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INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
“Provocative and thrilling ... Loeb asks us to think big and to expect the unexpected.”
—Alan Lightman, New York Times bestselling author of Einstein’s Dreams and Searching for Stars on an Island in Maine
Harvard’s top astronomer lays out his controversial theory that our solar system was recently visited by advanced alien technology from a distant star.
In late 2017, scientists at a Hawaiian observatory glimpsed an object soaring through our inner solar system, moving so quickly that it could only have come from another star. Avi Loeb, Harvard’s top astronomer, showed it was not an asteroid; it was moving too fast along a strange orbit, and left no trail of gas or debris in its wake. There was only one conceivable explanation: the object was a piece of advanced technology created by a distant alien civilization.
In Extraterrestrial, Loeb takes readers inside the thrilling story of the first interstellar visitor to be spotted in our solar system. He outlines his controversial theory and its profound implications: for science, for religion, and for the future of our species and our planet. A mind-bending journey through the furthest reaches of science, space-time, and the human imagination, Extraterrestrial challenges readers to aim for the stars—and to think critically about what’s out there, no matter how strange it seems.
Intelligent life is out there or at least its cast-off equipment is and it's time earthlings dealt with it, argues Harvard physicist Loeb (The First Galaxies in the Universe) in this contentious manifesto. The author's concerns are twofold: first, he believes there is evidence for extraterrestrial life. Second, he posits that humans aren't prepared to accept that fact. This survey, then, is a brief on alien life and its implications for humanity. Loeb bases his case on Oumuamua, an interstellar object that baffled scientists when it appeared in 2017. Based on its shape, brightness, and trajectory, Loeb proposes it could be a reflective light sail made by extraterrestrial life. While his advice on how to find inhabited exoplanets is often ingenious ("one can distinguish an artificial source of light by the way it dims as it recedes from us"), less cogent is his attack on astronomical orthodoxy, which he considers too dismissive of research into extraterrestrial intelligence. He suggests that finding extraterrestrial life will help cure human arrogance and self-destructiveness: aliens, he contends, are likely to be "superior being" who can reveal "the meaning of life," though he also speculates they could turn out to be existentialists who believe that "life is absurd." Loeb's thought-provoking work of popular science will entertain those who wonder if humans are alone in the universe. Photos.