A message from space

The Apollo program was a cover for the Mars/Empire launch;  Hendrik Oort, a dutch scientist and later on the “father of radioastronomy” received some message from space in 1942/1943.  From that came the Osenberg List, which includes our friend Werner Von Braun.  Hendrik went on to play w/ ex-Nazi equipment after the war, and had the idea of checking the hydrogen frequency, 1.4GHz circa 1950.  Werner wrote his crap Mars sci fi novel, and then a detailed logistics plan for a grand expedition.  He thought–like many–that Mars would have life (and maybe intelligence).  In 1960, Project OZMA was also looking at the hydrogen frequency.  Also in 1960, LINCOS a proposal/description for an interstellar language was published by a Dutch applied mathematician, Hans Freudenthal.  Freudenthal wasn’t a linguist, but he was just the kind of guy you would ask to decode a message from space, should you happen to receive one.  Did he invent LINCOS, or was it something he decoded?  Note that he was Dutch, and Dutch academia  is a very small world, and the one where Oort was working.  Still with me?  Hang on to your hats:  Frank Drake (from project OZMA) reported finding nothing, and yet, people kept on looking there.  You don’t get funding for unpromising research.   And Drake went on to do something very odd indeed:  he was one of the key drivers of the Arecibo Message (1974).  That is, at the launch of the world’s largest radio dish, Drake and others had equipment brought in to turn the radiotelescope into a radiotransmitter, which is a bit like taking a directional microphone and substituting a speaker in for the microphone proper.  And they didn’t mess around, this was a million watts of transmission power, aimed at . . .  nothing in particular.  Outer space, really.  Why go to all that trouble?

But then, why would the German High Command suddenly decide to yank everyone they could find to work on rockets?
That was the Osenberg list, initiated at Goering’s command:  every mathematician, engineer, fuels chemist, etc, was pulled from soldier duty and sent to Peenem”unde.  The V-2 was never going to win the war.  It lacked a nuclear warhead, and atomic weapons were never even funded at the same priority.  It wasn’t a precision weapon, it was expensive to build, and it demanded sophisticated labor which was in scarce supply and getting scarcer.  So why did the guys at the top suddenly think rockets were the cat’s pyjamas, more important than winning the war?  Maybe they thought they could get a little extra-terrestrial assistance?  Maybe they heard something?

German radar research was state-of-the-art, the best in the world in its day, and that was where Oort was working.  Moreover, that period was the first time since Tesla (1899) had done much work on frequencies outside of the range that bounched off the ionosphere.  If anyone was going to be first on the scene to pick up a periodic transmission, it was likely to be German (and german-controlled) scientists and engineers working on radar.  Whatever they heard inspired them to re-prioritize in a frantic fashion.  Werner, as the guy at the top, likely had some idea as to the motivations for his team’s work;  but it wasn’t something likely to be shared with everyone.

Tesla heard something, incidentally, and was roundly ridiculed for reporting it.  Detractors have suggested he heard Marconi, but that would be both the wrong frequency and a matter of inadequate power on the part of Marconi’s transmitters.  Corum and Corum have suggested the signal Tesla received was “similar” to the energy burst received from Jupiter’s moon Io during certain electromagnetic disturbances.  But “similar” is not “same”.  Tesla reported a sequence of beeps:  one, then two, then three.  That might be “similar” to Io’s noise, but it isn’t the same.

It would appear that General Macarthur made occasional slips concerning knowledge of potentially hostile aliens in the 1950’s, suggesting he’d been briefed, and that great idiot Reagan did the same in the 1980’s.

So, no, the Nazis ran out of time before they got to Mars.  Werner and crew got as far as the moon, according to the official history.  The Empire launch was disguised as a missile test from a western dry lake launch pad, while the Apollo moon landings kept the masses happy for the next ten years.  Why keep the launch secret?  It’s the height of the Cold  War, both Russian and US populations are already jittery, and what happens to everyone’s propaganda and ideology if there really are aliens?  Worse, what happens if the other side gets there first and does some terrible communist/capitalist thing, like persuade them to be friendly to the wrong people?  Or antagonize them into annihilating humans?  Too many unknowns for a conservative leadership (Eisenhower, Khruschev), and too much rocking the boat for anyone in command to embrace publication.  What if the aliens felt like ruling the world themselves?  This was the age of paranoid thinking.  And imagine the panic if they sent a ship out and it simply vanished.  No, the aim was to get there, get there first, and follow the traditional Star Trek policy of “we come in peace.  Phasers on kill.”

The alien messages follow the pattern of a puzzle hunt:  the first message has to be decoded to find the frequency, time and encoding of the next.  In Tesla’s day, for example, there was no receiver capable of receiving 1.4GHz, and there wasn’t a sensitive one until somewhat after WWII (ahem, so far as I know).  We might also imagine aliens saying, “send a ship to space, and there you will find the next message”, or “transmit a mega-watt class frequency-modulated, prime-number encode message, and we will reply/meet you at specified location”.  Kinda like 2001.  Or His Master’s Voice (Stanislaw Lem).

Oh, and I forgot the Russians:  Kardashev, and his scale of civilizations, highly suggestive of cold-war thinking concerning aliens.  It would seem likely the Russians heard something.  When the USSR fell apart, certain sensitive equipment was stranded outside Russian borders.  The Irbene radiotelescopes were in Latvia, and the FSB (i.e. Russian CIA) was still frantically disassembling them when the Latvians arrived to claim the installation.  When I say “disassemble”, I mean pouring acid into electronics, severing cables, and taking a hatchet to anything they couldn’t demolish or take with them.  But why the big deal?  It wasn’t a secret that the USSR spied on the US and Europe.  But it was an odd telescope:  This was the largest radio scope in Northern Europe, the 8th largest in the world, and at one time there had been six of them.  Moreover, the big one was sensitive enough “to pick up a cell phone call on Saturn”.  That doesn’t make sense for a machine intended to spy on chatter within earth’s atmosphere and nearby orbit.  But if you hoped to pick up some chatter on, say, Mars, it might not be too big . . .

End of transmission.

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