Signals From Space -- By: Austin Robbins
BSP 11:1 (Winter 1998) p. 5
Signals From Space
Austin Robbins, DDS recently retired from private practice in New Jersey. He was previously on the faculties of Georgetown University School of Dentistry, Temple University Dental School, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. Dr Robbins is a member of the Board of Directors of the Associates for Biblicval Research.
Many popular magazines, news articles, TV shows and movies continue to exploit man’s curiosity about the universe in which he lives. The notion that there may be other forms of intelligent life somewhere “out there” has been particularly fruitful for the creation of such movies as Close Encounters, E.T., Star Wars, and more recently, Independence Day. That aliens could invade our planet seems to be an idea seized upon by many as a plausible, if not real, escapist fantasy.
Yet, serious people are searching for signs of intelligent life out in space. Great antennae are focused on about 100 stars which are the prime candidates for the detection of signals from space. Even the government of the United States in its Extraterrestrial Search Division of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is actively pursuing the quest. The Search for Extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) program is world-wide. SETI workers are constantly listening to the radio waves coming from millions of stars, hoping to find some signals which they can interpret as deliberate. Behind this search, which costs us all a tremendous amount of tax money, is a basic presupposition. It is assumed that life on earth evolved, and that it was not created. If life did evolve, then it is reasonable to expect that somewhere “out there” life also evolved and that signs of it should be available to us.
The SETI technicians record many hours of radio signals coming from space. Our own sun emits not only light and heat, but almost every possible wavelength in the electromagnetic spectrum. These range from low frequency radio waves to infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, x-rays and gamma rays to high frequency cosmic rays. Other stars emit similar electromagnetic waves. This radiation has been termed the “music of the stars.” Could it be that those radio impulses are the music spoken of when God asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation ... while the morning stars sang together?” (Job 38:4, 7)? The radiation so described has also been termed “background radiation.”
How do scientists expect to distinguish between this background radiation and signals from some alien life? The term “signal to noise ratio” is often used to dis...
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