Wow! Signal Makes Waves in New Documentary on Search for Extraterrestrials

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by Joe Blundo             January 16, 2018             (dispatch.com)

• On Aug. 15, 1977, Big Ear, a large Delaware County, Ohio installation detected natural radio waves coming from space, recorded an extremely strong signal. A computer expressed the signal in alphanumeric code (6EQUJ5). Jerry Ehman, a volunteer at the facility, spotted the powerful signal, circled it and wrote “Wow!” in the margin. John Kraus, the Ohio State professor who led the Big Ear program, dubbed it the “Wow! signal”.

• Now, film director Bob Dawson tells the story of Ohio State University’s ‘Big Ea’ radio telescope and other efforts to detect signs of intelligent life in space in his documentary film, “WOW Signal”. The film reaches no conclusion on the signal that captivated Ehman. “The job of a documentary filmmaker is never to come to a conclusion,” Dawson said. “It’s always to present the evidence and let your audience decide.”

 

More than 40 years later, Jerry Ehman’s one-word reaction to what he read on a computer printout continues to fascinate others.

The word: Wow!

It still brings Ehman calls from UFO enthusiasts, got him mentioned on the original “X-Files” and has landed him a prominent role in “WOW Signal,” a feature-length documentary being screened in local theaters this month.

“WOW Signal,” directed by local filmmaker Bob Dawson, tells the story of Ohio State University’s “Big Ear” radio telescope and other efforts to detect signs of intelligent life in space.

On Aug. 15, 1977, Big Ear, a large Delaware County installation that detected the natural radio waves coming from space, recorded an extremely strong signal that, for several reasons, suggested that it could have been produced by an intelligent life form.

A computer expressed the signal in alphanumeric code (6EQUJ5). Ehman, a volunteer who reviewed printouts of what the computer recorded, spotted the powerful signal, circled it and wrote “Wow!” in the margin.

            Jerry Ehman

John Kraus, the Ohio State professor who led the construction of Big Ear, dubbed it the “Wow! signal” and wrote about it in scientific publications.

Neither Kraus, who died in 2004, nor Ehman, now 78 and living in southern Delaware County, called the signal proof of intelligent life. Ehman said he prefers “tantalizing candidate.”

It has yet to be explained, although one astronomer made news last year with his theory that the signal was made by passing comets. Ehman discounts that theory.

Dawson, director of several previous documentaries, was familiar with the Big Ear story from an exhibit at the Ohio Historical Society (now called the Ohio History Center), where he previously worked. His film goes beyond Big Ear, demolished in 1998 after a land sale, to investigate ongoing efforts to find extraterrestrial intelligence and the passion of scientists who do the work.

It reaches no conclusion on the signal that captivated Ehman.

“The job of a documentary filmmaker is never to come to a conclusion,” Dawson said. “It’s always to present the evidence and let your audience    decide.”
Some have already decided.

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Big Ear, Bob Dawson, Jerry Ehman, John Kraus, Ohio State University


ExoNews Editor

Duke Brickhouse is a former trial lawyer and entertainment attorney who has refocused his life’s work to exposing the truth of our subjugated planet and to help raise humanity’s collective consciousness at this crucial moment in our planet’s history, in order to break out of the dark and negative false reality that is preventing the natural development of our species, to put our planet on a path of love, light and harmony in preparation for our species’ ascension to a fourth density, and to ultimately take our rightful place in the galactic community.

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