Wow! Signal, Might Not be so Wow!

In 1977, Ohio State University Radio Observatory, or Big Ear, was searching the heavens for extraterrestrial radio signals. In August of that year, analyst Jerry Ehman spotted a significantly longer and stronger signal thWow_signalan previously recorded, circled the printout and wrote “Wow!” in the margins. This signal’s frequency was very close to what observers hypothesized an intelligent transmission might look like. It was never picked up again.

An independent group of interested parties renewed my interest in the Wow! Signal when they launched the Arecibo Project in 2014. I’ve been checking in on their website, and although it’s interesting, there have been no concrete findings.

But now, Antonio Paris, an astronomer at St. Petersburg College in Florida and Director of the Aerial Phenomena Investigation Team may have an explanation for the signal. It’s not aliens; it’s comets.

A vast amount of hydrogen is released when comets swing around the sun, and ultraviolet radiation splits water vapor molecules (water is H2O, hydrogen and oxygen). The release of hydrogen is significant because the frequency they were looking for in 1977 was the signal emitted by hydrogen. Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe, and the idea was that other intelligent beings would recognize this fact and use it for communication. The Wow! Signal was very close to the 1420 megahertz signal that hydrogen emits.


By Hans Bernhard (Schnobby) (own work) or GFDL via Wikimedia Commons



Tracing the path of two comets back to August of 1977, Paris feels it’s possible they were in the vicinity of Big Ear during that time. In 1977, no one knew Comet 266P/Christensen or Comet P/2008 Y2 (Gibbs) existed, so there was no way to attribute the signal to them.

Other experts are skeptical about Paris’ hypothesis. Some doubt that comets could generate enough hydrogen to create a signal as strong as the Wow! Signal, otherwise they would be picking up this type of signature more often, which they don’t.

The two comets in question will pass by the same region in January of 2017 (Comet 266P/Christensen) and January of 2018 (P/2008 Y2 (Gibbs)). Analysis of the hydrogen signals should reveal if Paris’ hypothesis is correct.

Paris’ hypothesis seems perfectly reasonable and quite likely. There is a part of me; however, that hopes he is not correct. I like the idea that aliens are possibly trying to reach out to us. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not down with War of Worlds or Independence Day type aliens, but the possibilities of who or what is out in the cosmos intrigues me.


Until next time, Never Turn off the Lights, and keep an eye on the night skies. You never know who may drop by for a visit…or domination.

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Instagram June Gloom Horror Challenge

As a new writer, I was told by people in the know that I had to build a social media platform for my books. It’s a challenging endeavor because I am an introvert at heart, but I have “met” some interesting and cool folks on this journey. Many of the interactions have been positive and fun. I’m having a good time!

For instance, during the entire month of June on Instagram I played along with the June Gloom Horror Challenge (#junegloomhorrorchallenge) started by @zachattack_thedesigner. The challenge was to post a horror movie for a specific category every day for the entire month of June. I rediscovered some enjoyable flicks and found some new ones to check out. It was so much fun that I thought I would share my posts from that challenge with you. Follow me on Instagram @joyyehle to share in the insta-fun!

Day 1. Fav Cabin Based Horror Movie: Evil Dead
Day 2. Fav Road Trip Based Horror Movie: Penny Dreadful
Day 3. Fav College Based Horror Movie: The Quiet Ones
Day 4. Fav Hotel Based Horror Movie: The Shining (of course!)
Day 5. Fav Space Based Horror Movie: Event Horizon
Day 6. Fav Devil Based Horror Movie: The Ninth Gate
Day 7. Fav Haunting Based Horror Movie: The Haunting (1966)
Day 8. Fav Boat/Ship Based Horror Movie: Below
Day 9. Fav Sea Based Horror Movie: Open Water
Day 10. Fav Jungle Based Horror Movie: Predator (get to the chopper!)
Day 11. Fav Forrest Based Horror Movie: Tucker and Dale vs. Evil
Day 12. Fav Island Based Horror Movie: Shutter Island
Day 13. Fav Swamp Based Horror Movie: The Skeleton Key
Day 14. Fav Natural Disaster Based Horror Movie: Knowing (cheesy, but it was the best I could come up with)
Day 15. Fav Found Footage Based Horror Movie: The Blair Witch Project
Day 16. Fav Airplane Based Horror Movie: Twilight Zone: Nightmare at 20,000 feet (not technically a movie, but it’s my feed, so my rules)
Day 17. Fav Religion Based Horror Movie: The Remaining
Day 18. Fav School Based Horror Movie: The Craft
Day 19. Fav Diner Based Horror Movie: Legion
Day 20. Fav Farm Based Horror Movie: Signs 
Day 21. Fav Lake Based Horror Movie: Neverlake
Day 22. Fav Based on a True Story Horror Movie: The Conjuring
Day 23. Fav Spring Break Based Horror Movie: Turistas
Day 24. Fav Crazy Girl Based Horror Movie: Excision
Day 25. Fav Hospital Based Horror Movie: Gothika
Day 26. Fav Alien Based Horror Movie: Alien
Day 27. Fav Family Based Horror Movie: Insidious
Day 28. Fav Camping Based Horror Movie: The Frozen
Day 29. Fav 1 Stupid Mistake Horror Movie: An American Werewolf in London (stay off the moors at night, you fools)
Day 30. What’s your favorite scary movie: Halloween


I hope I helped you discover something new or reminded you of a good flick to rewatch. Do you agree with my choices or do you have a better one? What would you choose?

Technology and Death…or Not

One of my works in progress deals with how we let go, or not, of loved ones who have died. Thanks to medical technology we sometimes have to grapple with the question of if our loved one is truly dead and questions about when death actually occurs are raised. Consumer technology has made it possible to let our digital life continue after our physical bodies are dead in the form of a continued Facebook page or LinkedIn account. It is the inherent nature of technology to continually evolve and this arena is no exception.

There is a service called LIVESON that uses Artificial Intelligence to learn about your likes, tastes, and writing style by monitoring your twitter feed. After you die LIVESON will continue to tweet for you based on what it has learned. Their tagline is “When your heart stops beating, you’ll keep tweeting”.  Ultimately, a person you have designated as executor of your LIVESON will has the power to determine if the feed stays “live”.

Perhaps you have heard or even participate in Lifelogging. For those haven’t; it’s the act of recording and archiving all the information of your life:  texts, video, audio, media access, emails, blog posts and comments, as well as physical activity, health statics, etc. The data is logged and archived. Wearable computers have made Lifelogging fairly easy and cheap. Just a couple of days ago at the CES in Las Vegas Sony announced Lifelogging software that interfaces with a Smartphone and a wearable item that tracks activity. It logs everything from what photos you took with your phone to how many hours you slept. The wearable hardware features a “life bookmark” button to highlight a point on your timeline as it happens.

Gordon Bell, an award winning engineer and pioneering Lifelogger, has told New Scientist magazine that he created a program for the AI software firm Cognea. His software allows a chatbot to mine lifelogs to answer questions in the same manner the log owner would. After a person dies their lifelog and chatbot, or avatar, or CGI representation  could live on continuing the lifelog timeline.

Albert Hubo  Photo by David Hanson Dayofid at en.wikipedia

Albert Hubo
Photo by David Hanson Dayofid at en.wikipedia


For some people these measures could bring comfort in the face of a loss. Others may find it macabre or unsettling. Spiritual and ethical issues could make it desirable or repulsive depending on the viewpoint. In Victorian times, when the technology of photography was evolving, it was common to take post-mortem photos of loved ones. Perhaps, this is a strange step we take to  integrate technology into our lives, making it a part of death.

It was common in the Victorian era to photograph the dead as a keepsake. The girl standing is deceased, she is propped up with a stand.

It was common in the Victorian era to photograph the dead as a keepsake. The girl standing is deceased, she is propped up with a stand.