Week 17- The Amplified Signal

#1 That Unknown Amplified Signal
Based on a true story.
It was the night of August 15, 1977. Majority of the astronomers at The Ohio State University had left, except for one. Jerry Ehman was observing the several levels of computer displays, monitoring equipments, oscilloscopes and notational real-time information in front of him, sourced live from the giant Radio Telescope scanning the sky continuously. They have been observing space for over 40 years, to track clues of extraterrestrial intelligence. They scanned each portion of the skies every moment in hope of receiving something. Everything seemed to be normal and fine until that one defining moment on August 15.

All the graphs in his display monitor shot up and the buzzer alarms started hooting. The early warning system sent a loud distress signal. The detection sensing printers immediately started engraving the receiving signals. The digital converters began displaying the signal at a ferocious pace. The crisis response system was standing by. Jerry Ehman jumped out of his seat and gathered composure. He took the emergency reporting system microphone and shouted into it what would be his life’s most important lines, “Mission director calling all stations. Ground control stand by for an important announcement. Declaring mayday, mayday, mayday. Narrowband Signal received possible detection of intelligence. Trying to revert, over.” With raising pulse, he took a print out of the radio signal that said “6EQUJ5” and marked the words “WOW!” with dark red ink besides it.

The image of the hand written copy of WOW Signal by Jerry Ehman.

On extensive study of the signal by researchers, it was found to be a narrow band radio signal of 1420 MHz frequency that seemed to have originated from a constellation near Sagittarius approximately 200 light years from us. Preliminary reports suggested that this particular area in space was completely void of any planetary existence. But error margins for scanning a region 200 light years away from us were very large. Repeated attempts were made by the astronomers to scan the same particular area in space by the very same system that had received the earlier signal. But all attempts failed to detect any new incoming radio waves of this strong magnitude. Further reports suggested that the possible extraterrestrial signal lasted exactly 72 seconds, with intensity peaking in the centre and falling on either side. Several attempts in the following months failed to register any extraterrestrial evident signals, putting the researchers in an obnoxious situation.

Possible Conclusions:
1. The 1420 MHz signal is very unlikely to be sent by a human origin source as this range of radio waves as reserved for deep space communication and all earth related radio communications work at lower frequency bandwidths. So a human hand is ruled out.

2. The signal was found to have transmitted by an extremely powerful 2.2 Giga-watt transmitter, very much advanced to any transmitter present anywhere on earth. That concludes further that the signal, if originated from an extra terrestrial source, must have come from a civilization that is scientifically more advanced than us. This was a very serious and worrying discovery.

3. The signal had to travel 200 light years from its source to reach us. In other words, it had to travel 200 years to reach us, a phenomenally large amount of time. Thus our response signal too would take 200 years to reach back at them, making a delay of 400 years between communications. So the reply, if it will ever come, could take further 200 years, giving us no concrete evidence as of now.

4. We on earth, discovered radio waves in 1867. Since the Wow signal reached us in 1977, it would have started it journey in 1777, 200 years behind. This means that a highly established radio emitting system was discovered almost 100 years before us by the possible extra terrestrial civilization.

5.Such a large frequency signal cannot be emitted naturally. The probability that it hit the earth questions whether the signals were purposefully transmitted in this direction, by anybody who accurately knows of our existence.

6.The WOW signal message “6EQUJ5” may be interpreted differently by the source as our notational language may differ from theirs. Hence even after analysis of the signal, it remains a question whether it was a search message or a threat. 

7.Due to the high directionality of the signal towards earth, an analysis was also done considering the Russian cosmonauts who were lost in space, a theory that is secretly still classified by the Russian Government. It is highly possible that the astronaut group is trying to make a possible contact with the earth by some technological help that they may have received from another civilization  An independent study on this is possible. Efforts are underway to emit reply radio signals, but have not offered any substantial evidence until 1990. In 2012, thousands of encoded twitter and celebrity messages were beamed to that very same area in space near Sagittarius constellation, expecting a weak possibility of a reply. 

That unknown amplified signal:
The WOW! Signal may still be that mysterious window towards knowing presence of extraterrestrial intelligence that man has been so dearly in search for. Though there are several unaccounted and fictional extraterrestrial evidence that has come up from around the world, this WOW! Signal offers us the only real and recorded instance of a possibility of someone who may have tried to contact us, purposefully or accidentally. The original manuscript on which Jerry Ehman wrote “WOW!” is still preserved in The Ohio Historical Society. Even he never knew, that one eventful night in his life could open such a big mysterious window into the unsolved, THE UNKNOWN AMPLIFIED SIGNAL!

The encoded 72 second audio mp3 footage of the radio wave WOW Signal.

-Vishnu Chandrasenan (Writer of the Week)
The Veracious Optimist
SE, SIES Graduate School of Technology, Navi Mumbai.

#2 Nothing Lasts Forever
Some people say death was the best option for him and that he couldn't have chosen a better day for it. That Sunday was quiet. The neighbours were away to a trip to the countryside. Clouds evaporated under the ferocity of the sun. Moving from indoors to outdoors was like stepping into a blast furnace. He looked out at the heat holding the TV remote in his hand. His glass eyes reflected the glare of the hot sky. He paced about nervously thinking how his life was a few hours ago. All was well then. The most successful businessman of the decade. The face of Forbes. He walked towards the bedroom and pulled a revolver out of the drawer. He held the gun to his temple with his finger around the trigger. Death was at his mercy

Two weeks ago...
James was a successful businessman. He was on the cover page of Forbes as the most successful businessman of the decade. He owned a mansion in Malibu and a penthouse in Vegas. He drove a Royce and had his own private jet. In short, he had everything anyone could ask for. He attended parties and was a frequent lecturer at the Harvard Business School. He had just signed a multi-million dollar deal with Fox Steel Works. “Call in a press con," he told his PA. At the conference, he announced that he was going to make the world’s largest township with sustainable energy, providing free education, free hospital services, etc. He was given a round of applause and a standing ovation. He was a hero in their eyes.

One week ago...
Back in CA, the senator was nervous and angry. "This guy is getting too much support," he thought. Something has to be done else... It was just a spark that turned into a fire engulfing him soon. The call was made. Al Capone was the man on the job. "Fix any case you want against him. But don't kill the guy," said the Senator.

Earlier today...
James got up to a call on his phone saying that he was accused of a swindle. He cut the call thinking it to be a prank. As he went for a walk outside people stared at him as if he was zombie. This made him uncomfortable and he understood something was wrong. He reached back and switched on the TV. He saw the headlines and fell down in a swoon. Top businessman involved in drug Mafia and $100 million swindle. He reached for a glass of water. He quickly asked his assistant to check the company accounts. At that moment, he got a call from the office that two kilograms of cocaine was found in his company premises and that the FBI were coming to his home. His PA told him that $100 million had been transferred overnight to his account and half of it is spent. All documents had his signature. He was shocked. He called his PA and spoke for an hour trying to clarify the misunderstandings. But it was all over. No one believed him. He had committed no less than 20 crimes overnight all amounting to treason and imprisonment.

He walked towards the bedroom and pulled a revolver out of the drawer. He held the gun to his temple with his finger around the trigger. Death was at his mercy.
This is for the best. He couldn't face the wrath. The signal was shown. The decision was biased. The FBI was on his property. He pulled the trigger. The shot echoed off the grounds as the FBI walked in. It was an amplified signal.

-Chaitanya Ramji
SE, SIES Graduate School of Technology, Navi Mumbai.


"So, what is the latest news?" asked Joe to John.
“We have got a science fair next week," said John flatly removing the placard from his locker by forcing it through the holes.
"Got any ideas?" asked Joe.
"I would have told you before if I did," said John.
"Maybe we can get some help from our faculty," said Joe hopefully.
"No chance, drop that idea.”
“What about trying the new lab assistant?"
"Well... it’s worth a try," said John unsure.
"Then what is the delay for? Let us go!" said Joe and went off upstairs.
"This idiot will never improve, " said John to himself and followed suit.

They went to the second floor.
"Around that corner, come!" said Joe.
They entered inside. They found Mr. Fernandez preparing for the practicals next day before leaving.
"Sir, we need your help," started Joe.
"For the science fair? I thought somebody might me ask for it," said Fernandez.
"The very same, sir," said John. "We thought you might help. Have you got any idea, sir?" asked Joe
"Yeah absolutely!" said Fernandez.

"What is it, sir? Please tell soon!" said both simultaneously.
"Do you know that the electric signals produced in microphones from our sound are of the order of only a few micro volts?" asked Fernandez.
"Well, never heard of it," said Joe.
"You see, it is not in our portion right now. So we don't care about it," said John, thinking it was just a silly ‘Did You Know’ fact.
"Then maybe you should because the signal that reaches the speakers are of several tens or sometimes hundreds of volts!" said Fernandez.
"But... how is that possible? We have learned that energy can't be created or destroyed. Then how?" asked Joe.
"That's the point! This is where this little guy comes by!" said Fernandez showing a tiny transistor on his fingertip.
"What’s that? And how will it help?" asked John, thinking it a joke.
"It is used in amplifiers to amplify the input signal for the speakers or else all the speakers across the world would be worthless!" said Fernandez.
"Really? Can this do such marvels? But it still opposes the law of..," said Joe.
"Conservation? Actually it doesn't," interrupted Fernandez.

"I still don't understand," said Joe.
"See, everything comes at a cost, so does this little fella. It takes something for doing our work," said Fernandez.
"And what is that supposed to be? 20$ per volt per second? Or something like that?" asked John.
"Hahaha! No, all he needs is a few volts of DC!" said Fernandez laughingly.
"DC? How will that change the AC input?" asked Joe.
"Well, see this circuit (showing them a fig. from a book). Here is the diagram of a transistor. Here are its 3 terminals, one for input, one for output and one common to both. The input gets its signal from microphone and the output goes to speaker. See these batteries? That's where it takes the DC from mains," explained Fernandez.
"Oh! I see. It transfers the energy from supplied DC to the AC, thus amplifying it and making it stronger!" said Joe.
"You can say so. If you can meet tomorrow, I will explain about it fully for science fair," said Fernandez.
"But sir, you didn't tell us its name!" complained John.
"Really? Well, it called a transistor!" said Fernandez.
"Whose sister?" asked John.
"Not sister, transistor, short for 'transfer-of-resistor.' That's exactly what it does. I will explain more tomorrow, now it’s getting late. See you later. In the meanwhile, you can go through this," said Fernandez giving them the book.
"Oh! Thank you so much sir!" said Joe.
"Not a problem," said Fernandez.

A week later..

"Sir! We did it! We got the 1st prize for our project!" said John.
"Yeah! We made a microphone and a speaker set, with the help of that little one you gave us, and it worked!" said Joe.
"I even kept it to full amplification for the full audience to hear us! And it caught the attention of the judges," said John.
"That's a good strategy! Anyway, congratulations," said Fernandez.
"We owe it to you sir!" said both together.
"No, you should owe to our silent little helper called the amplifier," said Fernandez.

-Sriram Srinivasan
SE, SIES Graduate School of Technology, Navi Mumbai.


I am definitely not going to give a very technical definition of the term ‘amplified signal!’ Instead, let us take up a very moral explanation for this. They say, there is some good in each one of us. Imagine yourself to be an amplifier. This implies, you have the potential to amplify the virtue in you. As you know, the amplifier has to operate under specific conditions to give an undistorted output. Supporting the analogy further, you have to give yourself conducive environment in order to become a good person. For this, what you need to do is, examine yourself for the entire set of plus -points that you possess and continue putting them to use in your daily life. If every person in the society happens to follow this and becomes an amplifier of the good, as a consequence, the society would begin to become more and more positive. I personally believe, today’s youth could prove to be an amazingly efficient amplification system if the education imparted to them is as efficient. Moral education could act like an input signal, which when amplified, would always result into kind and noble deeds. Let me elaborate this. Since kindergarten, we are always taught what is right and what is wrong. This righteousness instilled in our minds results into right decisions when we are indecisive about what is ethical and what is not. This outcome is an amplification of all the right things that were fed into us in our childhood. Keeping this in mind, let us all pledge to take in all the good that the society has to offer us and give it back an amplified version in return.

-Jagruti Shenoy

TE, SIES Graduate School of Technology, Navi Mumbai.

2 Responses so far.

  1. in this above context this means a transistor,but in reality this means any preson who amplify the problem into a bigger one.in this world there are a few people who amplify the problem. for example so and so person gets to know that the other person has made some mistake or is in problem. the problem could be small that it can be resolved by thinking and by making the right decisions. but that person will spread the same thing to other and make the problem even more worse that the person now can not come above it. an amplified signal is sometimes good and sometimes bad for the circuit.
    amplification is useful to make the signal reach a much more larger distance. amplified problems are more complex than simple problems.
    so make use of the amplification where ever necessary.

  2. Vignesh, why don't u considering conveying your thoughts as an article using the Entries page!

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