Rio Scale

In 1959, physicists Philip Morrison and Giuseppe Cocconi crafted a scientific paper that was peer reviewed and published in a major journal. In it, they argued for a radio telescopic search for evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence.

In an unrelated event, in 1962, with NASA funding, astronomer Carl Sagan crafted a scientific paper that was also peer reviewed and published in a major journal. In it, Carl argued for an Earth-based search for extraterrestrial artifacts, identifying Ancient Near Eastern literature as particularly promising.

Citing the Morrison/Cocconi paper as justification, in 1960, radio astronomer Frank Drank activated the first radio telescope search for an electronic signal from ET, a strategy that continues to this day. After more than six decades, only a few scientifically credible candidates have materialized, and none confirmed.

A parallel search for Earth-based alien artifacts based on the Sagan Model was never activated. Nevertheless, in 2018, a discovery of empirical evidence based on the Sagan Model was investigated by the Center for Inquiry, with the conclusion that what I now call the Sagan Signal is a non-predictive and non-algorithmic code in the Old Testament that most likely is not of human origin, the same conclusion that three previous independent investigations arrived at.

To better evaluate alien signal candidates, SETI developed the Rio Scale, ranging from 10 to a confirmed candidate, down to zero for a hoax. Now interactive on the internet as the Rio Scale Calculator, it allows anyone with an interest in the Sagan Signal to select from a series of variable metrics those that they believe best describe the data.

Including the CFI investigation, the lowest I can get on the calculator is a 4, or moderate, and the highest is a 6, or noteworthy. Either number would justify an investigation by the SETI Institute.

What the Rio Scale Calculator doesn’t include as one of its descriptives is a signal candidate intrinsically connected to an established search protocol based on a peer reviewed and published paper written by Carl Sagan - one of the founders of the modern SETI movement. This is not pseudoscience, it’s the courageous and individualistic position of one of the leading scientists in SETI research. I believe that fact alone should elevate the Rio Scale rating by at least one number. A rating of 7 is designated “high,” and a rating of 5 is considered “intermediate. 

Where on the Rio Scale the SETI Institute rates the Sagan Signal remains to be seen, but unless someone at SETI can punch a hole in it, which is unlikely, I am hopeful that it will be graded high enough to trigger a formal investigation.

For easy access, the official link to the Rio Scale Calculator is:

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