tatjna (tatjna) wrote,

It's all in the numbers

I belong to a community on lj that occasionally has 'creepypasta' days - where folks link to the things that are creeping them out. Some folks are veritable mines of creepiness, and it's from one of them that I found myself following a link to Cracked.com's 5 creepiest unexplained broadcasts. On that page, 2 and 3 I reckon are just geeks 'seeing if they could'. 5 - the WoW signal - is just cool. But 1 and 4, IMO, are really creepy. Not the sounds themselves, but the thought that someone is sitting there transmitting them.

The first one, UVB-76, is a repetitive buzzer sound that has been operating continuously since around 1982, and has only been interrupted three times since then - each time by a voice repeating names and numbers. Recording here. The weird thing about UVB-76 is that it's indicated that this is not an automatic recording, but that it's manually created and transmitted. Someone is actually sitting there making this happen.

Likewise with The Backwards Music Station, which doesn't actually play music backwards but repeats descending patterns and distorted tones in a soundscape that looks like this:

Technical explanation here. Will, this might interest you.

As it turns out, there are quite a lot of these number stations - so called because the voices that interrupt the broadcast often repeat groups of numbers. It's generally accepted that these stations are part of covert intelligence operations and that the broadcast numbers are a form of code.

They are also dead creepy. Anyway, it seems that numbers stations have caught the attention of various creative types over the years, most notably The Conet Project, which has gathered together a comprehensive archive of number station recordings and released it. And the artistic community has taken it and run with it.

I find this one particularly creepy:

Other people have become fascinated with number stations. I can see why. It's believed that the codes are of one-time pad type, making them the ultimate challenge to crack. More here.

Which, naturally, has led to The Conet Project Crack Challenge. This mystery has everything. Degree of difficulty! Spies! Espionage! Mystery! Super-creepy sound effects! I can certainly understand the fascination.

Although, part of me enjoys the idea that there's this whole secret world out there playing James Bond with shortwave radio, and hopes that numbers stations remain a mystery. And part of me is pretty freaked out by the idea that whatever they're about is considered important enough for these stations to be manned 24/7 for decades. And just whose daughter is that reading the Swedish Rhapsody one?


Speaking of which, I seem to have somewhat of a talent for finding things - old, out-of-date unit standards that only exist as ghosts in cyberspace, books and songs that people can only remember snippets of, the identity of trolls.. doing these things is a challenge and I really enjoy it. I am wondering what sort of career direction would involve making money out of using the sort of skills involved in doing these things. Any suggestions?
Tags: codecracking, internet sleuthing, number stations, omg creepy
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