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The Wow! Signal

Wow! SignalOn August 14, 1977, the Big Ear radio telescope at Ohio State University picked up an unusual signal at 1420 megahertz. The signal lasted 72 seconds and came from the direction of the Sagittarius constellation. The nearest star in that direction is approximately 220 million light years away. In other words, the signal originated from an empty spot in space. The astronomer on duty, Dr. Jerry R. Ehman, was so shocked that he circled the signal on the data sheet and wrote "Wow!" While unmodulated — lacking explicit information — the Wow Signal was conspicuous because it was narrow-band (and thus not "natural,") and because it was powerful. Transmission at 1420 mhz by terrestrials is illegal by international agreement because the frequency is excellent for observation of the cosmos — its 21-centimeter wavelength passes through many regions of outer-space that are opaque to other electromagnetic frequencies. For this reason, 1420 would be a natural candidate for interstellar "hailing-frequency" purposes. No other signal of such intensity has ever been recorded and scientists remain uncertain what generated the "Wow Signal." An alien spaceship perhaps?


Astronauts have seen UFOs.

Apollo 11Three days into the Apollo 11 flight the astronauts on board sent a strange message to mission control asking, “Do you have any idea where the S-4B is with respect to us?” The S-4B was the final stage of the rocket which had been detached two days prior. The reason for this inquiry was because something was riding along beside the rocket and if it wasn’t part of the rocket, Apollo 11 had a visitor. Buzz Aldrin would later explain: "Obviously, the three of us were not gonna blurt out, 'Hey, Houston, we got something moving along side of us and ... ahh ... we don't know what it is, you know, can you tell us what it is?' We weren't about to do that. 'Cause we know that those transmissions would be heard by all sorts of people and, ahh, who knows what somebody would've demanded that we ... ahh ... turn back because of aliens or whatever the reason is. So we didn't do that. But we did ... ahh ... decide we'd just cautiously ask Houston where, how far away was the S-4B?" Mission control wasn't sure what to make of the cryptic question, but quickly determined that the S-4B unit was 6,000 miles from Apollo 11's location. What Aldrin and the other astronauts were looking at was an Unidentified Flying Object exhibiting an intelligent flight path.


Biblical Evidence.

Ezekiel's Alien Encounter?In the Old Testament, The Book of Ezekiel discusses an encounter with a strange flying object made of metal that took the shape of a wheel. Inside were four living creatures that looked like humans.

EZEKIEL 1:18 to 2:1 reads:

"The rims of the wheels were covered with eyes. Whenever the creatures moved, the wheels moved with them, and if the creatures rose up from the earth, so did the wheels. The creatures went wherever they wished, and the wheels did exactly what the creatures did, because the creatures controlled them. So every time the creatures moved or stopped or rose in the air, the wheels did exactly the same. Above the heads of the creatures there was something that looked like a dome made of dazzling crystal. There under the dome stood the creatures, each stretching out two wings toward the ones next to it and covering its body with the other two wings. I heard the noise their wings made in flight; it sounded like the roar of the sea, like the noise of a huge army, like the voice of Almighty God. When they stopped flying, they folded their wings, but there was still a sound coming from above the dome over their heads. Above the dome there was something that looked like a throne made of sapphire, and sitting on the throne was a figure that looked like a human being. The figure seemed to be shining like bronze in the middle of a fire. It shone all over with a bright light that had in it all the colors of the rainbow. This was the dazzling light which shows the presence of the Lord. When I saw this, I fell face downward on the ground. And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee."


U. S. President Jimmy Carter saw one.

On September 18, 1973, future President Jimmy Carter formally reported a UFO sighting with the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenoma, detailing an unidentified flying object he'd witnessed in October 1969. Carter stood by his claims during the 1976 presidential campaign, making him perhaps the most famous and legitimate person in history to report a UFO sighting. Describing the event in a 2005 interview, Carter said: "All of a sudden, one of the men looked up and said, 'Look, over in the west!' And there was a bright light in the sky. We all saw it. And then the light, it got closer and closer to us. And then it stopped, I don’t know how far away, but it stopped beyond the pine trees. And all of a sudden it changed color to blue, and then it changed to red, then back to white. And we were trying to figure out what in the world it could be, and then it receded into the distance."

Other politicians who claim to have seen UFOs: Former President Ronald Reagan and Congressman Dennis Kucinich.


The Vatican says It's okay to believe in aliens.

José Gabriel Funes, the director of the Vatican Observatory, admitted the possibility of extra-terrestrial life in an interview with the Papacy’s inhouse daily L'Osservatore Romano, titled “The Alien is my Brother”. The paper quoted him saying: "It is possible, even if until now, we have no proof. But certainly in such a big universe this hypothesis cannot be excluded.... This is not in contradiction with our faith, because we cannot establish limits to God's creative freedom.” “If we can consider some earthly creatures as 'brothers' or 'sisters'," Fune continued, "why could we not speak of a 'brother alien'? He would also belong to the creation."


There are more than 200 billion galaxies in the universe.

Galaxy M81The most sensitive optical image ever made by human beings, the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, can detect approximately 10,000 galaxies in an area about 1/100th the size of the full moon. Scaled up to the whole sky, such a density implies a total of 200 billion or so galaxies. And those are just the most luminous ones; the true number is probably much larger. Even the smallest galaxies contain 10 million stars. The largest galaxies (ellipticals) contain up to 100 trillion stars PER galaxy! Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is about average with 200 billion stars. If you multiply this by the conservative estimate of 200 billion galaxies, you get 40 septillion (40,000,000,000,000,000,000,000) stars. That's a lot of stars. What a terrible waste it would be if ours was the only one to support some form of life!


Fossil evidence of bacterial life on meteorites.

Alien Bacteria?In the March 2011 issue of Journal of Cosmology, Dr. Richard B. Hoover, an astrobiologist with NASA's Marshall Space Flight Centre, described the the latest findings in his study of an extremely rare class of meteorites, called CI1 carbonaceous chondrites. After fracturing the alien rocks in a sterile environment, Hoover used electron microscopes to search the stone's surface for evidence of fossil remains. What he found was indeed evidence of alien micro-organisms not so different from those currently thriving on Earth. After rigorous testing, he concluded that these fossilized microbes were not Earthly contaminants, but the remains of living organisms which had lived in the parent bodies of these meteors, e.g. comets, moons, and other astral bodies. While some of the alien fossils appear to resemble bacteria found on Earth (such as types of cyanobacteria, a microorganism that helped make early-Earth hospitable to life by producing oxygen), others are a little more exotic. "There are some that are just very strange and don't look like anything that I've been able to identify," Dr. Hoover said. "I've shown them to many other experts that have also come up stumped." The hypothetical mechanism where life "hops" from one planet to the next is known as "panspermia." Hoover's research is a huge slab of gold-plated evidence for this mechanism.


The recipe for life is simple: carbon, water, and energy.

All of the carbon and oxygen in all living things are made in the nuclear fusion reactors that we call stars. The early stars are massive and short-lived. They consume their hydrogen, helium and lithium and produce heavier elements. When these stars die with a bang they spread the elements of life, carbon and oxygen, throughout the universe. New stars condense and new planets form from these heavier elements. The stage is set for life to begin.


Millions of people claim to have seen a UFO.

Were they all stoned, drunk, or crazy? Really? All of them?


The Drake Equation.

Alien LifeformThe Drake equation (sometimes called the Green Bank equation or the Green Bank Formula) is an equation used to estimate the number of detectable extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy. The equation was devised by Frank Drake, Emeritus Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

The Drake equation states that: N = N* fp ne fl fi fc fL

N* represents the number of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy
Question: How many stars are in the Milky Way Galaxy?
Answer: Current estimates are 200 billion to 400 billion.

fp is the fraction of stars that have planets around them
Question: What percentage of stars have planetary systems?
Answer: Current estimates range from 20% to 50%.

ne is the number of planets per star that are capable of sustaining life
Question: For each star that does have a planetary system, how many planets are capable of sustaining life?
Answer: Current estimates range from 1 to 5.

fl is the fraction of planets in ne where life evolves
Question: On what percentage of the planets that are capable of sustaining life does life actually evolve?
Answer: Current estimates range from 100% (where life can evolve it will) down to close to 0%.

fi is the fraction of fl where intelligent life evolves
Question: On the planets where life does evolve, what percentage evolves intelligent life?
Answer: Estimates range from 100% (intelligence is such a survival advantage that it will certainly evolve) down to near 0%.

fc is the fraction of fi that communicate
Question: What percentage of intelligent races have the means and the desire to communicate?
Answer: 10% to 20%

fL is the fraction of the planet's life during which the communicating civilizations live.
Question: For each civilization that does communicate, for what fraction of the planet's life does the civilization survive?
Answer: This is the toughest of the questions. If we take Earth as an example, the expected lifetime of our Sun and the Earth is roughly 10 billion years. So far we've been communicating with radio waves for less than 100 years. How long will our civilization survive? Will we destroy ourselves in a few years like some predict or will we overcome our problems and survive for millennia? If we were destroyed tomorrow the answer to this question would be 1/100,000,000th. If we survive for 10,000 years the answer will be 1/1,000,000th.

When all of these variables are multiplied together we get:
N, the number of communicating civilizations in the galaxy.

Using the current estimates for each variable, the Drake Equation predicts approximately 2000 communicating civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy.

Try the Drake Equation Yourself

For each variable choose what you think is the best answer from the combo box. After you've chosen all your answers press the calculate button and see how many communicating civilizations you think there are in the galaxy.

N* = the number of stars in the Milky Way galaxy:

fp = fraction of stars with planets around them:

ne = number of planets per star ecologically able to sustain life:

fl = fraction of those planets where life actually evolves:

fi = the fraction of fl that evolves intelligent life:

fc = the fraction of fi that communicates:

fL = the fraction of the planet's life during which the communicating civilizations survives:

N = the number of communicating civilizations in the galaxy =

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