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Are Academics Trying To Silence Harvard Physicist Who Claims ‘Oumuamua Was An Alien Spacecraft?

Artistic take on the appearance of 'Oumuamua based on the general scientific opinions. Credit: Shutterstock

Harvard's chair of astronomy suggests we have been visited by aliens, and they will return.

It often seems like the scientific community will do anything to suppress theories that go outside the comfort zone. Especially when it comes to aliens, extraterrestrial objects in space, and anything in this specter, we often see nothing but denial. Such is the case with ‘Oumuamua, an alien object that passed through the Solar System in 2017.

After a long period of silence and no news around ‘Oumuamua, the public space is once again being reminded of the mysterious celestial object. The latest headlines are influenced by the upcoming book of Avi Loeb, chair of Harvard University’s astronomy department.

Professor Loeb is perhaps the strongest supporter of the theory that ‘Oumuamua was, in fact, real extraterrestrial technology and the first real sign of alien life. In his new book “Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth”, he is giving all the details about the discovery of the alien object and why his claims should be taken seriously.

There is no doubt that the scientific community rejected his theories all the way back in 2017 but Loeb is not a person who will accept the attempts to silence him. I imagine that with his new book, which will become available next week, he will gain many new supporters and there will be no way to neglect his opinion.

Why ‘Oumuamua is not like anything science understands?

Oumuamua caught in an image from space. Credit: ESO/K. Meech
Oumuamua caught in an image from space. Credit: ESO/K. Meech

Let’s begin with ‘Oumuamua’s shape which is unlike anything we have seen in the past. There are no real images to evidence the claims but scientists say that it had an elongated shape similar to that of a cigar.

Early opinions classified ‘Oumuamua as a comet but further research revealed that it did not show any cometary activity.

If not a comet, then maybe an asteroid? This was a different theory which was put to rest by the simple fact that ‘Oumuamua’s speed was so high that even the Sun’s gravity could not explain it.

When it comes to speed, certain scientists suggested the comet theory again in an attempt to expain its movement. According to them, ‘Oumuamua could have accelerated due to evaporating frozen hydrogen just like comets move. In return, Loeb and his team published an entire scientific paper proving why this is impossible.

Perhaps the most curious characteristic of ‘Oumuamua is that its speed was steadily increasing.

Loeb’s Version

A comparison between Loeb's idea of how 'Oumuamua looks like and the generally accepted version of the elongated shape. Credit: Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library
A comparison between Loeb’s idea of how ‘Oumuamua looks like and the generally accepted version of the elongated shape. Credit: Mark Garlick/Science Photo Library

Few members of the scientific community dared to publicly express the opinion that ‘Oumuamua could be an alien object. Professor Loeb did not hold anything back. As soon as early 2018, he published a scientific paper claiming that it was a piece of alien technology, most likely abandoned.

He also had his own explanation about the acceleration and actual shape of ‘Oumuamua. Instead of the widely accepted elongated shape, Loeb suggested that it could have something like a boat’s sail that was being accelerated by reflecting sunlight.

As you would expect, the response from the community to all his claims was mainly negative. People tried to silence these claims and even the astrophysicist who discovered ‘Oumuamua was against this possibility.

Three years later, Loeb is more than ready with his response which will be expressed in his new book. Whether it will change the scientific and public opinions or not, we can only wait and see.

Should we change our methods in the search for extraterrestrial life?

Most of the past and present search for extraterrestrial life is expressed in the search for microbial life. When it comes to the search for more advanced life forms, not much has been attempted. It is highly likely that experts do not have a clear idea of what exactly to look for and perhaps not enough funding.

Unfortunately, we have no idea how alien civilizations would look like if they exist and what exactly we should be looking for. Loeb, for example, believes that experts should focus on the search for technological signatures.

His new book will definitely be an interesting read but I do not expect many convincing explanations whatsoever. I believe that the only way to explain ‘Oumuamua or to confirm its alien origin will be to discover more objects of its kind.

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Aaro, D. (2021, January 18). Harvard physicist makes case on how ‘Oumuamu could have been an alien spacecraft.
 Letzter, R. (2020, August 19). Mystery of Interstellar Visitor ‘Oumuamua Gets Trickier.
Liberatore, S. (2021, January 20). Harvard physicist believes Oumuamu is an alien craft, NOT a comet.
• Mann, A. (2019, March 14). ‘Oumuamua: The First Interstellar Object.
McGleenon, B. (n.d.). How academic groupthink is trying to silence a Harvard astrophysicist who claims an alien spacecraft visited our solar system.
• ‘Oumuamua In Depth. (2019, December 19).
 Sutter, P. (2019, September 30). Why Was ‘Oumuamua So Weird? New Research Tries to Track Its Origins.
• Tucker, R. (2021, January 03). A Harvard professor says an alien visited in 2017 – and more are coming.