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First Serious Searches For ETs

Many excerpts on this page and subsequent
section of LCM were taken from my book;

The Final Empire
©Copyrighted 1994
®All Rights Reserved

Even when I was eleven years of age the notion of looking for and believing in extraterrestrials was well underway and picking up momentum. It seemed the speeding train of new and expanding science was accelerating to the point of even venturing into outer space. I will illustrate what I mean by the following.

I have gotten the following information chiefly from "THE ORIGINAL COAST-TO-COAST BEST-SELLER!" Flying Saucers —Serious Business, written by Frank Edwards and published in 1966. Because this book is some twenty-five years old, and because the acceptance or rejection of much of what I am will say here will hinge very much on credibility, I think I should take a few lines to let you know just who Frank Edwards was during this time frame.

According to the second page of the appendix of this book, Mr. Edwards formerly served as a news commentator for the American Federation of Labor. His career began in 1923 at one of the nation’s first radio stations, KDKA, which was located in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Even though he originally began as a volunteer, he later became recognized as a pioneer broadcaster and reporter for his time. He later joined the Mutual network as a political commentator reportedly having "... one of the biggest audiences in radio." He also became a best-selling author with such books as Stranger Than Science and Strange People. In addition, he wrote My First 10,000,000 Sponsors and Strange World. He also made several television appearances as a guest of personalities such as Art Linkletter, Mike Douglas, and Alan Burke.

Thus, I believe one could safely say what Mr. Edwards had to report was usually worth listening to. So, if you can bear with me I will refer to some of Mr. Edwards’ information to take you on a short trip down the nostalgic road dealing with the unknown.

On page 71, Mr. Edwards shared a quote which is rather startling when you consider the date and place it was said and who said it. The statement was reportedly made on July 27, 1965 before the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics in San Francisco. Following is the amazing statement;

The United States can eavesdrop on more than one intelligent civilization elsewhere in the Universe anytime we are ready to set up the gear!

According to Mr. Edwards, the speaker was "... Bernard M. Oliver, famed electronics engineer and Vice President of Hewlett-Packard Corporation." Mr. Edwards felt Mr. Oliver knew what had already been done with radio-telescopes when he made this statement. Reportedly, no one in the well-informed audience laughed at Mr. Oliver’s statement. Instead they lengthily applauded him.

I believe it is likely those with the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics responded to Mr. Oliver’s statement as they did because they were already familiar with the following, yet little known history concerning early radio searches of the heavens. I found this information on pages 73–83 of Mr. Edwards’ book. Unfortunately, Mr. Edwards does not always fully provide the sources for all of his information. But, at the time he initially wrote the book he may have felt that most knew about this information already, and his aim was to merely put it all into perspective. Please take into account this book was a best-seller in the 1960s.

On these particular pages, Mr. Edwards mentions some events which I believe really burned the breeches of orthodox science. On page 73 he began to relate the story of the noted Yugoslavian self-taught scientist, Nikola Tesla. Reportedly, Mr. Tesla was mostly known for the Tesla coil. But his most far reaching accomplishment was winning the acceptance of alternating current (AC) over Thomas Edison’s direct current (DC). (AC was able to be transmitted more effectively due to transformer action being able to step AC power up or down. This essentially helped to manage power loss over long distances.) However, AC transformer action also made the propagation and detection of magnetic radio waves possible, and it also played an important role in the future of wireless radio communications.

According to Mr. Edwards, Mr. Tesla had become wealthy by 1899 and some even considered him to be eccentric. This may have been due to him believing power could be taken from the Earth’s magnetic field, and in turn it could be used to send radio waves to other planets which could signal any who could be listening. This indicated Mr. Tesla thought intelligent extraterrestrial (ET) life may have possibly existed on other planets. During his time this was definitely thinking outside the norms of most human thinking.

In addition, Tesla’s idea of extraterrestrial life proved to be much more than mere cerebral undulations. According to Mr. Edwards, Mr. Tesla actually conferred with the U.S. Government and selected a place in Colorado Springs, Colorado to carry out his experiment. Interestingly, the funding for this project reportedly came from the wealthy and powerful J.P. Morgan himself.

On pages 74–75, Mr. Edwards presented information he had gotten from a book entitled Prodigal Genius, which was authored by John O’Neill. This book provided an account of just what happened when Mr. Tesla conducted his experiment in Colorado in 1899.

According to this book, Mr. Tesla fabricated a huge coil, "... seventy-five feet in diameter ..." which fed a "... copper ball atop a two-hundred-foot tower." Reportedly, Tesla’s experiment greatly exceed his expectations. Supposedly, a "mighty wallop" was generated and he produced "... bolts of artificial lightening which literally rocked the countryside for many miles around." However, it seems as a result of the experiment, the public was threatening to have him arrested for disturbing the community.

Nonetheless, before he stopped the experiment Mr. Tesla felt he had proven his point. He believed "... that somewhere out there in space his gargantuan dots and dashes had been detected ... and answered." Reportedly, Mr. Tesla’s equipment detected radio signals which he claimed had "... such clear suggestion of number and order that they could not be traced to any cause known by me ... ." Mr. Tesla’s feelings had considerable merit because at the time of the experiment, Earth’s radio atmosphere was relatively clean. During this time, the inventor, Guglielmo Marconi was "... barely able to send puny little signals a distance of fifty miles—and it was two years after Tesla’s experiment at Colorado Springs that Marconi managed to get the letter "S" across the Atlantic in intelligible form."

Interestingly, while Tesla was shaking up the hillside in Colorado with his rig, Mr. Marconi was in Europe sending the letter "V" to his colleagues fifty miles away. The signal was sent over the English Channel from South Foreland, England to Wimeraux, France. This experiment ended when his colleagues "... finally succeeded in intercepting the signals ..." transmitted by Mr. Marconi.

Strangely, but significantly, in 1921 Marconi claimed to have detected "unidentifiable radio signals" with equipment he had on board his yacht in the Mediterranean. These signals were reportedly similar to the same type of signals Mr. Tesla had picked up in his 1899 experiment, twenty-two years earlier. However, this time, part of the signal was recognizable by Mr. Marconi as the letter "V." He subsequently authorized his representatives in London to publicly announce his claims to the world. Thus, it seems there were some in the past who believed extraterrestrial intelligence’s existed and also believed people of Earth had made some sort of contact with them.

Mr. Edwards does not stop here with this story of "reaching out and being touched" from space. In the ensuing pages, Mr. Edwards does an eloquent job at describing the events of early twentieth century efforts of searching the skies for extraterrestrial life. On pages 75–78 he related the account of an experiment in which the U.S. Navy reportedly participated on August 23, 1924. It is claimed the Navy made arrangements with Charles Francis Jenkins to test one of his new inventions. His invention was a device he built to record radio signals on "... sensitized paper tape or on film."

Mr. Jenkins was a well respected inventor. He developed the "phantascope" between 1891 and 1894 which was a forerunner of the moving picture projector. He also developed a primitive, but working, mechanical scanning disc apparatus which could be used to produce television pictures from electric signals. By 1924 he had perfected his system to the point of being able to record these signals on photographic material.

According to Mr. Edwards, the U.S. Navy wanted to use this equipment to attempt to record any signals which could be coming from Mars while it was closest to Earth during August of 1924. During this time Mars was supposed to be about 35,000,000 miles from Earth. However, Navy personnel did not wish to take a chance on being ridiculed if their efforts became public and the experiment failed. Thus, they chose to simply supply the funds and equipment while someone else managed the experiment. This way they had very little to lose regardless of the results.

The man chosen to lead the project was Dr. David Todd, a respected and well known astronomer. It was thought a project such as searching for signals from Mars would be considered acceptable work for someone in his profession with his background rather than the U.S. Naval Observatory officially going out on such a limb.

The night of the actual experiment was a unique time in the history of searching for signals from space. To prepare for the event, the U.S. Government ordered all radio transmitters in the country to maintain radio silence. I believe this would have been pretty impressive clout for a single astronomer getting ready to try an experiment of this type. However, if the government was indeed interested in the results and behind the actual experiment they could also shut down the nation’s transmitters if they wanted to do—and that is exactly what they reportedly did.

A roll of sensitized paper was put into the "Jenkins Radio-Camera" and it was turned on. The special paper slowly moved past a point of light being modulated by electrical radio signals which were being fed from an antenna aimed at Mars. Reportedly, the special recording paper was about "... thirty feet long and slightly more than six inches wide."

Reportedly, there were other people simultaneously listening for signals all around the world while this experiment was being conducted. The other listeners experienced varying results and some made reports while others did not. However, reportedly an odd series of signals had been detected at a station in British Columbia. The signals were reported to have been made up "... of four dashes in code, repeated for many minutes." France and England also had amateur radio operators (Hams) to report they had also received "... meaningless code." Yet, our own Navy ships seemed to have nothing to report. If they did hear something, they were not talking.

However, Dr. Todd did indeed have something to report. It seems the Jenkins Radio-Camera had functioned perfectly and remarkably. Down one side of the special roll of paper tape were seen irregular dots denoting the signals some of the other stations had also reported. However, it was the patterns down the other side of the tape which really drew attention. That side revealed weird clusters of signals which seemed to appear every thirty minutes. These strange patterns were reported to the public five days later in the New York Times. On August 28, 1924, the paper reported the strange phenomenon;

Development of a photographic film record of the radio signals in a period of 29 hours when Mars was closest to the earth, has deepened the mystery of the dots and dashes reported heard at the same time by widely separated operators of powerful stations.

The film ... discloses in black on white a fairly regular arrangement of dots and dashes along one side, but on the other side at almost evenly spaced intervals are curiously jumbled groups, each taking the form of a crudely drawn human face.

Reportedly, the scientist who analyzed the patterns recorded on the special tape were "... bewildered by this strange turn of events." Even Charles Francis Jenkins himself seemed to be at a lost to explain how his device could have produced such images.

Even though there were a lot of questions surrounding this development, the tape was "... finally filed and forgotten." However, the crudely drawn faces were not the only oddity discovered in the experiment.

It seems some scientist had also noticed how there seemed to be a chronological relationship concerning the reception of the strange radio signals reported by Mr. Marconi, Mr. Tesla, and this last experiment by Dr. Todd.

First, in 1899, both Mr. Tesla and Mr. Marconi had transmitted pulses of high frequency radio energy. While Mr. Tesla had merely blasted the heavens with irregular patterns of dots and dashes, Mr. Marconi had transmitted the letter "V" as defined by the Morse code. Twenty-two years later, in 1921, Mr. Marconi detected the Morse code "V" on his yacht in the Mediterranean. This signal had reportedly been received under conditions leading some to believe it had been transmitted from an "... extra-terrestrial source." In addition, Mr. Marconi made his first broadcast across the Atlantic in December of 1901 by transmitting the letter "S." In August of 1924, the letter "S" was picked up by various receivers on Earth. This was just a few months longer than the emerging twenty-two years pattern seen in the previous broadcast and detection cycles. As a result, some scientist were beginning to believe the detection of signals duplicating what had been transmitted twenty-two years earlier was not a coincidence.

Mr. Edwards took this chronological notion a step further by pointing out the following fact;

Twenty-two years from our space signal experiments of 1924 brings us to 1946, the year the Unidentified Flying Objects swarmed over Earth, in this case over the Scandinavian countries and parts of Soviet Russia.

I was amazed when I saw the facts presented in a chronological time reference. And as Mr. Edwards pointed out, these facts could add up to being merely strange coincidences. However, he presents one more little known, but documented fact to demonstrate why he did not believe coincidence alone was the cause of these strange events occurring at specific time intervals.

He related how another experiment had been conducted which seems to have also produced results twenty-two years later. This time the experiment was conducted by Nathan Stubblefield in the summer of 1902. Like Mr. Tesla, some also considered Mr. Stubblefield to be somewhat eccentric.

In either case, the Washington Evening Star announced the experiment in its headlines on May 21, 1902 by saying, "By Land and Water First Practical Test of Wireless Telegraphy Heard for Half Mile." According to the article, Mr. Stubblefield actually sent "voice messages" from the Bartholdi, a steamer on the Potomac River. He reportedly exchanged voice messages with prominent members of Congress who where located at the river’s edge. Some kind of way, he reportedly had accomplished this feat by attaching two wires to his equipment and dangling them into the river.

Mr. Edwards noted this experiment took place almost "... exactly twenty-two years before Dr. Todd and the Naval Observatory technicians intercepted those strange signals ..." resulting in the crudely drawn human faces.

The twenty-two year cycle seems to indicate something intelligent located approximately eleven light years (the distance light and radio waves travels in one year) from Earth, detected our signals and then sent us a response to let us know it heard us. The total time needed for such an exchange would be eleven years out and eleven years back, a total of twenty-two years. If this was actually the case, it means something intelligent existed within an eleven light year radius of Earth. There are some who did calculations which appear to have narrowed the field of possible locations to a pair of star groups. They were referred to as "Tau Ceti" and "Epsilon-Eridani."

In either case, it seemed somebody with the right clout considered exploring the heavens a viable investment. In 1926, a rather large wireless receiving station was built in Nebraska as a joint project of the Navy and the Signal Corps. Reportedly, this project was managed by Johns Hopkins University and it cost the taxpayers "... an admitted one hundred thousand dollars ..." That was a lot of money during that period of time for a venture such as this.

On pages 82–83, Mr. Edwards related another bit of relevant history as I prepare to end this facet of our trip in UFO/ET history. In the early part of 1959, he reported how a large radio telescope was being built to search for intelligent signals from space. This telescope was being built at "... Green Bank, West Virginia, by the National Science Foundation." However, the government reportedly denied his claims very quickly. Mr. Edwards said in the beginning of Green Bank its first director, Dr. Otto Struve, spent a lot of time stressing how this was a "long-range program" which was very important. The program was referred to as "Project Ozma." In addition, Dr. Struve reportedly related how he felt the work held possible benefits which could result, as Mr. Edwards put it, "... from communication with a more advanced civilization."

During this time, Dr. Struve’s assistant, Dr. Frank Drake, reportedly disclosed during the closing days of "Project Ozma," the radio dish picked up some odd signals which appeared to come from the "... region of the star Tau Ceti ..." and they announced their discoveries to the press. The public responded with great interest. Reportedly, during this same time other receivers on Earth appeared to be picking up other signals which also seemed to be twenty-two years old.

When reporters contacted Dr. Drake at Green Bank, he would only say a report would be forthcoming from the National Science Foundation. However, when the report came out the announcement which had come out of Green Bank had been labeled a "scare." The report went on to say the signals which had been picked up had been "... apparently experiments of a secret nature ..." which no one elaborated on.

In my opinion, Mr. Edwards’ book is a classic, not only for the time it was written, but also for our time as well. I hope this book will remain in print so many more can read it. If you do obtain a copy I believe you will find it very informative to say the least. I believe its historical perspective is very valuable. As far as I am concerned, this section of Mr. Edwards’ book is a masterpiece.

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