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El misterio de las emisiones de radio secretas
Da abc.es del 26 agosto 2010

Foto de satélite del lugar donde se cree que podría estar ubicada la estación UVB-76 - NeoTeo

Una estación rusa que transmite durante años una serie de números de forma continua cambia repentinamente su mensaje encriptado

Es imposible leer estas líneas sin recordar las emisiones de la isla de la serie LOST. Una estación rusa, denominada UVB-76, que durante 20 años ha estado emitiendo de forma continua una serie de números, ha cambiado repentinamente el contenido de su emisión. Estos mensajes, que algunos relacionan con historias de espías y de la Guerra Fría, nunca han sido debidamente explicados, y este cambio de contenido renueva el interés por ellos. Desde la década de 1970 los radioaficionados saben que existen emisiones de radio en bandas no utilizadas normalmente cuyo contenido es completamente atípico.

En general se trata de transmisiones en las frecuencias correspondientes a la banda denominada “Onda Corta” (SW, por Short Wave), muy potentes, de las que se desconoce la ubicación exacta del emisor o quienes son sus destinatarios. Su contenido, habitualmente una serie de números o un par de palabras, se repite un determinado número de veces y luego desaparece sin dejar rastros. Solo unas pocas de estas emisoras operan a lo largo de varios meses, y menos aún durante años.
Los radioaficionados se refieren a ellas como “estaciones numéricas” (numbers station), en una clara alusión a su principal contenido. El hecho de que no operen en los rangos de frecuencias habituales dificulta su recepción, pero cualquier aficionado que tenga conocimientos sobre estos temas puede captarlas fácilmente si busca fuera de las bandas permitidas.

Dada la naturaleza de estas transmisiones y la actitud paranoica que suele caracterizar a mucha gente, se sospecha que estas transmisiones son hechas por agentes de diferentes gobiernos -se producen emisiones de este tipo en decenas de países- y que tienen relación con las tareas de espionaje. Algunos expertos aseguran que se trata de un sistema de envío de mensajes destinados a espías que operan en el extranjero, y otros que se trata de “agentes privados”, como narcotraficantes o integrantes de la mafia. Lo cierto es que dejando de lado estas especulaciones, no hay certezas sobre su origen, contenido o el motivo de su existencia. Una transmisión típica puede tener un contenido como "Charlie India Oscar", "250 250 250" o “ 74 14 35 74 - 9 3 8”. Todos esos ejemplos proceden de transmisiones reales. ¿Te hacen recordar algo? Seguramente sí: la serie de números emitidos desde la estación de la Iniciativa DHARMA (“4 8 15 16 23 42”) en la serie LOST. Una de las emisoras más activas dentro de este extraño grupo es la denominada “UVB-76” (o “The Buzzer”), que desde 1982 emite las 24 horas un tono corto, unas 25 veces por minuto, en la frecuencia de 4625 kHz (denominada “AM suppressed lower sideband”). Cada tanto, la UVB-76 interrumpe la serie de tonos y una voz, generalmente femenina y - dada su regularidad - seguramente grabada en una cinta, lee una serie de códigos.

Nombres y números

La noticia es que después de años sin que ese mensaje haya cambiado una coma, acaba de modificarse completamente. La estación, para aumentar su misterio, se encuentra en algún lugar dentro de la ex URSS, y el contenido del nuevo mensaje es “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”. No hace falta ser un genio para darse cuenta que es un mensaje más corto (“naimina 74 14 35 74”) precedido por el nombre de la estación (“UVB-76”) repetido dos veces y con una “forma larga” al final que consiste en deletrear “naimina” reemplazando cada letra por un nombre cuya inicial sean las letras que forman la palabra. Por cierto, algo que es muy habitual en cualquier transmisión de radio.
¿Que significan esos números? Nadie lo sabe. Algo ha cambiado, pero es imposible saber el motivo del cambio o si tiene realmente algún significado. Es difícil creer que se trate solo de una broma, por que la emisión es muy potente -algo caro y difícil de lograr- y se mantiene funcionando desde hace casi 30 años. Además, el mensaje es muy elaborado. “Debajo” de algunas transmisiones se esconden subtonos y algunas estaciones solo operan en “formato fonético” (“phonetic stations”), es decir, transmiten utilizando el alfabeto fonético internacional (alpha, bravo, charlie…). Muchas, sobre todo las que se encuentran dentro del Israel y que se supone son operadas por el Mossad (agencia de inteligencia de ese país), suelen repetir mensajes como “charlie india oscar two” durante varias horas antes de cambiar su mensaje.

Una voz de niña

En general el público no conoce estas emisiones. Casi no hay información en castellano sobre ellas, y se plantean miles de interrogantes que posiblemente nunca sean desvelados. ¿Los gobiernos realmente detrás de estas emisoras? No se sabe. Hay datos que solo ayudan a confundirnos aún más. Una emisora conocida como “Rapsodia Sueca” emite sus mensajes utilizando la voz de una niña. Algunos sostienen que los números transmitidos corresponden a un sistema de claves del tipo “libreta de un solo uso” (one-time pad system), en la que tanto el emisor como el receptor disponen de copias de una misma libreta de códigos. Estas libretas no son otra cosa que unos cientos de páginas llena de números aleatorios. Los números que transmiten estas emisoras pueden indicar, por ejemplo, el número de página y la posición de un número dentro de la libreta. Estos libros de códigos son indescifrables, salvo que se consiga una copia. Pero el hecho de que el mensaje solo contenga un puñado de números y que se repita a lo largo de años poco ayuda a sostener esta hipótesis. Si no fuese por que se conocen desde mediados de la década de 1970, hasta se podría pensar en una campaña viral de LOST II.

 

Mysterious Russian 'Numbers Station' Changes Broadcast After 20 Years
Da gizmodo.com.au del 25 agosto 2010

The bizarre, constant audio output of one particular mysterious Russian "Numbers Station" has changed, for the first time in 20 years. This might mean something bad is about to happen, or simply that someone finally remembered to switch tapes.
Here's the new message currently being beamed from Russian station UVB-76.

The first person to successfully identify its meaning wins a 25-year holiday in Siberia's most desolate and inaccessible leisure resort:

The true purpose of the bizarre constant transmissions of these stations (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numbers_station) has never really been understood. They may be spy messages, encryption codes, cricket scores, a technical requirement to keep a frequency open for future emergency use, "sexy spy" Anna Chapman (http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2010/06/what-itslike-to-be-a-russian-spy-undercover-in-the-us-in-2010/) beaming her phone number out to anyone who's interested - or possible long-term viral marketing for Lost II. - Thanks Eric! [Sherdog (http://www.sherdog.net/forums/f48/russian-numbers-station-changesafter-20-years-1328515/)]

 

MISSILE SILO CONFESSIONS: LIVING ON THE EDGE OF ARMAGEDDON
Da wired.com del 2 agosto 2010

Deep in the barren Sonoran Desert in the summer of 2008, Drew Reeves drove a back-hoe fourteen feet into the earth. That was as far as he could go before having to hire help and an Excavator — a construction vehicle with a giant mechanical shovel on the end of a huge boom arm (pictured below).

After pulling out huge blocks of concrete and piles of dirt from the hole, the Excavator operator got a little overzealous. “He stretched that boom way too far out and down he went,” said Reeves. Twenty-seven hours and one toppled piece of heavy machinery later, Reeves was faced with a 6,000-pound blast door. “That little tiny Excavator we had down in there, we had to tie a rope to the door handle and give it a little jerk. And it opened right up.”

The Titan II missile silo complex was first carved out with dynamite in the early ’60s and manned by a crew whose job it was to ensure our enemy’s mutual destruction should we enter nuclear war. It was later dismantled and sealed up to comply with international treaties. After sitting buried beneath rubble for two decades, the site was ready to be explored. Many abandoned nuclear missile sites are now owned by regular citizens trying to find a function for them. Read on to probe the depths of Reeves’ silo and hear from ex-crew members who had their fingers on the button when Armageddon was just a command.
Cold, dank caverns are actually not to Reeves’ liking. He had previously lived in an Atlas F silo outside Concordia, Kansas, but in spite of seven months’ work to convert the old control room into a home, the harsh winters eventually chased Reeves south.
“I loved it there,” he said, “but the weather — I didn’t like the humidity. You don’t stay down there all day, you want to come outside. And I hated it outside.”


So Reeves moved to Arizona which trumps the Midwest in weather. In spite of the improvement in climate, however, he still hasn’t managed to make a home out of this particular silo.
“I don’t like being out there all by myself,” said Reeves. “If I had somebody around it wouldn’t be so bad, but it’s hard to find a woman that would like to live underground.”
Reeves’ new property was one of 18 Titan II missile silos attached to the Davis-Montham Air Force base near Tucson, Arizona. Equipped with larger warheads than the Atlas missiles and faster deployment than the original design, second-generation Titans stood at alert from the program’s inception in 1963 to its end in 1987.
Lt. Yvonne Morris supervised a launch crew in the early ’80s (above) in what has become the Titan Missile Museum, where she acts as director. The museum also contains the last surviving Titian II missile.
“I had been trained enough in potential war scenarios,” she said, “to know that if I got an order to launch my missile that my parents’ farm and nice rural Virginia was a big smoking hole. It was over.
And life as I know it was over.”
“There’s just no going back from this,” said Morris. “If you’re gonna launch a Titan II, that’s not the missile that you’re going to use to demonstrate your conviction to use nuclear weapons. It’s not the thing that says,’ Hey, I told you I would do this and here’s one to prove it.’ If you launch a Titan II
it’s guns blazing — we’re in World War III.
“I’d read enough apocalyptic fiction by then, and I didn’t really have much faith in what life was going to look like after that anyway. So did I want some payback for losing my family, losing life as I know it before I die? Yes. And I’m not ashamed to say that.”
America’s nuclear policy was one of deterrence by credible threat, a position held by the Titan II program during its tenure. Armageddon was strategy: mutual assured destruction. To ensure the missiles would fire after being attacked, and thus obliterate a good portion of the human race, missile silos were constructed to withstand bombardment. The center blast lock, separating the launch control from the missile, is a fortress.
 

“The floors in the lock area are 5 feet thick,” explained Reeves. “The ceiling is 5 feet thick and the walls are 5 feet thick.” Extra precautions were taken for Titan II missiles which were designed to launch from inside the silo.
Constructing nuclear fortresses was not an easy task. Workers reported that Reeves’ site required twice as much dynamite as usual because of all the rock. According to former Power Production Specialist Ken Barthelette, who joined the Air Force in 1960, the dynamite was just the beginning of a grueling process.
“We would work 18-hour shifts,” Barthelette said of the beginning of his service, via e-mail, “as there was a deadline assigned to each site. Some of the sites were up to 50 miles from the base so normally I would eat the foil packs they sent out to the site and slept in my parka on the steel-plated decks of the silo. I learned to sleep anywhere and at anytime while in the service.”
Barthelette served eight years at various missile sites, including Bitburg, Germany. He began his career overseeing site purchases and construction, and eventually took a position on a missile control crew. In addition to the rugged terrain and isolation, military crews had to contend with mother nature. “I do remember one of the favorite pastimes of some of the Air Police was to shoot rattlesnakes and hang their rattles on the guard house,” Barthelette said. “Some of the strings of rattles were over a foot long. It was very rough country back then.
“Each site had a Quonset hut on site where building equipment was stored during construction. One of my duties was to stomp scorpions. When you entered the building early in the morning there were hundreds of the critters on the floor trying to stay warm on the cool nights. We would line up and step on what was in front of us always looking behind as well. I was never stung.”