Harvard University Astronomy Head Avi Loeb is not afraid of controversy. His claim that a strange object that entered the solar system from deep space could be an extraterrestrial probe is the latest evidence. But now he poured oil into the fire. In an interview with the Israeli daily Haaretz, the Israeli professor stubbornly defended his hypothesis.
"As soon as we leave the solar system, I believe we'll see quite a lot of traffic," he said. "Maybe we'll get a message saying, 'Welcome to the interstellar club.' Or we will discover a number of extinct civilizations - that is, what is left of them.
At the heart of this debate is "Oumuamua." This, translated from Hawaiian, means "a messenger sent to us from a distant past." She arrived from space outside the ecliptic — the flat vortex of planets, asteroids, and objects thrown into place during formation. solar system. It had a strange reddish color indicating extreme exposure to strong cosmic rays. It was relatively bright, at least compared to the average carbon black of most known comets and asteroids. He moved very, very fast. And as it traveled from the Sun, it was observed as "accelerating" like comets. But he had no tail like a comet. It was also observed how fast it "flashes" as if it were an elongated - or flat - fast rotating object. “Oumuamua‟ is definitely strange. But were they aliens?
To be or not to be - a scientific approach?
To be or not to be
Professor Loeb (56) teamed up with Shmuel Bialy to publish an article contemplating the possibility that “Oumuamua was not even a comet. He wasn't even an asteroid.‟ Instead, he claims, his unusual orbit could be explained by being an artificial solar sail. Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) has already tried: aiming their radio telescopes at this object and listening closely. Not a beep. No radio messages or signals. No radar emissions for positioning. Nothing.
But Professor Loeb won't be discouraged. "I don't care what people say," he told Haaretz. “I say what I think and if the public is interested in what I say, it is a welcome but indirect result for me. Science is not like politics: it is not based on electoral preferences and popularity.
"There is no way of knowing whether it is an active technology or a spacecraft that no longer works and continues its journey through space," Haaretz quotes. "But if Oumuamua was created along with a number of similar objects that were accidentally launched, the fact that we discovered it means that its creators launched a quadrilion of similar probes toward every Milky Way star."
Professor Loeb said he believes the universe is littered with alien debris. And among them living social structures. Finding them should be our top priority, he stresses. "Our approach should be archaeological," he said. "Just as we dig in the earth to discover cultures that have already disappeared, we must dig in space to discover the civilizations that existed outside our planet."
A scientific approach?
Professor Loeb said that discussions about the origins of Oumuamua were widespread in the scientific community. “The senior scientists themselves stated that the object was strange, but they were not willing to publish their views. I do not understand. After all, a tenure has the task of giving scientists the freedom to take risks without having to worry about their work.‟ However, he said, too much caution with which scientists watch over what they say because they want to gain a higher position tends to prevail .
“As children, we ask questions about this world and dare to make mistakes. We learn about the world with innocence and sincerity. As a scientist, you should enjoy the privilege of continuing your childhood. Not to be afraid of your ego, but of revealing the truth. Especially after you get an academic job, ‟But critics point out that the difference between speculation and a testable hypothesis is based on measurable values. "'Wild speculation' is still in my view," said Monash astrophysicist Michael Brown.
"The data does not exclude that this object was created artificially, but if the natural origin is consistent with the data, the natural origin should be given priority."
But Loeb doesn't let him decide: "Finding extraterrestrial life is not speculation," he said. "It is far less speculative than there is dark matter - invisible matter that makes up 85 percent of the cosmic matter." But that is a completely different controversy. Professor Loeb is also in favor of a proposal by Russian billionaire Jurie Milner called Breakthrough Starshot to build thousands of small space chips ‟and direct them to our nearest neighbor, Alpha Centauri, to explore this star system. This may also be why he is so interested in the concept. However, he is fully aware of the potential risk.
"It may be that I completely destroy my image if it proves not to be the case," he said. “On the other hand, if it turns out to be true, it is one of the greatest discoveries of human history. Besides what is the worst thing that can happen to me? Will I be released from my official duties? I take that as an advantage because I will have more time for science. ‟