaching across the sky coming towards the east. I went inside and grabbed my camera and noticed it now over Whitby, Ontario. That’s when I took the first picture at 9:55 pm. I continued to film as it went directly over my roof heading northeast over Oshawa, Ontario. It appeared low about 2000 to 5000 feet high? It had a very brilliant white light but I lost view of it at 9:59 pm. I found no data on the space station passing I took two very short video clips Thanks again for your interest as always Enjoy Paul Shishis
Venissieux — I was on my balcony smoking on July 31, 2017, looking when I noticed something seemed weird, a bright light in the horizon hovering. I had never really seen something out of place. The object disappeared and I kicked myself for not having my phone with me to take pics. And then it was again, at the exact same spot I saw it first, so I took a few pics and videos.
As for the object’s actions, with the naked eye it looked as though it wasn’t really moving, but looking through my videos it clearly is filling itself up with light.
Thanks to MUFON CMS
Berge — While driving on the highway near Berge, on July 30, 2017, I took a series of photos of a huge white cloud that was very beautiful.
Driving through the countryside we were passing some giant windmills that I thought would look nice to take a photo of with clouds in the background. I took the photos and noticed a black object in the last photo. The object does not appear in any other pictures. I know it is not a window spot. I did not see the object when taking the picture; only upon the review of the photo did I notice it. Thanks to MUFON CMS
Dublin— It was 3:55 AM when I noticed light in the sky which was reflecting onto my blinds on July 22, 2017. There were 5 rectangles of light with other smaller rectangular lights standing upright in a formation. These lights then moved in a programmed fashion together collapsing forward into a shape that resembled the outline of half an arrow tip and reforming upright in repetition. It then became a pulsing orb of light in the sky. By the time I started recording it was changing into its multiple rectangular state.
Thanks to MUFON CMS
Puerto Rico Object
This flying object was observed by uh60 dea crew operating in Puerto Rico. Shot in HD black hot flir on August 1. Crew witnessed object descend into water and continue at same speed.
It was joined by a second orb under the water. Several radio transmissions were heard discussing light between tower, helicopter, and airliner waiting for takeoff clearance recorded.
Thanks to MUFON CMS
Crewe– I have had a sleeping problem for quite a while and went into my garden for a cigarette. I then saw a craft approach from the west on November 29, 2016. It glided over the houses at the rear of my garden by about 10 feet just above the chimney stacks. My garden is 90 feet long so it was pretty close. The silent craft was 30 feet from nose to stern. It just glided above the house with a slight glow coming from an orb in its centre. As it flew east, I could see small red lights in each corner of the craft flying 20 to 40 mph. I have served in the Military with classified observational skills and know what I saw. It was quiet except for a low hum, like an electrical motor. There was no movement by the large conifer tree it passed. The photo is a like what I saw. Thanks to MUFON CMS
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Despite the Bible being a religious text, scientists have occasionally turned their microscopes and measuring sticks on its contents — with some surprising results.
7. Blood Red Nile
In the Book of Exodus, the Egyptian empire is beset by the plague — 10 plagues, to be exact. Animals behave oddly, and the sky turns black. Even more alarming, the river fills with blood. Everything in that bloody river dies.
Clearly, it’s not possible for a river to start bleeding, but scientists believe the plague in question may have been a red algae bloom. A very real phenomenon, “red tides” are a collection of algae packed so densely the plants discolor water. The blooms are caused by a variety of environmental factors, including warming water and excess nutrients like fertilizer. What’s more, red tides kill — just like the Book of Exodus says the bloody Nile did — with their natural toxins and oxygen-depleting decomposition.
6. A Plague of Locusts
Another nasty aspect of the Exodus were the locusts.
See, short-horned grasshoppers are typically innocuous little things, hopping around, bothering no one. But in times of severe drought, they can undergo a horrible metamorphosis. Triggered by serotonin in their brains, grasshoppers can become locusts — the Jekyll to the grasshopper’s Dr. Hyde. In this new state, locusts breed like crazy, sprout strong wings that can power them for miles, and start to swarm. In groups, they can block out the sun.
Though we haven’t seen too many plagues in recent years, swarms of locusts have been common throughout history. It’s safe to say these tiny terrors definitely messed with ancient Egyptians.
5. Parting the Red Sea
As the plagues are raining down, the Israelites decide to flee from the Egyptians and, let’s be real, it wasn’t going well.
That is, until Moses, the original Prince of Egypt himself, split the Red Sea in half, allowing the Israelites to run across to safety before the water rebounded, crashing over the Egyptians and stopping them in their tracks.
Computer simulations suggest this was actually possible. In 2010, an article published in the journal PLOS ONE suggested that a natural phenomenon could have parted the Red Sea. If wind blows hard enough, water can recede from its usual shoreline, exposing land that’s typically awash. Using a computer modeling tool, the researchers were able to show that at one site in the Nile, the right blustery wind could have created a land bridge 2.5 miles long and 3 miles wide, sustaining it for four hours.
4. The Canaanites Are All Right
Deuteronomy 20:17 instructed the Israelites to “completely destroy them — the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites — as the LORD your God has commanded you.” And the Israelites listened, destroying their enemies.
Or so the Bible said.
But a July 2017 paper published in the American Journal of Human Genetics presents compelling evidence that the Canaanites survived30276-8), and that their descendants are thriving in modern Lebanon, according to a historical genome constructed from Canaanite corpses, which were compared to the DNA of 99 modern Lebanese people. According to the study, the vast majority of the DNA tested in the modern Lebanese individuals came from the Canaanites, suggesting someone didn’t follow through with God’s commands.
It’s been immortalized in art for millennia, but what does science have to say about Goliath and his puny, but triumphant, friend David?
Though he’s since become a relic of history — a parable about overestimating the strong and undervaluing the weak — he definitely could have existed. Some have ventured to guess he was just a guy with gigantism, a disorder typically caused by overproduction of human growth hormones that causes people to grow to an uncommon size. In contrast to some plagued by this disorder, like Robert Pershing Wadlow, who was 8 feet 11 inches when he died, Goliath is downright puny.
2. The Voice of God
God talks a lot in the Bible, which, fair, since it’s his book. But how could anyone — scribes or prophets — hear the big man upstairs? Well, they probably couldn’t. But that doesn’t mean they weren’t hearing something.
Some of the people in either study may have had mental health issues or been influenced by past drug use, of course, but it was by no means all of them. And while those sounds and voices take many different forms, it’s possible some people interpret the stimuli as the voice of God.
1. Sometimes the Dead Aren’t Actually Dead
Coming back to life is prime content for the Bible — it happened at least twice in the New Testament alone. One of the lucky resurrected was Lazarus.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus gets word that his friend Lazarus of Bethany is dying. But he doesn’t rush to his side. By the time Jesus finally shows up, Lazarus has been dead for four days and is already buried. Nobody wants to dig Lazarus up — the truly dead reek — but Jesus insists. “Lazarus, come out!” he yells and, what do you know, the formerly dead dude pops back to life, good as new.
In 2007, an article published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine compiled 38 documented cases of “delayed return of spontaneous circulation”. In other words, 38 cases in which people’s hearts appeared to stop, before, uh, un-stopping. Granted, most of these people returned to life in 10 minutes (not four days), and the majority did eventually die from stopping their hearts, but maybe it’s worth a holler of “come out!” before the burial — or at least politely bury your loved ones in a “safety coffin” equipped with a bell should they prove to be, you know, alive.
Kernoorlog tussen VS en Noord-Korea komt er niet. Dit is de documentaire waarvan de elite niet wil dat je hem ziet
Kernoorlog tussen VS en Noord-Korea komt er niet. Dit is de documentaire waarvan de elite niet wil dat je hem ziet
De Amerikaanse president Trump heeft Noord-Korea gewaarschuwd dat ‘militaire oplossingen klaarstaan’.
Op het bericht dat het land een kernkop zou hebben die past op een raket die Amerika kan bereiken, zei hij dat Noord-Korea te maken zal krijgen met ‘vuur en furie die de wereld nooit eerder gezien heeft’.
Noord-Korea waarschuwde voor een ‘totale oorlog’ en zei dat de VS een ‘ellendige en ongenadige afstraffing’ te wachten staat in het geval van een preventieve aanval op kerninstallaties.
Het communistische land zei verder ‘het Amerikaanse grondgebied elk moment te kunnen reduceren tot as’.
Wat is de kans dat ze de daad bij het woord voegen en dat er een echte kernoorlog uitbreekt? En waarom is het in de wereld nooit eerder tot een echte kernoorlog gekomen?
Sinds kort is op YouTube-kanaal UAMN TV een nieuwe documentaire te zien van de Amerikaanse onderzoeker Robert Hastings.
Degelijk en deugdelijk
Hij interviewde 40 jaar lang gepensioneerde Amerikaanse militairen over hun betrokkenheid bij UFO-incidenten bij nucleaire bases.
“Het onderzoek van Hastings is degelijk en deugdelijk,” zegt lucht- en ruimtevaartdeskundige Coen Vermeeren over de documentaire.
“Zijn verhaal bestaat uit honderden getuigen bij kernwapenarsenalen in voornamelijk de VS en andere westerse landen,” vervolgt hij.
Volgens Vermeeren lijkt het er sterk op dat er door buitenaardse beschavingen wordt ingegrepen bij kerninstallaties.
“Vraag je in elk geval eens af waarom er sinds Hiroshima en Nagasaki geen nucleaire wapens meer zijn ingezet,” zegt hij.
Op basis van de interviews concludeerde Hastings dat aliens die beschikken over zeer geavanceerde technologie al tientallen jaren ingrijpen bij Amerikaanse en Russische nucleaire bases.
Honderden Amerikaanse legerveteranen spreken openlijk over deze onheilspellende incidenten en duizenden geopenbaarde overheidsdocumenten bevestigen hun beweringen.
Eenieder die zich zorgen maakt over de nucleaire spanningen tussen de VS en Noord-Korea doet er goed aan deze documentaire eens te bekijken.
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Schip wat verloren ging in de Bermuda Driehoek komt 90 jaar later weer tevoorschijn.
Schip wat verloren ging in de Bermuda Driehoek komt 90 jaar later weer tevoorschijn.
De Bermuda Driehoek heeft een reputatie dat schepen op mysterieuze wijze verdwijnen in de ether, maar van tijd tot tijd gebeurt er iets in de raadselachtige oceaan wat net zo bizar is als de verdwijningen.
Het meest interessante geval van een dergelijke gebeurtenis vond plaats in de buurt van de Cubaanse kust. Op 16 mei 2016, bemerkten Cubaanse autoriteiten een schip in de buurt van de kust in het westen van Havana. Het schip lag in de buurt van een militaire zone, en ze probeerde te communiceren met het schip, maar er was alleen maar stilte. Uiteindelijk besloten ze om het schip te onderscheppen.
Toen autoriteiten op het schip kwamen, konden ze zien dat het verlaten was, en vrij oud. Hulpverleners schatte het roestige schip minstens 100 jaar oud, en het werd al snel geïdentificeerd als het schip wat verloren was gegaan in de Bermuda Driehoek, de SS Cotopaxi. Het schip wat oorspronkelijk een Turks vrachtschip is, verdween in december 1925. Het logboek van de kapitein werd gevonden aan boord. Het is nog onbekend waar het schip 90 jaar was.
De Cotopaxi vertrok van Charleston, South Carolina op 29 november in 1925, met bestemming Havana, Cuba. Er waren 32 mensen aan boord van het vrachtschip aangevoerd door WJ Meyer. Het schip had ongeveer 2400 ton kolen aan boorde, men kon het schip 2 dagen volgen, voordat het stil viel. 90 Jaar later bereikte het schip haar bestemming, maar dan zonder de bemanning, de kolen, en zonder verklaring wat er gebeurd is.
STUNNING ANIMATION SHOWS THE DESTRUCTION OF POMPEII BY MOUNT VESUVIUS
STUNNING ANIMATION SHOWS THE DESTRUCTION OF POMPEII BY MOUNT VESUVIUS
The Ancient Roman town of Pompeii is most famous today for its tragic and hideous destruction caused by the devastating eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD. While other nearby settlements were completely leveled by the erupting lava, Pompeii fell victim to intensely hot falling ashes which destroyed everything that they touched and also preserved them perfectly.
Ever since the ancient city was rediscovered by explorers in 1599, it has been an object of fascination all over the world. More than anywhere else in Europe, the destroyed ruins of the town presents a true snapshot in time with the eleven thousand people who lived in the town frozen alongside with baths, houses, tools, frescoes, an amphitheatre, an aqueduct, a fascinating ‘villa of the mysteries’ and even graffiti and scattered wine bottles.
MUSEUM BRINGS THE DEVASTATION OF POMPEII TO LIFE
But while the story of Pompeii might be considered compelling to most people, modern dramas have tended to stumble when it comes to capturing the life and catastrophic death of the thriving ancient town. In the 1960s, the BBC offered a crass comic rendering of life in the city before the devastating impact of Vesuvius in the television show Up Pompeii! More recently, Hollywood filmmakers have attempted to take the subject more seriously such as the 2014 movie Pompeii. However, these attempts have not been received with any real warmth by the critics or the viewing public.
For this reason, many people consider the most eloquent and devastating description of the tragedy of Pompeii to come from Pliny the Younger who witnessed the destruction of the ancient town from a distance. In his historical work, he wrote; “You could hear the shrieks of women, the wailing of infants, and the shouting of men; some were calling their parents, others their children or their wives, trying to recognize them by their voices. People bewailed their fate or that of their relatives, and there were some who prayed for death in their terror of dying. Many sought the aid of the gods, but still more imagined there were no gods left, and that the universe was plunged into eternal darkness for evermore.”
Now an exhibition at Melbourne Museum is attempting to do what Hollywood could not and truly bring the horror of the destruction of Pompeii to life. The exhibition devoted to the destroyed ancient city gave visitors a chance to witness Pompeii coming back to life and experiencing the volcanic tragedy with computer generated imagery in a 3D video installation. This video, which has been widely praised for its artistry and shocking realism can be viewed below.
August 20, 2017 marks the 40th anniversary of the launch of the the first NASA Voyager mission, which is carrying a golden record filled with messages to potential civilizations beyond our solar system. This year is also the 20th anniversary of the sci-fi film Contact that dealt with receiving radio messages from extraterrestrials. Both the record and the film were brain children of the late Carl Sagan and raise an interesting question: which approach has the greater chance of success of making contact with aliens – sending radio messages or unmanned probes?
First contact with extraterrestrial civilizations has long fascinated scientists, philosophers, and writers. It's been the topic explored by serious scientific studies, crackpots, tabloids, science fiction epics, and international debates. The speculated results of the first meeting of man and alien run the entire gamut of imagination. Visits by aliens or receiving greetings from the stars has been seen as ranging from wonderfully transcendent, with the human race raised to the next step in evolutionary perfection, to us ending up as the main course on someone's dinner table.
Whether the outcome is the end of 2001: a Space Odyssey or To Serve Man, how will we establish contact with whoever or whatever lives beyond our solar system? Will our first contact be an alien spaceship carrying little green men? A probe operated by an artificial intelligence? A mysterious artifact buried on the Moon? A radio signal blaring out from the stars? Zaphod Beeblebrox crashing a party in Islington?
The Allen Telescope Array (Credit: Wikipedia/Colby Gutierrez-Kraybill)
The problem with answering this question is that we know literally nothing about any other intelligent life forms. We don't even know if they exist or even how probable their existence is. As to how they think, their limitations, or what manner they might choose to make themselves known to us, these are questions that are so complex that it often wanders into the realm of metaphysics, if not theology.
A much easier way of reaching an answer is to ask not "How will they contact us?" but "How will we contact them?" If we can answer the latter, then we are a great deal closer to answering the former. Knowing how to send messages tells you how to receive them.
The idea of trying to contact ET is the reverse of the conventional practice of the Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence (SETI). Founded in 1984, SETI is a passive search for signs of other civilizations, usually in the form of radio signals showing definite signs of intelligence, though other evidence might be sought. Deliberate contact attempts are called Active SETI or METI (Messaging to ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence), a term coined by the Russian scientist Alexander Zaitsev to denote an aggressive program of composing and sending messages to the stars.
But this idea isn't particularly new. In fact, proposals for contacting other planetary bodies go back as far as around 1820 when the Joseph Johann von Littrow, director of the Vienna Observatory, suggested creating circles, squares and triangles 30 km on a side in the Sahara Desert by digging ditches one kilometer-wide and filling them with water topped with kerosene. This would be set alight at night in the hopes of contacting anyone on the Moon or Mars.
In 1868, inventor Charles Cros put forward a plan to the French Academy of Sciences to set up giant parabolic mirrors reflecting arc lamps with a focal length equal to the distance between Earth and Mars. Cros' plan was to concentrate the sun's rays on the Martian desert to carve geometric figures and numbers in molten glass on the surface. In another proposal, he suggested building an enormous checkerboard with shiny surfaces that could be uncovered to form shapes and patterns like a mechanical digital display that the Martians could view using telescopes.
In the 1890s, the Reverend W S Lach-Szyrma suggested lighting up the Riga, the Malvern Hills, or Lake Michigan with geometric patterns. Meanwhile, German mathematician Karl Friedrich Gauss recommended creating a giant right-angle triangle in Siberia using 15 km-wide strips of forest with fields of wheat as the background to form the famous geometric solution to the Pythagorean theorem. The whole thing would have been about the size of Ireland.
Not to be outdone, electrical pioneer Nikola Tesla in 1896 claimed that a more advanced version of his device for transmitting electrical power without wires could be used to contact Mars, and in 1899 he said that he'd detected signals from the Red Planet.
But perhaps the prize for the most ambitious early scheme should go to the popular science publisher and science fiction pioneer Hugo Gernsback, who in the February 1927 edition of his Radio News magazine put forward the idea of building a directional radio transmitter belting out 100,000 kilowatts in the two-meter band. True, it would have to have been a heavy bar of silver or copper glowing white hot to take all that power, but Gernsback claimed that it could not only communicate with Venus or Mars, but could also bounce radio signals off the Moon and back to Earth.
Is there anybody there?
But if we're going to talk to other civilizations, where do we start? We start with answering a few basic questions, like is there anyone to talk to? For our purposes, we don't need to go into all the complexities of astrobiology, planet formation or how to define the habitable zone. What we need is a rough idea of the probability of the present existence of intelligent life, how far away they are, and how advanced they are. This will tell us not only where to direct our efforts, but also when we can expect a reply, and whether they'll understand us.
These are questions that go back to the late 1950s when the SETI field was first pioneered by Cornell scientists Giuseppe Cocconi, Philip Morrison and Frank Drake at the Green Bank radio observatory. Back then, the field was marked by swift innovation and brilliant out-of-the-box thinking because these scientists didn't know what was possible or impossible. Many of our ideas about METI date back to this time.
One of the key tools for finding out if anyone is out there is the famous Drake Equation written in 1961, which is expressed as follows:
N = R* • fp • ne • fl • fi • fc • L
N is the number of technological civilizations in our galaxy
R* is the average rate of star formation in our galaxy
fp is the fraction of stars that have planets
ne is the average number of planets that can support life
fl is the fraction of those planets that develop life
fi is the fraction of planets with intelligent life
fc is the fraction of planets with technological civilizations
L is the lifespan of these technological civilizations
If you can find the numbers for each of these variables and plug them in, you should have a good idea of how many civilizations are out there for us to talk to. The problem is that even after almost 60 years of research, there are no reliable numbers for any of these variables. True, we know more about stellar evolution, we have discovered thousands of planets orbiting other stars and we do have a better idea of what type of planetary systems there are out there, but the specific numbers remain unknown.
The most important variable is L, which denotes the lifespan of a technological civilization. Even if all the other variables are nailed down, this one will determine the final answer. If such a civilization lasts only about a century, then we may be the only one. If they last for millions of years, there could be millions of civilizations out there. The irony is that we have no way to set L until we actually witness the rise and fall of other technological civilizations.
A telescope at the Green Bank observatory (Credit: NASA)
Our alternative is to take our only example of a planet with intelligent life (Earth) and look for somewhere that's a relatively close match. That means looking for a single G main sequence star not too close to the galactic center and not too far on the edge. It should have a rocky planet about the size of the Earth with a large moon and sit in its star's habitable zone.
Such a search would have been beyond our capabilities just a few decades ago, but modern exoplanet-hunting techniques have changed the game. True, nothing close to a near-Earth analog has been found (yet) and the nature of planet hunting tends toward extreme examples, but the ongoing planetary surveys have allowed us to eliminate many systems as candidates in the same way as the Mars and Venus probes put paid to any future projects to contact Venusians and Martians.
It would be nice if the Drake Equation was more tractable, because if we knew how probable another civilization was, we would know how likely it is that one was within a hundred light years of us. If it is very probable, then the probability of another civilization in our neighborhood increases. If it's improbable, then such a civilization could be thousands or even millions of light years away, if it's out there at all.
One of the original radio telescopes at Green Bank (Credit: NRAO/AUI)
On the bright side, since we don't know, we have no reason not to send our message to nearby candidate stars unless our surveys show they have no Earth-like planets orbiting them. According to some estimates, there are 19 G-type stars within 10 parsecs (32 light years) of Earth, with the nearest only four light years away, so we have some to start with. And with hundreds of million more in the galaxy, we won't run out anytime soon.
Are aliens watching Hitler on the telly?
The next question is, how are we going to send our message? The obvious answer is radio. But it's not a matter of pressing the mic button and starting to talk. One common misconception fostered by a certain movie is that radio communication with the stars is so easy that we're doing it now without our knowledge. Are the inhabitants of some planet about 80 light years from Earth watching television broadcasts of Adolph Hitler opening the 1936 Berlin Olympics? Very probably not.
There are many different kinds of radio and most of them are unsuitable for communicating with the Moon, much less the stars. True, we can communicate with a deep space probe 11 billion mi (19 billion km) from Earth, but that's because we use very powerful transmitters on Earth focusing a very tight beam, while the receivers are giant dishes precisely aimed at the transmitting spacecraft.
Other forms of radio don't have a hope. AM transmissions simply can't cover much distance and shortwave broadcasts bounce off the Earth's ionosphere. As for television broadcasts, they can travel beyond our atmosphere and into deep space, as can very powerful military radars. For decades, these have been blasting out into space in a bubble that now has a radius of about a hundred light years.
The 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin were the first to be televised (Credit: Deutsches Bundesarchiv)
At first, this makes the Earth seem like a bright radio beacon with aliens 50 light years away able to tune into Star Trek on a weekly basis. But the problem is two-fold. First, the television and similar transmissions are being broadcast in all directions, meaning that their strength is weakened by the factor of the radius squared. This means that the entire Earth from, for example, 1966 would have a brightness of 10-55 watts per square centimeter at a distance of 10 light years. That's ten million times too faint to be detected at all, much less not be lost in all the background static. To be picked up at 100 light years, a television broadcast would need 1020watts behind it.
It gets even worse. These broadcasts are coming from fixed spots on the Earth, which is rotating and revolving around the Sun. This makes the signals intermittent and subject to Doppler effects that distort them. Then there's the effect of distortion by the Earth's atmosphere, the Earth's magnetic field, the Sun's magnetic field, other stars, interstellar dust and gas, energetic objects, and the omnipresent cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) left over from the Big Bang. Add all that together and Hitler's cosmic broadcast petered out at less than two light years.
What we are talking about here are the ultimate limits of radio communications. Despite having been at this for a little over a century, we're already close to these limits and anyone else out there will likely be, too. This means that so long as we're sending out electromagnetic waves, we're likely on a level playing field no matter how advanced the other party is.
Designing the transmitter
To communicate with the stars, we need to consider three factors. First, the transmission, which must be in the form of a directed, monochromatic beam. Second, the power behind that beam must be high enough to carry information. And third, the frequency of the beam must be able to penetrate space for thousands of light years, yet have enough bandwidth to carry a message.
Ideally, the best system would be one where we design both the transmitter and receiver. Of course, we can't do this for the first message, but there's no reason why that message can't include instructions on how to build a compatible receiver.
The transmitter we'd use isn't too hard to figure out because we've already built several of them in the form of the radio telescopes at Arecibo in Puerto Rico, Jodrell Bank in England, and Pingtang in China, among others. To these giant dishes can be added arrays of multiple dishes, including the Very Large Array and the Allen Telescope Array.
One requirement for setting up a communication base is that it needs to be in a radio quiet zone where even mobile phone use is heavily restricted. The scene in Contact where Jodie Foster's character is excitedly shouting orders into a walkie talkie about the message from space she's discovered as she drives by the radio telescope dishes would have been more realistic if her colleagues at the other end angrily shouted back for her to shut up because she's drowning out the signal.
Choosing a frequency
The next step is choosing what frequency to transmit at, which is a mixture of technical details, economy, and second guessing whoever is listening.
One premise that SETI scientists work on is astronomer Frank Drake's Principle of Economy, which, to put it simply, is anyone we're likely to contact will be economical and minimize the personnel, materials, and energy to achieve their ends. In other words, their bureaucrats will be as penny pinching as ours because a species that is careful with its resources will have a better survival advantage.
This means that the aliens will also assume that the frequency we choose will be the one that conserves transmitter power and costs the least energy per bit to send. At the same time, the frequency needs to be easy to generate and detect, not susceptible to much deflection, interference, or absorption by interstellar dust and gas. One other factor that helps whittle down the options is that the signal has to go through our atmosphere and we assume that the receiver is inside a similar habitable atmosphere.
Leaving out the math, the most likely band to achieve all this is between 1,000 and 10,000 MHz. The problem is that there are nine billion frequencies in this range, so which to choose? The answer is to pick one that would be recognized anywhere in the universe. SETI researchers consider two in what is called the "watering hole" as the most likely. That is the frequency of neutral hydrogen at 1,420 MHz and the Hydroxyl (OH) radical frequency at 1,721 MHz. Since Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe, and combining H with OH produces H₂O, these are most likely spots on the spectrum that someone will be listening to.
"Nature has provided us with a rather narrow band in this best part of the spectrum that seems especially marked for interstellar contact," said leading SETI advocate Bernard Olive. "It lies between the spectral lines of hydrogen and the hydroxyl radical. Standing like the Om and the Um on either side of a gate, these two emissions of the disassociation products of water beckon all water-based life to search for its kind at the age old meeting place for all species: the water hole. Water-based life is almost certainly the most common form and well may be the only naturally occurring form.
"Romantic? Certainly. But is not romance itself a quality peculiar to intelligence? Should we not expect advanced beings elsewhere to show such perceptions? By the dead reckoning of physics we have narrowed all the decades of the electromagnetic spectrum down to a single octave where conditions are best for interstellar contact. There, right in the middle, stand two signposts that taken together symbolize the medium in which all life we know began. Is it sensible not to heed such signposts? To say, in effect: I do not trust your message, it is too good to be true."
Lasers, neutrinos and other exotics
But radio isn't our only option. What about lasers? We're already experimenting with them for communication with deep space probes, and SETI researchers are looking for signs of someone else using them, too.
Lasers have many advantages. They're tightly focused, highly directional, and monochromatic. Using an infrared beam focused by a large mirror or array, it could transmit messages at a much higher rate than a radio transmitter. Or it could be used to distort the solar spectrum by tuning the laser in to a stellar absorption band, which would look like an artificial spectral line to an alien astronomer. This would certainly gain attention and it could be made to wink on and off to send messages.
If we want to go further afield, we could use High Energy Particles (HEPs), including gamma rays, neutrinos, gravitons, and tachyons. Some are little more than theoretical, and others pose technological barriers that may never be surmounted, but they potentially have tremendous advantages.
Neutrinos, for example, would be an ideal communication medium. Sixty-five billion neutrinos emitted by the Sun pass through every square centimeter of the Earth every second and hardly any of them are stopped by the mass of the planet. If we could generate and detect them easily, they would provide us with a transmitter of unlimited range that would be almost impossible to block.
Going even farther afield, we could turn the Sun into a giant beacon by changing its spectrum directly by dumping about 400 tons of some man-made element into a heliocentric orbit. If someone light years away looked at the solar spectrum and saw something like technetium present (an element not found in nature), they'd certainly take notice. Alternatively, Philip Morrison once suggested placing opaque clouds in orbit around the Sun in a pattern that would make it seem to blink or even spell out short messages.
Oddly, one thing we don't have to worry about for the moment are inadvertent messages. While aliens aren't watching I Love Lucy, they could still be able to see the radio spectrum of our planet, and until recently it would have seemed very odd. Due to analog TV broadcasts and military radars, for much of the 20th century the Earth had a temperature in the radio band of the spectrum of 300 K (27° C, 80° F). In the absence of those artificial transmissions, for that to be true the Earth's black-body temperature would need to be 40 million degrees, which is about seven thousand times hotter than the surface of the Sun.
But during the past 20 years, television has switched over to digital, which requires much smaller bandwidths, and more efficient radars have been developed, so the Earth is currently dark. But don't get too comfortable. As we start moving out into the Solar System, there will be significant deep space traffic being tracked and tight communication beams transmitted, so things will get noisy again over the next generation.
How to write a message
So, we have our transmitter, but what do we say? To avoid the first conversation between worlds descending into awkward small talk about the weather, we need to come up with a message that's worth listening to. More importantly, it needs to be one the recipient will understand.
It also needs to be a message that will be recognized as a message. It has to be unambiguously artificial and distinctly different from natural sources. This isn't as easy as it sounds. A regular, repeating pattern in a radio signal may seem like an obvious beacon being transmitted by intelligent life, but radio astronomers keep being caught out by natural phenomena.
For example, on November 28, 1967, Jocelyn Bell Burnell and Antony Hewish at the Mullard Radio Astronomy Observatory in Cambridge, England observed a sequence of pulses coming at intervals of 1.33 seconds from the same point in the sky. Though a number of explanations were put forward to explain it, the idea that it might be artificial was reasonable enough for the signal to be nicknamed LGM-1, for Little Green Men.
LGM-1 turned out to be the first pulsar to be discovered, and it highlighted a problem with interstellar communications. Just because something is repeating, regular, or forms an obvious pattern, doesn't mean there's an intelligence behind it. Nature is filled with such things and, as the saying goes, although rare things occur rarely, it is also true that rare things occur rarely.
Imagine, as one philosopher put it, that you're on a train from London to Cardiff. As you look out the window, you see a scattering of white stones in a field on a hillside. Is this an intelligent message? No. Stones show up in places all the time. But what if the stones form a pattern, like a series of lines or a triangle? It might be a message, but there are any number of processes that might arrange stones in an orderly manner that don't require human intervention.
Now imagine that the stones spell out "Welcome to Wales." Is this a message? This is much more likely because stones don't generally form words or phrases, but it's not outside the realms of possibility that it's some remarkable coincidence or that we're imposing our assumptions on what we see.
But what is the stones spell out "Welcome to Wales" and the hillside is just inside the Welsh border? Now the stones aren't just forming a pattern, they're expressing an actual true fact that we're able to identify. It is a message and the probability of it being otherwise is infinitesimal.
Neptune as seen by Voyager 2 (Credit: NASA)
So, if we are sending a message by radio, it has to be clearly artificial and it proves this by conveying verifiable facts that the recipient can recognize and understand. The problem is that this assumes some common frame of reference. If it hadn't been for the Rosetta Stone repeating the same message in both Greek and Egyptian, hieroglyphics would still be as impenetrable today as they were three hundred years ago.
We need a similar Rosetta Stone and since there aren't any monuments written in both English and Betelgeusian, we need something that is truly universal – science and mathematics.
Our cosmic message must be simple, but it must also show intelligence, so it can't be just a repeating series of radio pulses. Instead, these pulses can be used to form binary code to convey data. It might be a series of binary numbers equivalent to 1,2,3,5,7,11 for the first prime numbers, or 1,4,9,16,25 for the first squares, or 3,1,4,1,5,9 for pi, or any of a number of other things.
This would certainly tell ET that we're here and we're intelligent, but our message can't just be a string of simple numbers or it will go down as the most frustrating communication of all time. Our message has to be long. Much, much longer than these simple sequences meant as just a way to get attention. The first part might last only a couple of hours or days. The rest of the message would carry on for months.
Basically, what we're doing is an exercise in anti-cryptology. Where a cryptographer comes up with ways to make a message harder to read or even find, we're making one that's as easy as possible to read, yet will still hold the reader's attention by actually saying something worthwhile.
We could do this by splitting up the message into three types with each type alternating with the other two. To make sure we're making up for data lost through interference or to take into account those who started listening in the middle of the message, everything would be repeated several times and perhaps on several neighboring frequencies.
The first type is made up of numbers, physical constants, arithmetic, mathematical concepts, formulae, common scientific facts, and a vocabulary. The second type would be language lessons including syntax, grammar, ideas, logic, sentences, paragraphs, and abstract concepts. Of course, this wouldn't be in English, but more of a kind of binary Pidgin that would be intelligible to both parties.
The third type would be what we actually want to say and we'd only be limited by bandwidth and our own perseverance. We could send a very focused message, the complete sum of human knowledge in a giant encyclopedia, or we could, as the astronomer Fred Hoyle once suggested, send them instructions on how to build a computer and a copy of the software to program it with, creating a kind of electronic ambassador.
The first message
What we've discussed so far is what we could do if we wanted to get into some serious interstellar messaging, but it isn't theoretical or a someday thing. In fact, Earth started sending messages into space almost half a century ago.
The first radio message to be beamed at the stars went out on November 16, 1974 using the 1,000-ft (305-m) dish antenna at the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico as part of a ceremony to inaugurate a major upgrade. That day, under the eye of then-director Frank Drake, at 17:00 GMT the great dish was aimed at Messier 13 (M13) in the constellation of Hercules.
M13 is a globular cluster made up of 300,000 densely packed stars about 25,000 light-years from Earth, but it's still within range of Arecibo, which is sensitive enough to detect a television station at a range of 1.8 light-years, BMEWS radar at 18 light-years, or its duplicate on the other side of the galaxy.
Carl Sagan was involved in the Arecibo Message, the Pioneer plaque, and the Voyager record (Credit: NASA)
Set to 2,388 MHz, the signal shot out in a tight beam with 2 x 1013 watts behind it for two minutes and 49 seconds as 1,679 frequency pulses or bits modulated between two different frequencies to create binary code at 10 bits per second.
Unsurprisingly, 1,679 was not a number pulled out of a hat. It was very carefully chosen by Drake, who wrote the message itself before sending it to his colleague Carl Sagan to see if he could decipher it. One thousand six hundred and seventy-nine is the product of two prime numbers, 73 and 23. This is a vital clue to anyone or anything that intercepts the Arecibo Message, as it's now known, which we've reproduced here.
Being the product of two prime numbers tells the recipient to set the binary numbers into a square 73 bits on one side and 23 bits on the other. There are only two ways to do this. One produces nothing but gibberish. The other forms a very low-resolution image, which is very clear if the binary ones and zeros are replaced with dark and light squares.
The Arecibo message is short, but it includes a lot of information about humans and the Solar System. The top section (colored here in white for clarity, though there is no color in the message) are the numbers one to 10 in binary with a "least significant digit" marker to show where the number begins. Below this, in purple, are the atomic numbers for hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and phosphorus, which are the basic constituents of DNA.
In the next section, in green, are the formulae for the sugars and bases that make the nucleotides of DNA. These are in the form of sequences of the five elements previously described. Below this are a pair of spirals, in blue, representing the structure of DNA and a center bar, in white, that is the number 4.3 billion in binary, which is the number of nucleotides thought to make up human DNA in the 1970s.
The next section is a bit more obvious, with a stick figure, in red, in the center. Next to it is a bar, in blue, with the height of the average man represented in binary as 14 times the wavelength of the message (126 mm times 14 equals 1.7 m (5.8 ft). On the other side is the size of the human population in 1974 (4.3 billion)
Next, in the yellow, is a chart of the Solar System with a rough representation of each planet's size. The symbol for Earth, which sits directly under the stick figure and is indented towards it to show a connection.
Finally, at the bottom of the image, is the outline of the Arecibo telescope and the binary representation of its diameter as a multiple of the message wavelength.
Because the Arecibo Message was really a stunt to show off what the telescope could do, it may have been much shorter than the ideal message we outlined above, but it still tells any recipients a lot about us. It shows a common numbering system and implies that we use a decimal system. It also tells them that we are carbon-based lifeforms, that our genetic structure is based on DNA, and something of our biochemistry. The message also shows that we're bipeds and our size tells them something about Earth's gravity. In addition, they know something about the structure of the Solar System and the nature of our technology.
Are we better to remain silent?
Since Arecibo, there have been about 12 other attempts to send messages to other civilizations, though none have been very long or repeated too many times. Part of the reason there have been so few and such modest attempts has been partly insufficient radio telescope time, but also the firm opposition of most of the astronomical community to sending such messages at all.
Though the idea of communicating with extraterrestrials has grown in popularity with the public, the SETI field has faced increasing difficulties in getting funding after nearly 60 years of failure, to the point where many researchers regard SETI, while laudable, as a pseudoscience without a subject and without a testable hypothesis.
According to astronomer and science fiction author David Brin, the strenuous efforts of some SETI researchers to keep the organization from being identified with UFOs and little green men has "pushed away a field that was very kind to them — bona fide science fiction" and walled in their community, isolating them from mainstream science. This has made some SETI proponents very sensitive and frustrated, leading some to advocate going straight from listening to shouting out the existence of mankind to the Cosmos in hopes of spurring a reply.
The problem is that one never knows who is going to get the message. They could be one of Sir Arthur C Clarke's godlike, totally altruistic beings; friendly, logical Vulcans; H G Wells' ravening Martian hordes bent on conquest; or C S Lewis's demonic creatures motivated by pure evil. It's this uncertainty that makes most astronomers prefer that sending any message should wait until the matter has been thoroughly discussed at the very least.
The Physicist Stephen Hawking, in an interview with the Sunday Times, said that if the human race is anything to go by, it would be better to remain silent.
"We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn't want to meet," says Hawking. "I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonize whatever planets they can reach."
Even early studies of the 1960s and '70s said that one of the top three criteria for a civilization becoming an active transmitting one was having the technology and resources to fend off an alien invasion force or other military threats.
So does this mean that caution dictates that we never try to communicate with another civilization? Not necessarily. There is an alternative – one that we've already used to send messages to the stars. It's slower than radio, but potentially much safer. This surprising competitor was actually the very first to carry a message addressed to some unknown extraterrestrial civilization years before Arecibo. The first will take tens of thousands of years to reach even the distance of the nearest star, if they ever do. Yet in this cosmic tortoise vs. hare race, it has some surprising advantages.
On March 3, 1972, Pioneer 10 lifted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida. Along with Pioneer 11, launched 11 months later, these unmanned deep space probes were tasked with making flybys of Jupiter and Saturn, setting them on a hyperbolic slingshot trajectory that made them the first spacecraft to ever set out from the Solar System, never to return.
Artist's concept of Pioneer 10 (Credit: NASA)
Not wanting to pass up the opportunity to create the most audacious messages in a bottle ever tossed into infinity, NASA turned the Pioneer probes into Earth's first cosmic emissaries by tacking a gold-anodized aluminum plaque to each one. Measuring 9 x 6 in (229 by 152 mm), these plaques were engraved with a pictogram that may one day become the most important postcard in history, if by some miracle it's ever found.
First suggested by journalist Eric Burgess and designed and constructed in three weeks by Carl Sagan, his then-wife Linda Salzman Sagan, and Frank Drake, the plaque is the icing on the cake for Pioneer. Since the aliens will already have the inert probe to study at their leisure, the plaque's job is to provide a bit of context as to where this mysterious spacecraft came from and who sent it.
The plaque shows the outline of the Pioneer probe, in front of which stand the nude figures of a man and a woman. The man's hand is raised in a gesture of greeting, while the woman has one foot set slightly forward to give some idea of how humans move. Below them is a representation of the Solar System with an arrowed line showing that the Pioneer came from the third planet from the Sun. To one side is a strange diagram of spreading lines with binary symbols next to each one, while above this is a figure of two circles separated by a line.
The two humans are probably the most difficult figures to decipher, since we have no idea how much of how we see two dimensional representations is universal and how much is peculiar to us. But the rest of the plaque should give the finders the ability to deduce some basic information about us.
The two circles at the top are a schematic of the "hyperfine transition" of neutral atomic hydrogen. That is, when the spin of the electron and the proton in a hydrogen atom align shift to when they are opposed, which is when the atom emits radio waves at 1,420 MHz. Since hydrogen is universal, this fact should also be universally known.
The clever bit is that 1,420 Mhz is a wavelength of 21 cm and that gives us and the aliens a common yardstick. Underneath the line connecting the two circles is the number one in binary code. Next to the two humans is the number eight in binary, which tells the aliens that humans are 8 x 21 cm tall – a figure that is confirmed by comparing them to the height of the spacecraft drawn behind them. Since the aliens should have the probe as well as the plaque, this allows them to double check their deductions.
The Solar System diagram also includes binary numbers under each planet showing their distance from the Sun.
As to the enigmatic spider next to the humans, this is a map showing the relationship between 14 pulsars identified by binary representations of their periods, with a 15th line showing the distance between Earth and the center of the galaxy. Since the periods of pulsars are precisely measured and their rate of slowdown is also known, the aliens should be able to pinpoint the date of the probe's launch to within 100 to 1,000 years and our position to within 60 light years. Not exactly a GPS fix, but at least it would get them close enough to find a gas station and ask for directions.
"The Pioneer plaques are destined to be the longest-lived works of mankind," said Sagan and Drake in 1975. "They will survive virtually unchanged for hundreds of millions, perhaps billions, of years in space. When plate tectonics has completely rearranged the continents, when all the present landforms on the earth have been ground down, when civilization has been profoundly transformed and when human beings may have evolved into some other type of organism, these plaques will still exist. They will show that in the year we called 1973 there were organisms, portrayed on the plaques, that cared enough about their place in the hierarchy of all intelligent beings to share knowledge about themselves with others."
The Pioneer message is in some ways as simple as the later Arecibo Message, but in other ways is more complex. It has only a few sections intended to convey a few pieces of information, but the resolution is higher than what could be included in a radio message and the pulsar map goes a step further by telling the recipients where and when the probe came from.
Pioneer and Voyager trajectories (Credit: NASA)
In August 1977, the next level of SETI messaging went into space with the first of the two Voyager probes. Voyager 1 and 2 were larger and more versatile spacecraft tasked with a more ambitious mission. Their trajectory not only sent them to Jupiter and Saturn, but also to Uranus and Neptune, then set them on a velocity that is sending them out of the Solar System before their predecessors.
Even 40 years later, the two spacecraft are still partially functional and will continue to operate until the nuclear power system runs out sometime between 2025 and 2030. But even after their electronics go cold, the Voyagers will still have a job as carriers of the most ambitious space message sent so far.
Mounted on the fuselage of each Voyager's main section is the Golden Record. It's actually a 12-in (30-cm) copper gramophone record plated in gold and sealed in a gold-electroplated aluminum cover. The latter includes an ultra-pure sample of radioactive Uranium 238, which has a half life of 4.468 billion years and provides the finder with an accurate way to calculate how much time has elapsed since Voyager left Earth. To back this up, the cover is etched with the same pulsar map found on Pioneer. Like any user-friendly product, the cover includes an operating manual showing how to use the record as well as a phonograph needle to play it.
Where Pioneer was a simple message, the Voyager record is a flat-out information dump selected for NASA by a committee led by Carl Sagan. Along with lessons in number system, units of measurements, and biochemistry, the record contains 115 images, greetings in various languages, sounds of everyday Earth life, and 90 minutes of music from around the world.
The images are stored using a simple analog technique developed in the 1920s as a way of recording television on audio records. Since television is a made up of a series of still images, this turned out to be an excellent way to store relatively high definition images. The first image is a simple circle that acts as a calibration aid for the finder.
Calling all aliens: What's the best way to contact our galactic neighbors? - PART II
Calling all aliens: What's the best way to contact our galactic neighbors? -PART II
This is followed by a solar location map; mathematical and physical unit definitions; a tutorial in human biochemistry, anatomy, and reproduction; information about the planet Earth and its structure; images of terrestrial geology, climatic regions, animal life, and plant life. There's also a large compendium on human life, activities, architecture, eating, technology, and music, as well as printed messages from US President James Carter and UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim.
It will be a good 40,000 years before any of these probes comes within two light years of any other star systems and odds are that none will be found for millions or even billions of years.
But what does this slowpoke approach for sending messages have over light-speed radio signals? Not much at the moment, but while we're at the physical limits of what radio can do, interstellar travel still has a long way to go. At the moment, we're limited to using primitive chemical rockets or ion drives that aren't really suited to the task of jumping between the stars, but that could well change one day, if we're patient enough.
In 1964, Soviet astronomer Nikolai Kardashev came up with a way of classifying civilizations based on how much energy they are able to harness. A Type I civilization is limited to the power available on a single planet – about 4 X 1012 joules. A Type II would be able to use the output of an entire star, which comes out to 4 X 1026 joules. Meanwhile, a Type III civilization would have the output of a galaxy at 4 X 1037 joules.
The more power a civilization has at its disposal, the more efficient it becomes. One interesting point that SETI scientists have found is that when a culture reaches the point beyond a Type I civilization, the difference in efficiency between sending radio messages and sending unmanned probes becomes negligible.
In 1960, Ronald N Bracewell of Stanford University put forward a proposal for using robotic probes rather than sending radio messages as our way of opening contact with other beings. Let's look an updated version of his idea.
Imagine it's a few centuries from now when the energy problems of today seem as quaint as a flint or deer antler shortage in Neolithic Britain. Humanity now has so much surplus energy at its command that sending an interstellar probe seems no more farfetched than sending a probe to Pluto does in our day.
But these are far more advanced spacecraft than any we have today. They are larger and more powerful. They are self-refueling, self-repairing, and can even duplicate themselves as required using advanced 3D printing techniques. They are also fully autonomous with computers that have an almost organic level of artificial intelligence.
These probes aren't very fast, reaching only 10 percent of the speed of light, but they don't have to be. With no passengers or crew, they can afford to spend a few decades or even centuries getting to their destination. As they approach the candidate star selected by mission control, each probe has the ability to study the system in detail, identify the planets most likely to possess intelligent life, and make an assessment of whether to proceed or carry on to a more promising system.
If a planet does turn out to have a civilization advanced enough to make contact with, the probe would be programmed to discretely stand off and listen to radio, television, and data transmissions. Unlike trying to pick up signals from light years away, the probe could do so from only millions of miles or might even send in scouts to orbit the planet for a closer look and listen.
The Golden Record (Credit: NASA)
Already the advantages of sending out such a system become obvious. The Bracewell probe would be intelligent enough and programmed with enough precautionary algorithms to determine if the civilization in question is safe to contact or whether it could be more in Earth's interests to stay silent. It could even remain on station for decades or even centuries as it sends back reports to Earth.
The same watching brief might even apply if it finds a civilization that hasn't reached a high enough level of technology to communicate with. It could patiently wait and watch as it evolves, then decide whether to communicate as soon as it starts receiving radio transmissions. Or it could leave behind an artifact, as in 2001: a Space Odyssey, that would inform Earth if it was ever disturbed, while the probe itself moves on to more productive targets. Or it might duplicate itself and send the new one on.
If the probe did decide to make contact, it would be in a far better position than someone trying to start a conversation across 100 light years of space. For one thing, the probe would have no trouble making its presence known by blasting a powerful signal at the planet, perhaps re-broadcasting television programs with a six hour delay on the same frequency as the original broadcasts to make clear that this isn't some kind of an echo.
When contact is established, communications would be clear with a minimum of interference and responses would be received in real time. In addition, a probe orbiting the planet would have huge bandwidth at its disposal to send and receive a very large amount of data – much of it in the form of video.
It would also be a simple task for the probe to instruct the natives on how to build compatible transceivers for the most efficient exchanges or to speak directly to Earth. On the other hand, the probe could act as a gatekeeper by relaying messages to Earth and censoring information, like our location, if the indigenes prove untrustworthy.
Because the probe has artificial intelligence, it can adapt its communications to suit the recipient. It could indulge in true conversations with the natives, asking questions and being asked questions in turn as an exercise in both teaching and learning. It could even provide language lessons with suitable feedback. It might even be able to connect directly to the planet's version of the internet and use deep learning to better understand the culture or even to communicate directly with individuals.
Indeed, these exchanges could make such a probe, in the broad sense, profitable. Instead of blasting energy into space from Earth with no known return on the investment, the probe could send its findings to Earth much more economically. In fact, unlike radio signals, an autonomous probe program would continue operate long after it had been abandoned back on Earth.
It might even act as an insurance policy for our civilization. If Earth is destroyed, then at least our culture might live on – if only as a record, albeit an intelligent record. Or the probe could be programmed with a wide sampling of the human genome and supplied with information on how to construct a biological printer that would allow it to build human cells and clone them. Scientists are already doing this with simple viruses, so it may one day be possible with Homo sapiens. It may even be possible to bioengineer the ova at code level to adapt the colonists to their new environment.
Taking things a step further, there's no reason why the probe must be mechanical. Today, scientists are able to encode images and even videos on bacterial DNA. Perhaps, in time, some sort of microorganism could be developed with complex messages encoded on it as a form of self-replicating courier placed in small probes or turned into spores and carried on the solar winds into the galaxy. Maybe one day our first message won't be heard over the radio, but seen through a microscope.
Today, we have a lot more experience beaming messages into deep space as our unmanned missions probe the edges of the Solar System and beyond. We know more about how to send and receive data with a minimum of wattage, how to use tight-beam radio, and how to carry out precise tracking of space objects. We're even experimenting with laser communications in deep space and looking at new ways to send spacecraft to the nearest stars.
But whatever methods we may adopt in the future, our first messages are already on their way and we're waiting for the reply. The odds are long, however, and we won't hear much for about 50,000 years, so there's time to put the kettle on.
Voyager scientists on the Jupiter encounter, Pluto's planet status and whether we'll find extraterrestrial life
Voyager scientists on the Jupiter encounter, Pluto's planet status and whether we'll find extraterrestrial life
A collage of Jupiter and its four planet-size moons, photographed in early March 1979 by Voyager 1. The Voyager Project is managed for NASA's Office of Space Science by Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology.
There was an advance screening of the film at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia on Aug. 10, complete with a panel featuring Voyager mission scientists Fran Bagenal (Co-Investigator Plasma Science) and Rich Terrile (Imaging Science), as well as Nick Sagan, the son of scientist Carl Sagan. Nick Sagan gave one of the greetings on the Golden Record when he was six years old.
We spoke with Bagenal and Terrile before the screening on Facebook Live. You can watch the full interview in the video below, or just scroll past the video to read highlights.
What is the most interesting thing we've learned from Voyager?
Terrile: "I think the most interesting thing was that the solar system is far more surprising than our imaginations had led us to believe. The eye-opening thing about Voyager is we discovered that the real solar system was more like science fiction than science fact up until that point."
Bagenal: "The moons of the giant planets were all so different. We thought it'd be like our moon, very boring, kind of dull. But no... each one has a character, a special geology, a whole special formation, all sorts of different things we learnt. Everytime we went to a new place it was totally different."
When did you feel like Voyager had been successful?
Terrile: "The very first encounter with Jupiter. We knew the most about Jupiter than any other objects we've been to. We've been there before with other spacecrafts. It's closer so telescopes can see it more clearly. But at Jupiter there were just so many surprises. And as Fran said, the moons were just this incredible variety of places with erupting volcanoes, moons that the geology changes at the same timeframe the weather changes on our planet. That was just so mind blowing. That just set the stage for one incredible encounter after another."
Bagenal: "One of the most exciting images I remember seeing was in the New York Times and it was above the fold and it was a picture of Jupiter with a great red spot with the moons in front. Famous picture and I'll always have it in my mind. Going into the news agents, as they had back then, and looking in and seeing this picture was fantastic."
The Great American Solar Eclipse will move across the U.S., from northwest to southeast, on Monday, August 21.
What do you hope is the future of space exploration?
Terrile: "The future was always supposed to be something more exciting than the reality that has happened. I grew up in the '60s at the start of the space program, Apollo. If you extrapolated from what the beginnings of our space program were in 1961... by '69 we got to the moon. We had cars on the moon. We developed rendezvous docking, ability to get into orbit, space suits, all the technology we use today. It's hard to believe we're in 2017 and we don't even have the capability to go into Earth orbit with humans."
Bagenal: "I'm going to disagree with you...there's nothing that humans can do in space that robots can't do better, faster, cheaper and more effectively except tourism. I would argue that the answer is robots and the future is robots. We're going to send a whole batch of robots out there to go to all sorts of places. The next place is Europa where we're going to go look at the ice and we're going to find out whether or not there could possibly be organisms underneath, potentially life-related organisms, and whether or not there's any communication between the ocean that's underneath and the surface. That will be very exciting and we'll send robots to go do it."
Researchers at Temple University, Drexel University and University of Pennsylvania are working hard to change the world for the better. Here's how they plan to do it.
It's interesting that you mentioned tourism. I feel like that's a lot of what we hear about today when it comes to new innovations is people wanting to go and tour space and go on luxury trips. Do you feel like that's part of the future then?
Terrile: "One of the things, I worked for Jim Cameron for awhile. And we talk about what makes something dramatic. Clearly a human in space is a dramatic thing. And he put it a little differently, he said what makes it dramatic is when the protagonist is in the picture. What technology allows us to do today is to take those images and the data we get from planetary encounters and not just make that available to one person who is walking on a planetary surface, but make that available to everybody through virtual reality and the kinds of things we're going to see in the next few years.
"We're going to have that absolute visceral experience. Today, at JPL, we can put on these glasses and walk on the surface of Mars, bend down, look at the rocks and even cast shadows and leave footprints. It's an astonishing technology... that's really the future of exploring. Not just one person exploring, but all of us exploring."
Bagenal: "The example I like to give is the Juno mission I'm involved in right now, which is a spacecraft that's in orbit around Jupiter. We have a camera on that spacecraft which is a citizen's science camera. We just took a bunch of pictures of the great red spot a couple weeks ago... all of those pictures are immediately made available to the public and the public takes those pictures, they explore, play with them and then they put them back up and share them... I think this is a new world. It isn't just those of us who are lucky to be professional scientists involved in this, it's everybody."
What is one thing that you hope people learn from "The Farthest -- Voyager in Space?"
Terrile: "For one thing, the breadth and depth and impact that mission had on science, technology and everything else. It's really astonishing. It's been 40 years since we launched Voyager and it's still going and it gave us our first view of the solar system. It changed our perspective. We learned not only how to explore planets but how to explore our own ability to command spacecraft.
"Voyager was made with technology that was basically -- it was 1972 technology that was flown. I don't know if anybody remembers what it was like in 1972, but the magic that we carry around in our pockets -- cell phones -- would have been magic in those days. And computers and everything else have increased in capability in factors of several billions of time. Yet the technology that was frozen in 1972 has provided us with this incredible look."
Bagenal: "The other thing is there was a strong team of people who worked very hard and did a lot of work and were creative and came up with ways to solve problems along the way. There was a lot more human activity needed with the technology, so the teams were quite large and they worked hard together to make this all work."
The Voyager is famous for having the Golden Record. If you could put anything on it, what would you put on it today?
Terrile: "A lot more data. To think about how little data there is on a phonograph record in those days. Very clearly it's hard to condense everything about ourselves and our planet and our society to what could fit on the phonograph."
Pluto, will it ever be a planet again?
Bagenal: "It is a planet! Hey! Dwarf people are people, dwarf planets are planets... actually what was very interesting was it got everybody debating, discussing and thinking what is a planet? Everybody got discussing stuff. Actually, despite the fact I've had big arguments with Mike Brown (the professor whose discovery of Eris led to the demotion of Pluto to dwarf planet status), we're still good friends, it was all good actually because it got people discussing, debating and talking and so on and so forth."
Gallery: Close-up images of Pluto and its moons
Will we ever find evidence of life or the possibility of living organisms on other planets?
Terrile: "I think we will. If we don't find it in our solar system, which I think it is a very very good probability that it exists in our solar system, if we don't, we'll find evidence on other planets. We've found thousands of other planets and we're going to get to the point where we can look for signatures of life."
Bagenal: "It's tough. Looking for life isn't easy. It's not going to be the first mission to Europa (one of Jupiter's moons) that will find it, probably. It may be two or three later down the road. But it's a good chance. Enceladus (the sixth moon of Saturn) is another place, perhaps Titan (another one of Saturn's moons). I think Mars is overrated, personally."
Terrile: "Mars may have had life... and certainly, if Mars had a viable environment. And we know Mars and Earth exchanged material."
Bagenal: "Right. It's probably just slime, nothing very exciting."
Terrile: "A habitable environment early on could have had at least Earth life on it."
Bagenal: "Yeah, but it probably didn't wiggle."
Terrile: "And if life started on Mars, then maybe that life showed up on our planet. Maybe we're Martians. These are the kind of questions that are actually valid in astrobiology."
Bagenal: "It is true. The exchange of material between the planets, we're just beginning to explore the possibilities and ideas."
The exoplanet system TRAPPIST-1 is about 40 light years (235 trillion miles) from Earth
Do you feel the fact we've haven't gone to space in a while is a challenge for the next generation?
Bagenal: "We have via robots. I see people excited by seeing what's happening on all the many robots we have on many planets around our solar system and what we're seeing with telescopes out further and beyond. I think what's exciting about the next generation is to go look at all these other places we've not been to yet and to use these robotic explorers to develop and find out more about these places.
"It's a challenge, because the technology is difficult and you have to make it work -- but it's a good challenge."
Terrile: "I also think we're seeing an erosion of science where people try to politicize it for their own needs, with things like climate change. They'll say 'oh those scientists, they have their own agenda. They're like the pharmaceutical industry or these other groups' but we're not. We're out to find the truth. We're out to explore. And whatever answer comes out, that's the answer. That's the truth. We're very careful about that. When the truth hurts, when the truth is not something that is politically viable, I'm afraid that people cash out on us for that."
What is a question you always wish people ask you about your work, but never do?
Bagenal: "I think some of the motivation, our own insight and drive. We sort-of talked a little bit about how we got into the science, but now what motivates me is seeing the excitement in the public arena. They're excited by what they see and what they learn... That gives me a lot of pleasure now, in seeing that people are excited by science, thinking about how to communicate science and how to show people the excitement of working in science and not having them frightened about science and that they can be involved in science and do these things too."
Terrile: "A lot of us are very, very lucky. Most people work jobs and it's their jobs, it's something they do. For most of us in this arena, we would do this work if we weren't being paid for it. It's an absolutely pleasure. It's an honor to do the work we do. It's really, really fun."
"The Farthest -- Voyager in Space" airs at 9 p.m. on Aug. 23 on your local PBS station. For more information visit pbs.org.
This story has been updated to correct the spelling of Rich Terrile's name.
Intelligent life goes extinct shortly after becoming technologically advanced and that’s why we haven’t been able to connect with any alien species, one scientist is arguing.
At the center of his assertion is the mediocrity principle, which is popular among astronomers and dictates that there is nothing special about our species, our planet or our solar system — that everything that went into the evolution of human life on Earth could have happened in other places as well. It thus also dictates that the state in which we find ourselves is completely typical and can be generally applied to the rest of the universe.
University of Arkansas professor Daniel Whitmire is suggesting that if we go by this principle, it stands to reason that any technological species would find themselves in a similar situation to humans on Earth: “that they are both the first such species to evolve on their planet and also that they are early in their potential technological evolution,” according to his paper in the International Journal of Astrobiology. He argues that this implies intelligent species do not exist further along in technological evolution because they have gone “extinct soon after attaining a modern technology and that this event results in the extinction of the planet’s global biosphere.”
The exact details of how technologically advanced life on another planet evolved, like how long it took for it to emerge, are not relevant, Whitmire says. All that matter is that this life has developed electronic devices as well as technology that can affect the environment.
“A technological dinosaur species that evolved in 100 [million years] on a Mars-sized planet could still be first and early in their technological evolution,” the study says. “If we are typical of this reference class, then other members would, like us, observe that their technological species is the first to evolve on their planet and also that they are early in their potential technological evolution.”
Kepler-186f is the first exoplanet scientists discovered in a star’s habitable zone that is comparable to the size of Earth.
Those species very well could have been the first on their planets to become advanced, rather than rising from the ashes of another technologically advanced group of beings, based on how it happened on Earth — the study notes that the timeline for how humans emerged and created technology leaves enough room for there to have been another similar species before us on Earth, but that didn’t happen.
The point at which humans became technological, according to this study, was about 100 years ago, after the industrial revolution and the radio burst onto the scene.
“According to the principle of mediocrity, a bell curve of the ages of all extant technological civilizations in the universe would put us in the middle 95 percent,” the University of Arkansas explains. “In other words, technological civilizations that last millions of years, or longer, would be highly atypical.”
That leads to the questions of why there should be only civilizations in which the inhabitants are new to technology and are the first on their planet to get that far.
If we assume the evolution and development of humans is typical, it follows that alien species like us were also the first on their planet — and thus “once species become technological, they flame out and take the biosphere with them,” the university says. The latter part, about the demise of the rest of the biosphere, is crucial to preventing other technologically advanced species cropping up on the same planet.
The other option is that humans and Earth are among the outliers, in which case Whitmire asserts that “by statistics, we have to be the dumbest guys in the galaxy. After all we have only been technological for about 100 years while other civilizations could be more technologically advanced than us by millions or billions of years.”
5 UFO Reports by Pilots and Astronauts That Will Have You Convinced
5 UFO Reports by Pilots and Astronauts That Will Have You Convinced
UFO encounters are often dismissed by skeptics as the product of attention-seekers, hoaxes, or simply overactive imaginations. But what happens when the UFO is seen by some of the most trained and trustworthy professionals around? Compared to encounters by ground-dwelling civilians, cases of UFOs seen by pilots and astronauts are some of the most credible UFO stories around.
These UFO sightings are, perhaps, the most convincing because these witnesses are highly respected professionals whom we trust with our lives. These individuals have nothing to gain by putting their careers and reputations on the line reporting bizarre happenings in the skies.
More shocking is the sheer volume of these reported incidents that happen every year. Here’s a list of some of the more notable sightings of alien spacecraft by pilots and astronauts.
1. Astronaut Leroy Chiao Reported a UFO While on a Space Walk with the ISS
In 2005, astronaut Leroy Chiao, commander of the International Space Station, reported a UFO encounter during a space walk. He and a colleague were installing navigation antennas when something unusual caught Chiao’s eye. Below him in the Earth’s atmosphere he saw a line of lights that looked like “an upside-down question mark.”
One non-UFO explanation for Chiao’s sighting offered by skeptics is that Chiao simply saw the bright lights of a fishing boat hundreds of miles below him. Of course, those would have to be some pretty insanely powerful fishing lights to be seen all the way in outer space – and why Chiao didn’t see the lights of other boats all over the ocean has never been explained.
2. Turkish Pilots Saw a Mysterious Object – And So Did Citizens Below
Pilots from Turkish Airlines were flying from the Turkish resort town of Bodrum to the country’s largest city, Istanbul. Suddenly, a mysterious green light appeared over the plane. As the pilot later testified,“An unidentified object with green lights passed 2- to 3,000 feet above us. Then it disappeared all of a sudden. We are guessing that it was a UFO.”
The UFO was also reported to be seen around Istanbul’s Silivri district.
The General Directorate of State Airports Authority denied spotting any image that fitted the description of the pilot. Doubters claim that the pilots saw a green laser pointer that was reflecting off a cloud. However, it seems pretty hard to believe pilots would never have seen a laser pointer before – plus, that would have had to be a pretty huge laser pointer to create an effect such as they described.
For the record, pilots do not generally report fleeting flashes of light as UFOs.
3. Reports Claim UFOs Met Astronauts During the Moon Landing
According to unconfirmed reports, both Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin saw UFOs shortly after that historic landing on the moon in Apollo 11 on July 21, 1969. Viewers listening to the broadcast heard Armstrong refer to lights above a crater before his audio feed went dead for a few minutes.
According to former NASA employee Otto Binder, unnamed radio hams with their own VHF-receiving equipment (that bypassed NASA’s broadcasting) picked up the following exchange:
NASA: What’s there?
Apollo 11: These babies are huge, sir! Enormous! OH MY GOD! You wouldn’t believe it! I’m telling you there are other spacecraft out there, Lined up on the far side of the crater edge! They’re on the moon watching us!
Armstrong and Aldrin have denied the exchange took place, but other have insisted that off the record, the astronauts have admitted to many scientists that they did indeed see something.
4. Mercury Astronaut Slayton Tracked a Flying Saucer
Gordon Cooper wasn’t the only Mercury astronaut to report strange encounters. Deke Slayton revealed in an interview he had seen UFOs in 1951:
I was testing a P-51 fighter in Minneapolis when I spotted this object. I was at about 10,000 feet on a nice, bright, sunny afternoon. I thought the object was a kite, then I realized that no kite is gonna fly that high. As I got closer, it looked like a weather balloon, grey and about three feet in diameter. But as soon as I got behind the darn thing, it didn’t look like a balloon anymore. It looked like a saucer, a disk. About the same time, I realized that it was suddenly going away from me – and there I was, running at about 300 miles per hour. I tracked it for a little way, and then all of a sudden the damn thing just took off. It pulled about a 45-degree climbing turn and accelerated and just flat disappeared.
5. Pilots Reported a Flying Saucer Over Bariloche Airport During a Mysterious Blackout
In 1995, an Aerolineas Argentinas flight landing at Bariloche airport in Argentina reported that it was “buzzed” by a luminous disk moving in a way that defied the laws of physics. According to reports, the pilot was forced to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision. Strangely, at the same time, there was also a mysterious power shortage in Bariloche.
There was also a power outage at the airport. One Argentine newspaper reported the air traffic control personnel as saying, “The control instruments went crazy.”
The UFO was also seen by personnel on the ground, as well as the crew of a police plane flying 600 meters (2,000 ft) above.
Paralyzed Monkeys Able to Walk Again With Brain Implant. Human Trials Are Next
Paralyzed Monkeys Able to Walk Again With Brain Implant. Human Trials Are Next
Using a system of electrodes, transmitters, receivers, scientists were able to restore leg function in a primate, completely bypassing damaged nerves.
While this remarkable feat may be decades away from human use, it is a promising development for the hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. with spinal cord injuries
Electrodes implanted in the brain and spine have helped paralyzed monkeys walk. The neurologists behind the study reported that the implants restored function in the primates’ legs almost instantaneously. The findings are detailed in Nature.
The spinal cord of the subject monkey was partially cut, so the legs had no way of communicating with the brain. To mend the brain-spine interface, electrodes were placed on key parts of the monkey’s body. Implants were placed inside the monkey’s brain at the part that controls leg movement, together with a wireless transmitter sitting outside the skull. Electrodes were also placed along the spinal cord, below the injury.
A computer program decoded brain signals indicative of leg movement and transmitted the signals to the electrodes in the spine. Within just a few seconds, the monkey was moving its leg. In a few days, it was walking on a treadmill.
“The primate was able to walk immediately once the brain-spine interface was activated. No physiotherapy or training was necessary,” said Erwan Bezard, one of the authors of the study.
This study is a massive breakthrough—it’s the first time implants have helped a primate walk. There has been much research to develop tech for paralyzed patients, but most lab trials were done on rodents. “It seems the principles learned in rats are now translating into primates,” said Jen Collinger, a University of Pittsburgh bioengineer.
The results were astoundingly positive, but the researchers say that it will take at least a decade to fine-tune the technology for use in humans. Still, our bodies are greatly similar to that of monkeys, and the researchers believe transition could be quick.
Exciting news about the study is that the components that the researchers used are legal for human use in Switzerland. The Swiss group of the study have started clinical trial with eight people with partial leg paralysis.
The Moon's liquid core spun acting like dynamo to produce a magnetic field ...
Illustration by Hernán Cañellas
Scientists studying prehistoric lunar rocks have found evidence of a lava-lamp-like dynamo at the heart of our Moon’s metallic core that generated a long-lasting magnetic field.
The Moon samples were collected in 1971 by astronauts, David Scott and James Irwin, during NASA’s Apollo 15 space mission.
Now, a paper published in Science Advances this Friday reveals that one particular sample was formed one to 2.5 billion years ago in a relatively weak magnetic field of about five microteslas. Older rocks, said to be about four billion years old, showed signs that they were formed when the Moon’s magnetic field was 100 microteslas.
In other words, the Moon's magnetic field weakened from 100 microteslas roughly four billion years ago to five microteslas around two billion years ago. That's a billion years longer than previously thought – it was generally thought the Moon's field strength sharply nosedived about three billion years ago.
The paper's authors believe the Moon may once have had a molten metallic core. The slow churn of the liquid acted as a dynamo that powered the magnetic field around Earth's natural satellite. Benjamin Weiss, coauthor of the study and professor of planetary sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the US, said this week the concept of a planetary magnetic field being produced by a moving liquid core “is only a few decades old.”
"What powers this motion on Earth and other bodies, particularly on the Moon, is not well-understood," he said.
How the field strength was detected
Tiny grains of material in the lunar rocks point in a certain direction under the influence of a magnetic field, just like a compass needle. The researchers built an oxygen-free oven to heat the samples close to the temperatures they formed in, and measured how the magnetization changed as the temperature increased.
"You see how magnetized it gets from getting heated in that known magnetic field, then you compare that field to the natural magnetic field you measured beforehand, and from that you can figure out what the ancient field strength was," Weiss explained.
The researchers have proposed the dynamo is a result of the gravitational pull between the Earth and the Moon. At one point, the Moon was much closer to the Earth, and the gravitational forces present may have been strong enough to rotate the Moon’s exterior, dragging its liquid metallic center into a swirling motion, thus creating a powerful magnetic field.
But as the Moon moved further away, the gravitational pull weakened and the Moon’s magnetic field started to drop. "As the Moon cools, its core acts like a lava lamp – low-density stuff rises because it's hot or because its composition is different from that of the surrounding fluid," Weiss said. "That's how we think the Earth's dynamo works, and that's what we suggest the late lunar dynamo was doing as well."
Sonia Tikoo, lead author of the paper and an assistant professor at Rutgers University in the US, told The Register on Thursday she hopes more lunar samples will be collected in future to help pinpoint when the Moon’s dynamo faded away.
“It would be great to obtain more lunar rocks, particularly from locations that were not sampled during the Apollo missions," she said. "There are several missions under development around the world – most in the proposal stage, but some beyond – that could involve a robotic sample return from the Moon in the next decade or so.
“It would be even more awesome if NASA could send more humans to the Moon but that doesn't seem to be in the cards for the near future. China is aiming to send a crewed mission to the Moon by the mid-2030s. In the meantime, scientists will continue working with the Apollo samples we already have as well as with lunar meteorites that have landed on Earth.”
The rocks have, essentially, helped scientists narrow down the timeline of the Moon’s dynamo. "Today the moon's field is essentially zero," Weiss said. "And we now know it turned off somewhere between the formation of this rock and today." ®
The things you see on Indiegogo never cease to amaze me.
While Laser SETI will still need hi-res cameras and optics designed for astronomy if this thing is going to take off, it’s still exponentially more cost effective than sending satellites to every known corner of the universe. We are just microbes in a universe so vast that just about anything could be hiding in places so far away that they haven’t even been reached by satellites or seen by even the most powerful telescopic eyes from Earth or space. It’s also hard to believe that there isn’t anything else crawling around when our universe is 14 billion years old, which is more than enough time for just about anything, intelligent or otherwise, to evolve.
“It's very difficult to imagine that we are alone,” said SETI CEO Bill Diamond for these reasons. “Yet extraterrestrial life still eludes our efforts to find it. Now you have a chance to be a part of the technology that can change that forever."
SETI assumes that aliens are always on air. Whether they are trying to reach us with superpowered lasers, monster radio transmitters or anything else our Earthling brains might have not even dreamed up yet remains to be seen. There have been previous doubts about extraterrestrial beings anywhere from hundreds to billions of light-years away trying to target a planet they don’t even know exists. The idea may strike you as a kind of reverse X-Files.
Laser SETI is the first endeavor to defy this thinking "because it's designed to find a very short ping that doesn't stay on all the time — it can detect a laser flash as short as a microsecond, and one that might not repeat for days, weeks, or even longer," as Diamond explained.
Now watch the video, then take off to the campaign and donate. For science.
A new study explains how alien planets might skip straight from being too cold to support life to being too hot, without ever becoming habitable. That could trim the number of planets we should investigate for life.
This chart shows, on the top row, artist concepts of the seven planets of TRAPPIST-1 with their orbital periods, distances from their star, radii and masses as compared to those of Earth. On the bottom row, the same numbers are displayed for the bodies of our inner solar system: Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars. The TRAPPIST-1 planets orbit their star extremely closely, with periods ranging from 1.5 to only about 20 days. This is much shorter than the period of Mercury, which orbits our sun in about 88 days.
TRAPPIST-1 Comparison to Solar System and Jovian Moons
IN THE ZONE
Earth’s location in space is perfect: not too close to but not too far from the Sun, it gives our planet the balmy temperature that helps supports life. However, a new study suggests that it might be even more difficult than previously expected to find a celestial body that falls within this ‘Goldilocks zone.’
The habitable zone of any given star is the area where planets can maintain a temperature that allows liquid water to be found on its surface. Too close to the star, and that water will turn to vapor — too far away, and it’ll turn to ice.
However, stars like our sun gradually get more luminous over time, which changes the parameters of their habitable zone. This means that icy planets can feasibly reach a point where their conditions are warm enough to support life — but according to a recent study in Nature Geoscience, that’s not always the way the situation will pan out.
TOO HOT TO HANDLE
A planet’s ability to support life-sustaining temperatures hinges on at least two factors: the amount of ice on the surface, and the amount of greenhouse gases being released into its atmosphere. Yet many icy planets don’t have the volcanic activity needed to contain any greenhouse gases besides water vapor.
So this study’s team, led by Jun Yang of Peking University, developed a model that could simulate how the climate of an ice-covered planet with only water vapor in the atmosphere would change over time. The results suggested it would take 10 to 40 percent more energy than the Earth receives from the sun before they began to melt.
Without ice to reflect incoming heat, this heat-intensive process was often followed by a speedy uptick in temperature that caused the planet’s oceans to boil off. And without water, these worlds wouldn’t be able to support life after all.
This isn’t necessarily bad news. Thanks to increasingly sharp-eyed instruments, the number of known exoplanets has skyrocketed in the past two decades, from a mere handful in the mid-90s to nearly 2000 today. In February 2014 alone, NASA announced a “planet bonanza” discovery of 715 new planets, found by the Kepler satellite. But identifying which of these distant worlds might be friendly to life is still tricky.
Scientists are able to infer the atmospheric content of a planet based on the way light passes through it, a process that’s already been used to detect water on a distant Earth-sized planet. However, this method doesn’t tell scientists what else is happening on the planet — such as whether it’s in the runaway, ocean-boiling cycle Yang’s team identified.
If we’re on the search for a planet that humans can live on, having this information at hand gives us more insight into which worlds are in contention.
Magnetisch veld van de maan hield langer stand dan gedacht
Magnetisch veld van de maan hield langer stand dan gedacht
Het voor de leefbaarheid van manen en planeten zo belangrijke magnetische veld ging tot wel 2,5 miljard jaar langer mee dan aangenomen.
Die conclusie trekken onderzoekers nadat ze maangesteente dat astronauten tijdens de Apollo 15-missie naar de aarde brachten, bestudeerden. Het gaat om een kleine, jonge steen die waarschijnlijk ontstond tijdens een meteorietinslag die zo’n 1 tot 2,5 miljard jaar geleden plaatsvond.
Elektronen We weten dat de maan in het verleden een magnetisch veld heeft gehad. En dat magnetisch veld laat zijn sporen na in vloeibare gesteenten die aan het magnetisch veld zijn blootgesteld. In die vloeibare gesteenten zitten namelijk elektronen wiens richting bepaald wordt door het magnetisch veld. Wanneer het vloeibare gesteente vervolgens afkoelt, getuigen de elektronen in het gesteente voor altijd van het magnetisch veld dat tijdens het ontstaan van het gesteente heer en meester was.
Apollo-15 Grote vraag was natuurlijk of het magnetisch veld van de maan nog een rol speelde in de tijd dat de maansteen die tijdens de Apollo 15-missie was gevonden, ontstond. Dat is nog niet zo heel gemakkelijk vast te stellen. Om de oorspronkelijke magnetisatie van de steen te achterhalen, moest deze in een ruimte met een gecontroleerde atmosfeer verhit worden. Iets wat nog niet eerder met succes was gedaan. Tot nu. Onderzoeker Sonia Tikoo slaagde erin om middels verhitting het magnetisch veld waar de steen tijdens zijn oorsprong aan is blootgesteld, te meten. En de resultaten zijn verrassend. Toen deze steen 1 tot 2,5 miljard jaar geleden ontstond, had het magnetisch veld van de maan nog een sterkte van zo’n 5 microtesla (ongeveer 10 procent van de kracht van het huidige aardmagnetisch veld).
Magnetisch veld ging langer mee Eerder onderzoek had aangetoond dat de maan in een ver verleden (meer dan 3,5 miljard jaar terug) een krachtig magnetisch veld had. Maar de ondergang van het magnetisch veld zou zo’n 3,5 miljard jaar geleden zijn ingezet, toen de intensiteit rap afnam. Dit onderzoek laat echter zien dat het magnetisch veld van de maan 1 tot 2,5 miljard jaar geleden nog tamelijk krachtig was en dat het magnetisch veld dus tot wel 2,5 miljard jaar langer meeging dan gedacht.
De kern van de maan De bevindingen hebben tal van implicaties. Zo kan het onze kijk op de kern van de maan veranderen. “We dachten dat kleine planetaire lichamen niet heel lang een magnetisch veld konden genereren, omdat ze kleine kernen hebben die snel afkoelen en al vroeg kristalliseren,” stelt Tikoo. De ideeën die we nu hebben over de samenstelling van de kern van de maan kunnen door dit onderzoek dan wel eens op losse schroeven komen te staan, aangezien de snelheid waarmee een kern kristalliseert afhankelijk is van diens samenstelling. “Het (de kern van de maan, red.) bestaat voornamelijk uit ijzer, maar er moet nog meer in zitten: zwavel, koolstof of een ander element.”
Daarnaast heeft het onderzoek ook implicaties voor de leefbaarheid van andere manen en planeten. Wanneer een hemellichaam zijn magnetisch veld kwijtraakt, kunnen ioniserende deeltjes van de zon het hemellichaam rap van zijn water ontdoen. En dat heeft weer gevolgen voor de leefbaarheid van zo’n planeet of maan. Zoiets overkwam bijvoorbeeld Mars dat veel water bezat, maar het kwijtraakte toen het magnetisch veld zo’n 4 miljard jaar geleden verdween. “Wanneer we kijken naar exoplaneten of de manen van exoplaneten die zich mogelijk in een leefbare zone bevinden, moeten we bij het beoordelen van de leefbaarheid ook rekening houden met het magnetisch veld,” vindt Tikoo. “De vraag is dan hoe groot planeten en manen moeten zijn om ze als potentieel leefbaar te kunnen bestempelen.”
Omdat de afstand tot 2012 TC4 in oktober slechts 44.000 kilometer is, hopen astronomen meer te weten te komen over het object. Wellicht lukt het om informatie te verzamelen over de samenstelling van de planetoïde.
Stel dat 2012 TC4 in de toekomst in botsing komt met de aarde, dan vormt dit gelukkig geen groot gevaar voor de mensheid. In 2013 verbrandde er een twintig meter grote planetoïde boven het Russische Tsjeljabinsk. Wetenschappers vermoeden dat 4000 tot 6000 kilo puin van de meteoriet het aardoppervlak haalde. Wanneer planetoïde 2012 TC4 ooit in de atmosfeer terechtkomt, dan is het effect ongeveer gelijk.
Cassini begint aan zijn laatste vijf baantjes rond Saturnus
Cassini begint aan zijn laatste vijf baantjes rond Saturnus
En tijdens die baantjes komt Cassini wel heel dicht bij de gasreus in de buurt: de sonde tikt zelfs Saturnus’ atmosfeer aan.
Tijdens de vijf laatste rondjes rond Saturnus zal Cassini herhaaldelijk dwars door de bovenste laag van Saturnus’ atmosfeer duiken. De eerste van de vijf duikvluchten staat gepland voor komende maandag.
Onontgonnen gebied En het wordt spannend. Want opnieuw begeeft Cassini zich in onontgonnen gebied. Maar NASA heeft er alle vertrouwen in dat het goed gaat komen. Onderzoekers verwachten dat de omstandigheden waar Cassini tijdens de duikvluchten mee te maken krijgt, vergelijkbaar zullen zijn met die tijdens scheervluchten langs Titan: een maan van Saturnus die eveneens gezegend is met een dikke atmosfeer. “Cassini’s scheervluchten langs Titan hebben ons voorbereid op deze snelle vluchten door het bovenste deel van Saturnus’ atmosfeer,” stelt onderzoeker Earl Maize. “Dankzij onze ervaringen denken we wel te weten hoe het ruimtevaartuig gaat reageren op de atmosferische dichtheden die onze modellen voorspellen.”
Dieper of hoger? Op 14 augustus zal Cassini het dichte wolkendek van Saturnus tot zo’n 1630 kilometer naderen. En dan zal ook moeten blijken of de atmosfeer van Saturnus werkelijk zo dicht is als onderzoekers denken. Mocht de atmosfeer een grotere dichtheid hebben, dan zullen de volgende duikvluchten niet meer zo diep gaan. Mocht de dichtheid alles meevallen, dan kan Cassini tijdens de laatste twee duikvluchten nog zo’n 200 kilometer dieper gaan en data verzamelen over de atmosfeer die zich nog dichter bij de toppen van Saturnus’ wolken bevindt.
Tijdens de duikvluchten zal Cassini Saturnus’ poollichten, temperatuur en de stormen op de polen van de gasreus bestuderen. Tevens zal de sonde met zijn radar proberen om diep in de atmosfeer te gluren. Het worden Cassini’s laatste verrichtingen. Op 15 september zal de sonde zich in de atmosfeer van Saturnus boren. Tijdens die laatste duik hopen onderzoekers dat Cassini nog enige data kan verzamelen en naar de aarde stuurt. Maar op een gegeven moment zal Cassini te maken krijgen met een atmosfeer die zo dicht is dat de sonde niet langer in staat is om de antenne op de aarde gericht te houden en op dat moment zal het contact met Cassini voorgoed verloren gaan. Enkele momenten later zal Cassini uiteenvallen.
Wetenschappers hebben de Marsrover Curiosity gebruikt om foto’s te maken van wolken op Mars. Deze foto’s zijn achter elkaar geplakt, waardoor je zelf ziet hoe wolken voorbij drijven boven het oppervlak van de rode planeet.
Mars heeft een elliptische baan om de zon. Dit betekent dat de afstand tot de zon varieert. Wanneer Mars het verst verwijderd is van de zon, dan ontstaan er wolken nabij de evenaar. Curiosity heeft vorige maand foto’s gemaakt van de wolken, terwijl Mars pas volgende maand het verste punt tot de zon bereikt. De wolken zijn dus al opvallend vroeg te zien.
“Waarschijnlijk ontstaan de wolken door waterijskristallen die op stofdeeltjes condenseren”, zegt wetenschapper John Moores van de universiteit van York. Hij is lid van het Curiosity-onderzoeksteam. “De slierten ontstaan doordat de ijskristallen vallen en verdampen. Curiosity heeft geen hoogtemeter om de hoogte van de wolken te bepalen, maar op aarde ontstaan deze vormen op hoog boven het aardoppervlak.” Daarmee wijst Moores op zogenoemde hoge wolken, die in Nederland en België zo’n vijf tot dertien kilometer boven het oppervlak ontstaan.
De beelden van Curiosity zijn flink bewerkt, want anders zouden de wolken amper te zien zijn. De foto’s zijn ’s ochtends vroeg gemaakt. Toen Curiosity in de middag opnieuw de lucht fotografeerde, waren de wolken verdwenen.
Ook de sterren rond het superzware gat in de Melkweg doen wat Einstein wil
Ook de sterren rond het superzware gat in de Melkweg doen wat Einstein wil
Voor het eerst is er een aanwijzing gevonden dat de sterren de subtiele effecten die Einstein voorspelde in zijn algemene relativiteitstheorie, vertonen.
In het hart van de Melkweg bevindt zich een superzwaar zwart gat. Het zwarte gat heeft een massa die vier miljoen keer groter is dan de massa van de zon. Rond het zwarte gat cirkelt een klein groepje sterren. Het sterke zwaartekrachtsveld van het zwarte gat is een perfecte omgeving om de algemene relativiteitstheorie waar Einstein meer dan honderd jaar geleden met op de proppen kwam, te toetsen.
DE VERY LARGE TELESCOPE
De onderzoekers bestudeerden de sterren rond het superzware zwarte gat met behulp van verschillende telescopen, waaronder ESO’s Very Large Telescope. Het onderzoek vereiste heel nauwkeurige bepalingen van de positie van de ster en daarbij kwam met name ESO’s VLT goed van pas. “In de loop van onze analyse realiseerden we ons dat om de relativistische effecten voor S2 te kunnen bepalen, je de volledige omloopbaan heel precies moet kennen,” vertelt onderzoeker Andreas Eckart.
Hoe dan? De onderzoekers bestudeerden de banen van de sterren die rond het zwarte gat cirkelen en vergeleken die vervolgens met voorspellingen die op basis van onder meer de algemene relativiteitstheorie zijn gedaan. Zo stuitten ze op een kleine verandering in de beweging van één van de sterren – aangeduid als S2 – die overeenkomt met de voorspellingen van de algemene relativiteitstheorie. Die verandering – die maar klein is – is het gevolg van relativistische effecten.
Bijzonder onderzoek Het onderzoek is bijzonder. Het is namelijk voor het eerst dat astronomen een meting van de sterkte van algemeen-relativistische effecten hebben verkregen voor sterren die om een superzwaar zwart gat draaien. En de onderzoekers willen daar duidelijk over zijn: dat is echt nog niet zo gemakkelijk. “Ik was verbaasd hoe goed we de methoden die we met gesimuleerde sterren hebben ontwikkeld konden toepassen op de nauwkeurige gegevens van de binnenste, snel bewegende sterren nabij het superzware zwarte gat,” vertelt onderzoeker Marzieh Parsa.
Een artistieke impressie van het effect van de algemene relativiteit op de omloopbaan van de ster S2 in het galactisch centrum. Je ziet dat de baan die de ster volgt ietsje afwijkt ten opzichte van de vorige omloop (15 jaar eerder). En dat is het gevolg van algemeen-relativistische effecten.
Afbeelding: ESO / M. Parsa / L. Calçada.
Geruststellend Onderzoeker Vladimir Karas noemt de resultaten “geruststellend”. “Het is heel geruststellend dat S2 relativistische effecten vertoont zoals die worden verwacht op basis van zijn nabijheid tot de extreme massaconcentratie in het centrum van de Melkweg. Dit opent nieuwe wegen voor theoretisch en experimenteel onderzoek in deze tak van wetenschap.”
Want wetenschappers zijn nog lang niet klaar met de sterren rond het superzware zwarte gat in het hart van onze Melkweg. Sterker nog: de spannendste waarnemingen moeten nog komen. Volgend jaar zal de ster S2 het zwarte gat zeer dicht naderen en onderzoekers gaan dat op de voet volgen en proberen om de omloopbaan nog nauwkeuriger dan op dit moment mogelijk is, te meten. En men verwacht dat de relativistische effecten dan nog duidelijker zichtbaar zullen zijn. Net als eventuele effecten die niet in het straatje van Einstein passen.
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