Second World / Blog


I have released a new CD, “DIGITAL SILENCE” available for purchase or download through CD Baby, Reverbnation, and at iTunes. The album features nine original tunes exploring a range of musical worlds including jazz, rock, progressive, new-age, and electronic. The CD opens with “The Journey”, sounding initially like progressive rock before transforming into latin jazz and finally jazz-funk. “Sleepwalking” offers a somnambulistic mood, exploring the dreamlike state between sleep and awareness. “Dark Light Part I” and especially “Dark Light Part II” are musical “film-noir”, evoking moods from the post war era of the last century. “Pyranees” is symphonic in nature, representing the majesty of the natural world. “Digital Silence”, “Labyrinth” and especially “Slang City” are more abstract and draw from electronic styles of music. The dominant melodic voices on the CD are fretted and fretless electric and MIDI bass, as well as keyboards. You can find the CD at the following links:




Thanks for listening!

The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence

I'm not sure why I don't remember hearing about this, but on August 15, 1977, a radio telescope at Ohio State University recorded a short 37 second, but very intense signal originating from the constellation of Sagittarius. The characteristics of the signal matched enough of those expected from a signal of non-terrestrial orgin and outside the solar system for Jerry Ehman, a professor at Franklin University and a SETI volunteer on duty that night to write the exclamation "WOW" in the margin of the computer printout.

What did this represent? It was not a decipherable message, but a strong signal, some thirty times (in audio terms +15dB) above the background noise. It was described by the series of alphanumeric characters "6EQUJ5", each letter or number just indicating the intensity of the signal at intervals of 12 seconds. The scale went from "zero" to "9" and then used the letters "A" through "Z" for even higher amplitudes. So the peak of the signal at "U" was thirty times the background.

The signal is significant because it was transmitted at a frequency whose usage is prohibited by the appropriate government agencies here on Earth. The general conclusion is that the likeihood of the signal being terrestrial in origin, for example from an aircraft and being reflected off a piece of space debris, is extrememly remote. Although Dr. Ehman initially favored a terrestrial explanation, he has subsequently moved away from this. "I am still waiting for a definitive explanation that makes sense" he stated in the recent past.

Why am I writing about this? Do I think that "Independence Day" is at hand? No, I think it does give us something to dream about. Ehman does warn about "drawing vast conclusions from half-vast data", but we don't have to (and probably cannot) reach a definitive conclusion at this time. Is it a signal from an extraterrestial civilization? Maybe. I would hope it would get us thinking about the overwhelming vastness of the universe. And even with the potential for a multitude of civilizations in existence spread throughout the galaxy and beyond, what the actual odds are for detecting their presence. It might make us appreciate the challenges facing a program such as SETI and lead to fewer questions such as "why haven't they found definitive evidence of extraterrestial life, they've been operating for 50 years!", and more questions like "its amazing they have been able to receive even ONE signal potentially of extra-terrestrial origin in 50 years".

The challenge is demonstrated by the fact that the "Big Ear Observatory" (the radio telescope that detected the "WOW" signal) can only observe a fraction of about one-millionth of the sky at any one time. Therefore, a signal originating in some random point in the sky will be missed by the Big Ear Observatory about 99.999% of the time. If the signal itself comes from a transmitter with similar characteristics to the Big Ear Observatory (say it transmits to a fraction of one-millionth of the sky), then the likelihood of both transmitter and receiver pointing at each other at any given moment is 0.000 000 000 1% !!

Try googling "The Wow Signal", there is certainly some interesting reading there. The Wikipedia article is a good starting point.

In any case, what this results in is good subject material for musical compositions. I am planning to write a couple of compositions with this subject in mind and I have a sample track with some initial ideas called "Chi Sagittarii/6EQUJ5" . You can have a listen to it on MySpace at www.myspace.com/secondworld or at ReverbNation at www.reverbnation.com/secondworld. Have a great first week of 2011!

Richard Wright

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