Astrophysicist Avi Loeb talks about UFOs, extraterrestrial life and his controversial interstellar research

On Tuesday, August 29, Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb addressed the press with a spectacular claim: His research team had combed the seafloor for the remains of a meteorite that broke up over the Pacific in 2014, uncovering globules of molten droplets and finding that that they came from outside our solar system.

This isn’t the first time Loeb has made such an extraordinary claim. Loeb also said that Oumuamua, another mysterious space object – and the first interstellar object ever discovered in 2017 – may have been a form of extraterrestrial technology, although others have said it was simply a comet that flew through the solar system. Loeb released a book about Oumuamua in 2021 that was recently published another one titled “Interstellar: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Our Future in the Stars” about the Galileo mission to recover the globules from the ocean, the likelihood of extraterrestrial life outside our solar system and the urgency of finding it.

Loeb has earned a reputation that “the world’s leading alien hunterand while some of his colleagues are enthusiastic about his research, he has also become a point of contention within the scientific community. Some see his attitude towards the scientific method – like disseminating his latest findings in one press release And Paper This had not been peer-reviewed or accepted in a scientific journal at the time of writing – an irresponsible approach that ultimately destroys public confidence in science.

Salon spoke to Loeb about his new research, his new book, and some of the controversies surrounding his work.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Can you briefly summarize the Galileo project and what results you present in this week’s press release and paper?

The aim of the Galileo project is to search for technical objects made by extraterrestrial civilizations. It was triggered by the reports from the Director of National Intelligence to Congress on Unidentified Anomalous Phenomena (UAPs), a more accurate term for Unidentified Flying Objects (UFO). There were two reports and last year a new office called the Pentagon was set up at the Pentagon Anomaly Resolution Bureau for all domains.

“We are developing software that will allow us to find objects that come from outside the solar system.”

As soon as the first report came out, I founded the Galileo Project, which has since built an observatory at Harvard University that monitors the sky 24/7 in infrared, optical, radio and audio bands. The goal is to conduct a systematic survey of the sky, because the military and intelligence reports are all about anecdotal incidents where pilots or others encounter unusual behavior or unusual objects. We would like to conduct a systematic survey of the sky, calibrating the instruments, controlling them and also knowing the noise involved. This allows us to calibrate the background and also get a better estimate when there is something unusual or anomalous.

[We also] Look for objects passing close to Earth, like Oumuamua in 2017. The Rubin Observatory will find more. We are developing software that allows us to find objects that come from outside the solar system. And hopefully there will be an observer starting next year who will find many more in the years to come.

The third branch is the expeditions to look for the remains of interstellar meteors, and the first was from 2014. That’s the expedition that we did to the Pacific Ocean that I led. We extracted the materials of this meteor in the form of globules – molten droplets from the object’s surface. We brought 700 of them from a depth of more than a mile within a radius of seven miles, brought them to Harvard University and analyzed them for the last two months.

We found that the globules along the meteor’s path have an unusual composition that suggests they came from outside the solar system. That’s completely unrelated to US government satellite speed readings, which indicated the speed is too great for the Sun to gravitate to. This object is the first detected interstellar object larger than half a meter in size, and it is the first time scientists have analyzed materials from such an object. So this is already a historical discovery.

You have been criticized for citing it The New York Timesa “false statement that is too strong and premature.” What would you like to say to colleagues who have doubts about this work?

I’m following the scientific method, I’m trying to gather evidence – it’s been a lot of work. The people who make comments like this aren’t doing much – they’re sitting in their chairs and showing negativity. If you have a better way of doing science, you should let me know, but I was raised to collect the evidence, analyze it, and publish it in a scholarly paper. What I do differently is that I also communicate with the public.

“I see it as a great blessing for science when the public can see how an exciting scientific project like the expedition is developing.”

So when I went on the expedition, I wrote 43 direct reports and millions of people around the world have read them and seen how the scientific process works. I think this is very important to help the public understand how science is done because other scientists just talk about the results in a press conference like they are teachers in a class and feel intellectually superior to the public.

I don’t think science is done that way. We make many mistakes in discovering the truth, and when the public sees this, they would be more likely to believe science because it would look like a human activity. I see it as a great boon to science when the public can see an exciting scientific project like the expedition unfold. And now we have the scientific work, everyone can look at it.

I develop this attitude of the eagle having crows pecking on its back, flying to higher altitudes and then just falling off. I just hope those crows get off my back for doing science the way it’s supposed to be.

In your book, you called Carl Sagan’s adage that “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence” a “logical fallacy.” How and why do you think this statement is somewhat flawed or a fallacy of logic?

It’s used as an excuse for people who don’t want to engage with an exciting opportunity. They don’t look for evidence and argue, “Well, we don’t have evidence.” It’s like a single person looking around and saying, “Well, there’s no partner next to me, so maybe I’m alone.” To partner to find one you have to go to dating websites and look through your window. You can go to your garden. …You have to do something.

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The method we used earlier [for detecting extraterrestrial communication] were radio signals. It’s like waiting for a call. You know, if someone doesn’t call you while you’re listening, you won’t notice. My approach is very different.

When we come across extraterrestrial life, do you think that we will find it or that it will find us? Why?

I think we will find it near us because most of the stars [formed] Billions of years before the sun, so it’s more likely that some other civilizations existed before us because their star, if like the sun, has already gone through what we might go through in the future. We just have to be humble and humble and not assume that we are unique and special – that Albert Einstein was the smartest scientist to have lived since the Big Bang – and embark on a quest.

“Knowing about our neighbors could inspire us because we find a better way to behave.”

That’s what I’m trying to do, and the resistance is really strange under the circumstances, because the people who argue against it have very strong opinions. But if you look at the history of science, they were very often wrong: the people [who] For example, I thought that the earth was the center of the universe.

Do you think that if we find extraterrestrial life, it will be higher up the “cosmic ladder” than we are in terms of intelligence?

I discussed this in my book Interstellar and I present different classes of intelligent civilizations. The highest class are those capable of recreating their environment – such as creating a baby universe or creating life. This is class A. Class D is like us in that we destroy our environment or habitat. We don’t do better.

Do you think we need to control some of these things domestically, like climate change or other local challenges on this planet, before we look for life on other planets?

No, I think if we get a wake up call in the form of an object it will tell us that we should change our priorities and start working together. Because we are all in the same boat: the earth sailing through space. Knowing about our neighbors could inspire us because it allows us to see how we can behave better.

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Tom Vazquez

Tom Vazquez is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Tom Vazquez joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with Tom Vazquez by emailing

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