What if we told you the movie Contact was real?
Okay, maybe we shouldn't go that far. But the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) is certainly a real (and exciting) organization filled with international scientists.
International scientists who are currently investigating a mysterious and potentially extraterrestrial signal from deep space.
If this news is making you flail excitedly, don't worry: We're right there with you. But the pace of science is sometimes frustratingly glacial in terms of how humans reckon the concept of time.
HOW DID WE FIND THIS SIGNAL?
The Russian Academy of Science's RATAN-600 telescope in Zelenchukskaya, Russia detected it waaaaay back on May 15, 2015. But for some reason, they kept it on the DL and it wasn't reported to the international science community until interstellar space reporter (that's his real job title) Paul Gilster broke the story in August 2016.
The point is, now SETI (and the rest of the world) knows about it, and they're actively looking.
WHERE DID THE SIGNAL ORIGINATE?
A star called HD164595 is the origination point, and both SETI researcher and mathematician Claudio Maccone and Russia's Nikolai Bursov of the Special Astrophysical Observatory are in charge of the investigation. They have been quoted as saying that "permanent monitoring of this target is needed."
Science fiction can be exciting in that it encourages us to explore seemingly impossible things, and to constantly question what we think we know. A discovery like this in our lifetime, though; that's truly astounding and exciting.
For a detailed explanation of what SETI is investigating, go here:
UPDATE: NOT SO FAST
Both SETI and the Special Astrophysical Observatory of the Russian Academy of Sciences are now cautioning the international community that the signal may have originated from Earth after all.
Here’s what SETI says:
And here’s what the SAO RAS says:
We’ll keep you updated on future developments.