SETI

By Bob Wexelbaum, W2ILP

 

JUNE 2006                                             VOL.  79, NO. 6                                                 CIR 120

 
The Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (SETI) was pioneered by at least 17 famous scientists, who believed that there is a reasonably high probability that high life forms exist in other parts of the galaxy; and  that life has probably developed better technology than we on Earth because is at a higher level of intelligence than humans on Earth..  Of the 17 scientists, 13 believed that UFOs were impossible, and the remaining 4 believed that UFOs were unlikely.  Most of the scientists were not believers in traditional religions, in spite of having religious upbringings.  However they all got involved in musing about what any discovery of extra terrestrial intelligence might mean to theology and global sociology.  This in spite of the logic that discovery of extra terrestrial intelligence might have little to do with proving or disproving religious beliefs, politics or human ethics. Their motto “We are not alone”, however took on, for some folks, a concept that was seen by them as a religion of its own.   I guess it was like the perceived need for CW, that some Hams have had, which had been accused of becoming a religious faith.  I believe that such musing is all moot and the first question a scientist must ask is, “Is it possible to communicate with ETs, using any equipment now known to men.” The scientists must then ask communications engineers this question, as they would when developing any other type of communications link.   Thus it is not just a question of  “Do ETs exist?”…but… “Is it possible to prove that ETs exist by receiving communication using methods proposed by the SETI Pioneers?”.  The point being that there is no need to believe or disbelieve what may not be possible to prove in any case.  My belief is that ETs may exist but it is impossible to receive communication from them using SETI single hop methods and it is most probably impossible to accomplish any such communication within our lifetimes..

 Of the 17 SETI promoting scientists, the works of only three are well known to me.  They are Frank Drake, Carl Sagan and John Kraus.  

 

SETI (continued)

 

It was Drake who based the probability of the existence of Intelligent ETs, on his famous equation.. See http://www.activemind.com/Mysterious/Topics/SETI/drake_equation.html By plugging large numbers into his equation, Drake concluded that high IQ ETs must exist elsewhere in the Milky Way galaxy.   In my opinion it may or may not matter how many stars (suns), and planets may exist in the galaxy, because the coincidental existence of a planet that supports life forms of a higher order than humans does not just depend on the kind of statistical evidence that a Quality Control engineer might use to predict how many bad transistors might exist in a very large production run.  It was Kepler, I believe, who said that if you dropped a pencil a number of times approaching infinity, one time it will fall up.  I think that Drake stretches for that sort of logic.  Thus it could be stated that the infinitely small probability of a miracle had to be accounted for in an infinite number of pencil drops, because infinity is so large a quantity that it would also be miraculous if one could count that far and remain on the same gravitational platform following usual laws..  Conversely nothing is perfectly certain, even the Gravitational Law of physics, when dealing with infinity..  So OK I can believe that there may be ETs out there who want to call us up because there is an astronomical number of planets out there…but I don’t believe that they will be doing it in the manner that the SETI pioneers expected or were willing to spend both our government’s and their own time and money on. My doubts rise because I know that there are also a near astronomical number of dandelions that pop up every May…but that doesn’t lead me to believe that even one dandelion might just happens to be a talking tulip or the home of a radio ant that is smarter than the average ant.

It was Carl Sagan who publicized SETI and organized a group of both amateurs and psudoscientists in his “Planetary Society” and “SETI League”. (I admit I was initially sucker enough to join myself.)  They became obsessed with SETI and lobbied for government funding in Congress.  Some were hams, who joined with SWLs and other listeners in the fruitless task of listening for ET signals.   The receivers of opportunity being discarded satellite TV dishes and their associated microwave receivers; as well as some listening time using the giant antenna at Aricibo, Puerto Rico.  We will see why microwave communication was deemed the most probable.  Indeed now there is a new SETI program called OSETI that will be using optical light sensors to search for the possibility of ET message modulated light.   Biographers have criticized Sagan’s promotion of SETI. Although Sagan had educated many with his science books and the Cosmos TV series, promoting SETI was his way of interesting those on the fringes of science in a project that went beyond his belief in Darwin’s theory of evolution and his depiction of an electro-chemical reaction which was responsible for the first life in the primordial soup of an early Earth.   While Sagan was skeptical of many science fakers, SETI stands out as something that he should also have been skeptical about.  His only scientific fiction book was “Contact”, which fantasized about a dead ham who was the father of the heroine.  It was in opposition to his other books which consistently preached disdain for superstitions, spiritualism and an afterlife.  The heroine is introduced reading the “ARRL Handbook” in the “Contact” book, but Sagan himself was never a ham.  He loved his work but never worked for love alone, as a true ham might have, and as he expected amateur SETI listeners would.  Sagan was more of a promoter than a scientist.

The next SETI scientist I was familiar with was John Kraus.  Kraus was the author of “Electromagnetics”, the text book which I had to use in college for a two semester course on that subject.  He also authored a text book called “Antennas”, which is probably the best antenna book for the few people who can deal with the dels and curls of Maxwell’s Equations.   Kraus was, no doubt, a pioneer of Radio Astronomy, and so one wonders why a man of such credentials would promote SETI.  This all came about by what was known as the WOW signal.  Apparently while performing radio astronomy, an unidentified coherent signal was received by Kraus’ “Big Ear” at Ohio State University. Wow!  This excited Kraus and his students so much that even when the  “Wow” signal was later proved to have come from a man-made transmitter, Kraus wanted to believe that a real ET signal could be found that would put his name, his projects, and his school on the front pages of newspapers.  Big Ear conducted the longest known SETI search, but no ET signal was ever found that could inspire another Wow.   Kraus, W8JK, was a college professor but he also was a ham.  He designed antennas and tested them.  As a ham he was perhaps not unlike the hams that go on DX expeditions and delight in taking risks to make the first contacts from far away places where no ham had been before.  Unfortunately the planets Kraus wanted to explore, whose Suns’ spectrums could be explored by radio astronomy, were too far away for planetary radio communication.  Kraus was the only one of the 17 SETI scientists known to be religious. He was a Methodist believer.

I am now going to introduce another equation, which is more relevant than Drake’s equation.  I came across versions of it when I worked with ECM receivers, which are microwave receivers for receiving signals from friendly and enemy radars.  They are similar to the fuzz busters that motorists use to get warned about police radar traps, only much more sophisticated.  The ranges that these units need to cover are trivial compared to the distances to any possible communicating planet, but in spite of that, the basic range equation remains the same, as it contains the same functional parameters which can be used to calculate the maximum distances from which discernable signals can be received, which could be able to overcome the losses of the space attenuation that is caused by distance.

See https://ewhdbks.mugu.navy.mil/one-way.htm .  It may be easier to get there by using the Goggle browser and clicking on: One-way Radar Range Equation.  I’m running out of space here so I’ll leave you at this point and continue next month.  Meanwhile if you like to do math, you can play with this equation, putting in the best parameters that you think the alleged ET geniuses might have in the way of microwave power, antenna, selected wavelength, etrc..  You can find how many miles or kilometers are in a light year and how many light years (LYs) away are the probable life sustaining planets of stars.  Realize that the nearest known stars are nowhere near as bright as our Sun and thus can not support any planetary life.  So that the distances to be considered are probably over 20 LYs!.                          

 

 

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PRESIDENT’S PAGE

BY

KE2LJ

 

           

      Our May meeting was held at the Bethpage Credit Union building. It was a nice meeting room, set up with all the A/V equipment that we would need. Our turnout was low as usual, but we had a video, and lots of good coffee and donuts. The usual suspects were in attendance, plus some folks we don’t see to often. Our next meeting is June 21st at UL in Melville. We’ll try to start the meeting at 5:30. I’m not quite sure what we will be doing for entertainment, but I have some really good possibilities. One is somewhat interesting. It seems that last year, a couple of DXers went to Kure near Hawaii to put K7C on the air. One of the operators was Franz, DJ9ZB. Franz works for a Company in Germany that is owned by Northrop Grumman. He saw one of our newsletters, and contacted me by email. We chatted, and he promised to send me the DVD when it comes out. So we might possibly have that at the next meeting. Also, the F14s are being retired from the Navy, and Grumman has lots of F14 activities underway. There will by a fly-over later this week, so that’ll be fun. Many of the people involved in the Project are coming back for a dinner. There will be a lot of the remaining test pilots here. And there are at least 2 DVDs being made that they’ll be handing out here. I am trying to get copies of both. If I have any of them by meeting time, I’ll bring them with me.  Should be interesting.  Not that I need any new projects myself, but I acquired 2 satellite TV receivers and antennas from my Mom’s house. She has gone off to the nursing home, and we’ll be selling the house soon. So now I am reading all about the current state of satellite TV to see what’s going on, and if I can use this equipment to see something better than the garbage I have to choose from now. But I have some tall trees in my backyard, so it might require me to mount a dish or two some distance up my tower. If that works out, I’ll be a happy guy. If any of you folks have some knowledge about satellite TV, let me know. I’m always eager to learn something new.

At the June meeting, we will have a brief discussion of our upcoming Field Day operation on June 24th. I spoke about this in some detail in the last newsletter, and will try to finish it all up next week. Hopefully, you can spare a few hours working with us that weekend. See you then.  –Pat KE2LJ

 

 

 

GRUMMAN AMATEUR RADIO CLUB

MINUTES OF GENERAL MEETING 5/17/2006

Karen KC2OPX (not present)

 

The meeting was called to order at 5:57 PM by Pat.

 

TREASURERS REPORT – Ed, WB2EAV          REPEATERS – Gordon, KB2UB

Finances continue to be in good shape.                    There is need to move the Bethpage repeater.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

VE REPORT – Bob, W2ILP                                  NET REPORT- Zack, WB2PUE

Karen, KC2OPX upgraded to General Class.           The Sunday Morning Net was poor as all could

Another applicant passed General written test          not copy each other. 

but failed 5 wpm CW.

VEs present were AB2NT, KC2HNN, W2ILP and W2QUV.                                           

                                                                                                            

NEW BUSINESS:

Field Day preparation was discussed.  Field Day 2006 will be held in the same location as last year.

Some new ARRL rules award extra points if new or young hams operate.

 

PROGRAM:

Marty Miller, NN2C brought a recording of a DX expedition to American Samoa.  It was a very professional presentation that included the air travel, and a stop in Hawaii.  American Samoa is a lush tropical Island in the south Pacific, located very close to the International Date Line.  The expedition stations used the call signs K8T and K8O to operate from two different Islands.  They worked many stations, the greatest number being European.

The meeting was adjoined at 7:00 PM.

t

GARC NETS:

40 Meters: 7.289 MHz at 7:30 AM EST Sundays.

2 Meters (via repeaters): 146.745 MHz  (-.600)at 8:30 PM EST Thursdays.

                                           145.330 MHz (- .600) at 9:00 PM EST Thursdays.

[Tone for both repeaters is 136.5 Hz]         (ARES/RACES) Mondays 9 PM.

                                                                                                    

MEETINGS

General Meetings of the GARC are held on the third Wednesday of each month, starting at 5:30 PM.   The meetings are usually held at the Underwriters Lab, 1285 Walt Whitman Road,  Melville, NY.  Driving directions and maps can be obtained from http://www.mapquest.com   It is suggested that the GARC Web Site be checked to be certain of meeting location, which may change after this newsletter is distributed. Board meetings are held eight days before the General Meeting and GARC members are invited. to attend, but please call Pat Masterson, KE2LJ, at 516-346-7125 to confirm place and time of meeting.  The June General Meeting will be at the Underwriters Lab unless otherwise announced.

                                                                                                                                                                                              

GARC WEB SITE  The web site of the GARC can be found at http://www.qsl.net/wa2lqo/     Webmaster is Pat Masterson KE2LJ.  Pictures of GARC activities, archives of newsletters, roster of members, and other information about the GARC may be found there.                                              

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          

INTERNET LINK OF THE MONTH FOR INTERNERDS

 

One good contact often may lead to others.  While monitoring the Hellschreiber reflector I saw that experiments continue with different flavors of Hell, as well as new digital modes.  There are several programming hams who are experimenting with software that they develop and they build upon a basic audio spectrum analyzer as they experiment.  The software to generate this audio spectrum analyzer is made available by DL4YHF at:-

http://www.qsl.net/dl4yhf/spectral.html         Actually this is a home page which can link you to the software, once you decide to get it.  I suggest that you print out the 7 pages at this address with a color printer and read about the “Spectrum Lab” features and applications for yourself.  The spectrum analyzer, that you can then create, can enable you to acquire signals in a waterfall display, similar to the software for digital modes previously discussed in this newsletter.  It can do a lot more, including displaying signal tracks in lots of different colors, and many possible applications are mentioned at the web site above.  I don’t have space to explain further here but details are on the web site.  The program loaded easily, but not from the slow qsl. net site as explained.  If you have a set up for digital mode connections that is all you will need, but if not, all you need do is connect the audio output of your SSB HF transceiver or any radio receiver  to your computer’s sound card audio input and you are in business.  DL4YHF has been able to make a direction finder for a VLF receiver.

The Spectrum Lab spectrum analyzer could be used as a tool to acquire and identify the mode of any signal, but don’t waste your time looking for ET signals….Read my analyses of the SETI program in this and the next issue of this newsletter. 

FEEDBACK

 

Mel Cohn, K2MC, pointed out that I had made in error in my Hellschreiber article last month.  I had said that Art Linkletter said, “Aren’t we devils?” on a show called “Truth or Consequences”.  It wasn’t Linkletter who was the MC.  It wasn’t K2MC either.  It was RALPH EDWARDS.  Goggle confirmed that Edwards passed away in November 2005.  Linkletter ,who said “Kids say the funniest things”, is still alive and kidding.

 

Dave Ledo, AB2EF, gave me an article from “Electronic Products” magazine, to read and ponder over, titled “Carbon Nanotubes Boost Ultra Capacitor Storage Density”.  I might discuss this technological nano-progress in the development of nano batteries in a future newsletter.  Right now my nano-brain cells are busy thinking about giant Suns that are many light years away in our galaxy, so I admit it is difficult for me to switch into the nano mode at present.

 

Bob Christen, W2FPF e-mailed me the solution to the May cryptogram. In spite of my error in encoding the ‘r’ in ‘prefer’, Bob solved the puzzle.  He must like cryptogram solving as he began to work on this one as soon as he infolded his May “CQ de…” at the board meeting.

 

PUZZLE

Here is another cryptogram:

 

ZHZ   EJB   CMCT   KCVT  JQ   V  YHZ   INVEHAS   VUUJBAWVAW   CMCA   HQ   KC   GVAWCZ  WJ   DC  JAC?     --RVUYHC  PVXJA—

 

Solution to May’s Cryptogram:  WE PREFER TO BELIEVE THAT THE ABSENCE OF INVERTED COMMAS GUARENTEES THE ORIGINALITY OF A THOUGHT, WHEREAS IT MAY BE MERELY THAT THE UTTERER HAS FORGOTTEN THE SOURCE.    CLIFTON FADIMAN--

 

 

 


GARC VE SESSIONS

 

We are continuing to proctor exams for all classes of ham licenses on the second Tuesday of each month starting at 5:00 PM.

 

The present exams are:

Element 1: 5 WPM CW,

Element 2: Technician

Element 3: General   

Element 4: Amateur Extra Class.

 

The fee for 2006 is $14 for all exams taken at one sitting. 

 

Applicants for upgrades should bring a photocopy of their license and their FRN number.

 

New, first time applicants should be aware that their Social Security number will be required on their application form.  All applicants should bring driver’s license or other picture ID.

 

Until further notice, VE exams will be at Briarcliffe College

1055 Stewart Avenue

Room: Long Beach #5

Bethpage, NY

Briarcliffe in Bethpage is located in a building that was formerly part of the Grumman complex.

 

All applicants should contact W2ILP to preregister if possible so as to confirm location, but walk-ins may still be accepted.

 

For any information e-mail: -

w2ilp@optonline.net or phone: -

(631) 499-2214

 

Study material information is available at the http://www.arrl.org or the http://www.w5yi.org web site.

All VECs use the same Q & A pools.

Since the beginning of the VE program the GARC has provided opportunities to take ham exams monthly, during all twelve months of every year.

 

Bob Wexelbaum, W2ILP

and the Grumman VE team.

                                   

 

CQ de WA2LQO

June 2006

 VOL.  79,  NO.  6

 

EDITOR

Bob Wexelbaum  W2ILP

(631) 499-2214

w2ilp@optonline.net

 

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS

PAT MASTERSON, KE2LJ

And all the members of GARC (we hope!)

 

CQ de WA2LQO is published monthly by the Grumman Amateur Radio Club for its members and friends. Send articles and amateur equipment advertisements to:

KE2LJ or W2ILP

 

ELECTRONIC SUBMISSIONS

If you want to submit articles or amateur equipment ads via e-mail do the following:

1. For submission direct to editor call him at above number to set up a transfer.

2. For e-mail transfer:

Internet Address

bat@grumman.com

 

 
EDITORIAL

 

 I have received the software for generating new tests for the Technician Class License.  This month will be the last time that I will be able to use the old Tech tests.  I’ll discard any that remain and print new ones for July’s VE session, when their use will be mandatory.

 

This month I started to write about SETI here and I will continue next month.  Please let me know what you think about the SETI and OSETI programs and if you agree or disagree with my conclusions.

.

Field Day plans are now underway and I hope that we will be able to do some operating that I can report about in the next newsletter.   Since you won’t hear from me via this newsletter until after July 4th , let me wish all a happy Independence Day.

 

73,

W2ILP (Intelligent Life Planets?)

            (Impossible Loony Propaganda?)

 
 

 


ZHZ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GRUMMAN AMATEUR RADIO CLUB OFFICERS FOR 2006

 

President                Pat Masterson              KE2LJ            V01-01    516-346-7125

Vice President       Gordon Sammis            KB2UB          Retiree     631-666-7463

Secretary               Karen Cefalo                KC2OPX                        
Treasurer               Ed Gellender                  WB2EAV        X02-14   516-575-0013

1Yr Board Member    Zack Zilavy            WB2PUE        Retiree     631-667-4628
1YrBoard Member     Dave Ledo              AB2EF

1Yr Board Member    Bob Christen          W2FPF           

2Yr Board Member    Bob Wexelbaum     W2ILP         Retiree     631-499-2214

2Yr Board Member    Jack Cotterell         WA2PYK       Retiree     516-249-0979

Trustee WA2LQO        Ray Schubnel        W2DKM      Retiree

 

STANDING COMMITTEE CHAIRMEN

 

Meeting Programs       Contact a Board Member

FCC Exam Coord.      Bob Wexelbaum     W2ILP                          631-499-2214

 

 
 

 

 

 

 



                     

 

 

 

    TECHNICAL BITS                

 

It is not as easy to clamp tube or AM screen modulate as one might expect.  This is because the audio signal must be level shifted so as to be DC coupled to the screen grid and this requires some circuitry.  The tubes used for RF finals and clamp tubes were not really designed for this purpose and because of that it is impossible to AM modulate at close to 100%.  It is also impossible to over modulate, which is an advantage.  The third grid of a pentode tube is known as the suppressor.  Suppressor AM modulation has also been attempted.  This can’t work with some tube types because what passes for the third grid is not really a grid. it is a number of small beam forming plates.  Such tubes are called Beam-Powered Pentodes.  Some have the beam plates connected to the tube’s cathode internally, making suppressor modulation impossible.  The remaining possible way to modulate AM wise is to drive the tube’s cathode with audio.  This is sometimes done in UHF transmitters where the RF tube (such as a klystron) has its control grid at RF ground, but it is not practical in other ham configurations..  So now we will leave conventional amplitude modulation and continue by talking about single sideband, which is the most popular mode for analog telephony that hams use today.   When SSB became popular among Hams in the late 1950s , hams stopped using separate receivers and transmitters.  Transceivers became popular because they were more economical.  Many of the most expensive circuits involved with SSB were needed for both transmitting and receiving, so it became practical to build transceivers that could use the identical circuits for both.  Next month we’ll talk about why SSB is advantageous and how SSB works.