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From the “They’re Out There” files: New Scientist cautious on that strange radio signal

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Weird but probably not aliens:

This odd signal lasted about 3 hours and was concentrated in a very narrow range of wavelengths – a range that isn’t generally used by our satellites and spacecraft. It was the first signal to pass through Breakthrough Listen’s first round of checks, which are mainly designed to weed out signals that actually originate from Earth. The researchers have named it Breakthrough Listen Candidate 1, or BLC1.

Read more: We still haven’t heard from aliens – here’s why we might never However, Worden urged caution and stressed that the Breakthrough Listen team still believes these signals will turn out to be radio interference from Earthly technology, rather than contact from an alien civilization. All previous signals the team has detected have been quickly explained by Breakthrough Listen’s first round of tests, but the researchers will have to run additional checks they have never used before on this new signal, says Jason Wright at Pennsylvania State University. They are running those checks now.

Leah Crane, “Weird radio beam probably isn’t aliens but it’s the best candidate yet” at New Scientist

Okay, so New Scientist, known for edginess, is prepared to be reasonable, but then we read, from a Harvard astronomer, on the same subject:

Harvard astrophysics faculty member Avi Loeb is calling on the scientific community to search not just for mysterious radio signals emanating from the vast reaches of the observable universe — but for alien probes sent to us as “messages in a bottle” as well.

In a new essay for Scientific American, Loeb argues that the search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, should not only focus on developing radio and laser communications to scan the night sky for alien signals, but also launch physical space probes to “search for technological civilizations across interstellar distances” — and even actively search for ones that might come drifting through our own system.

Victor Tangermann, “Harvard Astronomer Says We Should Hunt for Alien Probes” at Futurism

He thinks space junk Oumuamua might have been one such message.

These are curious times in science, as fact and reason appear less attractive every day to just the people one would expect to value them and people who might have been able to get away with tabloid news show more sense instead.

See also: It turns out! Not only was space junk Oumuamua an “extraterrestrial lightsail” but our whole universe might be an alien’s experiment The stuff that comes out of Harvard these days and get published in Scientific American used to be tabloid news. What has changed?

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