SETI discovered aliens! They detected a transmission from an advanced alien civilization located 94 light-years away! I saw it on T.V., so it must be true.
Okay, I actually wasn’t planning to say anything about this. It’s just another case of bad journalism and the misreporting of science. But this story seems to have developed legs—or maybe tentacles—and it just keeping popping up in my newsfeed.
When the story initially broke, I quickly checked SETI’s website. To my amusement, I found nothing: no press release, no mention of an alien signal at all. My thought at the time: where on Earth (pun intended) did the popular press get this story from?
There are others far more qualified than I to get into the nitty-gritty of what happened, or rather what didn’t happen, with this alleged SETI signal. I recommend this post from cosmicdairy.org. From what I gather from everything I’ve read, the basic summary is this:
- In May of 2015, Russia’s RATAN-600 radio telescope detected “something.”
- The signal was quickly determined to be a false positive. Apparently this happens a lot with all the radio noise from Earth and satellites in Earth orbit.
- The story should have ended there.