Avi Loeb doesn’t need to be a muckraker. As the head of the astronomy department at Harvard University, he sits in one of the most comfortable positions in academia. Nevertheless, he has repeatedly placed himself at the center of scientific controversies—most prominently with a series of articles and interviews suggesting that a peculiar space object known as ‘Oumuamua might have been a piece of alien technology.
The discovery of ‘Oumuamua in the fall of 2017 instantly made headlines: It was the first object ever observed passing through our solar system from interstellar space. Then, the more closely astronomers observed it, the stranger it appeared. It was extremely elongated, shaped perhaps like a cigar (although it was so small that its shape had to be inferred from its changing brightness). It didn’t look quite like a comet, but not quite like an asteroid either. Strangest of all, it accelerated slightly as it passed the sun and headed back out into interstellar space.
It's expensive to produce the kind of high quality, in-depth journalism you've come to expect from Nautilus. In order to keep telling those stories, we need your support. Join Prime today, and help us keep science journalism alive.
Prime gets you unlimited, ad-free reading, tablet editions of our award-winning print magazine, and eBooks of all our online editions.