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Book Review: The Elusive WOW – Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

The Elusive WOW – Searching for Extraterrestrial Intelligence by Robert Gray; Palmer Square Press; Chicago, Illinois; $29.95 (hard cover); December 2011.

Don’t let this book escape your radar screen.

The author has put together a telling tale here of an incident in August 1977 when Ohio State University’s “Big Ear” radio telescope snagged something very odd – perhaps a radio signal broadcast from other star folk!

But was it a candidate interstellar broadcast?

That signal is considered the best entrant in the ET signal sweepstakes. Gray’s stab at tracking down the source of the signal – but without a happy ending, so far, is accounted for in this book.

Gray has written a telling narrative of not only the WOW signal itself but how the detection of “Others” is difficult, time-consuming but, in the end, could be a changing point in our history.

This book offers its own wow factor. The reader will find a very well written overview of how best to search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI), its history, a review of intelligence and technology, as well as a brief tutorial of life on Earth.

I found Gray’s thoughts on the consequences of contact thought-provoking. More so is his considerations of should we respond?

When you think SETI, also ponder what Gray notes in the book: “I think it’s fair to say that we’ve barely begun searching seriously because only small segments of the spectrum have been examined, and in most directions for only a few minutes.”

This is a very readable briefing on what may be ahead in terms of ET contact. And, as Gray comments: “The sensible thing seems to be to keep looking to find out what’s out there and perhaps discover surprises!”

Given the increasing number of extra-solar planets being discovered, perhaps our civilization may well be on a near-term collision with the answer to that time-worn inquiry: Are we alone?

For more information on this book, go to:

By Leonard David


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