Alien signal or damp squib? Rio 2.0 scale promises to help judge

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Image credit: Stephane Guisard/ESO

When a team of Russian astronomers reported in 2015 that a telescope in the Caucasus region had intercepted a mysterious signal from a distant star, talk of extraterrestrials was not far behind…

Follow-up observations from other telescopes failed to confirm the signal and researchers came to the conclusion that the source of the signal was far closer to home. The chances are it came from a passing plane or a person on a citizens band radio, or was down to a glitch in the telescope’s electronics.

…And in expectation that more false signals will come, scientists have now created their own Richter-like scale to explain whether a finding is a damp squib or has truly seismic implications.

The new scale allows scientists to rate interesting signals detected in searches for extraterrestrial intelligence from 0 to 10, where 0 is nothing to get excited about and 10 is equivalent to “an alien space probe orbiting the Earth or an alien shaking your hand,” said Duncan Forgan, who worked on the project, at the University of St Andrews Centre for Exoplanet Science.

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Known as Rio 2.0… . It assigns scores to Seti (“search for extraterrestrial intelligence”) signals by taking into account both the potential implications of the signal and the likelihood that it is genuine, rather than down to natural or human-made phenomena.

Read full, original post: First contact or false alarm? New Richter-like scale for alien signals 

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