Did Ohio State detect an alien signal?

Did Ohio State detect an alien signal?

Humans have long scanned the vastness of space in search of intelligent extraterrestrial life. Though the pursuit of aliens has largely come up empty, one strange discovery recorded by an Ohio State astronomer in 1977 continues to baffle scientists and stoke imaginations that maybe we aren’t alone in the universe: the “Wow! signal.”

The Wow! signal was detected by Ohio State’s Radio Observatory (known as the “Big Ear” telescope), which surveyed the sky between 1973-95 for alien radio signals. The 22-year search is the longest-running Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) project in history.

On Aug. 15, 1977, the Big Ear picked up an inexplicably mysterious signal originating near the Sagittarius constellation. Volunteer astronomer Jerry Ehman, surprised by the numbers he saw on a computer readout detailing the intensity of the signal, wrote “Wow!” next to the finding, coining its name. To this day, the Wow! signal remains the strongest candidate for an alien radio transmission ever detected.

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Wow! Signal


Horror Movies

Joe Neff (BA, 2000, English literature and cinema studies) is the special events coordinator at the Drexel Theatre in Bexley, Ohio, and special events supervisor at the Wexner Center for the Arts. He also directs “Shock Around the Clock,” an annual 24-hour horror movie marathon held at the Drexel.


Zombies are everywhere these days — in movies and books; on stage and television. They lurk in the shadows waiting patiently to pounce and feed on brains. Undead and not quite living, where do zombies come from and why are they here? Anthropology professor Jeff Cohen answers some of our burning questions about the undead. 

Halloween Origins

Merrill Kaplan, associate professor, Folklore and Scandinavian Studies in the Departments of English and Germanic Languages and Literatures, gives us some insight into the origins of Halloween and explains some similarities and differences between the spooky holiday of the past and today's trick-or-treat fest.


Sarah Johnston, Arts and Humanities Distinguished Professor of Religion in the Department of Classics, has taught classes on magic and witchcraft, focusing on its history and culture from medieval and early modern periods and its far-reaching impact on society. Her current research concentrates on Greek myth and the afterlife. 


courses you might take:

ENGLISH 3378: Special Topics in Film and Literature — Monsters Without and Within

This course focuses on films that aggressively transform their literary sources, reinterpreting characters and retooling plots to create monsters that offer different visions of what we have to fear and of how we can (or cannot) overcome the monsters without and within. We will move from dragons and humanoids to vampires, zombies, ghosts, and psychopaths. Our sampling of classics old and new will include Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dracula, I Am Legend, and The Shining.

CLASSICS 3100: What Are You Afraid Of? Ghost Stories from Antiquity to Right Now

In this course, we'll start by reading ancient tales of ghosts and make our way forward to ghost stories and films from the 21st century, asking what makes all of them work — that is, why do they frighten us? And: has what frightens us always remained the same or does it change, depending on the society that invents a particular story?

ANTHROP 3334: Zombies: The Anthropology of the Undead

Students will understand how culture and social organization help us define the living, the dead and the undead in the contemporary and archaeological record, and how we create social categories that organize our world and our place.

SLAVIC 2230: Vampires, Monstrosity and Evil: From Slavic Myth to Twilight

Changing approaches to evil as embodied in vampires in East European folk belief and European and American pop culture; function of vampire and monster tales in cultural context.

ghost stories, death cafes and the darker side of life

ghost stories, death cafes and the darker side of life

Chris Woodyard (BA, medieval and renaissance studies, 1976) has made a living out of her fascination with the dead. Her love of history led her to Ohio State and eventually to a degree in medieval and renaissance studies. But after graduation, Woodyard found a lifelong career in writing.

Once Woodyard completed her first book, a how-to guide for newly arrived families in Dayton titled “The Wright Stuff,” she asked her local librarians what she should work on next. Their immediate response? A book of Ohio ghost stories.

Woodyard has since published seven volumes of Haunted Ohio, which collectively chronicle ghostly tales from each of Ohio’s 88 counties. She also recently published The Victorian Book of the Dead, a collection of death and mourning rituals from the 19th century. We sat down with Woodyard to learn how she turned her interest in “the darker side of life” into a career — and how Ohio State helped her get there.

Michael von Siebenburg Melts Through the Floorboards: A monster story for modern times

Photo by Jodi Miller

A 500-year-old Austrian count recently took up residence at the Roy Bowen Theatre during his hunt for human flesh. The Department of Theatre's latest production starred fourth-year theatre major Dakota Drown as Michael von Siebenburg, the immortal count in question who survives the ages through cannibalism.

Directed by Jennifer Schlueter and Karie Miller, the dark comedy was a display of misogyny and monstrosity, peppered with pop culture references.

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Frankenreads: Celebrating 200 Years of Frankenstein

In 1818, Mary Shelley penned the novel Frankenstein, introducing the famous monster to the world. To celebrate the novel's 200th anniversary, the Department of English is holding a series of events that include a tour of the Frankenreads Exhibit in Thompson Library, a reading of Shelley's Frankenstein, and a roundtable discussion between faculty and graduate students centered on Frankenstein-related topics.

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