Alien Signals Have Been Discovered in FRB 121102
A few weeks ago, a series of high-energy, fast radio bursts, or FRBs were picked up coming from a dwarf galaxy, roughly three billion light years from us. Now, scientists and astronomers across the world are training their telescopes on this galaxy to try to figure out the source of these FRBs. And while many are quick to claim that it’s probably not an alien signal from an advanced extraterrestrial civilization, all of the evidence still allows for that possibility, while the common assumptions of documented, cosmic phenomena continue to fall short.
Fast Radio Bursts
This isn’t the first time we’ve picked up signals from this galaxy, now known as FRB 121102; the first burst came in 2012, followed by a couple more in 2015. Last month, a series of 15 signals was detected, which would have left the dwarf galaxy when there were only single-celled, micro-organisms inhabiting Earth. At this point in time, the civilization would be several billion years old or have perished long ago.
If it was an ancient alien civilization that was responsible for the FRBs, scientists think that it is likely that the signals are the product of a reflective sail powered by a transmitter, potentially twice the size of Earth. Reflective solar sails are a concept in which a parachute-like sail is attached to a small spacecraft, and used to catch photons shot in its direction, to propel it. The signals that have been picked up are short, millisecond-long bursts making the hypothesis that they are fired photons all the more compelling.
Research in this technology is actually being funded by Russian billionaire, Yuri Milner. Milner’s project, Breakthrough Starshot, intends on developing meter-long sails to send thousands of miniature space probes to Alpha Centauri, the closest star to us, about 4 light years away. Milner’s plan intends on developing a laser, about half a mile in length, that would shoot waves of photons at “ultra-light nanocrafts” attached to these sails, theoretically allowing them to travel at roughly 20 percent light speed. However, one obstacle that must be overcome is figuring out how to keep them from crashing into things and burning up, including space dust. But Milner’s not the only one investing in this technology; everyone’s favorite avuncular, science personality, Bill Nye, is also in the process of developing one of these photon sails.
This technology, or something like it, is what SETI project researchers believe could be causing those FRBs; photons shot from a radio transmitter, twice the size of Earth, that left 3 billion years ago. Meanwhile, Milner and Mark Zuckerberg are funding a team led by Stephen Hawking in conjunction with the University of California Berkeley’s SETI project, that picked up these signals. The venture is called Breakthrough Listen, and its goal is to find proof of intelligent, extraterrestrial life in the universe. Unsurprisingly, the team of scientists on Milner’s project have been excited by the recent transmissions received from FRB 121102.
“Perhaps some ancient intelligent species was clued in to the emergence of life on our planet and knew that a signal sent would reach us just as we were becoming technologically sophisticated for the first time.” – Dr. Vishal Gajjar, Breakthrough Listen Initiative
But those who don’t like to entertain the idea that the source of the fast radio bursts could be of extraterrestrial origin, say that they are likely coming from a rapidly rotating celestial body, like a magnetar or quasar. Originally, the bursts were thought to be the product of a massive, one-time cosmic event like the formation of a black hole from the collision of two neutron stars, but the recurrence of the bursts over the years negates that theory. Other theories have posited that it could be the result of matter being sucked into a black hole, but it seems like with all of our research on black holes, we would have experienced this phenomenon before, having trained telescopes on areas where black holes have been found. And while most scientific stalwarts have rejected the ETI hypothesis, there hasn’t yet been a solid practical explanation.
These bursts are powered by a source with an output 500 million times the power of the sun in the milliseconds in which they are shot. The bursts area also said to have a strange alignment that no one has yet to explain. Now, many of the world’s most powerful satellites have been focused on the dwarf galaxy, awaiting more radio bursts to study and find an answer to. The Arecibo observatory in Puerto Rico, Parkes Observatory in Australia, as well as the Green Bank Observatory in West Virginia are all paying close attention to FRB 121102.
Some are concerned that focusing all of our energy on this galaxy might prevent us from catching other signals, but it’s hard for astronomers to ignore something new that they can’t explain. Will it turn out to be evidence of an advanced extraterrestrial technology, or another aspect of some beautiful cosmic phenomenon? Either result is fascinating.
The Betty and Barney Hill Abduction
On the evening of September 19, 1961, Barney and Betty Hill, along with their dog Delsey, were returning to their Portsmouth, New Hampshire, home after a short vacation to Niagara Falls. They were traveling on Highway 3, just south of Lancaster, when they saw a bright light in the sky. Betty, who was in the passenger seat, watched the light move lower into the sky. At first, Barney thought it was probably an airplane. Betty, who had heard of unidentified flying objects (UFOs), was sure she was looking at a flying saucer.
The Hills stopped to get a closer look at the object and let Delsey out for a short walk. Barney remained curious, but just a little frightened. He got out of the car and used his binoculars, but still could not figure out what he was looking at. He stopped the car a few more times on the way home. He described seeing lights of all different colors and rows of windows on the object. He described the object as “pancake shaped.” At one point, he approached the object and could see several occupants inside, which scared him so badly he ran quickly back to the car to join Betty where she was waiting for him.
The couple then heard buzzing sounds and felt tingling sensations throughout their bodies, but ultimately, they drove home, where they went straight to bed exhausted. They did not wake up until late the following afternoon. They then realized the four-hour trip home from Niagara Falls had taken them seven hours. Betty noticed the dress she was wearing was torn in several places and had a pinkish powder on it. The powder was later examined by five different laboratories. None of them could identify the substance.
The toes of Barney’s good dress shoes were scuffed to the point he could no longer wear them. The binoculars strap was broken and looked like it had been cut. Both Barney and Betty were wearing watches at the time of their unusual encounter. Both watches quit working and never worked again. Shiny, concentric circles appeared on the trunk of the car that seemed to have some sort of magnetic connection. They noted a strange reaction from a compass after it was placed near the circles.
At her sister’s urging, Betty called the nearby Pease Air Force base to report the incident. As Betty and Barney each recalled the incident, they became convinced they had been abducted by extraterrestrials.
The Betty and Barney Hill abduction story was the first of its kind, but certainly not the last. Although the incident happened more than 50 years ago, it is still being discussed and analyzed today. Were the Hills really abducted? If so, what happened to them during their time on the spaceship? What and who did they see? How did they communicate? Where were the extraterrestrials from? Let’s find out what exactly happened in the aftermath of this historical milestone event.
The Air Force Investigation
Barney would have preferred to just keep the experience quiet and between the two of them, fearing that he and Betty would be viewed as “eccentric.” Betty won their brief argument on the issue and on September 21, she called the Air Force to report their experience. Major Paul Henderson visited them in person and wrote a report of the interview dated September 26, 1961. It’s unclear whether or not Henderson viewed the Hills as credible; a National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) report concludes that there was “insufficient data in the Air Force files.”