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Explanation of the Code “6EQUJ5"

On the Wow! Computer Printout

Written by Dr. Jerry R. Ehman

The photo of the computer printout of the Wow! source shows not only
my handwritten comment ("Wow!") but also the circling of the 6
characters "6EQUJ5" lined up vertically in a column. What is the
meaning of this code?

Each of the first 50 columns of the computer printout shows the

successive values of intensity (or power) received from the Big Ear
radio telescope in each channel (10 kHz wide) in successive 12-second
intervals (10 seconds was used for actual sampling and another
approximately 2 seconds was needed for computer processing). In
order to conserve space on the printout, Bob Dixon and I decided to
use a coding method that would result in only one alphanumeric (i.e.,
either alphabetic or numeric) character for each intensity. The
computer was programmed to keep a continuously-updated account
for each channel of a baseline value and an rms value (rms stands for
"root mean square", which is equivalent to the statistical term
"standard deviation"). The actual intensity (after the baseline value
was subtracted out) was then divided by the rms value to obtain a
scaled value (i.e., the number of standard deviations above the
baseline). Since there was space for only one character to be displayed,
we decided to take only the integer value of this scaled intensity for
values in the range 0 to 9.999... . The truncated value of zero was
printed as a blank (space). The truncated value of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,
and 9 were printed directly. For scaled intensities of 10 to 35,
inclusive, the capital letters of the alphabet were used. Thus a
truncated value of 10 was printed as an "A", 11 as a "B", etc. If the
scaled intensity ever got to 36.0 or above, the program would simply
start over again at zero (e.g., a truncated value of 38 would be printed
the same as that of 38-35=3, namely a "3").

Thus, the "6EQUJ5" code in channel 2 means successive intensities as


6 --> the range 6.0 - 6.999...

E --> the range 14.0 - 14.999...
Q --> the range 26.0 - 26.999...
U --> the range 30.0 - 30.999...
J --> the range 19.0 - 19.999...
5 --> the range 5.0 - 5.999...

The value "U", meaning the range 30.0 - 30.999..., was the largest value
ever seen. We do not believe that the intensity ever got above 31.0 and
hence no rollover (subtraction of 35) ever occurred. It would have
been easy to spot in a sequence of 6 or 7 numbers that should follow
the antenna pattern of the telescope.

The six successive values in channel 2 fit the antenna pattern of Big Ear
very well. I have also done a correlation analysis of the six data points
with the mathematical functions: (1) gaussian = normal curve; and
(2)(sin(x)/x)^2. The data fit each of those two functions very well with
correlation coefficients of over 0.99 (i.e., almost a perfect fit). I also fit
the data to each of the two actual antenna patterns (of the two horns)
using the moderately strong radio source OY372. The correlation
coefficients were again over 0.99. There was not enough difference
between the two correlation coefficients to determine which horn the
Wow! source was received in.

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Last modified: February 20, 2008.
Bibliographical Information:

Title: Explanation of the Code “6EQUJ5” On the Wow!

Computer Printout

Author: Dr. Jerry R. Ehman

Publisher: Big Ear Radio Observatory and North American
AstroPhysical Observatory

Date creation:
Last Updated:

Original source (http://www.bigear.org/6equj5.htm)

Original site (http://www.bigear.org/default.htm)

Bookmarked and edited by José Pedro Gomes

in the interest of sharing reliable and congruent knowledge

Tasfastas (May, 2011)