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What do you reckon - do they look like this?,9865,1068471,00.html

Leon Big, Wednesday, 22 October 2003 14:49 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Yep. Other planets are just hidden duck-laden levels in Mario 64.

Tep (ktepi), Wednesday, 22 October 2003 14:52 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

grey skin, no genitals or need for clothes, stupid ugly face...

bow down before your intergalactic superiors!

stevem (blueski), Wednesday, 22 October 2003 14:52 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

everybody knows they look like this

Horace Mann (Horace Mann), Wednesday, 22 October 2003 14:53 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

In Cosmic Company, Professor Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the SETI institute, and Alex Barnett, chief executive office of the Chabot Space Centre, both based in California,

And then to be honest I stopped reading.

Andrew Farrell (afarrell), Wednesday, 22 October 2003 14:57 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"we are confident we will eventually establish contact with space bats"

stevem (blueski), Wednesday, 22 October 2003 14:58 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

It's drivel! There is barely a hint as to how they get to theur estimate of 10,000 civilisations - since we don't have too much idea how life started, that is an incredibly wild guess that could be several orders of magnitude out in either direction. And the picture caption is fabulous - yes, aliens might look like that. They might look like a pint of beer.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Thursday, 23 October 2003 11:05 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"According to Dr David Clements, an astrophysicist at Imperial College, London, the Drake Equation is 'a tool for finding out our ignorance'."

Is there any chance the Drake Equation can be programmed in as an ilx feature?

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 23 October 2003 11:09 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

They might look like a pint of beer.

hah, their superior intellect and technology is no match for our glorious thirst and ruin capacity

stevem (blueski), Thursday, 23 October 2003 11:10 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

they are extremely unlikely to have bilateral symmetry, given the options available. Radial symmetry is actually more likely than bilateral, given that there are actually more radially symmetrical species on earth than radial and given that an at least partly random sequence of events gives one species competitive advantage over another. I think that it is far more likely that aliens look like starfish than ducks.

It has been postulated that a very thin mat of cytoplasm covering a large land mass, possibly a whole planet, is possible, as opposed to lots of little discrete lifeforms.

MarkH (MarkH), Thursday, 23 October 2003 12:23 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

ilx = lots of little indiscreet lifeforms surely?

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 23 October 2003 12:34 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"It has been postulated that a very thin mat of cytoplasm covering a large land mass, possibly a whole planet, is possible, as opposed to lots of little discrete lifeforms." I normally lurk, but that was too wonderfully put.

"They might look like a pint of beer."
It's your round, Martin

oftener (while I'm here), Thursday, 23 October 2003 13:04 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I believe that aliens will look like this:


Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Thursday, 23 October 2003 16:34 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I saw on this tv show once that one breed of aliens all resemble Fabio, which seemed kind of alarming to me.

Allyzay, Thursday, 23 October 2003 16:39 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Oh thank god I read that as Falco at first.

teeny (teeny), Thursday, 23 October 2003 16:40 (fifteen years ago) Permalink



Outer Space.

This makes sense to me in a really good way and kind of makes me very happy.

Allyzay, Thursday, 23 October 2003 16:42 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

"Rock me Amadeus!"

Dan Perry (Dan Perry), Thursday, 23 October 2003 16:43 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

They've already landed.

Chris V. (Chris V), Thursday, 23 October 2003 16:44 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Oh my God that's the Fabio-just-got-hit-in-the-face-by-a-rogue-goose pic!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH and I'm spent.

nickalicious (nickalicious), Thursday, 23 October 2003 16:49 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

MarkH, surely there are more insect species on the planet than all other species put together, and they are bilaterally symmetrical. But I'm not sure that a statistical analysis of what we have at hand necessarily tells us what might be on other planets, if anything is, any more than an examination of Australia proves that jumping around with pouches or crossing moles with ducks is the way life is everywhere else.

Martin Skidmore (Martin Skidmore), Thursday, 23 October 2003 20:52 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

The model and spokesman, Fabio, got a bird's eye view of a new roller coaster at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia. But a bird apparently couldn't see him -- it collided with his face during the ride. Fabio was reportedly taken to a hospital for minor cuts and released. A spokesman for his publicist said, "Oh my god! Think if his mouth was open!"

bnw (bnw), Thursday, 23 October 2003 21:40 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Fabio was in the restaurant where I had my graduation dinner. It was bemusing.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 23 October 2003 21:40 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Serious question -

what are the origins of the now iconic generic alien look as seen here:

N. (nickdastoor), Thursday, 23 October 2003 22:20 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

one-two combo of:
i. cover of whitley strieber's communion (which had no words on it, just a pic of a grey)
ii. the schwa design (ie reduction of the faceshape to arcs of circles)

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 23 October 2003 22:22 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Earlier than that, Mark -- Spielberg used it in Close Encounters and he was drawing on even earlier sources/reports.

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 23 October 2003 22:23 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

namely accounts such as Roswell and the supposed abductions of several people (that couple Barney and Betty..Hill was it?). the origin of the 'little GREEN men' is probably more interesting...

stevem (blueski), Thursday, 23 October 2003 22:27 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

the close encounters alien doesn't look like that though!! (well a bit i spose)

(i think the ubiquity of communion in airport bookshops took that model global and caused it to be handily agreed on, generally, sine so many people had seen it clearly)

(ie there was much cultural range in re the shape aliens take prior to [something]: in brazil the most famous abductee said they were women w.giant breats and bright red hair)

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 23 October 2003 22:27 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Did you mean breads or berets?

N. (nickdastoor), Thursday, 23 October 2003 22:29 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

but betty and barney hill's aliens didn't really look like that and the roswell sighting was just a report of a small man-like figure, no very detailed description, certainly no agreed-on image

(ie it only generally coalesced into that specific iconic figure relatively recently)

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 23 October 2003 22:31 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I think I agree with mark s (though I've never heard of Schwa or Whitley Strieber). I know it resembles the close encounters aliens, but that particular green lop-sided leaf shape eye thing seemed to really take off in the 90s.

Where did the 'green' thing originally come from, then?

N. (nickdastoor), Thursday, 23 October 2003 22:40 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

schwa is the bottom one: but it shd be white out of black

the middle one is the original cover to communion

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 23 October 2003 22:44 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

yeah you are right it is a relatively recent trend - the Close Encounters aliens are a close enough match though. i think i used to believe in it all a bit - like a Santa Claus substitute, except the little bastards terrified me. they were not particularly well realised in Spielberg's 'Taken' series either. i would've put them in crazy outfits and stuff - still i guess when you don't have genitals you don't need to cover up, but surely aliens would recognise the value of exciting costume?

oh and the middle pic annoys me - it's head shape does not look sufficient proportionately to house an average human-sized brain which i would've thought would be the bare minimum for a species capable of intergalactic travel and an interest in anal probes (couldn't they just read a medical textbook?). there's a wry grin on it's face too, probably used it for space travelcard or something.

stevem (blueski), Thursday, 23 October 2003 22:45 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

now that's better - silver jumpsuits are due a revival

stevem (blueski), Thursday, 23 October 2003 22:47 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

it's a very odd book, steve: i forget exactly how he describes it, but it's pretty much as if the face is a nearly flat mask IN FRONT OF something he isn't allowed to see (it's very well done in the movie) (which = one of my favourite movies btw)

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 23 October 2003 22:49 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

also no need for yr brain to be IN yr head

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 23 October 2003 22:49 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

it's head shape does not look sufficient proportionately to house an average human-sized brain which i would've thought would be the bare minimum for a species capable of intergalactic travel

Steve - you can't even see its body to judge the proportions, you mentalist! And since when do aliens have brains like ours, or even brains? Maybe intelligence is distributed through their body?


N. (nickdastoor), Thursday, 23 October 2003 22:50 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Ned Raggett (Ned), Thursday, 23 October 2003 22:52 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

re Communion: i never saw the film, caught a clip on Film '90 and it creeped me out waaaay too much. i saw the Roswell film with Kyle Mclachlan tho and i suppose it wasn't that great but it did feature the (by then) dominant Grey types (lame as ever).

and nick i'm talking about the space above it's eyes. if it's brain is not in it's head then why is everything else relatively in the right place - why the need for two eyes etc. - it never struck me as very logical. it's the wry smile as well. the face is so blank and featureless, as if designed to not communicate emotion thru facial movements (the nose and mouth are usually absurdly small compared to the eyes). in short, they suck - and i'm glad it turns out they probably don't exist after all (except in your mind, man)

stevem (blueski), Thursday, 23 October 2003 22:56 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

i like the idea of it as a mask tho - there is substance in that.

stevem (blueski), Thursday, 23 October 2003 22:57 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

i have a lovely schwa T-shirt w.the words "save the moon" on it (v.tatty now sadly)

mark s (mark s), Thursday, 23 October 2003 23:03 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I remember reading this scientific article about evolution (and I think it was properly scientific, I don't think it was Omni or anything...) where these scientists programmed in all the known stages of human evolution from the existing skull and fossil record, in order to project models of what various Missing Links would look like.

For a laugh, one of the scientists decided to run it *forwards* rather than backwards, and - the eyes and forehead expanding while the jaw and brow grew less pronounced - the result a couple of million years into the future looked just like the "traditional" space alien!

kate (kate), Friday, 24 October 2003 09:45 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

yeh it was suggested that humans will eventually evolve into that form - that's what sitting at a desk pottering around the internet each and every day will do to you

stevem (blueski), Friday, 24 October 2003 09:47 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Our bodies will shrink and our heads will expand and we will fly around in time in flying saucers eating the internal organs of cows cause they're all extinct in our time!

kate (kate), Friday, 24 October 2003 09:49 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I think that the fact that the "traditional" alien resembles a foetus is in some way significant- there is a theory that humans are neotenous apes (ie the baby when it is born retains featues seen in the foetal ape earlier in the term). I'm not sure if the neoteny theory has been totally discredited or not - certainly the C19th scientist who proposed it had about 18 different anatomical features in support of his theory (e.g. hair reduction, lack of a baculum in the male etc) plus the relative helplessness of the human newborn.

Perhaps future, more advanced being = even more neotenous.

But it is more likely that this is a psychological thing. I once read of a survey of ppl who claimed to be alien abductees where all those who had claimed to had left the spacecraft through a tunnel had natural childbirth and all those who spoke of doors were born by Casesarian section.

MarkH (MarkH), Friday, 24 October 2003 09:56 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

There's actually some credence to that story - human babies seem to be born "younger" or earlier in the term than other primates, simply cause their heads are so big that otherwise they would damage the mother. Yeah, plus the helpless thing.

The article I read did note the similarity between the "evolutionary future human" and a foetus.

kate (kate), Friday, 24 October 2003 10:04 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

So what does the evolutionary future human look like when it is a foetus? A sort of Rolf Harris-neotenous-stylophone question: can you see what it is yet?

Limiter Garner, Friday, 24 October 2003 10:27 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

According to the Stephen King beaut "Dreamcatcher" aliens have english accents.

Chris V. (Chris V), Friday, 24 October 2003 10:28 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

NO, no, no. It's god and the devil that have English accents.

If you are in a film, and you meet someone with an English accent, be very afraid. This is the rule. Like, all Nazis speak perfect English with cartoon German accents.

kate (kate), Friday, 24 October 2003 10:30 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

further origins? (a drawing from 1919)

Donald Wolfowitz, Friday, 24 October 2003 11:05 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Neoteny theory fully discredited now. Big in Victorian times, though, and largely to blame for Freud.

Ricardo (RickyT), Friday, 24 October 2003 11:12 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

which is the neoteny theory which has been discredited? the humans-as-neotenous-apes specifically (status: i don't know) or the idea that difft species have arrived via developmental forking at foetal stage, the "junior" species gets "stuck" on some feature, and a new species emerges and proves successful (status: isn't the word "neoteny" just a term for a mechanism which no one - who isn-t actually a creationist - doubts exists)

also: how does either neoteny theory lead to most of freud? his deal was surely (right or wrong in any other way) the ousting of biology-as-destiny?

mark s (mark s), Friday, 24 October 2003 11:24 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

(grrrr note to self: must avoid pavlovian response to words like "neoteny" and "elric")

mark s (mark s), Friday, 24 October 2003 11:25 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

axolotl = neotenous salamaner, but no speciation has occurred.

MarkH (MarkH), Friday, 24 October 2003 11:54 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Erm, I think I've got confused here. I thought victorian neoteny stuff was along the lines of the human foetus goes through stages in the womb that exactly mirror its evolutionary development. Freud's whole oral/anal/genital thing came from suggesting the modes of sexual behaviour developed in the same way. That is, the oral stage exists because our some of our distant ancestors reproduced via their mouths.

Ricardo (RickyT), Friday, 24 October 2003 12:31 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I am quite clearly talking about something completely different. Damn my booze wooled brain.

Ricardo (RickyT), Friday, 24 October 2003 12:35 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

that's "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny"!!

(bah i wish i had a schwa T-shirt w.THAT on it)

mark s (mark s), Friday, 24 October 2003 12:37 (fifteen years ago) Permalink


Haeckel drew pictures of embryonic/foetal development at various stages to show how a mammal looks like a fish in the eraly stages of devlopment in the womb, then later like a reptile, just like the evolutionary stages. Except that it doesn't. He saw what he wanted to see.

MarkH (MarkH), Friday, 24 October 2003 12:38 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

That's the bugger.

Ricardo (RickyT), Friday, 24 October 2003 12:40 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

haeckel and jekyll!! DO YOU SEE!!

mark s (mark s), Friday, 24 October 2003 12:57 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

three years pass...
that's "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny"!!

(bah i wish i had a schwa T-shirt w.THAT on it)

I miss the Schwa Corporation stuff...

Elvis Telecom (Chris Barrus), Wednesday, 8 November 2006 00:16 (twelve years ago) Permalink

haeckel and jekyll!


mark s (mark s), Wednesday, 8 November 2006 00:34 (twelve years ago) Permalink

I'm not sure why they're so gung ho on radio signals. Aliens communicate through direct mental contact. Sometimes physical. Is there any more reason to suspect they'll be sending radiowaves than there is to expect they'll speak English?

Scorpion Tea (Dick Butkus), Wednesday, 8 November 2006 04:05 (twelve years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

It's more likely than not that there have been millions of civilizations somewhere among the hundreds of billions of stars within a hundred thousand light years of Earth, i.e., in this galaxy alone. It isn't more likely than not that any of them have found their way to this insignificant little world, even though it was more than 60 years ago that the democrats nuked Japan, thereby sending an electromagnetic pulse into space announcing that we have some technologically brilliant scientists and some sociopaths here. If we humans had evidence of such shenanigans on another planet, we'd be hard at work trying to find a way to go out there and have a look, working around the fact that our present knowledge says that it can't be done in anyone's lifetime.

As for believing in alien visitation...there are millions of people right now in this country who believe that a grandiloquent, done-nothing mediocre senator whose only notable accomplishment has been emphasizing a few of the myriad reasons why Bill Clinton's wife shouldn't be president, and who listened to two decades of anti-America vitriol from his "spiritual guide" without lifting a finger in his country's defense, ought to be Commander in Chief. Such people shouldn't have any trouble believing in extraterrestrians or anything else. If Barack Hussein Obama, a gifted orator (a complete description), tells them the aliens are teen-aged space-Mormon "elders" sent here to preach the joys of polygamy, they'll believe it.

and what, Friday, 30 May 2008 13:38 (ten years ago) Permalink

i am totally copping that line of argument sometime

deeznuts, Friday, 30 May 2008 13:40 (ten years ago) Permalink

Isn't someone going to show a "real" living Ailien on video somewhere today? Denver or something?

Where did I read this? Don't remember

StanM, Friday, 30 May 2008 13:43 (ten years ago) Permalink

Denver Man Makes Alien Claim

Le Bateau Ivre, Friday, 30 May 2008 14:07 (ten years ago) Permalink

Call me a doubter, but I'm a little skeptic.

StanM, Friday, 30 May 2008 14:08 (ten years ago) Permalink

Call me a doubter, but I'm a little skeptic.

Frogman Henry, Friday, 30 May 2008 14:20 (ten years ago) Permalink

Alien will be mans dog in wearing a hat.

Jarlrmai, Friday, 30 May 2008 14:25 (ten years ago) Permalink

(a complete description)

Jordan, Friday, 30 May 2008 14:26 (ten years ago) Permalink

Total number of alien/ufo photographs = directly proportional to amount of Adobe Photoshop Torrent downloads

Ste, Friday, 30 May 2008 14:42 (ten years ago) Permalink

pic leaked from press conference!

jeremy waters, Friday, 30 May 2008 16:03 (ten years ago) Permalink

It's a lot worse than I feared: it's not even a good fake.

StanM, Friday, 30 May 2008 20:13 (ten years ago) Permalink

that fake alien is evidently a total perv, as well

dell, Friday, 30 May 2008 20:16 (ten years ago) Permalink

Compare with this deliberate fake video:

(from )

StanM, Friday, 30 May 2008 20:19 (ten years ago) Permalink

Alien will be mans dog in wearing a hat.

-- Jarlrmai, Friday, May 30, 2008 3:25 PM (6 hours ago)

or chaki in a bra

DG, Friday, 30 May 2008 20:26 (ten years ago) Permalink

It was unclear whether the creature was taller than 8 feet and was crouching to avoid detection or whether it was standing on something. It also was difficult, because of the faintness of the object, to tell whether it was three dimensional.

Is this just sarcasm or is the journo really 'unclear'?

Ned Trifle II, Friday, 30 May 2008 21:26 (ten years ago) Permalink


StanM, Friday, 30 May 2008 21:29 (ten years ago) Permalink

Just what we needed to see.

The image of either a super tall ET ducking down below a window ledge or a smaller one standing on a box to peep at some teenagers is pretty funny though.

Ned Trifle II, Friday, 30 May 2008 21:30 (ten years ago) Permalink

oh man i want to see this stan romanek video so bad

moonship journey to baja, Friday, 30 May 2008 22:18 (ten years ago) Permalink

haha i love the way that alien in the window just rapidly zooms off at the end.

Ste, Friday, 30 May 2008 22:22 (ten years ago) Permalink

i love terribly executed hoaxes

latebloomer, Saturday, 31 May 2008 02:11 (ten years ago) Permalink

the start of a viral publicity campaign for the new x-files movie?

msp, Saturday, 31 May 2008 02:24 (ten years ago) Permalink

stan tiger romanek

GOTT PUNCH II HAWKWINDZ, Saturday, 31 May 2008 03:00 (ten years ago) Permalink

one year passes...


StanM, Friday, 7 August 2009 18:24 (nine years ago) Permalink

Useful accompanying image.

"Did ancient manicurists drop this finger?"

Ned Raggett, Friday, 7 August 2009 18:28 (nine years ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...


StanM, Monday, 24 August 2009 17:33 (nine years ago) Permalink

five years pass...

A tiny ball made from titanium and vanadium "with a 'gooey' biological liquid oozing from its centre" found in the upper atmosphere, it sounds like standard click-bait bollocks but it is quoting an eminent nobel prize winning microbiologist so maybe quite credible.

xelab, Tuesday, 17 February 2015 12:47 (three years ago) Permalink

cool will read

first reaction its a bloody marketing ploy for Prometheus bloody two tho

local eire man (darraghmac), Tuesday, 17 February 2015 12:49 (three years ago) Permalink

ah wikipedia

Also, he has claimed that the red rain in Kerala is a biological entity, which is huge if true.[6]

how's life, Tuesday, 17 February 2015 12:50 (three years ago) Permalink

Lol The microbiologist they are quoting has been dead for a decade!

xelab, Tuesday, 17 February 2015 12:55 (three years ago) Permalink

there's a lot if that on ilx recently, cf rolling obit thread.

maybe ilx is purgatory and anyone we mention can reliably be presumed deceased by now

local eire man (darraghmac), Tuesday, 17 February 2015 13:08 (three years ago) Permalink


english fatuus (Noodle Vague), Tuesday, 17 February 2015 13:24 (three years ago) Permalink

two years pass...

directed panspermia as a potential origin of life on earth is interesting

it's also compelling, to me, to you bake in the notion that there are alien communication signals out there that we've yet to develop the capacity to collect--as if the seeds were planted with a tape recorder, and barring a downward shift in technological development we plants might any day now figure out how to press play

BIG HOOS aka the steendriver, Thursday, 14 December 2017 17:11 (one year ago) Permalink

Modern views of abiogenesis (esp recent ones focused on deep sea alkaline hydrothermal vents) are adequate to account for an independent arising of microbes on Earth some 3.8-4.3 billion years ago, and there's no extant evidence of latter arrivals. All life uses essentially the same energy apparatus and genetic code, though there are enough differences between Eubacteria (on one side) and Archaea / Eukaryotes to suggest DNA replication and membrane synthesis either diverged extremely early or had two independent origins.

That's not to say that it had to be on Earth. Earth gets peppered with bolide ejecta from Mars on a regular basis, and some microbes seem to survive long passages through the radiation and vacumn of space. It's plausible that life first originated on Mars, and supplanted feeble early attempts on Earth; or vice versa. Moreover, the solar system regularly passes through regions of higher stellar density, where life conceivably could be exchanged between systems. Enough generations of this, with sufficiently durable microbes, and in time every remotely habitable planet in the galaxy could be exposed to life from a single origin. Not directed panspermia, just the numbers game of nonnillion microbes on Earth, trillions ejected into space, handfuls still viable upon landing elsewhere. That may be the fate of our galaxy. More terrifyingly, its plausible that another, fundamentally more efficient form of microbial life could be making the rounds, and just hasn't landed here, yet.

As for the Fermi paradox, it appears complex life (eukaryotes) evolved only once on Earth. The universe may be teeming with microbes, but the transition to complex life is far more fraught. Intelligence doesn't seem much of a bulwark against environmental/civilizational collapse, indeed any evolved dominant species may follow have resource demand/social status perogatives incompatible with preserving its own cradle. And given any species that can dominate a planet is likely rapacious, those few that manage to adopt sustainable behavior, suitable to finite planets or colonization ships, may find preemptively exterminating others an imperative. The smarter species, recognizing this, would lay low, and not broadcast their presence.

Sanpaku, Thursday, 14 December 2017 23:33 (one year ago) Permalink

i’m with terence mckenna, mushrooms are extraterrestrial in origin

*sees through time, dies*

dipso inferno (bizarro gazzara), Thursday, 14 December 2017 23:59 (one year ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Astronomers have spotted a second repeating fast radio burst, and it looks a lot like the first. The existence of a second repeating burst suggests there could be many more of the mysterious signals in the cosmos.

The burst, called FRB 180814.J0422+73, is one of 13 newly discovered fast radio bursts, or FRBs — brief, bright signals of radio energy that come from distant galaxies. The FRBs were detected over a few weeks last year by the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, or CHIME, in British Columbia. Astronomers reported the discoveries at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society on January 7 and in the Jan. 9 Nature.

Most such bursts erupt once, last for a few milliseconds, and are never seen again. So astronomers have puzzled over what causes them for years.

“If you have something that flashes for a millisecond in the sky, and there’s nothing that happens for many years, it’s really hard to study,” says astronomer Shriharsh Tendulkar of McGill University in Montreal, a member of the CHIME team....

Astronomers’ theories for what causes FRBs are almost as numerous as known FRBs themselves. At one point, astronomers even considered the idea that FRBs could be signals from intelligent aliens. But it’s unclear if the repeating bursts and single bursts both come from the same kinds of sources, or even if one-offs might also repeat if watched for long enough.

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 20:29 (one week ago) Permalink

"Calculations show that the new repeater is about 1.6 billion light-years away. The CHIME team also saw an odd similarity between the two known repeating bursts. Most FRBs are just a sharp blip, akin to a single note being played on a trumpet. But some of the individual bursts in both repeaters were made up of multiple sub-bursts that descended in frequency, like the “wah wah wah wah” of a sad trombone."

I think someone is bouncing our old sitcom soundtracks back to us

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Wednesday, 9 January 2019 20:31 (one week ago) Permalink

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