“I’m not saying it was aliens … but it was aliens” is the quote by Giorgio A. Tsoukalos that launched a thousand memes and will probably be on his tombstone. While Tsoukalos has somewhat backed away from the saying, another scientist has picked up the philosophy, if not the actual quote, and applied it to interstellar comets and asteroids, unexplained radio signals from deep space and other strange space phenomena. That scientist is Abraham "Avi" Loeb -- theoretical physicist, Professor of Science and Chair of the Harvard Astronomy department.
Loeb has previously stated that he’s open to the idea that the cigar-shaped interstellar asteroid ‘Oumuamua could be an alien spaceship, saying ““the more I study this object, the more unusual it appears, making me wonder whether it might be an artificially made probe which was sent by an alien civilization.” More recently, he’s been studying the fast radio bursts that are being discovered at an accelerated pace now that astronomers have better equipment and no longer have to rely on after-the-fact analysis – they now know approximately where to look. In 2017, Loeb speculated that fast radio bursts are signs that extraterrestrials are using massive laser beams to propel some form of giant light sail-powered ships to traverse the stars. Loeb defends the idea like this:
“Science isn’t a matter of belief, it’s a matter of evidence. Deciding what’s likely ahead of time limits the possibilities. It’s worth putting ideas out there and letting the data be the judge.”
That sounds like a “throw stuff against the wall and see what sticks” kind of astronomy and astrophysics. But that hasn’t stopped Loeb when it comes to fast radio bursts, and the theory seemed to be reinforced when it astronomers recently discovered repeating radio burst coming from the same source were able to trace a few back to their galaxy. However, the patterns seemed to be random – not the kind one would expect when propelling a ship through space. That changed last week when astronomers revealed that FRB 180916, which had recently been traced to a medium-sized spiral galaxy, is sending its signals in a regular, predictable pattern of bursts and pauses in 16-day repeating cycles. All together now … it’s aliens!
“But at the moment we do not have a smoking gun that clearly indicates the nature of FRBs. So all possibilities should be considered, including an artificial origin.”
In an email to Futurism discussing the discovery, Loeb threw his alien stuff against the wall once again. He’s right – the regular repeating bursts from FRB 180916 are not a smoking gun, but they’re the kind of signals one would expect from a civilization sending propulsion power to a sailing ship traversing the galaxies.
Avi Loeb is a highly respected theoretical physicist in the fields of astrophysics and cosmology, with an obvious emphasis on “theoretical.” Many of his theories have eventually been proven, such as his prediction that there are stars moving near the speed of light throughout the universe, He doesn’t have wild hair, a fake tan and his own television show … in other words, he’s not meme-worthy. But he just may be worthy of attention. At the rate new fast radio bursts are being discovered, he may be proven right on this one too.
If that happens, which will he change first – his hair or his tan?