It turns out that Harvard physicist Abraham "Avi" Loeb isn’t the only respected scientist who believes that meteorites and interstellar asteroids are quite possibly extraterrestrial spaceships or pieces of spaceships which have been destroyed or cast off. Scientist B.P. Embaid, a physicist at Central University of Venezuela, has released a new study in which he makes the case that the reason why many meteorites contain the same metals that Earth scientists have made in laboratories is because alien scientists are doing the same thing – and those metals should be the technosignatures that SETI astronomers use to search for signs of extraterrestrial technology on exoplanets and around other stars. Is B.P. Embaid on the right track to proving the existence of extraterrestrials? Is this proof that they may have visited Earth … perhaps even crashed on the planet?
“The genesis of these meteoritic minerals could require controlled and sophisticated process not easily found in nature. So, it is important to be open-minded and even provocative to consider the following question: Are these meteoritic minerals samples of Extraterrestrial Technosignatures?”
In his paper, “The Puzzle of Meteoritic Minerals Heideite and Brezinaite; Are they Iron-based Superconductors? Are they Technosignatures?” which is published in the journal arxiv.com and not yet peer-reviewed, B.P. Embaid -- a Research Professor in Condensed Matter Physics with expertise in high precision analytical techniques for studying minerals, geological samples and alloys – applies his analytical techniques to two meteorites found in India in 1852 and in Yemen in 1980. Why these two?
“The synthesized sulfides mentioned above have no natural occurrence on Earth and were detected as minerals in meteorites years later after the first synthesis; FeTi2S4, was first synthesized in 1968 and then detected in 1974 as the mineral Heideite in the Bustee meteorite and in 1995 in the Kaidun meteorite. The base structure Cr3S4 was first synthesized in 1957 and then detected in 1969 as the mineral Brezinaite, with occurrence in the Tucson meteorite.”
In 1957, scientists looking for new electrically conductive metals combined and layered chromium and sulfur to synthesized brezinaite – a metal that does not exist in nature … at least nature on Earth. In a similar process, other scientists created heideite. Both can act as superconductors by allowing electricity to pass through them without resistance – a trait that was becoming important as the first computer chips were being designed. To the surprise of scientists, astronomers studying meteorites found one which had crashed Tucson, Arizona, in 1850 that contained brezinaite. Within a few years, they found the synthetic mineral in other meteorites, and then had the same experience with finding meteorites containing the superconductor heideite. The existence of these metals in meteorites puzzled Embaid because their creation in a lab required processes that aren’t easily duplicated in nature.
“Although it is of course possible that there are as-yet-understood processes that can lead to the formation of these minerals, however, we can step ahead on the possible new interpretation in the recently emerging field: Technosignatures.”
If a mineral is found naturally on Earth, that makes it part of the planet’s biosignature. If a mineral or product is manufactures, that makes it part of our technosignature. Since heideite and brezinaite only exist in earth labs, that puts them in our technosignature – and any alien civilizations looking for life around other stars by searching for technosignatures could pick up their signs. Embaid then speculates – what if heideite and brezinaite can’t occur in nature? That means other civilizations are making them too. If that is the case, how did they get into the many meteorites containing them?
“(They) probably belong to the subcategory of “derelict technology.”
Another more familiar term for “derelict technology” is abandoned technology – equipment that is outdated or dumped after building a prototype. According to The Daily Beast, Embaid uses “derelict technology” to Embaid to describe the remains of long-defunct spacecraft or probes. An example might be a probe sent to another planetary system that lost power due to a malfunction, a collision with a space rock or normal, abnormal or unanticipated wear and tear. It could also refer to a spacecraft, with a living crew or a robotic one, that suffered the same fate and eventually broke apart. If either of these “derelict technologies” passed close enough to Earth, or were on a collision path with the planet, they could easily fall to the surface as meteorites. If those technologies contained heideite or brezinaite, those metals would be embedded whatever that technology looked like after traveling millions of miles through space, perhaps for millions of years.
If all of this sounds vaguely – or even very – familiar, it is similar to the arguments put forth by Avi Loeb recently on two confirmed interstellar objects which fell to Earth recently and separately in the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans … two objects whose fragments Loeb is pushing to mount search efforts to find in an attempt to determine if they could also be “derelict technologies” from another advanced civilization. This is also the same argument Loeb has made numerous times about ‘Oumuamua, the cigar-shaped, interstellar object which tumbled by Earth in 2017 before making a tight turn around the Sun and heading back out to parts unknown.
“If many attempts are made and this hypothesis is still unfalsified, then we may start asking ourselves about the possibility that these minerals were made by industrial processes—in other words, that they are technosignatures.”
Jacob Haqq-Misra, an astrobiologist with the Blue Marble Space Institute of Science in Seattle, agrees with Embaid. Ravi Kopparapu, an expert in technosignature research at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland, is probably more representative of the general scientific community when he told The Daily Beast:
“Believability is robust only when additional experiments are conducted, and verified independently, that these are not natural.”
Which project will be more difficult – finding meteorite fragments on the bottom of the ocean to see if they contain heideite or brezinaite … or proving that these metals can only be made synthetically, thus potentially proving they are from an advanced extraterrestrial civilization? While we wait for one or the other to happen, it can’t hurt to add heideite and brezinaite to the list of technosigntures being looked for in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.