March 3, 2024

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Alien tech could possibly be within the ocean, an astronomer thinks. Many dismiss the thought : NPR

6 min read
Alien tech could possibly be within the ocean, an astronomer thinks. Many dismiss the thought : NPR
Alien tech could possibly be within the ocean, an astronomer thinks. Many dismiss the thought : NPR

A meteor streaks throughout the sky in the course of the annual Perseid meteor bathe in August 2021 at Spruce Knob, in West Virginia. A Harvard astronomer thinks a meteor on the ground of the South Pacific Ocean could possibly be a technological object created by aliens.

Invoice Ingalls/NASA


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Invoice Ingalls/NASA


A meteor streaks throughout the sky in the course of the annual Perseid meteor bathe in August 2021 at Spruce Knob, in West Virginia. A Harvard astronomer thinks a meteor on the ground of the South Pacific Ocean could possibly be a technological object created by aliens.

Invoice Ingalls/NASA

Eight years in the past, a meteor believed to have been 2 ft lengthy entered Earth’s ambiance at greater than 100,000 miles an hour earlier than exploding into tiny, scorching fragments and falling into the South Pacific Ocean.

Some scientists consider it got here from one other star system, which might make it the primary identified interstellar object of its dimension to impression Earth.

Now, professor Avi Loeb, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Middle for Astrophysics, is planning an expedition to retrieve fragments of the meteor from the ocean ground. By analyzing the particles, he’s hoping to find out the thing’s origins — even going as far as to make the extraordinary suggestion that it could possibly be a technological object created by aliens.

But astronomers are cautious of his claims, citing an absence of information on the thing and inadequate proof to assist his daring conjectures about alien life.

May the ocean include alien expertise? Astronomer Avi Loeb thinks there’s a probability.

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May the ocean include alien expertise? Astronomer Avi Loeb thinks there’s a probability.

Getty Pictures

What’s he on the lookout for?

The item that Loeb is trying to find, designated CNEOS 2014-01-08, was detected in 2014 by a community of satellites used to watch the skies for doubtlessly harmful asteroids. Utilizing information revealed by NASA, Loeb and Amir Siraj, then a Harvard College undergraduate finding out astrophysics, first prompt the thing got here from outdoors our photo voltaic system in 2019.

“It moved very quick, roughly 40 kilometers per second when it exploded within the decrease ambiance,” Loeb mentioned. “And from that, we will infer that it was transferring a lot too quick to be certain to the solar.”

Loeb and Siraj submitted a paper making their case to a peer-reviewed astronomy journal. The paper was rejected as a result of their information was incomplete. Among the information relied on observations from labeled missile detection methods, making Loeb and Siraj’s estimates of the thing’s velocity inconceivable for reviewers to confirm.

However in April, a memo revealed by U.S. House Command appeared to verify that the thing got here from one other star system.

Now, Loeb is launching a $1.5 million privately funded expedition to retrieve items of the meteor from the ocean ground. Based mostly on information from the Protection Division, Loeb has targeted his search to an space of practically 40 sq. miles.

“It is identical to mowing the garden,” Loeb mentioned. “We’re planning to make use of a sled with a magnet that can scoop a really skinny layer off the highest of the muck.”

He says that testing the composition of the thing might decide if it resembles these present in our photo voltaic system.

“There’s additionally the likelihood that it will likely be manufactured from some alloy that nature does not put collectively, and that may suggest the thing is technological,” Loeb mentioned. “In the event you ask what my want is, if it is certainly of synthetic origin, and there was some part of the thing that survived, and if it has any buttons on it, I’d like to press them.”

Different astronomers are very skeptical

Many astronomers dismiss the thought of the thing being technological, saying there are far less complicated and way more doubtless pure explanations. And a few are hesitant to conclude the meteor even got here from outdoors our photo voltaic system.

The largest downside is the information itself. It is troublesome to truly observe small, quick objects within the ambiance.

“In the event you’re a satellite tv for pc and also you’re taking a look at a meteor … you will get the left-to-right movement, however it’s exhausting to inform if it is coming in direction of you or transferring away from you,” mentioned Steve Desch, an astrophysics professor at Arizona State College. He mentioned this may make estimates of the thing’s velocity liable to error, making it exhausting to verify if it have been interstellar.

The information can be “sanitized,” Desch mentioned. As a result of a few of the information comes from a community that features labeled navy satellites, the obtainable information is stripped of knowledge that might reveal U.S. protection capabilities, similar to error bars that point out precision of measurements.

Avi Loeb desires to check some far-out concepts. The astronomer is launching a $1.5 million expedition to retrieve items of a meteor from the ocean ground. He says that if the thing is set to be of synthetic origin and has any buttons on it, he “would like to press them.”

Jemal Countess/Getty Pictures


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Jemal Countess/Getty Pictures


Avi Loeb desires to check some far-out concepts. The astronomer is launching a $1.5 million expedition to retrieve items of a meteor from the ocean ground. He says that if the thing is set to be of synthetic origin and has any buttons on it, he “would like to press them.”

Jemal Countess/Getty Pictures

Astronomer Robert Weryk research near-Earth objects detected by the Pan-STARRS telescope, and he mentioned the House Command memo wasn’t sufficient to attract agency conclusions concerning the object’s origins.

“I type of should take it with a grain of salt,” he mentioned. “I perceive why they will not launch extra info, however I believe that may be important … to truly come to a conclusion about this object being interstellar.”

“I believe there is a case to be made that this could possibly be interstellar in origin,” Meenakshi Wadhwa, a planetary scientist at Arizona State College, mentioned. “[But I would] add the caveat that not one of the work to date on that is within the peer-reviewed literature. … The science has probably not been vetted to the extent that I want to see it vetted.”

Lastly, Loeb’s critics level to difficulties with the expedition itself.

“That is what I’d generously name a doubtful plan,” mentioned Ethan Siegel, an astrophysicist and science communicator who has vocally criticized Loeb’s previous claims about aliens.

Siegel and Desch agree there are too many variables — atmospheric winds and ocean currents, for instance — to confidently pinpoint a search location. The search group can be on the lookout for “solely grams of fabric” after it had been “swirling round on the ocean ground for years,” Desch mentioned.

“If you wish to put money into renting a submarine and happening to the underside of the ocean on … a wild-goose chase, you are able to do it,” Siegel mentioned. “If you wish to take your whole cash and dump it into the center of the ocean, you are able to do that too.”

Loeb is undeterred. To him, the expedition is an opportunity at making historical past. If Loeb finds items of the meteor and it’s of interstellar origin, it could possibly be the primary time people get their palms on an interstellar object of its dimension.

In response to his critics, Loeb describes his work as “interstellar archaeology.”

“My level is that if a cave dweller have been to discover a cellphone, the cave dweller would argue the cellphone is a rock of a sort that we have by no means seen earlier than,” he mentioned.

“And the one method to discover out is to press some buttons on this cellphone and notice that it data your voice, it data your picture. Then it will likely be clear that it’s not rock.”

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