I was browsing the Net the other day looking for news in the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) community. I found something that, for me, was both cautiously exciting and something I was reluctantly skeptical about. An ET signal had apparently been discovered by SETI@Home that passed through pretty much all of their strict filters. The first mention of it seems to be in the Sept. 1, 2004 issue of New Scientist magazine.
The signal was detected by the Arecibo Radio Telescope in Puerto Rico in February 2003 and was seen (or heard?) on three seperate occasions; one of the fitering criteria of SETI (repeatability) had been passed. Each time it was detected, it was STRONGER, even though generally it was a weak signal! The signal was located at a point between the constellations Pisces and Aries. However, there are no stars in that area for 1000 light years. The frequency of the signal was around what astronomers call the “water hole”, the frequency that H2O emits, about 1420 MHz.
The signal, named SHGb02+14a, has been found to not be noise, interference, no known astronomical object, and fraud or a hoax doesn’t seem to be the case either.
All of this appears to be an exciting situation. However, I am optimistically skeptical, because, as far as I know, no other radio telescope has tried to confirm it; only the Arecibo telescope has ever listened to it. I am very curious to know what other scopes would find, if anything.
One disappointment I’ve found is actually the non-existance of any other news about it. A search on the Net comes up empty, save the few mentions of it around the time of the New Scientist article.