Tuesday, May 05, 2015
Extraterrestrial Signal or Microwave Oven?
As described today in an article in The Telegraph, an odd "extraterrestrial" signal---which was "detected only during business hours"---that baffled astrophysicists for 17 years has turned out to be due to the facility's microwave oven being opened while it was in use. Perhaps the astrophysicists' recent paper on the arXiv preprint server said it best: "Subsequent tests revealed that a peryton can be generated at 1.4 GHz when a microwave oven door is opened prematurely and the telescope is at an appropriate relative angle." Thankfully, there is also good news: now that this mystery has been solved, it turns out that the facility may well also be detecting some genuinely extraterrestrial signals. Last month, this story was covered in the Improbable Research blog. (Tip of the cap to Physics Today.)