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An Interesting SETI Candidate in Hercules

A candidate signal for SETI is a welcome sign that our efforts in that direction may one day pay off. An international team of researchers has announced the detection of “a strong signal in the direction of HD164595” in a document now being circulated through contact person Alexander Panov. The detection was made with the RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya, in the Karachay–Cherkess Republic of Russia, not far from the border with Georgia in the Caucasus.

The signal was received on May 15, 2015, 18:01:15.65 (sidereal time), at a wavelength of 2.7 cm. The estimated amplitude of the signal is 750 mJy.

No one is claiming that this is the work of an extraterrestrial civilization, but it is certainly worth further study. Working out the strength of the signal, the researchers say that if it came from an isotropic beacon, it would be of a power possible only for a Kardashev Type II civilization. If it were a narrow beam signal focused on our Solar System, it would be of a power available to a Kardashev Type I civilization. The possibility of noise of one form or another cannot be ruled out, and researchers in Paris led by Jean Schneider are considering the possible microlensing of a background source by HD164595. But the signal is provocative enough that the RATAN-600 researchers are calling for permanent monitoring of this target.


Image: The RATAN-600 radio telescope in Zelenchukskaya. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

Here I’m drawing on a presentation forwarded to me by Claudio Maccone, from which I learn that the team behind the detection was led by N.N. Bursov and included L.N. Filippova, V.V. Filippov, L.M. Gindilis, A.D. Panov, E.S. Starikov, J. Wilson, as well as Claudio Maccone himself, the latter a familiar figure on Centauri Dreams. The work is to be discussed at a meeting of the IAA SETI Permanent Committee, to be held during the 67th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Tuesday, September 27th, 2016,

What we know of HD 164595 is that it is a star of 0.99 solar masses at a distance of roughly 95 light years in the constellation Hercules, and an estimated age of 6.3 billion years. Its metallicity is almost identical to that of the Sun. A known planet in this system, HD 164595 b, is 0.05 Jupiter mass with a period of 40 days, considered to be a warm Neptune on a circular orbit. There could, of course, be other planets still undetected in this system.


Image: Strong signal from the direction of HD 164595. “Raw” record of the signal together with expected shape of the signal for point-like source in the position of HD 164595. Credit: Bursov et al.

From the presentation:

The estimated probability ~2 X 10-4 to simulate the signal from the direction of the HD164595 by signal-like noise is small, therefore HD164595 is good candidate SETI. Permanent monitoring of this target is needed.

All of which makes excellent sense. We can’t claim the detection of an extraterrestrial civilization from this observation. What we can say is that the signal is interesting and merits further scrutiny.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Alex Tolley August 29, 2016, 12:45

    Can we please stop with the idea that the wavelength is significant based on some arbitrary mathematical relationship? This is numerology. ET doesn’t have an arbitrary length platinum bar that is the same as the one in Paris, based on the size of our planet.

    The relationship would have to be on something truly fundamental. The problem is that there are so many possibilities that we would find some “interesting” matches by chance, just like the “Bible Code”.

    • hiro August 29, 2016, 19:56

      A little bit off topic, the “new meter” is equivalent to the distance light travels during a period of 1 second/(299792458); the main problem is the definition of “universal second” since different creatures might use different temporal yardstick to measure the rate of “entropic flow”. The late Grothendieck asking “what’s a metre?” might be the incomparable between different yardsticks.

  • Chris Sottile August 29, 2016, 13:14

    I admit I am but an amateur astronomy fan, fascinated in youth by all things sci-fi and an avid reader of Asimov’s non fiction as well.. I caught this article via mainstream news on the web, and read with the same youthful interest I had growing up. Being out of that realm for a number of years, a fair bit of the comments were admittedly over my head, but I kept coming back to one question I was curious about that might lend or refute validity to the signal as being intelligent or not, but seemed to be ignored in the responses – wouldn’t it be a good idea to analyze the signal itself for any kind of specific, purposeful message content? Forgive the asking if this is already taken into account, but I felt it worth asking here.

  • Gonzo August 29, 2016, 13:58

    The possibility of ever finding intelligent life are virtually nil.

    Suppose there are only 100 things that have to go ‘right’ for life to arise. Even in that artificially (incredibly so) limited set of conditions, we know that some of those conditions must be satisfied at a particular point in time in solar system/planetary evolution.

    Then there is the vanishingly small possibility of two such civilizations occurring close enough together that they could detect one another.

    I’ve explained it this way: Compress the entire time the universe has existed into one 2 hour period. Compress the entire visible universe into the size of Texas Memorial Stadium, where the Longhorns play. (Capacity 100,000 ish).

    Now during that period, and starting with the highest rows and proceeding downward, have everyone in the stadium flip a coin 100 times. When the highest row in the nosebleed section gets ready to flip their second coin, the row just below them should flip their first, and so on. In other words, the field is the big bang and the rows of seats are older the further you upward you get.

    Anyone who achieves ‘heads’ for all 100 coin flips then turns on a flashlight for half a second. DURING that second, the person looks to see if there are any other flashlights visible from where that person stands.

    That flashlight pulse represents the situation where life has developed to the point of strong radio wave communication that would have any possibility of detection by other species.

    This is why the Fermi Paradox is not really a paradox. Even if all the conditions for life come together, the possibility that two such systems will develop AND be at the level where they are broadcasting signals that could be detected and received by each other… just so small as to be treated as impossible.

    Humans should stop get to work on domes for Mars colonization, a space station for Ceres, and free orbiting human “generation” habitats orbiting the sun between earth and Mars.

    • wlb August 29, 2016, 15:29

      I would look at it like this.

      In 1850 there was intelligent life on Planet earth but we had yet to transmit/broadcast signals out.

      Imagine the entire great plains of the united states, millions of acres and each spring, one flower is the first to bloom on the great plains, then another, and another.
      Perhaps we (earth) are one of the first flowers to bloom/transmit)?

      • Lawrence Liebman August 29, 2016, 16:18

        What would be scarier is if we were the last.

        • Marcus August 30, 2016, 5:52

          Then it is not unlikely that the others might be already peaceful and welcome us.
          If not, they might be already on their way, but slower as we think. So we’d still have a few years to go.

    • whizadree August 29, 2016, 15:35

      yet we exist so your theory is null and void

      • Rob Henry August 29, 2016, 23:28

        No it doesn’t.
        Suppose the following is a true statement “There is a 99% chance that all life on our planet will end tomorrow.” Now let’s say you want proof, so you demand to wait a couple of days before taking the threat seriously. By your logic, the chance of you finding evidence to back it is 0% irrespective of its truth.

        Gonzo’s idea lacks evidence, yet you chose to try to refute it with an idea that is statistically invalid. Seeing this on a science discussion website hurts!

    • Luke August 29, 2016, 15:38

      I like your analogy, and I agree with you that the chances of detecting a radio signal from an intelligent life form (other than our own) are virtually zero, for all the reasons you mentioned. However there is one assumption that you made which is debatable. In your analogy, the flashlight is only on for a short time (being the duration a life form has the ability of actually transmitting radio signals). You apparently assume that such a life form won’t be around very long. Granted; you are probably right about that, considering (as an example) we here on Earth are about to elect a lunatic into the White House who himself would make sure we won’t be around that much longer. But alien societies might do much better than us; hard to say. Maybe they would make it to a situation where life exists as intelligent and creative machines with infinite life spans. In any case, if an alien intelligent life form would be able to avoid things like the Donald Trump scenario, they might be around for billions of years and the flashlight could be turned on much longer, considerably increasing the chances of detection. They might even decide to send out such intelligent robots, multiplying in space during their journey, to the point where they could saturate (over a long time span) a whole galaxy.
      The fact we have not seen anything like that yet is for me proof that the chances of intelligent life to arise in the first place are virtually zero. Life having started on our planet could very well be an incredibly improbable fluke, not having happened anywhere else in the galaxy (or maybe not even in the entire universe)
      Regardless, I agree with you (albeit for different reasons): Searching the skies for intelligent life is a total waste of time and resources.

      • Gonzo August 29, 2016, 17:02

        I suspect that the half second of flashlight in my example might be generous.

        Without sitting down and trying to do all the math, by seat of the pants tells me that, assuming the two hours in that stadium is the equivalent of entire duration of the universe (13.8 billion years), each second in our example would be something in the neighborhood of, say, 2 million years of ‘real time’.

        So my example of a half second of signal duration suggests a million years of technologically advanced society broadcasting a signal that could be seen from outside our solar system. Considering that as our technology advances, we broadcast less strong, more focused, signals….. (e.g., broad radio band —> directional microwave —> laser —> quantum scifi whatever).. one can assume that a society would produce less detectable signals over time, except for intentional beacons which would each be limited to the usable life of their solar cells (if deployed to an area with sufficient solar energy in the first place) or the live of RTG power. (Yeah, yeah, once there’s “Mr. Fusion” its a whole new game… )

        Now, lets go to the more charitable view: Suppose we assume that ‘on average’ every theoretical society that reaches our current level of technological advance will get something akin to the the full 600 million to 1.5 billion or so years we estimate we have left until our sun’s main sequence pushes Earth outside the habitable zone. That means the flashlights in my thought experiment would still only get to be turned on for something between 4 and 12 and a half minutes.

        From where I sit, I wonder if the bigger problem is my assumption that there are only 100 things that have to go exactly right for life to develop.

        • Winn August 29, 2016, 17:29

          I think there are far fewer than 100 things that have to go right for *life* to develop, but the question of how often *life* leads to a *technologically advanced* civilization is very very difficult to answer. I think we will find life is abundant in the universe, but technologically advanced life may indeed be so scarce we never encounter it.

          As far as your analysis, the major flaw is that you are assuming advanced societies do not (1) survive the death of their star system; or (2) maintain radio/light beacons specifically to attract and communicate with other intelligent life. It seems to me that after a few million more years of technological development (maybe even a few HUNDRED years from now) humanity should be in a position to begin dispersing to nearby star systems so that our civilization could outlast our star. I find it likely that advanced societies would also tend to want to communicate with other intelligent life, and therefore beacons would be likely.

          Unless…. and here’s the darker side… UNLESS the reason we hear no signals is there’s an ancient civilization that doesn’t like competition and actively targets star systems where intelligence is developing. In which case, silence would be a survival strategy and our own noisy signals a death sentence. Let’s hope that’s not the answer.

          • Speider August 30, 2016, 2:21

            “the major flaw is that you are assuming advanced societies do not (1) survive the death of their star system”

            Making the assumption that few, if ANY advanced sicieties survive the death of their own star system isn’t a major flaw.

            It’s very likely.

          • Zack August 30, 2016, 12:57

            Yes but our concept of a time is all about our rotation around the sun and our theory of the big bang which is likely, but not able to be factually proven. Is it not entirely possible that another lifeform has progressed at a faster rate than us? We still don’t even fully understand ourselves. Could you not see life developing differently in a different place? Perhaps where they breathe different elements than we do or survive under different bodily conditions such as extreme cold? It just seems like too much is left on the table when you do your flashlight in a stadium visual.

        • jimbo August 29, 2016, 18:52

          As likely the nature of intelligence is the limiting factor, so that only in the case of an intelligence that can prevent its own destruction will it succeed and the likely hood of that is very small.

        • Havelin August 29, 2016, 20:38

          There is another possibility.

          If one highly intelligent civilization helped give rise to another less advanced civilization, in a neighboring solar system, then it’s entirely possible for the offspring civilization to evolve in the backyard of the parent civilization.

          Virtually all Earthly civilizations believed in “gods” that came down from the heavens to create intelligent life. If the Ancient Astronaut hypothesis is correct (a big IF), then it stands to reason that the creating civilization would be within striking distance of the offspring civilization.

        • Luke August 30, 2016, 16:40

          I agree with you, 100 conditions having to be right for life to develop is almost certainly way to optimistic. Like I wrote earlier, the beginning of life is so incredibly improbable that it might not have happened anywhere else in the entire universe. Life on our earth must have started because the right elements came together in the right way by pure chance, in an environment that was exactly right also by pure chance. It is almost comparable to an Intel Pentium chip accidentally being formed from silicate matter in a volcano; that particular event also has an infinitesimally small chance of happening, being close to zero.
          People often counter my logic by saying: “But if you are right, isn’t it strange that, when life actually DID arise with that low probability of yours, isn’t it strange that it then developed straight to the point of sentient intelligence here on Earth? Wouldn’t it be much more likely that life arises on a regular basis throughout the universe, to support the probability of consciousness eventually to develop like it did here on Earth? Like, let’s say, every one million times life begins, it once develops to the point where it can actually transmit radio signals?”
          That is in fact a very good argument. And the explanation of it being wrong lies in the consequences of quantum physics. Quantum physics dictates that from every point in time, every possible outcome that fits the laws of physics WILL actually happen, albeit with different probabilities. To give an example, in one quantum reality, I now will step away from my keyboard and end up throwing stones through my neighbors windows. That outcome is very improbable, however NOT impossible – no laws of physics would be broken with me throwing those stones through his windows. But it is much more likely that I continue typing, so that those diverging quantum outcomes where I actually will finish this writing will be much more abundant than the rock throwing scenario.
          This process of diverging quantum outcomes has been playing out since the moment of the Big Bang. At that start, many realities came in existence with different laws of physics (determined by different string vibrations of matter). At least one quantum outcome happened to yield a universe that has the laws of physics that WE experience, laws that support life to be able to exist. From there, again different quantum realms came into existence. MANY of them. After 9 billion years or so, in one such reality our sun formed. In some subsequent realities our sun had planets, in others it did not. And in one from there, planets formed in the Goldilocks zone, able to support liquid water. And in a subsequent reality from there, that planet had a favorable speed of rotation, so that the duration of a day would not be too short or too long. And from there, there was a reality in which a moon formed at that planet, a moon just large enough to stabilize the axis of rotation of the larger planet, so that regular weather seasons and tidal patterns could form on that planet. And in one, incredible improbable quantum outcome, matter on that planet came together such that life actually started. This is an important point – in trillions of other quantum outcomes, life failed to start on that planet, despite all conditions being perfect. But in one, it did not – life actually formed. Things went on. And again there were trillions of outcomes where the new life did not make it. Realities in which the meteorite that killed the dinosaurs was so large that it killed ALL life on our planet. Or other quantum outcomes where the meteorite never fell, meaning the dinosaurs actually kept roaming the planet so that evolution never took a turn in our direction. But in ONE, infinitesimal improbable outcome, Homo Sapiens arose. And from there, again there were plenty of quantum outcomes where Homo Sapiens eventually croaked (as has almost happened in our past in Africa, when there were only 5000 or so humans left; we almost became extinct).
          You see where I am going with this. If you start a Big Bang, intelligent life WILL eventually arise in one possible quantum reality, for the simple reason that quantum physics dictate that everything that CAN happen, eventually WILL happen, intelligent life included. From the start of the Big Bang, there will actually be countless of other quantum realities that harbor intelligent life today. The problem is – we have no access to those different realities, nor do we have ways to communicate with them. Within a single reality though, life starts at best only once, the billions of galaxies that are out there are simply not enough to satisfy the infinitesimally small chance that life will actually arise more than once, if at all.
          To summarize: Searching the skies for intelligent life is a TOTAL waste of time and resources.

      • Laurence August 29, 2016, 18:00

        I recall seeing some calculations suggesting it doesn’t take very long to colonise every solar system in the galaxy, if you were to use self-replicating robots that move from one to another at relatively modest speeds. Something like only 100 millions years. So there has been plenty of time for this to happen in our galaxy, or to be in the process of happening. Perhaps they’re hibernating at our lagrange points for a specific technological state or set of criteria before saying hello, or just lurking and listening.

        • Joe August 29, 2016, 21:47

          I’ve heard this argument before about replicating robot ships exploring the galaxy in 100 million years. (I’ve even heard a few million years.) IMO this argument doesn’t factor in the impracticality of this idea. Why would a society spend the enormous amount of money necessary to do this? Even if the robot ships had supernova power to transmit signals across the galaxy, it would still take 50,000 years or more for the signals to reach the home planet. No rational species is going to make this type of investment. And building a replicating robot ship would be incredibly difficult if you think about it.

          • Alasdair August 30, 2016, 11:16

            Not to mention how much of a pain in the arse HegSwarm smatter outbreaks are…

            • ljk August 31, 2016, 15:07

              One should also assume if there are other inhabited systems that the residents may not like having alien replicator robots popping in uninvited and start ripping up their planetoids et al for resources, especially if the machines do not ask politely. The response from the natives could mean not every machine carries on to the next star system.

        • Rob Henry August 30, 2016, 0:10

          And so we finally come to it. The ultimate SETI question…

          If so many ETIs had the power and the outward-looking inclination such that enough of them were interested in signaling as to make detection possible, then there must be 100 odd of them in our galaxy, with an average age of several billion years. If short lived there must have been millions that existed before our time. If even ONE of them at ANY time, had embarked on such a programme, and once before used equivalent resources as to those that signaled us, they would be here by now (ie every system in the galaxy).

          The standard answer to this dilemma, is that all ETI civilisations think very much alike, lacking the diversity of opinion, even as a class, as we see in a single human population. That is the only way we can explain their absence by saying ‘they have other interests’

          If you still don’t get it, then I’ll put it plain. If that signal is artifical then several ETI must already have their presence (Bracewell probes?) in our system.

        • Chris August 30, 2016, 4:52

          If you wanted to colonize the universe with your species and didn’t care to much about the time, you could embed the code to build the self – replicating robots in DNA, send those off to candidate planets, then put the kettle on and wait for the genes to fully express themselves. Hey pesto, a few millennia later… “and we’re back!”

        • Janna August 30, 2016, 5:54

          Lurking aliens who sometimes land on the other side of our moon, or pop through wormholes in Earth orbit, would be OK with me. Life loves Itself, technology extends capability for Life to spread itself on, say . . .comets full of organic material sown like seeds? The 100 or so natural conditions required for Life to spontaneously arise could be exponentially reduced by WILLING, planning, and acting to colonize!
          We are most probably their children.

      • Morton August 30, 2016, 5:27

        Life finds a way . There is Methane on that barren rock Mars . Europa is a prime candidate too . That’s just our Solar System . How can you possibly believe this Galaxy is sterile – let alone the Universe ?!?!?

        • Aristophanes August 30, 2016, 14:30

          Supernovae sterilization.

    • Alexis TK27 August 29, 2016, 17:00

      Like Luke remarked, your assumption in this comparison is that intelligent life will only exist for a brief span of time on this planet.
      That assumption is extremely suspect. Regardless of amusing arguments about this or that US presidential candidate, scenarios leading to actual end of humankind are very difficult to sketch out. Even full nuclear exchange, even large climate heating, even collapse of technological civilization because of fossil fuel exhaustion would merely result in more or less severe diminution of humankind’s numbers, which in the scale of planetary history would be a barely notable event.
      There is, on the contrary, every reason to regard the apparition of cultural and technological life form as just as fundamental a change, and just as durable, as apparition of life, or of multicellular organisms, or of land-based living beings. This change is here to stay, just like life itself did not exist for a mere “half-second”, just like multicellular organisms did not stop to be after a mere hundred thousands or million years.
      Then, if intelligent life does develop in several different places in the Galaxy, those different intelligent species might very well enter contact with one another, either directly or by signal only. Noting that one possible explanation of the famed Fermi paradox would be that interstellar colonization would be much more difficult than we presently imagine.

      • Joe August 29, 2016, 21:56

        “Scenarios leading to actual end of humankind are very difficult to sketch out.” I agree Alexis.

        Let’s do a thought experiment to consider what might bring an end to Earth’s civilization.

        Nuclear war? No, much of Earth’s southern hemisphere would survive and recover. (However, a world with a single Pangaea like continent might not be so lucky.)

        A drug resistant pandemic? It would kill a lot of people, but like the Black Plague, immunity would eventually develop and civilization would recover. For areas that could enforce a quarantine recovery would be even faster.

        Global warming? Probably not. Even rapid climate change will leave some regions relatively well off. Think of Russia or Canada on Earth, (although they would both lose their coastal cities.)

        Asteroid strike? Only if the civilization had no missile technology. This might occur on a planet with no moon to explore, but given the benefits of satellite technology, it’s unlikely even on a moonless world.

        Overpopulation? Our civilization on Earth has survived numerous famines and other consequences of overpopulation.

        So it seems that once a worldwide technological civilization arises, it will last a very long time, perhaps 10,000 years or more. Others have suggested even a billion years. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drake_equation.

        The conclusion in the SETI formula that L is a very large number suggests that fc (the number of signal emitting civilizations in the galaxy) must be a low number. Otherwise we should have detected one of these long lived civilization by now.

        • Rob Henry August 31, 2016, 19:58

          IMHO it is much easier to destroy our species that you posit GIVEN only that they remain on one planet.

          I agree that nuclear war… not so much

          As for a targeted pandemic, the most fatal disease that we know of is rabies, at >>99.99% (even now, about 100 people contract it each day, and before the last decade there were only 6 known survivors in medical literature). So much for ideas that resistance is inevitable.

          For Global Warming? Certain not for the usual scenarios, but possible foe the most extreme ones when positive feedback promotes a massive release of methane hydrates.

          Overpopulation? You miss the point. If freedom of choice results in fertility rates above replacement then a turning point crisis is inevitable. Such crises will be uniquely different at different scales and different holding capacities, such that we can’t use past ones as template examples. The same is true if fertility rates are below replacement (currently this looks almost inevitable for the West), except the end comes with a whimper, not a bang.

          That said, I reiterate that all these points are null and void if we become a multiplanet species.

    • Nick August 29, 2016, 17:19

      Sure, but that presupposes that the flashlight is only on for one second… what if some of those flashlights, once they are on, STAY ON?

    • Jmc August 29, 2016, 18:07

      What does the new Chinese radio telescope show????

    • Sal Peralta August 29, 2016, 18:09

      I think your analogy is flawed. In a universe so vast, even things that have a very small probability taken individually, begin to approach a relative certainty. Also, nothing about SETI and related efforts precludes other space-related activity such as colonizing Mars.

      • Speider August 30, 2016, 2:27

        “I think your analogy is flawed. In a universe so vast, even things that have a very small probability taken individually, begin to approach a relative certainty.”

        It deas not matter that they begin to approacha relative certainty, namely because of the vastness you pointed out. If intelligent life arises in every millionth star system, it would still be, on average, nearly impossible to find someone “near” us,

    • John Shirley August 29, 2016, 19:20

      Gonzo: You underestimate–or you have set aside– the vastness of the universe and time. With that vastness the probability for enough of the properly life-generating coin flips increases. Our own world, by your reasoning, should never have happened. This particular universe seems to be front loaded with possibilities for life. Yes, the probability of civilization arising from primitive life is scant–depending on how many numbers you’re factoring in. If we factor in big enough numbers, and we should, and enough time, there’ll be other civilizations. And given the predilection for *some* life arising here… we may see some indication of other civilizations in our lifetime… (I don’t know if there is more than one universe, but the notion is becoming more acceptable to science…)

    • AFH August 29, 2016, 20:48

      Actually, we don’t know the chances of finding life. We cannot calculate the odds because several of the variables are almost entirely unknown. It’s like trying to tell someone their chances of winning the lottery when you have no idea how many people have bought tickets.

    • Kevin August 29, 2016, 22:08

      So you’re telling me there’s a chance. YEAH!

    • matt h August 29, 2016, 22:58

      The horseshoe crab is the longest surviving species on earth. It’s survived for 450 million years. If humans survive for 450 million years, what do you suppose is the probability we’ll discover, or be discovered by, intelligent life somewhere in the universe?

    • chris August 30, 2016, 1:23

      The chances of finding another chemical arrangement such as that found on Earth is virtually nil. However, the statistical treatment of finding a chemistry as complex as that on Earth needs to take into account the number of elements, number of atoms of those elements, number of permutations of the bonding possibilities, rates of reaction, time, etc. So many parameters/events and degrees of freedom make the model of flipping a coin a poor one.

    • Michael Dog August 30, 2016, 4:59

      I do not understand how do you all can make such suppositions based also on Fermi paradox (made around 60 years ago), which had a lot less knowledge and tools at his time.
      I will not get involved in the Stadium game, because I think that example is not effective, but seems to be obvious that it is a too simple and at the same time false pragmatic.
      Do you really think intelligent alien life will contact us to welcome in the universe? Do you really think at them as people willing to make new friends?
      Considering the human as explorers and scientists, how do you would approach the discovery of new species?
      Usually humans, if are not too scared or hungry, would like to study the new species, looking for behavioral actions and tracking them in their own habitat. Would you do the same with new alien life? or Would the aliens do the same with us?

      The humans being , which is today a slightly better version of 1000 years ago, has just more tools and technology to count on, but the we still have to learn many things about yourself, I would not recommend humans to any alien life, we are yet too selfish and stupid to be able even to approach an alien life at his point in time.

      Our technology still at the very beginning yet (for what we know), and so it is our living together on this planet… we still have many factions, many wars, and people thinking only on how to have fun without even realizing what they are and where they are going. Fun is enough for them, and like fishes in the aquarium they will be happy about what they have (a room made of glass) until they die.

      The point is, not sure if will be ever ready, not even sure we will have time to colonize some part of universe, our knowledge of our planet and the universe does not give us those answers yet, we have just to hope we can survive enough (as species) in order to develop a common consciousness and technology to escape from our aquarium.

      • tesh August 30, 2016, 10:58

        “The humans being , which is today a slightly better version of 1000 years ago…”

        just out of interest, how are we better at all? Genetically we are pretty much the same. Our brain size hasn’t increased. Are we actually better in anyway?

    • Mulch August 30, 2016, 9:38

      In the vastness of space, the probability that two technologically advanced civilizations will arise close enough in space and time to communicate with each other is quite high. The probability that we’re one of the lucky ones is tiny, but it’s almost certainly happening to someone.

    • Paul Mumberson August 30, 2016, 9:43

      Given enough time and space even the improbably becomes inevitable

    • David August 30, 2016, 21:08

      Like the analogy Gonzo, but would make one simple clarification. You have to adjust the number of people in the “stadium” by the total number of planets that are estimated to exist (did not research this number). Taking that number and then dividing it by the 100k would provide a multiple which you could use to estimate the total amount of flashlights expected if you could fit that many people in the stadium. In that case, I’m guessing that it would get relatively “bright” in the stadium towards the end of a 2 hour period, especially if planets can continue to flip after they meet the 100 flip threshold.

  • Ross August 29, 2016, 14:18

    I hope the Russians printed out the signal on a piece of paper, circled the data, and wrote “Gadzooks!” on it. Need to out-do the “Wow” signal guy with an extra syllable.

    • Ron August 29, 2016, 15:27

      Ensign Checkov would proudly agree. But seriously, you win the internet today, Ross! “Gadzooks!”, indeed, lol.

      • H. Floyd August 30, 2016, 0:39

        2015. They recorded it in May of Twenty-FIFTEEN. With all fair dues to the Ratan-600 folks, if this megableep ultimately amounts to anything I suggest we call it the “Maccone! Signal.” It might as well have kept floating through space, if not for Claudio.

  • myquestion is August 29, 2016, 14:32

    how would this have shown up on the analysis of the seti@home dataset if it had been a part of this experiment?

  • Resonanz August 29, 2016, 14:39

    China announced recently plans for a quantum entangled communications system. FTL signalling, beaming, from HD164595 does not seem improbable given they sent out probes prior or they have developed quantum ‘projective targeting and focusing’ technology that doesn’t need probes in place.

    • Roy Wiggins August 29, 2016, 15:03

      Quantum entanglement does not permit FTL signalling. If it did, high-frequency traders would already be using it…


      • Alex Tolley August 29, 2016, 15:52

        Indeed! OTOH, maybe some secretive trader is using QE. Just look for someone making an even larger ton of money trading. We can add that task to looking for time travelers.

      • Giulio Prisco August 30, 2016, 11:03

        Correlation doesn’t imply signaling. If heads means go out and tails means stay home, and two coins are correlated like two entangled spins, both players will go out at the same time or stay home, without exchanging signals.

  • Adrian M August 29, 2016, 15:14

    If indeed it’s an intelligent signal, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. We’re just making baby steps and opening our eyes to the sky, but our planet has harbored life for 3 billion years. We will be able to detect life on other planets in the next decade, but we’re still excited even when we find a suitable terraforming candidate.

    So why does everybody presume that a far more advanced civilization than ours would let our planet unexplored for such an immense period of time? We don’t have any proof of an alien intervention on Earth (unless life itself is the intervention), and current scientific theories manage to explain life’s evolution on Earth without needing an external intervention.

    So, if there’s a far more advanced civilization than ours, they’ve might been there for millions or even billions of years. They would not have to wait for our planet to show signs of “civilizing”, they’d be capable of seeing almost everything on Earth through technology we can’t even imagine. Godlike, if you want. And, if liquid water planets are suitable for life, how come they didn’t come here already, even way before our apelike ancesters roamed the Earth?

    We use to judge everything starting with our puny civilization. But Earth and life on it are as valuable as intelligent life, and they should have been a major attraction for any civilization out there. For hundreds of million of years.

    Just sending a primitive signal towards us, right now, would not cut it. Unless there’s a strange coincidence and they’re just hundreds of years ahead of us technologically, which would be even stranger and improbable.

    For life to evolve towards humans we needed a massive amount of luck. For life to evolve into something that’s humanlike and at a relatively similar level of technology in a nearby star system would be impossible (unless the alien seeding scenario of the galactic vicinity comes up again).

    Therefore, while clearly hoping it’s a signal from another civilization, I strongly doubt they would contact us this way. Unless, again, they’re also taking baby steps and guide us towards a contact that we can make sense of. The latter would be nothing short of a miracle. Most probably, we’re still alone :)

    • Alexander August 29, 2016, 15:45

      “So why does everybody presume that a far more advanced civilization than ours would let our planet unexplored for such an immense period of time?”. Let’s hope that we’re just not interesting enough for “them”. Like the nature of 95% of our own seas are nog interesting enough for ourselves to discover.

    • Renko August 29, 2016, 15:46

      I wanna meet Vulcans
      Don’t crush my hope guy(s)
      Then again: they might be Insectoids

      • Alexander August 30, 2016, 3:41

        Most likely thats what they are, insectoids

    • DM August 29, 2016, 17:00

      How many anthills in the remote desert have you taken the time to search out and catalog?

      You assume that the mere fact of our existence should be of great value and interest to the galaxy at large, but what if the reverse is true and civilizations like ours come and go in the millions without notice in the galactic boonies.

      If there’s one thing the evolution of knowledge regarding our place in the universe should have taught us by now, it’s that on any given level we are just not as special as we think we are.

      • Adrian M August 30, 2016, 0:15

        Well, I wasn’t talking about us, but about our planet. The planet is much more valuable than us to any advanced civilization. That is, presuming they need oxygen and their biology is compatible with what our planet has to offer.
        To continue with your analogy, our existence would be, at best, as the one of primitive tribes is to us. At worst, as the one of ants. Now, an advanced civilization might cherish any type of life and not intervene (Prime Directive), or it might calculate that stomping on that anthill in order to make place for their own kind is absolutely OK.

        The thing is: we don’t see any interference with our planet in the last 3 billion years. Nobody was interested to colonize it. Why would they skip it?

        It might be that life-covered planets are abundant, I don’t know. But Earth would still be a prime candidate for colonizing. With or without our puny existence on it :)

        • AM August 30, 2016, 9:52

          I do think ‘life covered’ planets are likely abundant. To be truly ‘life’, a complex chemical reaction involving multiple interdependent clock reactions which maintain and increase their order while increasing the entropy of the surrounding systems can be a more general description. Based on this definition, life is not about water, or oxygen. And there is the likelihood that complex life is also common, and that once complexity evolves, it continues to become more complex and self referential, rather, ‘intelligent’. These conditions would logically lead to life of all sorts having similar imperatives such as competition for access to resources as well as cooperation among species or individuals for gaining and keeping those resources. Under these potential conditions, yes, we could be just another ant hill.

        • ljk August 30, 2016, 12:32

          The Milky Way galaxy has 400 billion star systems. Almost all of them are now thought to have their own solar systems, which means planets, planetoids, and comets. Why would the Sol system be particularly rare and valuable? Plus the mere presence of even a primitive intelligence would cause complications that someone looking for resources or a place to stay might not want to deal with assuming there are plenty of uninhabited systems for the taking.

          Humans still think culturally at least that they and their birth world are the Center of Existence. Whether there are extraterrestrial beings or not, the truth is something most people seem unable and unwilling to accept, which is understandable considering our current state of biological evolution.

          See here for one potential solution to this problem:


          And here for further perspective:


          • Rob Henry September 1, 2016, 0:01

            “Why would the Sol system be particularly rare and valuable?”

            The answer is simple. Its very very special exactly because it hasn’t been colonised already by a hundred other rival ETIs.

        • Michael T August 30, 2016, 13:52

          >The thing is: we don’t see any interference with our planet in the last 3 billion >years. Nobody was interested to colonize it. Why would they skip it?

          Assuming an expedition to Earth that was minimally destructive/exploitative (say because of a Prime Directive re non-interference), what would you expect to find if they (say) turned up in the Permian? Would you really expect to be lucky enough to find traces of a research expedition after all this time?

          Apart, maybe, from some life-originating-from-a-drink-bottle scenario as in “Allegro Non Troppo:”

      • Aristophanes August 30, 2016, 14:40

        I want the Star Wars Cantina thing, that’s all.

    • Eli August 29, 2016, 19:53

      Hopefully, any advanced civilization that could find us would be advanced enough morally as well as technologically. They would have some version of the Prime Directive that would limit them to studying us the way we study non-human animals we want to learn about without influencing their natural behaviour. Using blinds, IOW. That way, they wouldn’t interfere with our natural evolution in any way until they felt we were ready to learn of their existence. Maybe, they could put up some kind of blind around our solar system that would be transparent to outgoing signals, but opaque to incoming. We would be unaware of their existence – until they wanted us to be.

      • Pollie August 30, 2016, 4:17

        A wise man once said: “If they are more intelligent then us, they will find us. If we are more intelligent then they are, why bother?” :D

      • ljk August 30, 2016, 12:34

        Morality is such a fluid concept. What if an ETI thinks it would be immoral for humans to remain biological when having us downloaded into some great Matrix of Artilects would be better? Imagine the reaction to this from a species that gets upset when their favorite television programs are canceled.

      • Rob Henry August 30, 2016, 22:47

        You should never presume to imagine what high morality means in the ETI situation. For us, high morality currently seems to constitute releasing killer whales to ‘freedom’ in the wild, even if it means certain death, exactly BECAUSE of their high intelligence. ETs may see us all suffering in our modern world, and be so heart broken as to rip us from our cities and release us in the African Savanna of our long lost Eden. I can just hear them saying, ‘well at least they experienced a few days of true freedom before they were eaten by lions!’

        You may fantasise that they come to serve man, but my advise is to be very careful what you wish for.

      • NS August 31, 2016, 14:06

        The Europeans who first visited North America didn’t intend to start epidemics that killed most of the indigenous peoples, but that’s what happened. The Europeans who went to Central and South America were explicitly intent on conquest and enslavement, but the indigenous populations there in general survived much better than those in North America did. So the morality of the aliens might have little to do with the actual consequences of contact. Things could happen that neither they nor we can anticipate or deal with.

        • ljk August 31, 2016, 15:10

          If an ETI wanted to take out humanity, all it would have to do is either attach some rocket motors to some suitably sized space rocks and drop them all over Earth. The results would either pound us into submission or remove us outright depending on how badly the aliens wanted our home planet, or just us out of the way.

          Even more effective would be taking one starship and slam it into Earth at relativistic speeds. The kinetic energy from that impact alone would be enough to sterilize almost every living thing on the surface. In both scenarios we would have virtually no warning or be able to defend ourselves at our current level of preparedness.

    • Speider August 30, 2016, 2:32

      “they’d be capable of seeing almost everything on Earth through technology we can’t even imagine”

      No. You can’t base an assumption on technology that might be impossible.

      Also, IF someone was able to observe us with the most fabulous optics to zoom in on earth and see humans, from a mere 200 light years away, they’d still have absolutely no idea of our capabilities or society today, but that from 200 years ago.

  • Peter Abeln August 29, 2016, 15:32

    And what if there are 10E18 spectators in this stadium?

  • Jan van Ee August 29, 2016, 15:45

    During his life Tesla was experimenting with high power transmission and even the so called death ray. What if they recieved pulses from his experiments ?

    • Arthur August 29, 2016, 16:22

      Nikola Tesla did afaik not invent FTL technology, pulses would travel with max speed of light, as its 95 LY away, Pulses from his experiment would have barely reached yet :) would like to give him credit though for being the 1st to contact outer space civilization

      • Aristophanes August 30, 2016, 14:43

        But it was Tesla. Maybe he did. Just maybe.

        And something made Einstein’s hair do what it did.

        Just sayin’ that if aliens have alr day been here, those 2 are prime (directive) candidates (Manchurian).

    • Paul August 29, 2016, 16:44

      It may have been 1921 here when they sent the signal, but this planet would have seen the Earth of 1826 at the time. They wouldn’t have gotten anything from us before sending it. If Marconi’s 1901 experiments, the first radio waves transmitted, were even strong enough to be distinguishable by the time they reached them, it wouldn’t have been until 1996. Any response to that won’t reach here til 2091, barring any sort of FTL hijinks.
      Spacetime is a bitch.

      • Laurence August 29, 2016, 18:18

        Actually, in 1826 they might have begun detecting the telltale atmospheric pollutants that indicate the beginnings of an industrial technological era. 200 years might seem a reasonable length of time for us to become sufficiently advanced to receive extraterrestrial signals and know what they mean, so they thought it worthwhile to say hello. Almost sounds plausible.

        • Wojciech J August 29, 2016, 22:27

          An interesting idea I heard recently was that agriculture on our planet would change the spectra of the atmosphere itself. I lack the knowledgeto judge if that is probable though.

      • Dune August 30, 2016, 9:13

        “Spacetime is a bitch.” Awesome! I want the bumper sticker!

    • Dianne August 29, 2016, 16:50

      Receiving transmission from Tesla could explain the simple sound waves to match the time period. Makes sense. Why are we doubtful of alien life because of the lack of extreme intelligence. Looking at our time period now, due to stupidity, how secure is earth with our current situation.

    • ljk August 30, 2016, 12:37
  • Jan van Ee August 29, 2016, 15:59

    As a forensic audio investigator I would love to have that signal in audio, does anyone know if its available ?

  • Resonanz August 29, 2016, 16:09

    Thnx, Paul, your jumping on this will cut off right now ‘fluff’ and senseless, insulting trolling.

  • Geoffrey Hillend August 29, 2016, 16:12

    IF it does not have any code or predictable pattern that can be translated then it can’t be anything but EMR from normal interstellar phenomenon such as stars, etc

  • Mark Kidger August 29, 2016, 16:28

    Tesla himself received some signals on his apparatus that he said that they suggested intelligence. If I recall rightly he suggested that one of the great advances of the son to arrive 20th Century would be contact with another civilisation. Paraphrasing his prediction, he said some like: “We have a message from another civilisation. It reads 1… 2… 3…”

    • Bane August 29, 2016, 18:17

      Sorry to spoil your opinion, but Tesla was lying about many things, including “receiving alien signals”. And he was caught in this lie.

      • Kunkmiester August 29, 2016, 23:01

        On radio signals from Jupiter, Tesla was in the bad luck of circumstance. Radio was still new, and natural sources were just then being discovered. Since they had no idea Jupiter itself could be the source, it made some sense that it would be aliens.

        Tesla was stubborn about many things, and I don’t recall how he responded to being proven wrong on this, but since he was rumored to have never given up aether theory till his death, holding firm on this wouldn’t surprise me.

        If anything, it’s a lesson to double check, and the reason we have the peer review and other verification processes.

      • Rob Henry August 30, 2016, 1:13

        Are you sure it wasn’t the sloppy methodology applying to many pioneers, or the prank of a collaborator? Do you have a reference for ANY evidence that it was a lie?

  • Marc August 29, 2016, 16:43

    We discover that a lot of species on our planet are very intelligent (dolphins, elephants, …) They live in perfect harmony with nature (as did the Neanderthaler) and do not want to explore or conquer (rule over others). Maybe the homo sapiens “mutation” of wanting to “evolve” has the side effect of wanting to discover and conquer? Could it be that this “side effect” will end our civilization by self destruction due to the impossibility of using technology only for peaceful purposes? Maybe our race is to aggressive to continue our evolution in time. Maybe life on other planets misses this “drive” or has extincted itself before it was able to explore?

    We visited the moon almost 40 years ago. It is in our backyard. Because there is no material profit in going there, we never went back. What a missed opportunity. If we would spend as much money in exploring, as we do in conquering (warfare), we would have been on Mars by now.

    If we don’t find abundant energy in the next decade(s) and control the growth of the global population, the stone age will be back soon…..ending the ray of our flashlight.

    • ljk August 29, 2016, 17:11

      Earth/Gaia evolved us to make sure there won’t be another huge impact from a space rock like what happened 65 million years ago (and four other major extinctions before that). Clearly none of the creatures living back then were up to the job of stopping an incoming planetoid or comet. Only we humans have the both the awareness and the ability to know what is going on and how to stop it. If we can get the infrastructure set up in time. Otherwise it will be back to the drawing board for Sol 3.

      • hiro August 29, 2016, 21:13

        That nasty one happened around 250 M years ago might still be out of our reach at this stage, maybe I’m wrong or I wish I’m wrong about this one.

        • ljk August 30, 2016, 12:39

          That’s why we need to ramp up our planetary protection programs:


          If we can spend $400 billion on a jet fighter that still has issues, we can afford a fraction of that to deflect incoming space rocks. And colonize space.

    • philip coleman August 29, 2016, 21:08

      Exactly my compiled thoughts, Probably many other worlds destroyed each other with the atom elements as we might. And others may have found a way for advancement without weapons. I would love for a confirmed contact’ Oh would I love it.

    • Rob Henry August 30, 2016, 1:41

      “We visited the moon almost 40 years ago”

      Don’t soften the blow with false data. We had images of the far side 57 years ago, first landed 54, and had the first men there 47.

    • Tiggerknit August 30, 2016, 3:27

      Excellent point, Marc!

    • Tom August 30, 2016, 9:34

      Marc, We’ve discovered abundant energy – it’s called sunlight. We’re using terrestrially based solar now, and it’s getting cheaper. Orbiting solar collectors – solar power satellites – should be our next step. That will take us toward development of a Kardashev type II civilization, one that uses the energy of an entire star.

      As for overpopulation, do a Google search on Birth Rate By Country.” You’ll see that birth rates for the developed world is already close to, or even below the ‘replacement rate.’ Japan, for example, has a very low birth rate, and fears a population collapse within the 21st Century.

  • Resonanz August 29, 2016, 16:48

    Radio signals would seem to ‘profile’ a level of technical advancement relative to ours – either not so much more advanced than us or deliberately designed for a retro civilization . Also, are our receivers sensitive enough to resolve peak fine structure which could be a venue for communication content….then the problem would become one of resolving and transforming the peak (s), decoding, etc. One can imagine linguists being involved at some point.

  • Franck Marchis August 29, 2016, 16:59

    Let’s be careful with those signals detected by only ONE observatory. Remember the Microwave fiasco last year? http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2015/04/10/rogue-microwave-ovens-are-the-culprits-behind-mysterious-radio-signals/

    • Paul Gilster August 29, 2016, 17:12

      A good analogy. Exactly right, Franck.

  • Bert Harris August 29, 2016, 17:18

    Mum is the word

  • Ammar August 29, 2016, 17:24

    They’ve been trying to send us signals for one million years, and 100 years ago with no response from earth they decided to turn the switch off. This signal we received was the the switch-off burst signal caused by some bad engineering of their Switch. Alas, we will never hear from them again.

  • Andrew August 29, 2016, 17:25

    We can debate the probabilities until we are blue in the face; however, one of my favorite movie quotes:

    “Law of averages. Let a complex system repeat itself long enough and eventually something surprising might occur.” -Six

    We as a species must believe it is possible, we must continue to explore, and continue to reach out. It is the human spirit. If we abandon this; we may as well all hop onto our sailing ships; don’t forget to pack a parachute, and drop right on off the edge to say “hi” to Atlas.

    We make amazing discoveries each and every day. In the past 100 years alone we have split the atom, fused the atom, shattered the sound barrier, put a man in space, then on the moon, manipulated the velocity of a photon, created artificial sonic black holes. Each and every day we discover more and more forms of matter that lend to the possibility that what we call “C” is not the terminal velocity limit. All of these things thought impossible 101 years ago.

    So long as we believe; somewhere out there is the answer we wish to find. “I want to believe.”

  • Espen-G August 29, 2016, 17:38

    And this is what we have to do:

    1: Bring a satalite or something to a planet like planet Mars.
    2: Let that satalite send out a signal from planet Mars to another planet.

    So when a alien species get that signal, they’ll think that there’s life on planet Mars. And if they are offensive, they will attack planet Mars, BUT NOT OURS.

    • Chris-e August 30, 2016, 3:48

      In all honesty, if a advanced ET was to come to our solar system I assume they would have the technology to scan the planets surrounding the one planter they question.

      This will inturn allow them to see us anyway.

      If advanced ET’s was going to come here, we all better hope they come in peace as we would be squished like ants under there power and knowledge…

    • bill Howell August 30, 2016, 11:42

      I thought you were a genius for coming up with that idea. Then I realized you said “bring a satellite” as if you are already on Mars.

  • Glenn Klotz August 29, 2016, 17:47

    I agree with most posters here that it’s not a likely signal from a sentient species , yet how curious it’s in the Constellation Hercules ( a Titan like person) coming from a Star almost identical to ours ( a G2 type star) with at least one planet we know of possibly others even in it’s habitable zone. It’s my suspicion also that life especially intelligent life tends to attract to itself other life. So, maybe the Fermi paradox isn’t all that it’s cranked up to be. If I didn’t know better it looks like somebody nearby is shouting at us to pay attention. Also, just coincidentally in the same week we hear of a possible eartyhlike planet as close as 4.2 lt. yrs. around Proxima Centaur i the nearest star to ours. What are those odds? What’s in store next news that some kind of object under power is heading this way from Proxima or Hercules 45? I won’t be surprised and why did the Russians hold back this info for over a year? What else aren’t they telling us about this discovery?

    • hiro August 29, 2016, 21:22

      Mr. Klotz, if you had read the SF novel The Killing Star then you would not really want anything heading this way.

      From the perspective of any advanced civilization which has been around for at least 100M years, random hotshots have appeared and then disappeared so many times that it fails to find any interest paying attention to the latest one, especially this one is quite annoying!

    • Kunkmiester August 29, 2016, 23:06

      See the above about Tesla and Jupiter, the microwave ovens, me ti on the neutrino fiasco from a few years ago, etc. “That’s wierd” needs to be checked out thoroughly before showing it to someone else.

  • Michael Fenning August 29, 2016, 17:57

    The biggest assumption made here is that human life is intelligent. There are no signs of that on Earth: look at Syria. We are quarantined waiting our self-induced extinction. Intelligent life doesn’t speak to plague rodents even if they’ve cobbled up a few atomic bombs. Especially then.

  • carlos Romolton August 29, 2016, 18:41

    That there is ample correlation and arguments of existing elements and conditions, that can produce “Life”, in a myriad of environments here and out there, can be accepted. That such “Life” can be intelligent to emit signals., is to postulate that “THEY” received our signal, Know we exist, and assume “WE” are out there somewhere trying the same thing. Then comes the next postulation: That we are an experimental species placed in a Petri dish (Earth) and evolved. (as it were). See where this thing is going?? But then…We really have to keep doing what we do so well OR not.

  • Fred Parker August 29, 2016, 18:54

    Paul, do you know if there will be a kickstarter initiative started anytime soon to fund the continual monitoring of HD164595 for further signals? I would be interested in contributing to this as I did with the Tabby’s Star kickstarter monitoring program. Thanks.

    • Paul Gilster August 29, 2016, 20:22

      Haven’t heard of anything like this, Fred.

  • dexter August 29, 2016, 19:03

    Of course, the universe and our galaxy may be teeming with intelligent life … they just may be intelligent enough not to broadcast their position to all and sundry, particularly if some of that life is hostile. In the history of life on this planet, competition for resources has created a degree of ruthlessness, cunning and a disregard for those with less strength. There’s no reason to assume that intelligent life on other planets is benevolent, or open. All life may view other life as competition.

    • Wojciech J August 29, 2016, 22:32

      The planet itself would broadcast our presence for millenia. If advanced civilizations would exist then they would likely knew about our biosphere. Doesn’t of course mean they would contact us.

  • Caly August 29, 2016, 19:22

    Presuming it would require a civilization harnessing an entire star to send the signal is clearly a flaw, we can SEE the star after all! So all of it’s energy has not been harnessed.

  • Jimko August 29, 2016, 20:21

    A hundred coin flips are independent probabilities. I suspect that if a fair coin representing “liquid water” came up heads, a lot of other coins should become biased toward heads. Perhaps half a dozen critical fair coins could bias the remaining 94 coins to be 80/20 heads instead of 50/50, just to exaggerate the example. You will have a lot more people getting 100 heads if the later probabilities are dependent on the earlier ones. And some of the coins, perhaps in combinations, represent a decision that allows repeated flips; millions of molecules sloshing together under a wide variety of conditions. I think that aspect of the paradox holds, but you’re probably onto something with the two-second flash over two hours. The odds of contact within a human lifetime are very small. The history of scientific exploration since Newton is only 11 generations or about 8 lifespans. We just need to stay in the game.

  • James Irving August 29, 2016, 20:25

    I think DNA is a fabulously adaptive toolkit to seed life’s development in a fairly wide range of environments. Asteroid and comet impacts can spread it from planet to planet, and maybe, given enough time or an ancient species seeking a legacy, from star to star. If that’s where we came from, nearby life is much more likely.

  • David August 29, 2016, 20:29

    There are constants in the Universe. Gravity, wave frequency ranges, shapes of heavenly bodies, ie. you don’t see square planets. So , maybe life is a constant and that as time passes, the correct ingredients for intelligent life happens and develops. Life on this planet, in human form as we know it today has just started… . You are looking at HD164195 estimated at what age? If it is millions of years older than Earth, then life could of developed In what form is unknown. Saying it is impossible , just plain human arrogance.

  • scherben August 29, 2016, 20:35
    • ljk August 30, 2016, 12:42

      No, just one guy at the moment. SETI is not a monolith organization despite what The SETI Institute and most Hollywood SF films would have you think.

      • scherben August 30, 2016, 19:09

        Fair enough, but I doubt their stance is that much different on this issue. At least in the absence of better evidence.

        • ljk August 31, 2016, 10:02

          Three SETI organizations, two radio and one optical, are currently scanning HD 164595 so far as I know.

          The Berkeley SETI team has already released a preliminary report here:


          Though I have to say, scanning a star system for just a few days and declaring there is nothing to be found is more than slightly premature, wouldn’t you agree?

          The Planetary Society has a mostly automated Optical SETI observatory located in Harvard, Massachusetts, but I have no idea yet if they will join the search or anything else they have done lately:


          • scherben August 31, 2016, 16:39

            Nowhere near as premature as jumping to the conclusion that aliens have sent the message we’ve all been waiting for.

            In fact, declaring there’s nothing to be found, when nothing has been found, isn’t premature at all. Just sensible.

            • Rob Henry September 1, 2016, 3:36

              It may be sensible, but it’s a mindset that would reduce breakthrough discoveries to a trickle if all scientists applied it.

            • ljk September 1, 2016, 8:46

              Blame the media and the general public when it comes to jumping to conclusions about aliens, not the scientists.

  • philip coleman August 29, 2016, 20:44

    2015? The Russians kept it secret? It’s getting where I don’t believe a thing anymore……Especially media.

  • Mike Serfas August 29, 2016, 21:00

    An interesting scenario would be if the signal were actually powering a solar sail in a program reminiscent of the “Breakthrough Starshot” proposal that has been in the news recently, but more directly comparable to Forward’s earlier “Starwisp” idea. It has been proposed that microwaves can push on a very sparse sail with gaps approximating the wavelength of the microwaves used to drive it, potentially allowing very large, very light sails if sufficiently strong materials can be manufactured.

    Such a probe presumably would be very precisely targeted by the propulsion beam; nonetheless, being out of communication with the ground, the beam might need to occasionally sweep much more broadly to allow the target probe an opportunity to correct its course. Alternatively, the Earth might simply orbit into the path of the beam at a lucky moment, though if there is any relative motion to correct for this would seem unlikely until very late in the mission.

  • Jon Connell August 29, 2016, 22:19

    We research when we do not know the answers. This is a classic ‘we do not know’ topic – so we must investigate. The very idea that there might be life elsewhere in the universe – intelligent or not, rare or not – makes scientific research worthwhile.
    Up until very recently we believed planets were rare – and The Drake Equation had a huge unknown variable. Since the late 90s we know planets are not rare. That knowledge was the result of science outside of what was mainstream thought.
    Even if our galaxy was teeming with 21st century earth-like civilizations, detecting them today with our best technology would be incredibly difficult. The SETI program has cost virtually nothing to date. It must make sense for humanity to look at this great imponderable. With every passing year our search technology improves and we get closer to an answer. SETI@home – best bang for the buck science there is say I.

  • Ormond Otvos August 29, 2016, 22:24

    The assumption that 100 things have to coalesce for life to begin has been debunked over and over by the creationist fighters. Bad axiom.


    The edifice built on this foundation thus collapses.

  • randar August 29, 2016, 22:36

    If they are indeed kardishev type I or even II then they will find us before we find them it’s a 100 lightyears our first transmission tv doesn’t reach it get’s too scrambled but radar is detectable since we have radar from 1942 or 44 not sure which year it was from the top of my head but even so add hundred years to it by 2044 they are aware of our existance…

  • Wojciech J August 29, 2016, 22:59

    A civilization on near tech level that is close to us seems improbable. If it would exist it would imply “Star Trekish” type of universse. Then again we know nothing about life in the universe…
    Still….I would put my bet on natural event rather than artificial…And if artificial then not intended as a contact.

  • Scott McCloud August 30, 2016, 0:50

    Friends, Romans, Other Species, I believe we are all making the anthropomorphic mistake of assuming Life is anything like us. Biologists know that there are life forms on our world that survive without Oxygen and Sunlight, and at extreme pressure and temps. If anyone of these extremophobes has taken hold on another world, who knows what their “advanced” evolved version may look like? Perhaps, on another world, life may be crystal-like, bio-electrical, cloud-like, or be the entire planet itself, like a giant rooted tree or fungus system. Perhaps it is fire or radiation, or exists at the sub-atomic level, where quarks are planets or even galaxies. Our newest microchips will soon be processing information in the realm of quantum mechanics, solving questions before we even ask them. Suppose a super advanced civilization has adapted to the micro, nano world, where the laws of nature are less restrictive-,or has extricated itself from any detectability such as a Dark-Matter life form. I do not believe that an advanced civilization would hand the keys of the car over to its robots or computers; given a survival instinct, advanced robotic capabilities or AI may be incorporated into their biological forms. Perhaps, THIS is the true, first mark of an advanced civilization, i.e., will humans lazily succumb to allow their robot shaves to take over, or will we combine with them? At this point in our history, we don’t know a thing, we can only speculate based on an insignificant amount of data. One coin toss may be all that is necessary- a cocoon universe designed for breeding. We only discovered the true age of the Earth, plate tectonics , natural selection, the universe beyond our galaxy and the Higgs in the 150 years, a few “seconds” ago, can you imagine what our physicists and biologist discover and develop in the next one thousand years! Or what an alien civilization a few million years old has sccomplished ? We are just parakeets in a tiny birdcage with a sheet pulled over it.

  • David Garza August 30, 2016, 1:05

    So interesting ! But I find it funny how the chances are so small that they look at it as impossible.. yes the chances of the big bang and evolution to have happened the way it is claimed to have are even slimer, yet it’s regarded as totally plausible, even fact. Please, science, make up your mind.

  • Antero Salo August 30, 2016, 1:35

    Thank you for inspiringand sound mathematical calculations.
    I would still like to confuse your mind with one disturbing idea.
    What if Svante Arrhenius and Von Neumann were bother right?
    Ie what if the entire galaxy is contaminated by RNA or DNA travelling inside meteotites (although not yet discovered here on earths meteorites)
    If DNA itself is Von Neumann machine?
    That would defenetly turn the odds in favor of finding simultaneous life
    in our galaxy.
    Meteors travel from planet to planet. Each year pieces of Mars drop on earth and some of them even survive on the surface of our planet.
    Techically at least a thousand earth bourne meteors land on Jupiters moon Europa. Giant meteorites hitting us eject huge amount of earths crust along with it debris of life on earth. Some of it might end out of the stellar system and finally land on some alien planet suitable for life but all different ecological system to adapt to.

    • Alex Tolley August 30, 2016, 10:48

      If DNA itself is Von Neumann machine?

      It isn’t. The cell is a replicator, the DNA is the information storage substrate. This is fundamental biology.

      • Antero Salo August 30, 2016, 13:33

        Dear Alex Tolley
        I don’t undersrtand your reply?
        Simply I’m trying to point out that if life ever was created anywhere in our galaxy, it wouldn’t have to evolve here again. (or anywhere else, for that matter) Ie coins would not have to be tossed again against all odds, but it would simply seed throughout our galaxy from habitable environmet to an another. So it changes the odds of finding life simultaneously.
        Dna or rna could be transported throughout our galaxy via meteorites. In suitable conditions it would have a fair possibility to start life and evolution again.
        For example a simple virus like dna landing on sterile but favourable environment where chemical reactions would favor globular spherical structures to form. The rest is biology and evolution.
        Dna in itself is information storage. Transmitting it is the basic requirement for life to hop from planet to planet.
        It copies itself again and again and rides in a meteor shower to an another planetary system. Altered of course not the same sequence. Not the same animal.
        Ejecting fish or dinosaur or plant or human dna into space does not produce these animals, but simply gives a fair chance for life itself to start again without being forced to start from scratch on each planet again and again.
        So if we have 2 suitable but a sterile planets and we inject DNA into the other and return after say 500 000 years I certainly would bet my money on finding at least some kind of crude life forms on only the infected planet. Whilst the other one is most probably still sterile.
        This would make the DNA into the ultimate Von Neumann machine.
        DNA was invented/created somwhere and after a few hunred million years it could have infected the whole galaxy.

  • John Geel August 30, 2016, 1:44

    Firstly: the assumptions on statistics are highly improbable because the start of life lies in single cell organism, possibly coming from elsewhere. Secondly you are forgetting the fact that we had (about 250 mln years ago) a huge set-back in our development due to the wipe out of almost all life. Other civilisation might not have experienced that and therefore could well be much further than us (the same 250 men year).
    Our planet has seen some amazing inventions over the last 100 years and it is also speeding up at an almost unbelievable speed. Assuming we are about 250 mln years behind on development, other civilizations could have technology beyond our wildest dreams.

    • Rob Henry August 31, 2016, 0:00

      That event 252 million years ago, shows many of the defining characteristics that would be expected if a technological civilisation had arisen on Earth at that time, such as a C-13 spike larger than burning every forest down, the rise of monoculture on land, and the mass extinction itself. Given that it only takes 10-100 million to colonise the galaxy, my favorite scenario is that the galaxy is teeming with ETIs, whose home world is Earth. They haven’t recolonised it since it self destructed, because doing so would create tensions among the 200 billion systems as to who has the priority to do so. The reason I like it, is that it is one of the few ways in which you can call yourself rational, yet expect radio signals from space without any physical presence in our system.

  • notsosmart August 30, 2016, 2:42

    Maybe higher intelligence likes to watch earth destroying itself, is must be a soap series to see this planet thinking itself to be intelligent , causing so much problems that is does not fit on the unlimited channels on tv.
    If I was another inelligent creature passing this planet, I never would burn my fingers risking to contact the wrong clan and be forced to share knowledge which would be abused to kill and destroy even more.
    Maybe first we start looking for local intelligent creatures to understand what is going on and how to avoid destruction, extreme rich and poor resulting in wars and starving. When that is solved, intelligence from other planets sure will visit this friendly planet, no need to invest lots of money in large telescopes, we will be tought the easy way by then.

  • Peter August 30, 2016, 3:42

    Does anyone know if there are any recordings of the signal or even number vectors available for analysis?

  • RAS August 30, 2016, 3:54

    Can’t see that this has been posted on here previously with a big dose of cold water for this signal.


    • scherben August 30, 2016, 13:24

      I’d already posted it, all to no avail. People would rather indulge in the magical thinking of wild and/or adhoc speculations about subjects we are all ignorant of.

      • RAS August 31, 2016, 11:16

        But it’s just the view of one member of SETI it should be added. They aren’t the Borg where every member shares the same beliefs.

        • scherben August 31, 2016, 16:44

          And it must be further added that it’s based on sensible analysis.

  • Alyssa nicole August 30, 2016, 5:55

    If that were true they’d actually show the evidence

  • Josh August 30, 2016, 6:27

    Very intersesting guys, hopefully something can find out one way or the other eventually, i think its hard to conceive the way it will turn out, would love to see it though, keep watching the skies. Josh out…

  • Kari August 30, 2016, 7:02

    11Ghz, Airport ground radar… 2,7cm wavelenght.
    Theres also radioamateur satellites, which works 10,4 Ghz frequency, 2,8cm wavelenght.

    Huray excitement, huray ignorance.

  • Jim Franklin August 30, 2016, 7:07

    I have participated in SETI@home since very early in 1999 because I know that not only is there life in the Universe, but that it is teeming with intelligent and technically advance species.

    I do not believe our current search efforts will bear fruit for many practicable and precient reasons, equally I do not believe any ETI has visited or ever will visit Earth for, again, practical reasons.

    But as someone with a science and engineering background, thus an open mind, I could be wrong…and I need to know either way…thus I keep assisting in the search.

    Is this signal of intelligent origins? Highly improbable due to the nature and power of the dignal, however that does not mean we should not investigate further.

    We need to monitor the star for an extended period across multiple frequencies, not the myopic ‘water hole’ ones used at this time”. This needs to be in real time and run for several years.

    As well as this we need to ascertain if there are more planets in this system and if any are capable of supporting life. If there are no planets or none in places able to support life then we know the signal was 100% natural and our efforts can be redirected, but whilst it is 99.99999% natural, it is not yet conclusive either way…so scientifically we need this answer.

  • Georg August 30, 2016, 7:10

    A Kardashev II or I or ANY “super civilization” for that matter WON’T rely on lightspeed as max speed and therefore not on the rules of physics for space travel. They MIGHT have mastered ways to travel that are still WAY beyond our imagination, keywords warp drive, bending space etc..but DEFINITELY not in the Newtonian sense as in “traveling from A to B at speed X”. And the same likely applies to communication. Radio waves? Would likely be super-primitive for them.
    So, now let’s speculate (X-files music playing now): If such a super-civilization sends out old-fashioned radio waves, then they do this because they know that the receiver is so poorly developed that receiving radio waves is their only means. Intentions…now here it becomes interesting.
    I share the opinion with others that an alien encounter will likely NOT be a pleasant thing, by a long-shot. Life forms, here on Earth as best example, have a tendency to see everything that is “different” as enemy. Heck we even see our own species as enemies merely because of different religion or skin color.
    There is no reason to believe that an Alien encounter will be “pleasant” similar as it’s dangerous to go into a jungle and encounter lions, or bears etc…any animal that is strong enough is also potentially a danger, and in the same way as we don’t have scientific debates with flies or ants. And this on our own planet.
    So there is a likelihood that such a signal COULD actually be some sort of trap.

    • Resonanz August 30, 2016, 10:09

      Thnx for the post. I share your pov about RF signalling being ‘primitive’ way for an ‘advanced’ civ to communicate. However, I feel an advanced civilization has successfully transcended the great (and universal) filter of species’ self-destruction, like that facing us environmentally and conflict-wise, and is thus non-threatening.
      Virtual existence will, i feel, come sooner than 2050 – i expect first success by 2022. Also, like you feel, with the Alcubierre Drive concept, I expect FTL to be a (public) reality by 2030-40 (probably already a DARPA achievement like advanced quantum computing).

    • ljk August 30, 2016, 11:53

      My responses to your post. Here:


      and here:


      Carl Sagan and others of course saw advanced ETI as benevolent and even wanting to share all their knowledge by beaming it across the galaxy. The real answers probably lie somewhere between total altruism and the Berserkers from Fred Saberhagen. Or maybe they are like Solaris from Stanislaw Lem, where they are so alien we can barely recognize them (or they us) as living intelligent beings, forget about trying to communicate.

      But if we don’t look, our species will pay the price for such cultural and physical isolation. There is no Prime Directive of the Cosmos.