Searching For Extraterrestrial Life Like ‘Sherlock Holmes’
“Some scientists find my hypothesis unfashionable, outside of mainstream science, even dangerously ill conceived,” writes Avi Loeb, an astrophysicist at Harvard. “But the most egregious error we can make, I believe, is not to take this possibility seriously enough.”
So begins Loeb’s new book, Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth. Loeb is the director of the school’s Institute for Theory and Computation, and founding director of Harvard’s Black Hole Initiative, and he wants you to take the possibility of aliens seriously.
Back in October 2017, our solar system received a strange visitor, unlike any seen before. Scientists couldn’t decide if it was an asteroid, a comet, or an ice chunk. To this day, it’s simply classified as an “interstellar object,” dubbed ‘Oumuamua.’
For his part, Loeb is pretty sure what it is. It’s so hard to classify, he reasons, because it’s a byproduct of intelligent life outside our solar system. But how it found its way here is anyone’s guess.
Loeb joins Ira to talk about his theory, how an early love of philosophy shaped his views as an astrophysicist, and why searching for extraterrestrial life is a little like being Sherlock Holmes.
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Avi Loeb is author of Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth and an astronomy professor at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.