Black Swans & The "Wow" Signal

  • Published on: 21 May 2021
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    New research! One-offs... there's something about them, whether it be the first interstellar asteroid or a star behaving in an unprecedented way. These "black swans" capture our attention and imagination but interpreting them is challenged by the inherent scarcity of data. Perhaps no case encapsulates this more than the famous 1977 Wow Signal. Join us today as we discuss our new paper on Black Swan Theory with consequences for the Wow signal.

    You can support our research program and the Cool Worlds Lab at Columbia University:

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    Thank-you to our supporters T. Widdowson, D. Smith, M. Sloan, L. Sanborn, C. Bottaccini, D. Daughaday, A. Jones, S. Brownlee, M. Lijoi, Z. Star, T. Zanjonc, C. Wolfred, F. Rebolledo, L. Skov, E. Wilson, M. Elliot, B. Daniluk, J. Patrick-Saunders, M. Forbes, S. Vystoropskyi, S. Lee, Z. Danielson, C. Fitzgerald, V. Alexandrov, L. Macchia, C. Souter, M. Gillette, T. Jeffcoat, H. Jensen, F. Linker, J. Rockett, N. Fredrickson, B. Mlazgar, D. Holland, J. Alexander, E. Hanway, A. Rao, E. Crump & J. Bergman.

    Correction at 10:19 - the hydrogen line is 1420 MHz not kHz

    ► Kipping, D. (2021), "Black Swans in Astronomical Data", MNRAS, in press:
    ► Harp, G., Gray, R., et al., (2020), "An ATA Search for a Repetition of the Wow Signal", AJ, 160, 162:
    ► Event Horizon interview with Dr Jerry Ehman:
    ► Our previous video about BLC-1:
    ► Breakthrough Listen live-stream about BLC-1:

    Music licensed by (SS) [], or via Creative Commons (CC) Attribution License (, or with permission from the artist
    ► Brad Hill - Replicant []
    ► Joachim Heinrich - Y
    ► Brad Hill - A Slowly Lifting Fog []
    ► Chris Zabriskie - Cylinder Five
    ► Indive - Lightyears Away
    ► Chris Zabriskie - Cylinder Four
    ► Falls - Life in Binary
    ► Falls - Ripley
    ► Kevin MacLeod - Long Note Two
    ► Joachim Heinrich - Horizon

    ::Video clips::
    ► LHC footage and animations by CERN:
    ► Pulsar animation I by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center:
    ► Pulsar animation II by NASA/Fermi/Cruz deWilde
    ► Oumuamua animation I by ESO/M. Kornmesser/L. Calcada:
    ► Oumuamua animation II by ESA/Hubble/NASA/ESO/M. Kornmesser:
    ► Parker probe animation by NASA/JHUAPL:
    ► Footage of Mayor & Queloz by NCCR PlanetS:
    ► Douglas Vakoch footage by TEDx talks:
    ► Gaia animation by ESA/C. Carreau:
    ► APEX timelapse by ESO/B. Tafreshi (
    ► Orbital debris animation by NASA/ODPO/JSC:
    ► Outro video by ESO/L.Calçada/

    ::Film clips used::
    ► Contact (1997) - Warner Bros
    ► Independence Day (1996) - 20th Century Fox
    ► Ad Astra (2019) - 20th Century Fox

    00:00 Discovery
    02:50 Black Swans
    07:53 Sponsorship
    09:08 The Wow Signal
    11:59 Black Swan Theory
    17:09 Wow as a Black Swan
    23:48 Credits

    #BlackSwanTheory #WowSignal #CoolWorlds
  • Runtime : 24:41
  • Astronomy Astrophysics Exoplanets Cool Worlds Kipping


  • Joel Kavanagh
    Joel Kavanagh   1 weeks ago

    half of 4-EvA stills hoi pretty long toima ,, .. ,. ,. .., ., . , .

  • Google Reviewer
    Google Reviewer   1 weeks ago

    Wasn't the WOW signal mystery solved a few years ago and it has been established that it was due to two comets passing by as stated here:

  • Aaron Davis
    Aaron Davis   2 weeks ago

    What if the WOW signal was picked up due to a Jovoscope effect (signal amplification through atmospheric lensing) from the parent system in which it emanated? What would that do to your probability of detecting it again and does that seem like a reasonable explanation for the short duration?

  • mrchefcheck
    mrchefcheck   3 weeks ago

    It was just a big interstellar alien ship zooming by and we happened to pick up its what I would like to believe

  • TheSebiestor
    TheSebiestor   3 weeks ago

    i love everything about this guy's voice

  • nolifeonearth
    nolifeonearth   4 weeks ago

    if discovered today, it would be called WTF signal

  • b m
    b m   4 weeks ago

    He talks about Robert Gray, but Robert Gray was also the legal human name of Pennywise, the clown from Stephen King's It. And since It was a giant entity from outer space which crashed into the earth with a meteor, the circle closes on this topic.

  • Ian Davies
    Ian Davies   1 months ago

    Surely the fact that we’ve been unable to find the wow signal again suggests that it’s not a natural phenomenon? Natural phenomena, however rare will be repeated right?

  • Anthony Zornig
    Anthony Zornig   1 months ago

    Hey Guys @ Cool World. Can‘t find the track on the Credits. Is it composed just for that or who is the artist. An answer is very much appreciated.Anyways, thanks for all your terrific works. Really cool!Cheers

  • Yakov Gaudofshmansky
    Yakov Gaudofshmansky   1 months ago

    I do wonder whether Jocelyn Bell was the inspiration for the character of Eleanor Arroway in the film (book) Contact. Their stories are, at least superficially, remarkably similar.

  • Stephen LeFevre
    Stephen LeFevre   1 months ago

    I pay for youtube to get rid of ads. I stopped watching commercial television in the 90s. I downvote and don't follow any youtubers who put ads in the middle of their vids. I HateCommercialsI pay to not have them.

  • ŇïčÖłë ËŁïsë ÖWĖN ÅndĖrŠÖn

    I am the Real NEO.I am also an Oracle starseed. I have communucated with the higher beings for over halfcentury. I am living proof. I am a #BLACKSWAN.Also, vision researchers have discovered and confirmed the genetically rare evolved 'mutation' of tetrachromacy. I have spectrographic eyes, and holographic memory, as well as ArchEngaged sensory perception. I have been growing, being taught by the divine beings, including being able to read the datastream of each star I hone my eyes and connect with. They are now presenting themselves to us, as we are ready. The wow system is so much more than you realize. I am prepared and ready to come forward to the world, as asked in order to translate communications and establish relations helpfully. Last year, they presented the NEOWISE COMET TO INTRODUCE me. World leaders & leading scientists have ignored me. We await finding those greatest of open minds to rise above and Attend serious critical humanity status. All 'mysteries' beyond your quantum capsule of cerebral capabilities, are not mysteries to the Divine Beings. All questions have answers.Hope to meet all of you soon.Love, Nicole Elise OWEN . Anderson

  • Derek
    Derek   1 months ago

    amazing content

  • TheFlyingCrud
    TheFlyingCrud   1 months ago

    I feel that a great thought experiment in this context is how would you transmit such a signal? May give some clues on intervals to expect. However, just gathering as much data as possible is a better method to be fair. Have to have some sort of balance between clever methodology and brute force methodology.

  • Sleepless Saint
    Sleepless Saint   1 months ago

    I have a different theory about WOW! signal. As this kind of research requires a lot of money to keep running. Someone must come up with a brilliant idea for keeping the research running. I am not saying such programs are useless, this is very important for Humans to be alive but we live in capitalist world. Just take an example of your Video.

  • Jonathan Clary
    Jonathan Clary   1 months ago

    I believe the video has it wrong. Should it be rather "Rara avis in terris nigroque simillima cygno"

  • Lou Jost
    Lou Jost   1 months ago

    I think that the lack of replication of this signal is strong evidence that the signal was not natural.

  • MasterLuigi 

    ETs communicate with us through binary / hex coded crop circles. There's serious research on this phenomenon.

  • Juan Crespo
    Juan Crespo   1 months ago

    Why is the once-only transmission of a signal message so unreasonable? Didn't we send a signal from the Arecibo Radio Telescope to the M13 globular cluster in 1974 (don't hold your breath for any reply: 20,000 l.y.). Approaching 48 years and no repeats yet from us... If there is anyone in the line-of-sight of that transmission, we might show up as a WOW. Or a MEH, since the signal-to-noise ratio would be close to non-existent.

  • sarah light
    sarah light   1 months ago

    Sorry. I cannot stand your science anymore.Too slow, twisted, false.Nice serpent scarf though.Much love.

  • dante9192
    dante9192   1 months ago

    Love your video about Black Swan. But!! Scientist often miss a very crucial element when thinking about events like the WOW signal. To catch a thieve, you need to think like a thieve. How many attempts have we try to send a radio signal in hopes that an alien civilization may intercept it? I can only think of one even. That event was short and more of a wild shot in the dark. What if the WOW signal was a similar lame attempt as that??

  • Richard S
    Richard S   1 months ago

    We did send a strong signal just once. Not repeatedly. And now even the telescope (Arecibo) is gone from which we sent our own "wow" signal into the galactic neighbourhood...But when we receive a signal, we say that it must be a repeated signal, otherwise it would not be considered an artificial signal.We ask something from the signals we receive, that we ourselves did not provide once we sent our own signal out to space...It's a little bit contradictory to me.(But yes, I understand that there are much more factors. A natural signal is more smeared out, is not a sharp signal. But we did receive a sharp signal. Just once... And we received repeated signals which look very much like smeared out natural signals... Something natural must be orbiting each other which emits the waves... And by the way, who said that other intelligent species would send their signal like we do, with sharp frequency boundaries? Maybe they are used to do it differently - but that's not my main point. May main point is our own once-in-a-lifetime-sent wow signal - and we expect others to repeat their signal, otherwise we would not consider it an artificial signal ;-)

  • MX TW
    MX TW   1 months ago

    Changed your tune ey..

  • ashleelmb
    ashleelmb   1 months ago

    I'm skeptical that this was down to alien intelligence. I think that it was probably either created by man made interfierance somehow or a mal functioning receiver. Or possibly natural causes as a result of a rare situation of multiple elements in space coming into contact with each other and giving off a short radio signal as a result.

  • Tony Midyett
    Tony Midyett   1 months ago

    A real estate swindler and game show host with mob ties being elected POTUS is a Black Swan Event.

  • Paddy Mc
    Paddy Mc   1 months ago

    Yeah I'm an Aussie. I've never seen a white swan in real life. For all I know they're fabrications.

  • David Popa
    David Popa   1 months ago

    It's so funny how you humans think you can use statistics and numbers to predict reality. Your numerical system is just a concept in your funnily egg shaped heads There is no 1 or 2 or 3 in reality. There is no + or - in reality. Observe anything you'd describe as 1 in nature and you'll find it consists in milions of other parts going down to infinity. See that + or - is a myth. Nothing ever gets lost, nothing ever is added. Everything there is ever was and ever will be. Just in other forms.

  • zazugee
    zazugee   1 months ago

    UFO phenomena is the blackswan of science, or mb the black sheepScientists expect the nonhuman intelligences to be the subjects of science but when they are the subject of another intelligence it makes them uncomfortable and the deny it's possible

  • Jeff Hall
    Jeff Hall   1 months ago

    I’m sure you’re incredibly busy, but it would be awesome to hear you do some sort of guided meditation!

  • john fyten
    john fyten   1 months ago

    Carl Sagan was a true prophet of astronomy. He sparked my imagination as a kid. This channel, and Parralax Nick, keep the fire burning.

  • Chris Lemfors
    Chris Lemfors   1 months ago


  • Gamer4Life
    Gamer4Life   1 months ago

    What if it was in an orbit ? It could take years for it to be broadcasting in same location, then add stella drift. You may never find it again, you had it and lost track of it. For next time have a programme to automatically take controll of serveral listen stations to track it and know its point of origin.

  • XIvvIX
    XIvvIX   1 months ago

    Bc CERN is summoning the Devil! Look up there opening ceremony rituals before starting the machine

  • Jason Gann
    Jason Gann   1 months ago

    Is that electrical tape you're using to keep the mic from falling from your shirt? Very scientific.

  • K_Ottick Just Jeremy
    K_Ottick Just Jeremy   1 months ago

    Help me understand please...🥺 if time and distance is relative. Then if you (sender of transmission) sped up or slowed down a message could it be received comprehensible/legible/recordable to us as a singular SOS therefore would not repeat? I understand odds of a non repeating SOS would be low and just not smart. But could this be possible 🤔 I think of hearing a message through a doughnut tube...

  • Brian
    Brian   1 months ago

    Fast becoming one of my favorite channels.