The Wow! signal: An intercepted alien transmission?

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

He also captures in Pioneer the heart of the human spirit, willing to push forward no matter the odds, no matter the cost. It is that spirit that will make the exploration of the heavens possible, forever, into the never-ending future.

Available everywhere for $3.99 (before discount) at amazon, Barnes & Noble, all ebook vendors, or direct from the ebook publisher, ebookit.

The Wow! signal: An intercepted alien transmission?

Detected in 1977, this short signal has puzzled SETI investigators for decades. The article gives a good overview of the mystery.


Every July, to celebrate the anniversary of the start of Behind the Black in 2010, I hold a month-long fund-raising campaign to make it possible for me to continue my work here for another year.

This year's fund-raising drive however is more significant in that it is also the 10th anniversary of this website's founding. It is hard to believe, but I have been doing this for a full decade, during which I have written more than 22,000 posts, of which more than 1,000 were essays and almost 2,600 were evening pauses.

This year's fund drive is also more important because of the growing intolerance of free speech and dissent in American culture. Increasingly people who don't like what they read are blatantly acting to blackball sites like mine. I have tried to insulate myself from this tyrannical effort by not depending on Google advertising or cross-posts Facebook or Twitter. Though this prevents them from having a hold on me, it also acts to limit my exposure.

Therefore, I hope you will please consider donating to Behind the Black, by giving either a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar below. Your support will allow me to continue covering science and culture as I have for the past twenty years, independent and free from any outside influence.


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One comment

  • Pzatchok

    A 72 second signal on just one day doesn’t sound like a real attempt at communication.

    Any intelligent alien who has the power to transmit something that far, in our direction would know to transmit something more than static for 72 seconds for just one burst on one day.

    You would make the same assumption that we do about a planets needed orbits and spins to support life.
    So one burst would not do it. They would at least send it at the same time over a number of consecutive periods.

    And it would be something better than static. Definitely not 4g high def quality but at least a series of dots similar to morris code. Something that would represent their counting system, be it base ten, base 8, base 12 or what ever they use. A simple mathematics primer in their system.

    I can’t see a way to send a verbal language or written language that would be transmittable over that distance and stay clear.

    I can’t think of a way to encode a written language so that someone who has no reference points can decode it and read it. Especially another being on another planet who doesn’t even know what you look like for a beginning reference. You can’t point to your eye and say eye or write eye.

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