3.1 Introduction to Project Cyclops 21 But NASA chose to give the Project Cyclops report much wider circulation and importance, under the designation Contractor Report (CR) 114445. Ten thousand copies were printed and distributed. Cyclops was the first large-scale effort to study this problem from all aspects in a coordinated way. It was orders of magnitude beyond what had been done before. But of course, it was understood that even more orders of magnitude of study would be needed to actually construct the system envisioned by the study. The Cyclops report was initially misunderstood by some people to be an “all or nothing” plan, and hence impractical. In reality, the plan was to start with a small, relatively inexpensive system using a single antenna, and then enlarge it as needed until success was achieved. Some notable firsts for Cyclops included: 1 Determination that the region of the radio spectrum between 1.4 and 1.7 GHz has the lowest natural radio noise and ease of reception, and is hence the logical radio band of choice for inter-species communication. 2 Recognition that the hydrogen (H) radio spectral line at 1.4 GHz and the hydroxyl (OH) radio spectral line at 1.7 GHz bound this lowest-noise band, in a cosmic coincidence (Figure 3.3). Figure 3.2 Barney Oliver, Vice President of Research at Hewlett-Packard.
22 Project Cyclops: The Greatest Radio Telescope Never Built Figure 3.3 The difficulty of reception of radio signals at various frequencies is determined by the natural noise from the galaxy, the 3 degree blackbody noise left over from the beginning of the universe, the quantum noise of radio photons, and the fact that drifting signals require greater bandwidth or smaller integration time. All these effects are added up here, showing that the best frequency range is the “Water Hole” between H and OH. 3 Recognition that these two molecules combine to form water (H+OH=H 2 0), and then creating the name “Water Hole” for this band 4 Making the philosophical connection between the radio Water Hole, and the wilderness water holes found on Earth, which are the meeting places of different species 5 Recognizing that the senders of any signals intended for other civilizations would design their signal in such a way as to make it as easy as possible for the recipients to decipher it. That is the whole purpose of sending it, and designing it this way maximizes the probability of successfully establishing contact. The term “Principle of Anticryptography” was assigned to this idea 6 Determination of the optimum size of each antenna to be used in an array of required total size, so as to minimize cost 7 The system of upconverting each received band to a fixed frequency maser amplifier