Good news everyone! UVB-76 “The Buzzer!”, the mysterious buzzing Russian “number” station, that legend says is part of the the Dead Hand system, is still broadcasting! You may remember that there was some controversy over whether the station had ceased operation back in June, but according to the WIkipedia article, that was just an unfounded rumor.
What’s really interesting, is that on August 23, it made a voice transmission.
UVB-76, UVB-76 — 93 882 naimina 74 14 35 74 — 9 3 8 8 2 nikolai, anna, ivan, michail, ivan, nikolai, anna, 7, 4, 1, 4, 3, 5, 7, 4
Ahh the world of spies.
To add another level of intrigue to the station, someone on Livejournal says he has pictures of the transmission site. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I want it to be true.
I managed to make my way up to San Francisco and see both the USS Bunker Hill and the Varyag. Unfortunately, there was a mixup about how long Russians were giving tours of the ship. Instead of going to 3 pm, they stopped at 1 pm. However, I did get some decent photos of the ship from the pier. For more detailed shots, I suggest you view the Chronicle’s pictures of ship. I did manage to take a tour of the Bunker Hill. We mainly stayed on the outside of ship, seeing the fore and aft vertical launch systems, the helicopter hanger, and also the bridge. About 350 crew members are on board, and about 40% of those are female. In 2008, the ship was the first Ticonderoga class cruiser to underwent an upgrade to its fire control systems, that allowed (in addition to other things) the ability of both the fore and aft 5 inch guns to be targeted independently. On of the new roles for the Bunker Hill is ballistic missile defense, and the ship is of the same type that recently shot down a satellite.
It was very cool tour, and look forward to the next San Francisco Fleet Week (October 7 – 12).
UPDATE Fri Jun 25 12:23:50 PDT 2010
Flickr user Kyle Mizokami has some great shots from tours of both the Varyag and Japanese ships that were in town.
Today, five warships from three countries arrived in San Francisco. The Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser, CG-52 USS Bunker Hill Three Japanese training ships, lead by the Kashima class, TV-3508 JDS Kashima, and the Russian Slava class guided missile cruiser Varyag (formerly the Chervona Ukraina) will be there.
Why mention this? Well you can get photos and tours of all these ships, except the American Bunker Hill.
Updated: Thu Jun 24 09:26:24 PDT 2010: Thanks to some mysterious stranger in the comments, the Bunker Hill is conducting tours. Table updated.
|| Thursday, 1 pm – 4 pm
||Monday 9 am – 11 am and 2 pm – 4 pm
||Thursday, 10 am – 3 pm
The Russian number station UVB-76 has stopped transmitting.
So what’s the big deal? Well this station has been continuously broadcasting a series of tones 24 hours a day, every day, since 1982. What this station does (or did – as the case may be) has been source of frequent speculation for almost 30 years now. It’s frequency and repetitive nature suggests that it might be used for ionosphere research, but occasionally a live voice has been broadcasted reciting numbers and letters. In light of its deactivation, the most disturbing speculation was its use as part of the Dead Hand. When the signal disappears, launch the nukes. (Given that I’m still alive, that’s obviously not the case now.)
So why did it stop? Probably something mundane, but I’m holding out for the exotic.
Update: Sun Jun 6 00:18:51 PDT 2010
According to “Jimmy Device” on /., UVB-76 is back up. Hopefully I can find another confirmation about this.
Update: Sun Jun 6 11:31:02 PDT 2010
I found a link to Internet shortwave streams: globaltuners.com . I’m going to have to check out the frequency after they approve my account. I’ll keep all zero of you updated.
Update: Mon Jun 7 11:55:44 PDT 2010
I tried earlier this weekend and today trying to find the station using Global Tuners. Last night I couldn’t find it. Today, maybe something really weak, but probably not. I just don’t know. The UVB-76 Wikipedia talk page is saying that the cessation was only a rumor because the original post was traced back to a conspiracy site, but that doesn’t mean that the station isn’t broadcasting. This seems trivial to check, and I’m inclined to believe that it has stopped, but in all honesty, I don’t know if I was using the radios correctly when I tried. It appears that the Internet has failed us my friend.
In a exercise specious reasoning unseen since Lisa sold Homer a tiger repelling rock, Russia is dropped two timezones. Why? “[T]o breathe new life into business activity,” President Medvedev said. Why would this be? Well China and the United States both have fewer timezones, and they’re doing better than Russia, so obviously it’s the timezones and not the rampant corruption.
While I like timezones in general, I’ve always found the actual implementation of of the timezone system frustratingly stupid. The whole reasons why there are timezones is because the planet rotates 15 degrees per hour. The planet rotates East to West, and yet you can gain/lose an hour by moving North or South! Why is India, and the Australian Outback half an hour off? That doesn’t even make sense!
If there are 24 hours in a day, there should be 24 timezones, not 35 (formerly 37).
Medvedev ironically holds China up as an example of a country that knows how to use timezones, but Beijing has decreed that the entire country is one timezone, not three.
It’s not that hard to set up timezones. Every 15 degrees draw a line from pole to pole. Frob the line so that towns don’t fall on the boundary, and you’re done. Granted, you approach the poles, the 15 degree rule breaks down, so you’d have to just pick a timezone (say UTC+0) for convenience.
What really bugs me about the system, is that it will never be fixed, if for no other reason than misguided nationalism.
In the 1970s the Soviet government, built a series of lighthouses around the Arctic Circle to aid in navigation. Since these were built in the most godforsaken parts of Siberia, they were not only automated, but nuclear powered. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, people began to strip them for metal, including the radiation shielding.
When I read about this. I couldn’t help but think of Russia’s floating nuclear power plants, perhaps plying the seas past the lighthouses.
But, what I really think of when I see the sea ravaged edifice is something out of a Life Without People episode. Nuclear powered autonomous lighthouses guiding nuclear powered autonomous ships to ports, where where they are loaded with ore from continuous conveyors, that are supplied by autonomous freight trains, until the day that there’s just nothing left to load on the trains, or on the ships, and the entire system shuts down and rusts.