CTA-102 - Getting The Science Wrong Musically

19
Apr

CTA-102 - Getting The Science Wrong Musically

Is anybody out there?

That's a question, I wager, that humans have been asking (in some form) for as long as they've looked up into the night sky.

In 1963, a Soviet astrophysicist by the name of Nikolai Semenovich Kardashev, then the deputy director of the Russian Space Research Institute was doing research as part of the Soviet's first ever search for extraterrestrial intelligence. He directed the search in a part of the sky where his team picked up what a signal from a strong radio source in the heavens. They named it CTA-102. Kardashev was convinced they had discovered transmissions from an incredibly advanced extraterrestrial civilization. He was so convinced, in fact, that he called a press conference to let the world know about his findings.

Unfortunately, CTA-102 was not a signal from an advanced civilization but the electromagnetic signature of what we now call a quasar, a so-called quasi-stellar object. CTA-102 was the first quasar ever discovered. Sure, it wasn't an alien radio signal, but it was extremely cool nonetheless, one of the wondrous discoveries awaiting us in the far reaches of space.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, while the excitement of this discovery was yet to be dampened, The American rock band known as The Byrds recorded a song calling to the non-existent civilization purportedly transmitting from CTA-102. Enjoy!

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