Astronomers deny ET signal report
By Dr David Whitehouse
BBC News Online science editor
Astronomers have moved swiftly to quell speculation they may have received
a deep-space radio signal from ET.
It was reported on the internet that the signal had been found using the
Seti@home screensaver that uses computer downtime to analyse sky data from
But researchers connected with the project told BBC News Online on
Thursday that no contact with extraterrestrials had been made.
"It's all hype and noise," said its chief scientist, Dr Dan Wertheimer.
"We have nothing that is unusual. It's all out of proportion."
And Dr Paul Horowitz, of Harvard University, who specialises in hunting
for possible alien contacts added: "It's not much of anything at all.
We're not investigating it further."
Not a signal
For six years, the Seti@home project has used a downloadable screensaver
on millions of computers around the world to sift through data for
The data has been collected by radio telescopes scanning the sky for any
unusual signals from space.
At the moment, we have no candidates that we are particularly excited about
Dr Dan Wertheimer
It is believed that any extraterrestrial intelligence might want to send
radio messages across the cosmos to make contact with other intelligences.
Over the years, Seti@home has detected many hundreds of thousands of
spurious signals and has used statistical techniques to identify them as
About 150 signals survived the process and were subjected to further
scrutiny but none passed the final test to be classed as a potential
signal from ET.
The "signal" that kicked off furious media excitement on Thursday is
called SHGb02+14a and was first detected by computers running Seti@home
software in Germany and the US.
It has a frequency of 1420 megahertz - one of the principal frequencies of
the most abundant element hydrogen.
Speaking to BBC News Online from the Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto
Rico, where he is preparing an observing run to follow up Seti@home
analysis, Dr Wertheimer said: "It's all hype. We don't have anything we
are excited about.
"At the moment, we have no candidates that we are particularly excited
about and the new 'signal' is not a priority."
He continued: "With Seti@home having analysed some 50 trillion frequency
bands, it is not surprising that a signal like this occurs purely due to
Dr Horowitz, who looks for alien signals using optical telescopes, told
BBC News Online that it was "not new and definitely not a signal".
Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2004/09/02 12:30:28 GMT
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