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An Exclusive Interview with Pierre Fabre, Co-founder of Lone Signal

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An Exclusive Interview with Pierre Fabre, Co-founder of Lone Signal

pierre fabre

Last month. Top Secret Writers wrote a report that looked at the authenticity of Lone Signal, a California-based project involving sending messages to extraterrestrials in space. Determined to unravel the truth about why the ambitious project quickly disappeared, we caught up with Pierre Fabre, the French businessman who co-founded the project. Gabrielle Pickard talks exclusively with Pierre about the inspiration, financing and future plans for the scheme and his thoughts about the suggestion that Lone Signal was a scam.

The Interview

What inspired you to launch something so ambitious as Lone Signal?

My partner, Greg, and I are both science geeks. He studied marine biology before becoming a fashion photographer, and I’ve had a lifelong amateur interest in high-energy physics and anthropology. One could say we were predisposed.

We were discussing launching an exo-planet web community slash online ashram at my place one day. Twitter was just getting big and we were excited about social networking in general. The main thing we agreed upon was that we needed something to make our site unique. We wanted something that would really make people of all cultures want to gather around and participate in our community.

I had all kinds of weird ideas about individualized holographic profile pictures and nonsense like that. Then, my friend Nina called up and suggested we let our users send messages into space. I went into defense mode and bitched about the logistics.

“No, no, no, we need something that can run itself, and pay for itself – and not cost anything beyond programming.”

Clearly, she was overestimating our capabilities.

The truth is that I was sold the minute she suggested it. I met with my partner Greg shortly thereafter and we talked it over. He was immediately enthusiastic. Greg, who has a very strong visionary streak, who is an artist, who is a risk-taker, who likes bold ideas, and who is my friend, agreed to back the venture.

I started contacting telecommunications companies and scientists pretty much the next day. To my great surprise they almost all replied. At that point, there was no stopping us.

controls jamesburg earth station

What were the actual expenses to send a message to space?

Sending a scientifically credible signal with enough energy to withstand light years of interstellar travel is not a cheap endeavor to take on.

We spent an infinite amount of time designing and creating the website. The backend was designed to tunnel over the Internet and take control of the comm-block at Jamesburg Earth Station, a monstrous 60s-era piece of hardware in California, every time a person hit “Send” on the messaging tool on our website.

We had a lease on the Jamesburg Earth Station dish and we had to purchase all of the equipment and labor necessary to bring it back to operational condition.

controls jamesburg earth station

Once operational, the dish was blasting out 6.3 Gigawatts of power, enough to bring down a plane should it cross its path, and that meant high electrical costs. We transmitted at that power for 10.5 – 12 hours a day.

We had an FCC-certified engineer at the dish whenever it was operating. You don’t just move a machine the size of a football field without someone on site in case something goes wrong, and stuff went wrong all the time. The first night we transmitted, the dish started shaking violently in the middle of the night. The Vertex tracking controller, installed by NASA so the dish could track and receive signals from the Apollo moon landings, was acting up and sending conflicting signals to the motors.

We sponsored a scientific study on the dangers of sending a signal of this intensity to a nearby star in order to quell possible opposition from within the astrobiology and astrophysics communities. In the end, we got a lot of assistance from a lot of generous scientists. This included Dr. Michael W. Busch, who designed the encoded hailing message that we transmitted on a powerful carrier wave- in an on-off Morse code fashion – in parallel with our user message stream.

Other Lone Signal expenses included the usual rent, legal, licenses, PR, travel, etc, etc.

jamesburg earth station

Where did the money go that people paid to send the signals?

I wish I could say I took a vacation to the Bahamas with it, but, in truth, we never made enough in any one day to cover electrical costs. We also let every new member have a free message. Our pricing structure was not well thought out in the sense that it actually encouraged a lighter, less committed type of engagement.

We did have some very loyal users who pretty much made the signal their playground and paid to send out entire time capsules of beautiful and meaningful pictures and messages, but many came for the free text message – to send a one-off – and probably didn’t even realize half of what we were up to and how serious we were about it.

What do you think the chances are of extraterrestrial civilizations actually picking up messages sent from Earth?

I actually think the chances of a radio signal being picked up by an extrasolar civilization are quite high, and I am a skeptic when it comes to claims about extraterrestrials. However, while I do think that we will find life to be very common in the universe and in our galaxy, my feeling is that civilization, as we understand it, is very rare. That is, unless there is some bigger picture that we’re not seeing.

jamesburg earth station

After all the hype and excitement about launching the project, why did Lone Signal abruptly disappear?

Our funding ran out and we could not sustain the project.

Where do you feel Lone Signal went wrong?

Our user base was not wide enough or deep enough to support the project. We did not communicate the implications or the costs of what we were doing adequately with our members and with the world at large. We made a lot of mistakes. In the end, the things we did really right were all related to the science and to the logistics behind transmitting the signal.

What do you think of the suggestion that Lone Signal was just a scam?

The suggestion that Lone Signal was “just a scam” is ridiculous. We even installed a web-cam on the waveform monitor just so we could visually confirm messages were going out – for our own benefit. The sad part is we over-thought everything but the marketing and outreach.

jamesburg earth station

What are your future plans for the project?

I would like to re-initiate the upload of our civilization to the galactic cloud.

I am in discussions with some very bright and enthusiastic people about transmitting to new exo-planetary targets, and reaching the support I know is out there for this kind of spiritualistic science. I’ll be happy to update you as soon as I have something to talk about.

My personal ambition is to purposefully transmit messages to a black hole; I am curious about the information paradox and other baffling aspects of black holes. I think they are logical targets for a transmission.

Image Credits:
(1) Images provided by Pierre Fabre

Originally published on

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Top Secret Editors

Ryan is the founder of Top Secret Writers. He is an IT analyst, blogger, journalist, and a researcher for the truth behind strange stories.
Lori is TSW's editor. Freelance writer and editor for over 17 years, she loves to read and loves fringe science and conspiracy theory.

Top Secret Writers

Gabrielle is a journalist who finds strange stories the media misses, and enlightens readers about news they never knew existed.
Sally is TSW’s health/environmental expert. As a blogger/organic gardener, she’s investigates critical environmental issues.
Mark Dorr grew up the son of a treasure hunter. His experiences led to working internationally in some surprising situations!
Mark R. Whittington, from Houston, Texas, frequently writes on space, science, political commentary and political culture.

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