China’s FAST telescope reports signal from aliens, then deletes report

China's FAST: Dish-shaped radio telescope.
China’s FAST – world’s largest dish-shaped radio telescope – began a program to seek alien intelligence in 2020. This year, it detected a “suspicious” signal while observing exoplanets. Image via Ou Dongqu/ Xinhua/ ZUMA/ Nature.

China’s FAST telescope: World’s largest radio telescope

There was chatter on Twitter earlier this week (beginning around June 14, 2022) about several new possible artificial signals detected by the 1,640-foot (500-meter) FAST radio telescope in China. The implication was that these might be signals from an alien civilization. Global Times (@globaltimesnews) – which Twitter describes as “China state-affiliated media” – was one source that published the story, which was based on this (now-deleted) report. Global Times had said:

‘Definitely not aliens’

The day after reports of the Chinese signal hit the U.S. media (around June 15), Toronto-based science journalist Victor Tangermann reported in Futurism on a rebuttal of the “alien” idea by an American scientist involved with the China project.

Dan Werthimer is a SETI researcher at the University of California, Berkeley. He directs UC Berkeley SETI searches at radio, infrared and visible wavelengths. He also coauthored a preprint paper about the findings with FAST. And he told Futurism:

The signals that we found so far are all [radio frequency] interference. They’re not from extraterrestrials. They’re from terrestrials.

Read about Tangermann’s interview with Werthimer here: ‘Definitely not aliens’

What happened?

FAST is the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope. Since 2020, it has been engaged in a program to search for alien life. According to a story published June 14 in the Chinese news source YiCai:

… The team discovered two groups of signals from space in 2020 when processing data observed by FAST in 2019. This year, it found another suspicious signal from observing exoplanets.

Andrew Jones (@AJ_FI on Twitter), who describes himself as a “journalist tracking China’s space program,” tweeted:

Zhang Tongjie also said:

The possibility that the suspicious signal is some kind of radio interference is also very high, and it needs to be further confirmed or ruled out. This may be a long process.

But it wasn’t a long process. It was a short process! Looks like the Chinese scientists might need some more experience under their belts on how to interpret their signals.

Bottom line: China reported on June 14, 2022, about several new possible artificial signals – presumably signs of an alien intelligence – detected by its FAST radio telescope. A day or so later, they deleted the report after other scientists pointed out that the signals were terrestrial radio interference.

Read: Definitely not aliens, says scientist working on project

June 16, 2022

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Deborah Byrd

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