Ham Radio Operator Searches For Exraterrestrials

Published On Tuesday, May 08, 2007 10:26 PM, By RAVIV MURCIANO-GOROFF
Crimson Staff Writer

“CQ, CQ, CQ. This is W1AF, Whiskey, One, Alpha, Foxtrot,” Clayton M. Nall calls into the microphone as he wiggles the dial on a large ham radio. Nall, a doctoral student at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, leans in toward the speaker and listens for hints of words among the crackling static.

He adjusts the 20-foot antennae atop the clubhouse of W1AF, home of the Harvard Wireless Club. After five minutes of intense focusing, Nall makes his first connection of the day with the faint calls of a radio operator in Bermuda.

In an age of cell phones, instant messaging, and video teleconferencing, there are still people like Nall who hammer away in Morse code on their ham radios, trying to see how many people they can connect with around the world—and beyond.

These two-way communication devices come in many sizes, ranging from small hand-held radios to stereo-sized machines with towering antennas. Using nothing but dots and dashes and a few volts, members of the Harvard Wireless Club—America’s oldest amateur radio club—can reach out to over two million users around the world.

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