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As part of its continuing financial restructuring, NASA has recently withdrawn its remaining commitment to the Arecibo installation in Puerto Rico, which was, of course, from where the famous 1974 binary message echoed in the 2001 Chilbolton crop formation was sent. As one who believes ETs were indeed responsible for the Chilbolton events, is there a connection with the timing of this funding withdrawal asks DOUG ROGERS..?

And the great game continues…

A news release here in the US back on December 19th 2001, announced that the NASA budget could no longer allow an annual contribution of 3.55 million US dollars toward the operation of the 1004’ diameter radio telescope at Arecibo, Puerto Rico. To most folks, such an announcement as this might seem rather less than exciting, since the scope at Arecibo is but one of many operated in the US and around the world for discovery and research purposes. The news that NASA would cut back on expenditures here and there as of the first of the year in 2002, has meant to most readers that this agency is doing what several other agencies are doing these days… becoming cost conscious.

All well and good. The economy measure could be taken in stride without further comment if it were not for one important fact. The history of the scope at Arecibo includes CETI program activity up to 1975, and SETI program activity thereafter. CETI - Communication with Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence - gave way in 1975 to SETI - Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence. Nowhere in the NASA announcement was it mentioned that the current SETI program would be terminated, even though it had been closely identified with Arecibo for the past three decades. The SETI program, funded by private individuals for several years now, may indeed continue uninterrupted at Arecibo and at other sites for many more decades. What is of great interest, however, to those who pay attention to timing and the pace of events, is the date of this termination of funding and the particular radio telescope site affected by the support withdrawal.

In November of 1974, and during the CETI program during which signals were sent as well as received, Arecibo rose from the ordinary. It became known as the site from which a “message” was sent toward a star cluster thousands of light years away. At the moment the powerful message was hurled into space, the thought that a return message might be received here on Earth, within the lifetime of its sender, was considered to be impossible. A return message does appear to have been received, however, this past August, in the form of a drawing in standing wheat.

As of August 19th 2001, the history of activity at Arecibo became the subject of great interest to those who have been studying the crop circle phenomenon. The message sent in 1974 had a form and a design to it that started off as a two dimensional plot on paper, incorporating black and white dots as both binary numbers and as pictorial presentations. It left Earth as a stream of electronic pulses which, when sorted out at the receiver’s end, could be recognized as a group of short stories describing the message sender and his home planet. To the great delight of those studying crop circles in 2001, the message came back to Earth in August, in the form of a crop design. Who returned the message, with corrections and modifications, is, at this hour, unknown. The fact that it came back at all, is of huge interest to many. That the transmitted electronic message came back as a drawing in a wheat field in Chilbolton, England, is of considerable concern and unease among the SETI membership, for good reason. It appears that the returned message may have disturbed NASA as well.

For the past quarter century, there has been tension between the SETI organization and the crop circle studying community. The SETI program, requiring expensive hardware and exotic electronics equipment, has been attempting to prove the existence of intelligence elsewhere in our universe. Program members have been eagerly listening for repetitious signals, or organized electronic pulses, discovered to have been broadcast from anywhere other than on Earth. Reception of such signals would be of great interest to the whole world, and SETI, using such huge radio telescopes as at Arecibo, has been determined to take the lead in the search for the elusive remote intelligence... if it is out there. Is it any wonder, then, that the arrival of an intricate drawing in a wheat field, costing little to anyone, created by an unknown, unseen artist, might be a bit disconcerting to SETI? The arrival of several thousand designs, over a period of decades, has been accepted by many as an indication that the intelligence sought by SETI is right here, now, continuously, and doing its best to draw the attention of a stubborn earthbound populace. With the arrival in August of a returned electronic broadcast, now in the form of a crop formation, the matter of where the assumed off-planet intelligence resides is a very hot issue indeed!! Is that intelligence far off in space, at such a distance that travel to our planet would be impossible, or is it here, now, prepared to make contact with us once we get used to the idea that such is possible?

The NASA people read the internet. They know that the design at Chilbolton this past August has been accepted by many members of the thinking public as a genuine communication from something intelligent. To continue to subsidize the expensive operation of a device designed to do a job that may no longer be necessary, might become embarrassing. After an association for decades, it took NASA exactly four months after Chilbolton to announce its decision to distance itself from Arecibo. Even though several million NASA dollars had been spent recently to improve the capacity of the scope, it appears that someone has decided that the time for disconnection has arrived. The SETI folks saw the moment coming very shortly after the Chilbolton glyph discovery. Their representative was heard on late night radio within days of its arrival, complaining bitterly about the public acceptance of the glyph in the field.

None of this bitterness, or rivalry, or embarrassment is necessary!! Consider what has been accomplished. As the result of a co-operation, unwitting as it may seem to have been, the SETI program, along with the crop circle study exercise, has produced a result… exactly what all have been pursuing for many years. All radio telescopes may now be obsolete, they having completed their mission. An electronic message was sent out by one organisation and its answering message came back by way of another. Neither organisation had a hand in making the decision to employ two differing methods of communication. Think carefully about that decision, where it was made, by whom, and with what lesson in mind for us. Both organizations should be proud of the co-operative effort to prove a point: Planet Earth is not the only planet in our Universe to display intelligence! One major problem solved! Problem number two… How do we convey to the sceptics of our world that we have very little time to grow, to mature, and to accept a reality far more exciting than any known by those who have come and gone before us?



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