Harvard Astrophysicist's 'Wild' Alien Claims Rankle Peers

Avi Loeb believes he's recovered alien-made metal
By Steve Huff,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 29, 2023 10:45 AM CDT
Harvard Astrophysicist's Alien Obsession Rankles Colleagues
   (Getty Images / Fotokita)

Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb has been pursuing answers to questions many colleagues would rather he leave in the realm of the speculative. One of those questions sent him on a quest to the bottom of the Pacific Ocean for what he believes is alien gold, so to speak. More specifically, it was mostly iron, titanium, and some magnesium in the form of metal spherules, per Popular Mechanics. As Katrina Miller of the New York Times reports, Loeb maintains that these fragments were deposited on the ocean floor by a 2014 fireball from space, and that they might just be evidence of extraterrestrial life. Not "biological creatures, the way you see in science fiction movies," he says, but "most likely a technological gadget with artificial intelligence." And this is just the latest instance of him making what colleagues believe are "outlandish" claims, writes Miller.

Astrophysicist Steve Desch tells the Times that "people are sick of hearing about Avi Loeb's wild claims" because his work is "polluting good science—conflating the good science we do with this ridiculous sensationalism and sucking all the oxygen out of the room." (The ocean search was financed by a cryptocurrency millionaire.) To that end, the Times reports that Loeb's colleagues are retaliating by boycotting peer reviews of his work. Loeb's work had previously been supported by colleagues—that is, until he began focusing on interstellar object Oumuamua, an unusual artifact that passed through the solar system six years ago. He believes it was of alien origin. He has since been examining reports on previous fireballs for anomalous behavior, which was how Loeb determined where to look for the spherules he found.

As for Loeb, he is aware of the concerns about his work. In a blog post about searching for the mysterious spherules just over 50 miles off Papua New Guinea's Manus Island, he seemed to acknowledge his peers' doubts. Loeb wrote that prior to his trip, a Harvard colleague "whispered" that while others "argue that you are wasting your time in leading a hopeless expedition to the Pacific Ocean. ... I agree that the chance for success is small—I hold the opinion that the search might be just worth trying." Loeb then quoted Arthur Schopenhauer: "All truth passes through three stages: First, it is ridiculed; second, it is violently opposed; and third, it is accepted as self-evident." Read the full story, which has details on the Papua New Guinea search. (More UFOs stories.)

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