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Fwd: BBC NEWS: Astronomers deny ET signal report

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  • Frits Westra
    Astronomers deny ET signal report By Dr David Whitehouse BBC News Online science editor http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3621608.stm Astronomers have moved
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 3, 2004
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      Astronomers deny ET signal report
      By Dr David Whitehouse
      BBC News Online science editor

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/3621608.stm

      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
      telescopes.

      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
      anything unusual.

      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
      interference.

      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.

      Large numbers

      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
      chance."

      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:
      http://news.bbc.co.uk/go/pr/fr/-/1/hi/sci/tech/3621608.stm

      Published: 2004/09/02 12:30:28 GMT

      © BBC MMIV
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