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The mystery of UVB-76: Radio station has ‘buzzed’ every second since the 1970s – but no one knows why

Jonathan O’Callaghan The Daily Mail

Suddenly the piercing buzzing noise that has continued incessantly for months stops. A cold voice takes over.

‘U-V-B-7-6,’ is read out in a thick Russian accent, before listing a series of code words and numbers. Then, just as suddenly, it ends. The buzzing returns, for another few months.

That is what has greeted listeners of a mysterious radio station nicknamed ‘The Buzzer’ – and code named UVB-76, or more recently MDZhB – since the 1970s.

But what the Buzzer is doing, or who is broadcasting it, remains a mystery – with theories ranging from the Russian military to atmospheric research.

© websdr.ewl
A Russian radio station has played a buzzing sound on frequency 4625 kHz (shown) for four decades. Every few months it is interrupted by a voice relaying a coded message. But no one knows the exact purpose of the station or the message. Some say it is a military station, or a counter-attack measure for nuclear war

The Buzzer is a shortwave radio station of unknown origin.

Although its noise has changed slightly over the preceding 40 years, it has always involved some form of regular buzzing, interrupted by a voice on rare occasions seemingly reading out a message.

Today, 25 times every minute, it spends less than a second buzzing, pauses, then buzzes again – endlessly.

The noise rings out on a frequency of 4625 kHz, which anyone is able to listen in on, including online at one of several live streams.

For years the transmission seemed to originate from the town of Povarovo near Moscow but, in September 2010, the location changed. Now, it is believed to be in Western Russia.

According to the website Numbers Station, the Buzzer ‘works as a communications center within the Western Military District that sends messages to corresponding military units and their outposts.’

The Buzzer has spawned many websites and blogs like this, with amateur radio enthusiasts the world over becoming intrigued by its unsolved mystery.

Ryan Schaum, an engineering student from Pittsburgh who runs the Numbers Station website, said he first became interested in The Buzzer a little over a year ago.

‘I first saw what it was in a YouTube video and became fascinated with its mystery,’ he said.

But he admits he hasn’t attempted to crack the code yet, saying: ‘These messages cannot be decoded by anyone who they do not intend them to be for.

‘Without access to the codebook, there is no way to tell what they are sending.’

It’s believed that the station is a way of secretly communicating with spies without the message being tracked or intercepted.

© Egor Evseev
Student Egor Evseev visited the old site believed to house UVB-76 in the summer of 2012. He says the area consisted of abandoned and partially destroyed buildings, with ripped up cables suggesting it was once a transmission centre. The location of the station is believed to have moved in 2010

Despite anyone being able to listen to the station, depending on their radio coverage where they are in the world, the code used is a complete mystery.

There is no perceptible shift in the pattern of the buzzing, and no indication that a voiced message is imminent.

All the messages, though, are in the same format. They usually began with a collective callsign, which until 2010 was UVB-76 or UZB-76. Four years ago, though, a voice came on the air and changed the callsign, which is now MDZhB (with ‘Zh’ being a single letter in Russian).

Many, though, continue to refer to the station as UVB-76.

The station also once broadcast a time signal, with a one-minute long two-tune buzzer sounding at the top of every hour. This was disabled in June 2010, and no time signal has taken its place.

Interestingly, codes have also been repeated over months or years, for reasons unknown. On 26 January 2011 the operator read out ‘ILOTICIN 36 19 69 46.’ This was repeated almost four months later, on 11 May 2011.

The frequency of the voiced transmission is also not regular. Before 2010 it could take months or even years between messages.

Following 2010, though, messages were heard as often as every few weeks, sometimes occurring on or near significant events.

For example on 18 March 2014, less than 24 hours after Crimea voted to join the Russian Federation, the voice read out: ‘T-E-R-R-A-K-O-T-A. Mikhail Dimitri Zhenya Boris [MDZhB, the callsign of the station]. Mikhail Dmitri Zhenya Boris. 81 26 T-E-R-R-A-K-O-T-A.’

© Egor Evseev
Although its noise has changed slightly over the preceding 40 years, it has always involved some form of regular buzzing, interrupted by a voice on rare occasions. Some believe the station is operated from a bunker somewhere (image from abandoned site), with an official relaying a message now and again

And in November of this year there were 28 separate voice messages broadcast over the network.

It was also around 2010 that the location of the transmitter was believed to be moved, from near the town of Povarovo, not too far from Moscow, to near Pskov, on the border with Estonia.

Russian student Egor Esveev, 20, who originally comes from Moscow but now studies in Ottawa, told MailOnline how he explored what he believes was the previous site near Pskov.

‘Like any abandoned building or area it was very creepy,’ he said.

‘Strange people and very strange scenery.’

‘There was a man on a bike that came from the road that lead to nowhere other than forest, he wasn’t carrying anything and headed in the direction of a field which I know has nothing at all for miles and miles.

‘The second creepy person was a mid-40s woman, she was with a stroller. At first I thought that she is a resident of the town out for a walk but as she walked past I saw that her stroller was empty.

‘Who goes to an abandoned military base with an empty stroller for a walk?’

He said the station was set up like a ‘typical Russian military base’ with two different perimeters.

Most of the buildings, some half underground, were destroyed or abandoned according to Mr Evseev, while cables in some areas had been visibly torn from the ground.

‘We found tons of rubbish documents,’ he added. ‘One that we found was interestingly enough about ceasing operations of the base.’

He thinks that the station may be used for some form of internal communication that, ‘while secret, isn’t sensitive enough for them to care about masking or keeping it secret.’

© Mail Online
In 2010 the location of the Buzzer was moved from near the town of Povarovo, not too far from Moscow, which was explored by Mr Evseev, to an unknown location Pskov, on the border with Estonia (shown). The estimated location of its new position is based on triangulation of the signal from radio enthusiasts

Others have speculated that this is a secretive Russian communications network used to communicate either with the military, or with spies around the world.

‘The buzzer is a legend. Many odd stories have been told about it,’ 60-year-old freelance radio monitor Ary Boender from Holland, who runs the website Numbers Oddities, told MailOnline.

‘It is a strange station according to may people, it buzzes but there were no other kind of transmissions.’

‘Some say that it is an old Soviet Dead Man’s Switch that triggers a nuclear attack on the west when it stops buzzing.

‘In the past it was said that it was a remote control station belonging to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Others say that it is a homing beacon for UFOs, or a mind control device with which the Russians can program your mind.’

But, according to Mr Boender: ‘It’s all nonsense of course.

‘When the buzzer stopped buzzing on Sept 1, 2010 many of the conspiracy fans thought that it was the end of the world. But no nuclear attack followed nor did the UFO’s land.

‘The truth is that they moved their transmitters from Povarovo to the site near St Petersburg.’

Mr Boender is adamant this was the result of a large reorganisation of the Russian forces, and is certain the radio station is of military origin.

He added that other stations are thought to be run by other militaries around the world, including in the US and China.

These types of transmissions are beneficial because they can be used in place of a satellite system for long-distance communication if necessary.

© Numbers station
Mr Schaum supplied MailOnline with a logbook of messages written down, apparently taken from the old site in Povarovo. He explained this showed ‘their daily work schedule and samples on how to write the actual logbook. It’s interesting to look at, but it’s in Russian and we haven’t gotten around to translating it’

There is some disagreement on the source of the buzzing, though – whether it is a physical buzzer placed next to a microphone or an electronic signal.

It is known that the voice that speaks on the radio is live, leading some to believe the actual buzzer is located in a basement somewhere, with a microphone nearby.

This is known because occasionally the operator must correct themselves, saying the word ‘sboj’ (‘error’ in Russian), before continuing.

In addition, on extremely rare occasions voices have been heard talking in the background of the buzzer.

On 3 November 2001, for example, a microphone was mistakenly left open and, translated from Russian to English, listeners heard: ‘I am 143. Not receiving the generator (oscillator),’ followed by: ‘That stuff comes from hardware room.’

Mr Boender, though, thinks the buzzing noise is not a device next to a microphone, but rather an ‘electronically generated noise fed directly into the transmitter’.

Mr Schaum however, disagrees.

‘The buzzing noise is believed to be fed through a live microphone,’ he said.

‘Some evidence that the buzzing sound is fed through a live mic is that voices, footsteps, and so on have been heard there.’

© Egor Evseev
Mr Evseev said he found the abandoned location very eerie. ‘Like any abandoned building or area it was very creepy,’ he said.’Strange people and very strange scenery. There was a man on a bike that came from the road that lead to nowhere other than forest, he wasn’t carrying anything and headed in the direction of a field’

Whatever its method of producing a sound, its purpose also remains a mystery.

‘[The] Buzzer, being strong in Europe and triangulation results showing it near the Estonian border would suggest it to be serving the Western Military District,’ speculates

‘It is worth noting that all messages are sent in AM-compatible modulation meaning that even a very simple receiver is suitable for the reception.

‘For the same reason messages are sent in voice, allowing unskilled operators to successfully handle radio traffic.’

However, in April 2008 a report from the Borok Geophysical Observatory suggested they had used the exact same frequency as the Buzzer – 4625 kHz – to perform ionospheric research.

They performed Doppler measurements, sending a carrier wave on that frequency to see how it travelled through Earth’s ionosphere.

In their paper they wrote: ‘High-frequency Doppler method for ionosphere researches is based on observation of frequency variations of the radio wave reflected from ionosphere inhomogeneities, changing in time and in space.’

Doing this can detect changes in the ionosphere from the sun, as well as atmospheric and seismic events from natural and artificial sources.

Shortwave transmissions like this allow the signal to be spread over great distance by reflecting off the ionosphere.

It’s unclear why they would have used this particular transmission for their experiment – or who granted them permission to do so – but regardless it seems this event may have been an anomaly in the history of the Buzzer.

© Egor Evseev
One of the more unlikely theories about the station is that it is a ‘Dead Man’s Switch’ system. In the case of a nuclear attack against Russia, UVB-76 would launch an automated counter-strike. Most experts, though, think it is a lesser military station. Pictured is another of the abandoned buildings explored by Mr Evseev

But despite all the theories and assurances, one thing remains a mystery: no one knows what the messages are saying or how to break the code.

So while theories might swirl about its origin, location and history, its true purpose remains confusing.

Whether this is really a Russian military station to communicate with a global network of spies, a scientific research station or simply a hoax may never be solved.

But what is known is that for four decades someone, somewhere, has approached a microphone and uttered a series of numbers and letters.

Perhaps they were sending a message to someone. One that always ended: ‘U-V-B-7-6.’



Murder Mysterious: What Happened at the Hinterkaife Farm?

This story, which took place on April 4, 1922, on the Hinterkaifike farm, located between Ingolstadt and Schrobenhausen in Bavaria, still excites the minds of lawyers and journalists. Then they found the bodies of the owner of the farm and his wife, their daughter and her two children, a maid who had recently come to them to work …

Everyone in the village knew about the Gruber. They were a wealthy family, but with a bad reputation. The father of the family, Andreas Gruber, was a cruel and rude man, so the workers on the farm did not stay long. Although everyone wanted money, few were willing to endure Andreas’ harsh temper. Cecilia Gruber, his wife, used to be the owner of Hinterkaifeke – she inherited the farm from her husband. From him, she left two children, Martin and Cecilia. Soon the couple had a daughter, Victoria. She was not the only child, but the only one survived to adulthood – the rest of the children died in the absence of proper care. 

Victoria grew up with Cecilia the younger as a sister. She was a quiet girl who sang in the church choir. Andreas did not deny himself the pleasure of making fun of both girls, and when Victoria turned 16, he forced her to enter into a relationship with him. Nobody knew about this, because the family lived as hermits, and the locals preferred not to pry into other people’s affairs. 

Cecilia the younger got married and left. At the age of 27, Victoria also found herself a husband, Karl Gabriel. According to rumors, he married solely for the sake of a share of the land, but upon learning of the incestuous relationship between his wife and father-in-law, he dropped everything and went to the front. A month later, Victoria gave birth to a daughter, Cecilia. 

In the end, Victoria broke down and told about incest in confession. Gruber was sentenced to a year of hard labor, and she herself was imprisoned for a month. However, when Andreas returned, everything was resumed. Once their neighbor Lorenz Schlittenbauer wooed Victoria – his wife died then, he had sex with Victoria several times in the barn and must have decided that his farm still needs a mistress, besides, he is a respected non-poor man. But Andreas refused to marry his daughter, claiming that he “fondled her himself.” When it turned out that Victoria was pregnant, she persuaded Lorenz to recognize the child as her own, but she never got married, and Gruber was named his guardian. So Lorenz was forced to pay child support until the child came of age, not even being sure that he was from him.

The baby was named Joseph. Unfortunately, he was unwell, grew poorly and was often ill. For the villagers, this served as a signal that Joseph was born as a result of an unnatural relationship between Victoria and her father.

Footprints and ghosts

Shortly before the murder, Victoria was seized with anxiety. She repeated that she felt that the farm was being watched. She saw the silhouette of a man, but could not find out who it was. Andreas also noticed oddities: footprints in the snow around the house, rustling in the attic (and when he got up, no one was there), flashing torches … Once he found a Munich newspaper that no one in the family subscribed to. He also lost his keys.

On March 31, a couple of days before the murder, the maid Maria arrived at the farm. The previous one asked for a calculation when she began to suspect that a ghost was in charge of the house.


For several days, nothing was heard about the Gruber, but life was in full swing on the farm: smoke poured from the chimney, sounds were heard, someone walked … But after several people with whom Andreas had appointments, they could not getting inside, their neighbor Lorenz became worried and called the police. 

The bodies of all six were found in a house that was in perfect order. Little Joseph was killed in his cradle, Maria – in her bed, the rest were piled up in a heap by the barn and obviously not the first day dead. All residents of the farm were killed in one way – hitting the head with a hoe. At the same time, nothing of the valuable things and money, which was abundant on the farm, was not lost. Cynologists with dogs were able to take the trail of the criminal, but lost him at the edge of the forest.

The police interviewed about a hundred suspects, chief among whom was a neighbor of the Lorenz farm, whom Victoria had deceived and, perhaps, her ex-husband, who allegedly died at the front, could in fact be alive. In 2007, the students of the police academy, as a practice, re-investigated the case, found a new suspect, but out of respect for their relatives, they did not disclose their name.

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A dead star in our galaxy has sent a new radio signal

Magnetar SGR 1935 + 2154, which emitted the first known rapid radio burst from inside the Milky Way in April, flared again, giving astronomers another chance to unravel the cosmic mystery.

The little dead star that sent the signal earlier this year did it again.

On October 8, 2020, the CHIME / FRB collaboration discovered SGR 1935 + 2154 emitting three millisecond radio bursts in three seconds. Following the CHIME / FRB detection, the FAST radio telescope detected something else – pulsed radio emission corresponding to the rotation period of the magnetar.

It is very interesting to see SGR 1935 + 2154 again, and I am optimistic that if we study these bursts more closely, it will help us better understand the potential relationship between magnetars and fast radio bursts, “says astronomer Deborah Goode of the University of Britain Colombia in Canada and a member of CHIME / FRB.

Until April of this year, fast radio bursts (FRBs) were ever recorded only from outside the galaxy, usually from sources millions of light years away. The first was discovered in 2007, and since then astronomers have been trying to figure out what causes them.

As the name suggests, FRBs are bursts of extremely powerful radio waves found in the sky, some of which release more energy than hundreds of millions of suns. They only last a millisecond.

Since most sources of fast radio bursts seem to flare up once and no repetition is detected, they are highly unpredictable. In addition, the ones we detect usually come so far that our telescopes cannot distinguish individual stars. Both of these characteristics make it difficult to track the FRB to either the exact source galaxy or a known cause.

But SGR 1935 + 2154 is only 30,000 light-years away. On April 28, 2020, it spat out a massive millisecond pulse that has since been dubbed FRB 200428 under the fast radio transmission naming convention.

Once the signal strength was adjusted for distance, FRB 200428 was not as powerful as the extragalactic fast radio bursts, but everything else was in line with the profile.

“If the same signal came from a nearby galaxy, such as one of the closest typical FRB galaxies, it would look like an FRB to us,” said astronomer Srinivas Kulkarni of the California Institute of Technology. “We’ve never seen anything like it before.”

We don’t know much about the three new bursts yet. Since scientists are still working on the data, it is possible that some of the early findings could change, Goode said. But now we can say that they are both similar and not similar to FRB 200428.

They are a little less powerful again, but they are all still incredibly strong, and they all lasted only milliseconds.

“Although less bright than those detected earlier this year, they are still very bright flares that we would see if they were extragalactic,” Goode added.

“One of the more interesting aspects of this discovery is that our three bursts appear to have occurred during the same rotation period. The magnetar is known to rotate every ~ 3.24 seconds, but our first and second bursts were separated by 0.954 seconds, and the second and third were separated by 1.949 seconds. This is a bit unusual, and I think we will look at it later. “

This could reveal something new and useful about the behavior of magnetars, because – let’s face it – they’re pretty weird.

Magnetars, of which only 24 have been confirmed to date, are neutron stars; it is the collapsed core of a dead star, not massive enough to turn into a black hole. Neutron stars are small and dense, about 20 kilometers in diameter, with a maximum mass of about two Suns. But magnetars add something else to this: a stunningly powerful magnetic field.

These stunning fields are about a quadrillion times more powerful than Earth’s magnetic field and a thousand times more powerful than a normal neutron star. And we still do not fully understand how they came to this.

But we know that magnetars have periods of activity. As gravity tries to hold the star together – an internal force – the magnetic field pulling outward is so powerful that it distorts the star’s shape. This results in a constant voltage that sometimes causes giant starquakes and giant magnetic flares. SGR 1935 + 2154 is undergoing such activity, which suggests a link between magnetar attacks and at least some FRBs.

Obviously, astronomers have found that the source of the first intragalactic FRBs is of great interest. When CHIME / FRB reported their discovery, other astronomers decided to look at the star, including a team led by Zhu Weiwei of the National Astronomical Observatory of China, which had access to FAST, the largest single-aperture radio telescope in the world.

And they discovered something interesting, which was also reported on the astronomer’s Telegram – pulsed radio emission. These radio pulses were nowhere near as strong as the bursts, but they are extremely rare: if confirmed, SGR 1935 + 2154 will only be the sixth pulsed radio frequency magnetar. And the pulse period turned out to be equal to 3.24781 seconds – almost exactly the rotation period of the star.

This is curious, because until now astronomers have not been able to find a connection between magnetars and radio pulsars. Pulsars are another type of neutron star; they have a more normal magnetic field, but they pulsate with radio waves as they spin, and astronomers have long tried to figure out how the two types of stars are related.

Earlier this year, Australian astronomers identified a magnetar that behaved like a radio pulsar – a possible “missing link” between the two and evidence that at least some magnetars could evolve into pulsars. SGR 1935 + 2154 might be another piece of the puzzle.

“Based on these results and the increasing burst activity, we hypothesize that the magnetar may be in the process of transforming into an active radio pulsar,” Weiwei’s team wrote.

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Starlite: a mysterious material whose recipe was taken to the grave

Enthusiasts continue to struggle with the riddle of the unique material, the creator of which died without revealing the secret recipe.

At the dawn of the 1990s, reports began to appear in the world media about the creation of a new plastic material that could withstand heating to incredible temperatures – up to those that develop during a fire or on the shell of a spacecraft when passing through the atmosphere. Such statements were very embarrassing for scientists also because the author of the find was a man without a diploma or any formal education at all – the British hairdresser Maurice Ward.

Starlite – this name was invented by the granddaughter of Maurice Ward – was repeatedly tested by NASA as a possible heat insulator, the military and large corporations looked closely at it. The author did not refuse to provide samples for research, but he kept the recipe in complete secret, not sharing it with anyone – until 2011, when Maurice died, taking this secret with him. Perhaps thanks to this twist, the plot did not disappear into oblivion along with Petrik filters and other “miracle inventions”, and the history of the mysterious Starlite continues to this day.

According to Ward himself (by the way, his personal blog and YouTube channel survived on the Internet), he was prompted to search for fire-resistant material by a television report, from which he learned that many victims of fires die from poisoning by the caustic smoke of burning plastic. Previously, the hairdresser dabbled in the search for his own shampoo recipes, but around 1986 he completely devoted himself to a new venture. Three years later, the composition was found – and, of course, it turned out to be incredibly simple and included the most common store ingredients.

It was not easy for the “genius upstart” to break through, and over the next few years he pounded the thresholds of laboratories and companies without any benefit. Fate smiled only in 1993, when a message about Starlite was published in the authoritative International Defense Review. It referred to “amazing results” from some of the independent experts who tested Starlite. According to some reports, the material did not burn at temperatures up to 10,000 ° C and was not supplied even by a high-power laser.

Moreover, in the same 1993, the incredible thermal insulation properties of Starlite were demonstrated to the public. On the Air Force show Tomorrow’s World, a chicken egg coated with a thin layer of this material was sprayed with the heat of a gas burner for several minutes, after which it was shown that it remained raw inside. It would seem that the deed is done: it remains to find out which of the industrial giants will be interested in the invention and from whom Ward will be able to get legitimate millions, if not billions of dollars for the miracle recipe. The prospects for its use in engineering and construction were discussed. In 1994, the material was tested at Boeing as an alternative to space shuttle thermal insulation ceramics.

It is worth saying that Maurice Ward has always shown a certain paranoia about the security of his invention. As far as is known, he refused any projects in which he could not maintain a controlling 51 percent. The inventor personally monitored all samples that were submitted for testing, making sure that no one had the opportunity to reconstruct the Starlite composition. Ward also did not file a patent so as not to reveal the secret formula and repeatedly announced attempts to steal. The story that took place in the late 1990s is characteristic. It is known that at this time the inventor found partners from Canada and organized a startup Starlite Safety Solutions, which presented the results of material tests to investors. However, according to those same partners, Maurice Ward turned out to be completely incapable of negotiating – “the more he was offered, the more he asked for”

On the one hand, Ward is understandable. If the author’s statements are accurate, the find could be worth billions, which no corporation likes to share. On the other hand, Starlite could well change the modern world and save many lives, and perhaps doing so was not entirely ethical. Again, if all statements about the properties of this material are true. And this is its main mystery.

Indeed, despite all the doubts of many observers, there is enough authoritative evidence in favor of Starlite every now and then. Thus, Joe Kissell, who wrote about him in 2009, received a letter from Pamela Pohling-Brown, who authored the same article in the International Defense Review. She in every possible way confirmed the reliability of the results presented then and even named the expert who conducted the testing. 

“I’m afraid the topic is somehow classified,” summed up Pauline-Brown. By the way, Ward’s former partners from Canada hinted at the same. It turns out that there is still something to hide?

Maurice Ward has repeatedly stated that, fearing theft, he never even wrote down the recipe on paper, and keeps it in his head – fortunately, it is quite simple. According to him, the secret has been entrusted to only a few closest family members – however, they have not shown much activity since the death of the inventor in 2011. In 2013, two of Ward’s daughters announced the sale of a “certain version” of Starlite to the American company Thermashield, but the third said that she had kept the “best” formula. And since then nothing has been heard about Thermashield, and the company’s website has not been revoked.

But there are plenty of hypotheses and speculations about the composition of Starlite. They find the main clues all in the same publication by Pamela Pauline-Brown, where the following was said.

 “It consists of a set of organic polymers and copolymers with organic and inorganic additives, including borates, small amounts of ceramics and other barrier ingredients, for a total of 21. Perhaps uniquely, this thermally and explosion-proof material contains up to 90 percent organic matter.”

Armed with this data, yet another “genius self-taught” reproduced the recipe. Canadian Troy Hurtubise, known for developing the bear-repelling suit – and for testing inventions on himself – said he found the same or a similar recipe and demonstrated it under the name Firepaste. However, in 2014 he died in a car accident – as if the material really surrounds the halo of special operations.

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