This Day in Paranormal History: SETI receives signal that makes them go ‘Wow!’by Cherlyn Gardner Strong on Aug. 15, 2010, under UFOs
On August 15, 1977, Dr. Jerry R. Ehman worked late into the night on a SETI project at The Big Ear Radio Observatory at Ohio State University. Something unusual happened at 11:16 pm (EDT) on that night that Dr. Ehman and many others couldn’t explain, and still can’t.
A strong narrowband radio signal was received, from someone or something.
When Dr. Ehman sat down to analyze the data a few days later, he circled the signal on the printed computer readout with a red pen. To the left of that, he marked the significance of that signal with just three letters and an exclamation point: Wow!
The Wow! notation meant to relay that the signal was potentially non-terrestrial and non-solar system in origin. The signal closely matched what SETI expected to receive from extraterrestrial intelligence and caused quite a buzz around the world.
The signal was dubbed the Wow! signal in honor of that short notation Dr. Ehman made.
Disappointingly, 33 years later, that signal has not been received again.
In honor of the 30th anniversary of the event, in 2007, Dr. Ehman wrote a special report on the Wow! signal (updated in May 2010). Housed on the Big Ear website, Dr. Ehman wrote about many possibilities that could explain that signal. Yet, the one explanation that intrigues most of us has to do with the extraterrestrial possibilities:
Thus, since all of the possibilities of a terrestrial origin have been either ruled out or seem improbable, and since the possibility of an extraterrestrial origin has not been able to be ruled out, I must conclude that an ETI (ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence) might have sent the signal that we received as the Wow! source. The fact that we saw the signal in only one beam could be due to an ETI sending a beacon signal in our direction and then sending it in another direction that we couldn’t detect. Of course, being a scientist, I await the reception of additional signals like the Wow! source that are able to be received and analyzed by many observatories. Thus, I must state that the origin of the Wow! signal is still an open question for me. There is simply too little data to draw many conclusions. In other words, as I stated above, I choose not to “draw vast conclusions from ‘half-vast’ data”. – Dr. Jerry Ehman, in the The Big Ear Wow! Signal 30th Anniversary Report