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How the US Navy picked up alien signals: the Forgotten story of a century ago

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How the US Navy picked up alien signals: the Forgotten Story of a century ago

The discovery of radio waves and the first experiments in the field of radio communication allowed humanity to step far ahead. It turned out that there is a special kind of matter that does not need a substance to propagate - this is an electromagnetic field, whose perturbations are called waves. Let me remind you that we hear sounds only in a dense environment that is able to transmit vibrations from one molecule to another, and at altitudes of hundreds of kilometers, the rarefied atmosphere (and then outer space) will no longer allow us to talk. And survive, too... However, the absence of air does not interfere with radio waves, they even spread better in a vacuum. These simple, though surprising, properties made it possible for uninterrupted and fast communication between any point of the globe.

Mars

Less than half a century has passed since the first successful experiments on the use of radio communication, as some enthusiasts came up with the idea of using it to establish contact with extraterrestrials. In fact, if earthlings have discovered such a convenient way of transmitting information, why not use it for the inhabitants of other planets, because the laws of nature are the same everywhere…

At the beginning of the XX century, many believed that another intelligent civilization lived in our neighborhood, on the planet Mars. Nothing surprising for that time — only in the era of space flight it became clear that the Martian conditions are not suitable for the existence of complex organisms. There is no liquid water on the surface of the planet, and solar radiation will quickly kill any creatures who venture to walk on Mars without spacesuits…

Marconi demonstrates his invention. However, the first experiments in the field of radio communication were almost simultaneously conducted in a number of countries, including Russia (Published in LIFE, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Marconi demonstrates his invention. However, the first experiments in the field of radio communication were almost simultaneously conducted in a number of countries, including Russia (Published in LIFE, Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

And in 1920, one of the radio enthusiasts, G. Marconi, suddenly announced that he had received unknown signals, the source of which may be located outside the Earth, in the region of Mars. It is not necessary to accuse a talented experimenter of lying: the hypothesis about the habitability of a neighboring planet was not regarded by then science as absurd, and the lack of knowledge even among scientists could lead to erroneous conclusions.

Four years later, Mars was just at the minimum distance from Earth, and the astronomer d. Todd offered to take advantage of such favorable conditions to communicate with the Martians by radio. He suggested that the Earth's large transmitters should be temporarily switched off so as not to interfere with the reception of signals from Mars. Todd's idea was supported by the command of the US Navy. The captains of all military vessels were ordered to restrict transmissions and register any suspicious signals during the day of August 24, 1924. But, alas, the bold experiment did not give anything, but it can be considered the first project to search for alien civilizations using technical means.


Related tags:

aliens  space  radio  Marconi  US Navy  signals


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