Author Topic: Strong takedown of the recent WOW signal caused by comets paper  (Read 1821 times)

Offline Star One

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Even with my limited understanding of the topic I could see this paper was probably BS. So it's nice to see it explained clearly why it's rubbish.

It angers me though that thanks to the media lots of people will now think this is the answer even though it's utter crap.

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Conclusions

So with all that, someone is going to ask- what do I think the Wow! signal was? My answer is I don't know- I think it's really likely that there was some random manmade RFI that got reflected in a weird way (seriously, never underestimate the possibility of a manmade signal in astronomy), but it could have also perhaps been something natural, or, yes, maybe even from extraterrestrial intelligence. What I do know is after reading these two papers, I am certainly no more convinced that comets were the origin than I was before they were published.

On a final note as someone who is also really into explaining science to the public, I should mention I'm also really disappointed that I know this will now be a "theory" out there for years to come whenever discussing the Wow! signal. So please, feel free to share this post wherever you like- I can't reach everyone, but I do hope this thorough explanation helps explain my feelings.

TL;DR- Radio astronomer here- the Wow! signal was probably not caused by comets.

https://amp.reddit.com/r/Astronomy/comments/6ganha/no_the_wow_signal_was_probably_not_caused_by/

Offline ThereIWas3

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Dr Kraus, who was head of the OSU radio telescope where the WOW signal was detected, knew all about the effects of comets and other things in the upper atmosphere.  In fact, he was the first to calculate the orbit and eventual re-entry of the first Sputnik, based on how its telemetry signals were distorted by the ionosphere.  I am sure they would have considered such possible effects.

But I remember, when I was on a tour all through that telescope (given by Bob Dixon, the assistant director), we were told that the very cold detector (cooled by liquid nitrogen) was so sensitive that a Canada Goose flying just in front of the feed horn would throw things off scale and they would have to wait for it to cool down again.  The mouth of the feed horn was about 5 feet tall...

But one clue is that the time-profile of the WOW signal exactly matched the antenna beam pattern of the telescope, which would only happen if the source was a long way away because of the way the telescope moved with the Earh's rotation.  The antenna was the size of a football field, so anything flying through the middle of it would not be interacting with the beam shape.

Edit: Forgot to put in that I agree with the analysis that the WOW signal was probabaly not caused by comets, for the reasons given in the reddit article.  PS, Dr Kraus was one of my professors.
« Last Edit: 06/12/2017 03:42 AM by ThereIWas3 »
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Offline Star One

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Relating to the above post here is an interview from 2014 with Bob Dixon talking about the Wow signal.

http://www.wowsignalpodcast.com/2014/11/season-2-episode-7-actually-wow.html?m=1
« Last Edit: 06/11/2017 09:57 PM by Star One »

Offline Star One

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Professor Chris Lintott of Sky At Night fame has now weighed in on the matter.

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chrislintott @chrislintott

Here's my list of questions for @AntonioParis :
On comets and the Wow signal
docs.google.com

https://mobile.twitter.com/chrislintott/status/874022656319918080

Online hop

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Astronomy Now has an article with comments from other researchers https://astronomynow.com/2017/06/11/comet-claim-for-mysterious-wow-signal-sparks-controversy/

It's notable and disappointing that most of the news outlets that covered the initial story didn't ask any other radio astronomers or comet experts for comment.

Offline Star One

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Astronomy Now has an article with comments from other researchers https://astronomynow.com/2017/06/11/comet-claim-for-mysterious-wow-signal-sparks-controversy/

It's notable and disappointing that most of the news outlets that covered the initial story didn't ask any other radio astronomers or comet experts for comment.

Thanks for the link. From what I've read about him I am not sure they should have even given Paris the time a day, but I suppose they have to be fair and give him his right to reply.

Offline as58

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Interesting (and funny) how Paris is sticking to his theory and is even implying that critics are afraid of losing SETI funding. He's not trying to make friends...

This is also an unusual case in that normally bad (crackpot) papers are arguing for aliens, not against.

Offline Star One

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Interesting (and funny) how Paris is sticking to his theory and is even implying that critics are afraid of losing SETI funding. He's not trying to make friends...

This is also an unusual case in that normally bad (crackpot) papers are arguing for aliens, not against.

He's not exactly won himself friends on Twitter by the way he's responded to reasonable questions about his theory.

Offline Blackstar

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Offline Star One

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This is all getting a bit silly now as looking at the response linked to here it seems somebody believes that anyone criticising this paper is a member of some secret cabal trying to suppress the truth. And that appears to be from the publication that published the paper.

https://mobile.twitter.com/chrislintott/status/875417592088993792
« Last Edit: 06/15/2017 07:53 PM by Star One »

Offline as58

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The response:
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The Center for Planetary Science is fully aware of some criticism, specifically from SETI and legacy Big Ear Radio Telescope staff, regarding the “Wow!” Paper. The Center for Planetary Science, however, stands by its findings and will not be pressured to pull the paper from print. The purpose of science, including our paper, is to spark more questions – which in turns leads to more science. We disagree with SETI and legacy Big Ear staff.

It's always hard to decide whether to use 'I' or 'we' in a solo authored paper. Paris' decision to refer to himself as 'The Center for Planetary Science' is a novel solution to this difficult puzzle.
« Last Edit: 06/15/2017 08:51 PM by as58 »

Offline Blackstar

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It's always hard to decide whether to use 'I' or 'we' in a solo authored paper. Paris' decision to refer to himself as 'The Center for Planetary Science' is a novel solution to this difficult puzzle.

Having the--purely unintentional, I'm sure--effect of making him sound more authoritative rather than "just one guy."

It's certainly not the first time I've seen this. Note that there's a guy who claims to speak on behalf of a political party that, when I pressed him, admitted that this "party" consisted of four people.

Offline Star One

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Strong takedown of the recent WOW signal caused by comets paper
« Reply #12 on: 06/16/2017 06:17 AM »
The response:
Quote
The Center for Planetary Science is fully aware of some criticism, specifically from SETI and legacy Big Ear Radio Telescope staff, regarding the “Wow!” Paper. The Center for Planetary Science, however, stands by its findings and will not be pressured to pull the paper from print. The purpose of science, including our paper, is to spark more questions – which in turns leads to more science. We disagree with SETI and legacy Big Ear staff.

It's always hard to decide whether to use 'I' or 'we' in a solo authored paper. Paris' decision to refer to himself as 'The Center for Planetary Science' is a novel solution to this difficult puzzle.
Is he completely unaware of how this makes him sound I wonder? Because it sure sound like it does.
« Last Edit: 06/16/2017 10:25 AM by Star One »

Offline notsorandom

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I grew up about two miles from the Big Ear telescope. The WOW signal is something that is part of the local folk lore. Dr. Kraus and his wife donated their land as a nature persevere to the local university. I had a chance to meet him many years ago while still a student on a bird watching class. I haven't had the chance to meet Dr. Dixon but he is very active in the local amateur radio community.

I'd love to think that our first contact with ETI happened almost in my back yard but I'm skeptical. They saw a pretty impressive signal that day. I could have been aliens or almost anything else but Big Ear wasn't equipped to record enough about it to tell. I don't know that we will ever know what caused it. If comets were able to generate something like that though I would think we have seen a lot more WOW type signals by now.

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