How is a candidate signal first reported to staff scientists?


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Message 1426285 - Posted: 9 Oct 2013, 19:46:34 UTC

Hello everyone,

First, thanks to everyone who's helped me in the past with answers to what are likely basic questions. I appreciate your patience. I have another question, although it may only be aswerable by a SETI@Home staffer. Let me set up a brief scenario...

One morning, a SETI@Home scientist arrives at work. Overnight, a very interesting signal is detected, so now the SETI@Home system has the data stored away. How is the scientist (or multiple people) notified? Does the system generate an email that goes out to certain people, advising them of the find and the details? Some other method?

I'm only concerned with that initial notification, not subsequent analysis and debate. So how is a living, breathing human first made aware of a candidate signal?

I'm writing a screenplay that I hope to shoot on my own, and I want to make the science as realistic as possible. My feeling is that SETI in general is exciting enough on its own that Hollywood-esque embellishments really aren't necessary.

Dave

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Message 1426299 - Posted: 9 Oct 2013, 19:55:14 UTC - in response to Message 1426285.

EDIT: I just found the NTPCkr FAQ page which clarifies things a little, mainly that it's not a lightning bolt moment of discovery. So let me ask this (and again, this may be an ananswerable question, but even a vague answer would help) - at what point in the signal vetting process is the champagne poured?

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Message 1426331 - Posted: 9 Oct 2013, 20:50:54 UTC - in response to Message 1426299.
Last modified: 9 Oct 2013, 20:57:08 UTC

If a signal is found that is of obvious intelligence and not of local origin, it needs to be detected more than once to rule out an anomaly. Then it will be sent out to other SETI scientists to confirm (peer review and all that).

It will be about that time that the celebrations can begin.

[Edit] I don't think my answer is what you were looking for, however. The thing is, there are lots of interesting signals found and returned. It's not like all the data returned comes up completely blank and something is triggered once a signal is found. The only way the celebrations can begin is to have the debate and to rule out all other possibilities first through peer review.

The truth is, as exciting as important findings are, the actual process to confirm things in science is quite boring, tedious, and time consuming, all as a necessary evil to be certain that the finding is accurate. The reason why Hollywood tends to embellish things is to make them much more exciting to watch in a 2 hour period.


Though I am not a Project Scientist, so my answer is definitely not authoritative, though I would guess quite close to the truth.

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Message 1426363 - Posted: 9 Oct 2013, 22:08:47 UTC - in response to Message 1426331.

Hi Volunteer tester,

Yours is a helpful answer, so thank you! With what you've provided and what I've found here on the site (sometimes I post too soon, usually out of impatient curiousity) give me a good direction to go as far as the procederal aspects of SETI are concerned.

I've been happily plowing through the mainstream books on the subject, so I'm getting a well-rounded if not very deep education in the subject. I've found that astronomers and related, professional or otherwise, seem to be about the most philosophical and optimistic group of people I've had the pleasure of getting to know.

Dave

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Message 1426446 - Posted: 10 Oct 2013, 1:36:28 UTC
Last modified: 10 Oct 2013, 1:36:53 UTC

If a signal is found that is of obvious intelligence


And just how is this determined??

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Message 1426464 - Posted: 10 Oct 2013, 2:19:01 UTC - in response to Message 1426446.

If a signal is found that is of obvious intelligence


And just how is this determined??


I would imagine by finding a signal among the noise of space that does not occur naturally and is repeated over time from the same position.

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Message 1426475 - Posted: 10 Oct 2013, 3:03:28 UTC - in response to Message 1426464.

Hopefully, in what I've developed so far for the story, it'll be obvious it's an artificial signal. It could be that I'd be bending reality a bit in this area, but I "sort of" "kind of" got a thumbs-up on it being at least not so unrealistic as to induce nausea in the scientific community. ; )

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Message 1426478 - Posted: 10 Oct 2013, 3:16:24 UTC - in response to Message 1426464.

If a signal is found that is of obvious intelligence


And just how is this determined??

I would imagine by finding a signal among the noise of space that does not occur naturally and is repeated over time from the same position.

That "obvious intelligence" or "does not occur naturally" criteria is likely to be hard to pin down. Much as we may wish for something clear, I suspect there will be room for skeptics to raise doubts.
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Message 1426512 - Posted: 10 Oct 2013, 5:26:56 UTC - in response to Message 1426478.

If a signal is found that is of obvious intelligence


And just how is this determined??

I would imagine by finding a signal among the noise of space that does not occur naturally and is repeated over time from the same position.

That "obvious intelligence" or "does not occur naturally" criteria is likely to be hard to pin down. Much as we may wish for something clear, I suspect there will be room for skeptics to raise doubts.
Joe



If a signal is found that is of obvious intelligence



The men in black would show up at his door.

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Message 1426581 - Posted: 10 Oct 2013, 12:07:28 UTC - in response to Message 1426512.
Last modified: 10 Oct 2013, 12:58:25 UTC

Assuming they exist, why would the Men in Black care about a signal?

Profile William Rothamel
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Message 1426603 - Posted: 10 Oct 2013, 13:46:15 UTC
Last modified: 10 Oct 2013, 13:50:11 UTC

There would have to be some demodulation or close inspection of the signal to find the intelligence. It may be an on-off signal that counts out the prime numbers. This inspection should be done on every signal as it comes in. I would presume autocorrelation to lift the signal out of the noise. Next, a quick comparison with a bit map of known artificial signals from earth ; or a known stellar phenomenon (pulsars etc). Then the inspection for any information content in the signal.

It would be a mistake to wait and see if this signal re-appears after a long wait between scans before analyzing it in this way.

Known modulation schemes would be tried out to see if there were other than noise or a constant, non varying tone ? The "carrier" might occur at microwave or optical frequencies. I would look at the Lyman hydrogen line or this frequency times π.

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Message 1426726 - Posted: 10 Oct 2013, 17:58:11 UTC
Last modified: 10 Oct 2013, 18:00:49 UTC

A digital signal would be the most likely to still be understandable, in the face of any noise or distortion, or merely the weakness of the signal. The problem of knowing the digital format of the signal could be solved by making it very simple.
It may not be thought of as such, but Morse code, the original signal format in radio, was also the first digital mode. It is made up of impulses of two fixed lengths, combinations of which are assigned to letters, numbers, and punctuation marks.
The simple turning on and off of the radio emission in some mathematical sequence would seem appropriate, where neither species knows the other's language.
If another species in space is sending out radio signals, they are very likely to be technically proficient. They would also be very likely to understand mathematics. If we received the following sequence of on/off radio impulses we would be justified in concluding that they were from a form of intelligence at lest equal to our own: one pulse, one pulse, two pulses, three pulses, five pulses, eight pulses, thirteen pulses, twenty one pulses . . . I trust that their significance is obvious.
These might be preferable to the often discussed prime numbers, as they are not only an additive series, but also converge on the expression of a mathematical ratio seen frequently in both geometry, and in concrete objects in the natural world.

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Message 1426737 - Posted: 10 Oct 2013, 18:08:56 UTC
Last modified: 10 Oct 2013, 18:11:39 UTC

If you are the one finding the ET signal, you will be whisked away by some Earthly security organization (probably a U.S one, like NSA or CIA), and hidden for the rest of your life in a secret cave or similar place (if not outright deleted), before you can say "hello ET", or utter a word about it to anyone.

Your name and everything that tells about your very existence on this planet, will be removed from every record in your own country, as well as from any country where any sign of your existence can be found.

The SETI lab will be demolished and all SETI staff will suffer the same consequence as you, and the record of the ET signal will be hidden from the general populace forever.

So, just hope that nobody will ever find a signal from ET, but if they do the first sign of it, if it isn't you, will be that this project will be shut down for good, with some excuse like "we can't keep this running any longer, because we've run out of money"

Don't think for one moment, that those that really runs this planet, will allow us peons to know for sure that we're not alone in the Universe.

EDIT: So the reason I run SETI, is to be able to know exactly when ET is found. That will be the moment SETI@home goes offline for good.
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Message 1426745 - Posted: 10 Oct 2013, 18:21:26 UTC - in response to Message 1426737.

I still can't understand with all the ineptitude and incompetence shown by our world governments that people can still believe there's some super-secret organization out there that will block such a major finding from the entire world.

The bigger the secret, the hard it is to keep. There's no way it could be kept from everyone.

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Message 1426750 - Posted: 10 Oct 2013, 18:27:09 UTC - in response to Message 1426745.

I still can't understand with all the ineptitude and incompetence shown by our world governments that people can still believe there's some super-secret organization out there that will block such a major finding from the entire world.

The bigger the secret, the hard it is to keep. There's no way it could be kept from everyone.



Assuming they exist, why would the Men in Black care about a signal?

Please read, Sten-Arne post.

He summed it up pretty good.

Voyager 1 exits solar system, let's hope aliens bring it back.
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Message 1426756 - Posted: 10 Oct 2013, 18:36:10 UTC - in response to Message 1426750.

I still can't understand with all the ineptitude and incompetence shown by our world governments that people can still believe there's some super-secret organization out there that will block such a major finding from the entire world.

The bigger the secret, the hard it is to keep. There's no way it could be kept from everyone.



Assuming they exist, why would the Men in Black care about a signal?

Please read, Sten-Arne post.

He summed it up pretty good.


I did read Sten's post, and I offered my view on it. IMO, it is an illogical position to take.

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Message 1426760 - Posted: 10 Oct 2013, 18:38:30 UTC - in response to Message 1426756.

I still can't understand with all the ineptitude and incompetence shown by our world governments that people can still believe there's some super-secret organization out there that will block such a major finding from the entire world.

The bigger the secret, the hard it is to keep. There's no way it could be kept from everyone.



Assuming they exist, why would the Men in Black care about a signal?

Please read, Sten-Arne post.

He summed it up pretty good.


I did read Sten's post, and I offered my view on it. IMO, it is an illogical position to take.


http://seticlassic.ssl.berkeley.edu/about_seti/about_seti_at_home_5.htmlexplains what will happen.

That's is the best i can do.
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Message 1426761 - Posted: 10 Oct 2013, 18:40:45 UTC - in response to Message 1426760.

I still can't understand with all the ineptitude and incompetence shown by our world governments that people can still believe there's some super-secret organization out there that will block such a major finding from the entire world.

The bigger the secret, the hard it is to keep. There's no way it could be kept from everyone.



Assuming they exist, why would the Men in Black care about a signal?

Please read, Sten-Arne post.

He summed it up pretty good.


I did read Sten's post, and I offered my view on it. IMO, it is an illogical position to take.


http://seticlassic.ssl.berkeley.edu/about_seti/about_seti_at_home_5.htmlexplains what will happen.

That's is the best i can do.
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Lynn


...and that's a good answer that doesn't invoke the "Men in Black" fallacy. However, I wasn't the one asking the question. :-)

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Message 1426771 - Posted: 10 Oct 2013, 18:54:24 UTC - in response to Message 1426761.
Last modified: 10 Oct 2013, 18:56:36 UTC

I still can't understand with all the ineptitude and incompetence shown by our world governments that people can still believe there's some super-secret organization out there that will block such a major finding from the entire world.

The bigger the secret, the hard it is to keep. There's no way it could be kept from everyone.



Assuming they exist, why would the Men in Black care about a signal?

Please read, Sten-Arne post.

He summed it up pretty good.


I did read Sten's post, and I offered my view on it. IMO, it is an illogical position to take.


http://seticlassic.ssl.berkeley.edu/about_seti/about_seti_at_home_5.htmlexplains what will happen.

That's is the best i can do.
________________________________________

Voyager 1 exits solar system, let's hope aliens bring it back.
Lynn


...and that's a good answer that doesn't invoke the "Men in Black" fallacy. However, I wasn't the one asking the question. :-)



Volunteer tester, fair enough. Men in grey, etc. Someone will show up.

However, I wasn't the one asking the question. :-)[/quote] :-)

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Message 1426774 - Posted: 10 Oct 2013, 18:58:27 UTC - in response to Message 1426771.

Volunteer tester, fair enough. Men in grey, etc. Someone will show up.


No, no one is going to show up to do anything like what has been suggested. That article you linked to does not support that statement or feeling. Taken from that page:

All information about the discovery will be made public, probably via the web. No country or individual would be allowed to jam the frequency the signal is observed on. Since the object will rise and set as seen from any given location, observations from radio observatories around the world will be necessary. This will, by necessity, be a multi-national effort. All this information will be made public.


(My emphasis added)

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