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China claims it has picked up alien signals, then deletes report

By T.K. Randall
June 15, 2022 · Comment icon 50 comments

FAST is the largest telescope of its kind in the world. Image Credit: NAO / FAST
China's 'Sky Eye' telescope has picked up possible evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence.
News outlets today have been reporting on the intriguing claim that astronomers at China's Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Telescope (FAST) - which began efforts to scour the cosmos for signs of intelligent life back in 2020 - have picked up several 'suspicious' signals.

Two of these were recorded in 2019 and then analyzed in 2020, while a third was picked up this year during observations of extrasolar planets.

What makes these claims particularly interesting is the fact that the report - which was published in the Chinese state-backed Science and Technology Daily - has since been deleted without explanation.

Fortunately it had made its way onto social media before being removed, however details of the discoveries are thin on the ground and nobody has been quite sure what to make of them.
It's quite possible that Chinese astronomers did discover unexplained signals, however it is not a foregone conclusion that they would be extraterrestrial communications.

Perhaps the article's authors spoke too soon and decided to pull the report to avoid putting across the wrong impression, or maybe they determined that the data wasn't as promising as they thought.

Alternatively, perhaps they really did find something significant and the Chinese government wanted to keep it quiet.

Whatever the case, the incident is likely to generate some heated debate.

Source: MSN | Comments (50)

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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #41 Posted by astrobeing 2 years ago
How many times have they pointed the telescope at it again and received nothing?
Comment icon #42 Posted by bison 2 years ago
I'm not aware that FAST had been used to look at Kepler 438, more than once. They certainly do propose to look at it again, now that they realize that they have a signal of potential merit. This seems to reflect a certain scientific conviction that such reexamination of the star is worthwhile in terms of SETI. This occurs, of course, in a context of a great many competing scientific demands on the resources of this, the world's largest radio telescope.
Comment icon #43 Posted by astrobeing 2 years ago
YES! We had one piece of equipment that one time showed a single solid line in a radio spectrogram. We sent the raw data to the manufacturer on QIC tape and they said It was a software bug caused by an overflow in a hardware register. Of course we knew that an unmodulated sine wave of any strength was impossible in what we were doing so we ignored it. Remember that these devices generate a huge amount of data that must be interpreted by software which is impossible to test until they're in the field. You expect software bugs and anomalies to occur especially in unique applications like a one-o... [More]
Comment icon #44 Posted by bison 2 years ago
 They tested FAST for quite a long time, in the field, before making scientific observations with it. Bugs of the sort described should probably have been uncovered in that time. If not, they presumably will be found by the current investigation. The ETI hypothesis is testable and refutable, here.  The astronomers at FAST found that the signal drifted slightly in frequency. It appears that they had already allowed for  the effects of the Earth's motion. An additional frequency shift appeared to them to be appropriate for the rotation of a planet.  I examined the relevant graph in their pap... [More]
Comment icon #45 Posted by badeskov 2 years ago
Hi Bison, as Astro mentioned, signals can creep in to experiments in all kind of weird ways. As currently working as a designer for some extremely low noise designs, we had to go through the building to identify noisy circuits. Interestingly, one really annoying source of interference was LED lights. 
Comment icon #46 Posted by badeskov 2 years ago
I am pretty sure that if the scientists had detected a signal that they were convinced were not of terrestrial origin (noise interference, signals bouncing of satellites or even the moon), that telescope would be targeting the signal source until confirmation/elimination was done. Scientists would not just be like “oh look, a possible signal from an ET world. Let’s have another look when we have an idle Tuesday afternoon in our schedule”.    No, they would focus all their time on it, and they would certainly confer with other scientists around the world.    It is true that communist ... [More]
Comment icon #47 Posted by bison 2 years ago
The signal data on Kepler 438 was gotten during an automated survey of stars hosting potentially habitable exoplanets. It was gone over later by a signal-detecting program, and by visual inspection of the data recording. It was then that the signal was apparently  found. There seems nothing extraordinary in this. Recall that as long ago as the 1970s the SETI search process was typically automated.  The famous 'wow signal' was detected automatically and was actually discovered only later, in a computer printout. Looking over the discovery paper more thoroughly, I find that once the Kepler 438... [More]
Comment icon #48 Posted by astrobeing 2 years ago
Yeah yeah yeah, it went through lots of testing, there shouldn't have been any bugs in the software. Obviously you're not in a technical industry. Unless it happens again it's nothing but noise.
Comment icon #49 Posted by astrobeing 2 years ago
At one place I worked in the 90s we had a product that a customer claimed was interfering with a radio link. I wasn't involved in the investigation so I heard all this second hand, but when we got the device someone found that in certain unpredictable times a chip would generate an RF burst and send it down a CAT 5 cable in a way that the twisted pair would become an antenna. It took them days of experimenting to reproduce this and no other copy of the product ever demonstrated this interference. I learned early on to expect weird things to happen.
Comment icon #50 Posted by badeskov 2 years ago
Heh, yeah you run into all kinds of weird stuff .I design electronics for really low noise applications and did fiber optic gyroscopes for missile guidance and GPS denied areas (jamming). We had a noise problem during testing. Turned a piece of machinery in the clean room next door was the culprit. 

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