When it comes to proposing “what if” questions about UFOs and aliens, there is perhaps no bigger player on the scientific side than Harvard University astronomer Abrahma ‘Avi’ Loeb. Loeb was made famous to the general public with his proposals early on that the interstellar object ‘Oumuamua was actually some for of extraterrestrial spacecraft that could have been crewed by living or robotic pilots. He’s back in the news this week with a new “what if” about ‘Oumuamua that fits right in with the upcoming Pentagon report on UAPs and the public’s wondering if any of them will be revealed as alien crafts. Loeb, as usual, has a different angle.
“A predecessor to ‘Oumuamua could have been a craft that deposited small probes into the Earth’s atmosphere without being noticed, because it visited before Pan-STARRS started its operations. Along this imaginative line of reasoning, ‘Oumuamua could have arranged to appear as coming from the neutral local standard of rest, which serves as the local “galactic parking lot,” so that its origin would remain unknown.”
In an op-ed in Scientific American, Loeb drops the idea that ‘Oumuamua may have been a spacecraft retrieving data from a previous visitor that dropped probes to Earth – one that stopped by before we had technology like Pan-STARRS (Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System) telescope used to discover it. before you scoff, he justifies this theory with a proposal in the style of the Fermi paradox (If there a billions of stars in the galaxy and a high percentage that could support life, where are all the aliens?) observation about interstellar objects:
“In fact, there should be a quadrillion ‘Oumuamua-like objects within the solar system at any given time, if they are distributed on random trajectories with equal probability of moving in all directions.”
If there are that many interstellar objects, where are they? Loeb says the answer might be that “‘Oumuamua was an artificial object on a targeted mission towards the sun, aimed to collect data from the habitable region near Earth.” If that was the case, then “tumbling motion of ‘Oumuamua could potentially have been meant to scan signals from all viewing directions.” Furthermore, “‘Oumuamua could have arranged to appear as coming from the neutral local standard of rest, which serves as the local “galactic parking lot,” so that its origin would remain unknown.”
While “Galactic Parking Lot” would make a great name for a prog rock album, Loeb’s theory sounds plausible. However, he states that he’s not trying to prove ‘Oumuamua is an alien ship retrieving probes – he just wants the scientific community to devote more time, and be more openminded, to collecting and analyzing data on UAPs. To wit, he issued a second Scientific American op-ed this week addressing this.
“A fresh scientific study that offers reproducible evidence for UFO sightings and resolves their nature would demonstrate the power of science in answering a question that is clearly of great interest to the public. Finding a conclusive answer on the basis of open data will enhance the public’s confidence in evidence-based knowledge.”
Not only should we “learn something new and exciting from studying them scientifically,” we could also determine “the meaning behind its existence—the intent of those who manufactured it.” And, if even one is extraterrestrial, we’ll finally know if they’re malevolent or benevolent.
Who can argue with that? Thanks, Avi! (And thanks for the cool album name.)