The WOW! Signal
On August 5th, 1977 Dr. Jerry R. Ehman was probably having a normal day. The Ohio State University Professor of Electrical Engineering probably taught a couple of classes, graded some papers, and then made his way to his lab at the Big Ear Radio Telescope to continue his daily monitoring of the skies. Working on a SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) project, Ehman spent many evenings watching, or rather listening to, the skies in hopes of hearing a signal from another world. Every moment he spent in that lab essentially proved nothing and provided no results, but that night, a mere 72-seconds was all it would take to put Ehman in science books for years to come, and to make all his research worthwhile. You see, for 72 seconds, the Big Ear Telescope observed a signal that had never been witnessed before. A signal that didn’t originate from within our solar system. A signal that is considered by many to be proof that we are not alone in this universe, and signal that has never been heard since. The signal was named for the notation he placed on the computer read-out that described it; The “Wow!” signal.
Since it was recorded, there has been varied speculation as to where the “Wow!” signal originated. It’s location as read by the telescope’s listening window would be somewhere in the constellation Sagittarius (Tau Sagittattii being the closest star in the group). However, some have speculated that the signal was merely an earth-sourced signal that bounced off of some space debris. They point to the fact that in the numerous attempts made by different telescopes of stronger magnitudes, there has never been another reoccurrence of the signal observed. However, this point is refuted by those who believe the signal to be a sign of life in other galaxies. They believe that the signal either came form some sort of lighthouse-like beacon that sweeps the universe in a pattern that we just haven’t been able to intersect with yet. Others theorize that the signal came from a moving extraterrestrial craft, and therefore can’t be observed again because the craft left our telescopic range.
Until the day that it’s not only heard again, but somehow traced to it’s origin, the truth behind “Wow!” signal will go untold. Is it as simple as a misinterpretation of a signal from our world? Or is it someone out there; someone like us, trying to find us? No one can say for sure, so the “Wow!” signal remains…an Otherworld Mystery.