archiv~1: SETI Finally, a sober discussion with Dr. Shostak

SETI Finally, a sober discussion with Dr. Shostak

Mark, The WebMaster ( (no email) )
Mon, 02 Nov 1998 14:36:28 -0800

Re: Harvard is observing thi
2 Nov 1998 08:17:48 -0800
"Phoenix info" <>
"The WebMaster" <>

Dear Correspondent --

Thanks for your e-mail. We are aware of the claimed detection of an
extraterrestrial signal from EQ Pegasi. In fact, of course, this is the
system that produced a good candidate signal for Project Phoenix in
September, while we were observing at Arecibo, Puerto Rico (you can read
about this on our Web site, Just click on the Arecibo
observations icon, and scroll down to September 17.) But this candidate
within 15 minutes, proven to be terrestrial interference (probably an
orbiting satellite) because we also saw the signal when the telescope
pointed AWAY from the EQ Peg system. There is no doubt about this.

So the fact that an anonymous British engineer now claims to have found
signal in a place where we only saw interference raises a red flag. Far
suspicious is the fact that this person insists on remaining anonymous.
Science doesn't work that way: if you make a major discovery, you don't
your name and make it impossible for anyone to question you. Imagine if
someone called anonymously from Peoria, Illinois and claimed that they
discovered a cure for cancer. How much credence would you give that
claim if
the discoverer insisted that, for various unimportant reasons, he
either give you his name or phone number?

In addition, the SETI League, whom the engineer first alerted to his
"discovery," tried to confirm it, but failed. They had over sixty other
radio amateurs trying to find this signal, but couldn't, despite the
that it was VERY strong.

Finally, the first plot of the signal submitted to the SETI League
have the characteristics of a signal observed by making a drift scan (a
scan involves keeping the telescope fixed and letting the source, in
case the star system, move through the telescope beam as the Earth
When this was pointed out via public postings, a second plot was
which DID have the correct characteristics. Suspicious, no? It was
noted that this plot didn't have the expected Doppler shifts due to
rotation, and a third, corrected plot was submitted.

These, and other indicators, all point in the same direction: this
claim is simply a hoax.

Seth Shostak
SETI Institute
Date: 10/31/98 0:19 AM
To: info, Phoenix
From: The WebMaster

Dr. Shostak and associates,

Please see attached images files.

Sure, could be a hoax, but if it isn't oughtn't you study it?

...whether "credit" goes to that fellow should not be an issue. I hope
it is not as your focus on this object is the true standard, IMHO.


The WebMaster