Famous Wow! Signal Finally Decoded (Almost..)


The Wow! signal was picked up at the Big Ear telescope in Ohio in 1977, nobody knew what it was. It was named after what the man that had discovered it , Jerry Ehman, wrote (see above). Many regarded it as a potential signal from extra terrestrial life. It became famously known as contact with aliens!

In the 1970s, computers were little more than big boxy rocks. Well that’s not necessarily true, but the computer used to read this signal at the Ohio State Radio Observatory had 32  Kilobytes of RAM and a hard drive with a whooping 1 Megabyte hard drive. With such a computer, the voltage fluctuations from the telescope couldn’t be stored and therefore was printed out on paper. Ehman, while working on papers spilling from the printer in the observitory, was surprised to see the voltages from the telescope had skyrocketed.  The telescope had intercepted powerful radio signals. These signals came from the direction of Sagittarius and lasted about 72 seconds. That’s when Ehman famously wrote, “Wow!” on the side of the print-out.

In New Scintist, 1997, an article about this was written. In it there was an expression of how everybody felt about this potential ‘visit from ET’.

“To this day, the anomalous burst of radio noise picked up by the Ohio State Big Ear is universally remembered as the “Wow!” signal. Its source remains the $64,000 question.”

A professor of astronomy in Florida, Antonio Paris, has had the theory of the signal coming from from one or a few passing comets. He says that the two comits may have been 266P/Christensen and P/2008 Y2(Gibbs). Although many argue that this would be impossible because of the movement of comets. At the speed that comets move across the sky, the computer’s would have detected a similar signal 24 hours later, which it did not.

So, finally, there is hope out there for people who believe the Wow! signal was evidence of extraterrestrial life. But as research continues, we’re getting closer and closer to the truth.

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