Dr Who Returns To Earth

While searching for signs of Dalek activity in the vast depths of outer space, the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico stumbled across a most interesting find. They were receiving modulated radio signals emanating from an invisible object about 25 light years away. The signals were all in the VHF band between 41 and 68 MHz. After a applying a little amplification and some wibbly wobbly timey wimey enhancements, it became clear what the signals were – 50 year old terrestrial television broadcasts. The site takes a minute or so to load due to the traffic its getting.

[Dr. Venn], the radio astronomer who discovered the signals, was able to talk NASA into pointing the Hubble Space Telescope in the direction of the now officially named “Bounce Anomaly”, but was unable to see anything. Meanwhile, a BBC team has been working with [Dr. Venn] to recover the 50 year old signals and is attempting to reconstruct entire broadcasts – some of which are the very first Dr. Who episodes.

Thanks to [PWalsh] for the tip.

35 thoughts on “Dr Who Returns To Earth

  1. If you are going to post an April Fool, at least TRY to make them convincing ones. Not only is this absurd, but it’s on some random site with a cached page from the BBC from the 1st of April 2009. This rubbish has been going around since then. Google the headline as a string there are over a thousand hits.

  2. “FM broadcast and VHF TV signals are frequently reflected to the Earth during late Spring and early Summer. ” – Wikipedia

    So it’s unlikely Dr Who TV series from 1963 was “bounced” from an object 25 ly away. The Earth’s ionosphere reflects mostly anything below 30 MHz back to Earth. Anything in your suggested band 41-68 MHz would be very weak outgoing to outer space and non-existent in Spring and Summer. However, if you chose > 500 Mhz UHF then your April fool’s joke would have better technical varsity.

    Imagine any advanced civilization out there listening could never actually hear ANY of our early radio/TV telecommunications unless it was UHF or above. Mr. Bose’s 60 GHz transmitter in 1899 would be the only one but not likely for obvious technical reasons. And if SETI was still listening for ETs it probably wouldn’t be via Arecibo. The Harvard station or the one at Delaware Ohio where a plausible 1st contact was heard on the Hydrogen LIne frequency in 1970’s by Dr. Jerry Erdman (i.e. the “WOW!” Signal) would be more likely.

    1. Apparently you are misreading the word “frequently” as “always”. I can tell you from years of experience as an amateur radio operator that the Wikipedia entry is misleading at best. It should read “sometimes” instead of “frequently”, and then folks wouldn’t mistake it for “always” which certainly isn’t the case.

      Just ask any ham you know how frequent 6m openings are…

    2. As someone working at Arecibo, SETI is still searching. They aren’t primary users at Arecibo, preferring to use a commensal observing (where they don’t get to control pointing, but get to piggy back and share the signal of others), but they are definitely still using Arecibo. They are also using a variety of other techniques, such as using optical receivers to look for pulsed optical emissions.

        1. So Arecibo Observatory runs under a cooperative agreement between SRI, USRA, and Universidad Metropolitana. SRI is the primary contractor, however on-site they are primarily responsible for administrative operations and Atmospheric Science. USRA is primarily behind Astronomy, Telescope Operations, and Electronics. UMet is behind Physical Maintenance and the Visitor’s Center.

          As for the NSF Contract, sorry, official line is “No Comment”. You are correct that the current contract is only until September 2016, however NSF’s choice of what to do from here on out is unknown. However, given their stance, they might extend the contract, might choose a new operating partnership, or like they’ve been doing, run us into the ground.

          See the Scientific American articles on NSF and Arecibo Observatory:

  3. The first worthwhile signals to leave earth were The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy on VHF TV. Jackie Gleason was allegedly shown alien bodies, and Desi Lou Productions paid for a TV series that no one would bank. Star Trek. Oh and the biggest deesh on the tird rock is in Arecibo! The redheads rule in the greater worlds than here.

  4. It would be funny if they could reconstruct some of the missing episodes from Doctor Who via this source. But I think the quality is not watchable. Did they publish any of the reconstructed material?

  5. I first came across this BBC article with trying to find archive stories of a similar nature about US TV programs being received years after their original broadcast date that I remember reading about, that didn’t have an April dateline, and didn’t contain a fantasy about recovering lost episodes. I recall an April issue of QST that had a circuit for a lightning detector/ alarm that many considered to be that year’s April fools article. I didn’t because the circuit was fairly old one, that was nothing more than a simple AM receiver that could be adjusted to trigger a visual or audible alarm when a certain adjustable noise threshold was meet, and the same issue contain a better likely candidate for April fools. [shrug]

  6. One aspect of this real. One of the most baffling things physics can’t explain yet.
    LTE, no it’s not ….. wait. Long Term Echo, where hams have logged ID’d signals long after many times around earth can explain. Look it up, I knew about it before the web.

  7. I managed to read this on the 3rd, while scrolling back through what I missed avoiding silly April 1st stories. And my first thought was not “sheesh, it’s still April” but “Feast of Steven? Oh, wait, April 1st was 2 days ago. GDI!”

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