In October 2017, a telescope operated by the University of Hawaii picked up a strange cigar-shaped object (artist-rendering below) that shot past the sun at a speed of more than 196,000 miles an hour. Scientists at the university called it "Oumuamua," Hawaiian for scouts, and referred to it first as an asteroid, then as a comet, but agreed it was from another solar system.
Throughout the world, telescopes have quickly moved to "Oumuamua's Path" and scientists have plunged into the data. One of them, Avi Loeb, chairman of the Department of Astronomy at Harvard University, published an article in The Astrophysical Journal Letters the following year, in which he hypothesized that the object could be artificial. "Considering an artificial origin, there is a possibility that" Oumuamua is a light sail floating in the interstellar space as the rubble of advanced technological equipment, "he and his co-author Shmuel Bialy, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard, wrote." Alternatively a more exotic scenario that "Oumuamua" may be a fully functional probe intentionally sent by an alien civilization near Earth. "The newspaper became viral, and Loeb began to trigger a rush of media calls while others included scientists. Regarding the reaction of his colleagues, Loeb said: "Almost all of them responded positively, and they thought, you know, it's just an interesting idea."
All this bustle happened after the news reports that the Pentagon had collected data on UFO sightings for years. The hunt for extraterrestrial intelligence is clearly alive and well in our solar system and it is hot news. In fact, Loeb's article was released for publication in a matter of days.
Scientists exploring the idea of extraterrestrial life may find an enthusiastic audience, but may also elicit cynical, even hostile responses from their science colleagues by renowned physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson, who once joked with CNN: " Call me when you invite an alien to dinner. "
This paradox has ripple effects. The threat of being written off as a Kook can play an important role for researchers, especially for young people. Many academics "will not touch it with a 10-foot stick," said Don Donderi, a retired associate professor of psychology at McGill University in Montreal who is now teaching a course called "UFOs: History and Reality." Further education department of the school.
Loeb says that many discoveries have their roots in theories that were originally rejected. He believes open-mindedness is driving scientific research forward, while new theories have "degraded the efficiency of science."
NASA physicist Silvano Colombano claims that the search for extraterrestrial intelligence has been constrained by long-held assumptions, and "general avoidance of the topic by the scientific community" means that no one questions it – it's a dilemma: scientists may look like idiots when asked questions about aliens, but we'll never know unless someone asks.
Donderi has received his own share of mixed messages about his UFO research, and it did not seem to anyone at McGill When he started writing about the paranormal in the 1970s, along with experimental psychology, "I was pretty isolated," he said, since he already had a term and continued to receive promotions, including a dean to study At the time he had a federal scholarship for the study of visual perception and memory it, which was associated with additional funding for secondary investigations. UFOs had been spotted in the north of Quebec, so he applied for money to find out what people thought they saw – hence his relationship to his main work – but the request was denied. He never tried again.
Specifically, when he formally withdrew from McGill in 2009, he offered to hold a free seminar on his years of investigating the evidence behind UFOs and alien abductions, and his department said no. Donderi said that they knew he was writing on this subject, but when he actually asked to include this material in his program, they said that that was the point.
"I'm really surprised they get a setback," said physicist Richard Bower Durham University in England. He has never received a flak for his research in cosmology, which involves performing computer simulations of possible parallel universes. He has come to the conclusion that living in another place could be quite common, and others in his field support him. "We used to say that life is incredibly rare and we are fortunate enough to live on a habitable planet," he said. "But we've now seen so many planets that are plausible habitats, and there seems to be no reason to believe, based on scientific evidence, that planets like Earth are rare."
But cosmology also has its limitations and Bower says he feels "less comfortable" with the excessive speculation he sees in some works, but rather suggests focusing on issues that we may need to answer soon.
Legitimate academic work on Extraterrestrial life has to be carefully separated from the considerations of amateur scientists and conspiracy theorists, and the people who speak at UFO conferences are "not all equally good enough," said Donderi, meanwhile those who are searching for trustworthy organizations with minimal results, the Pentagon acknowledges that it has been tracking sightings for years, however, claims to have discontinued its program in 2012.
Since 1959, astronomers have been trying to use radio waves to communicate with the lives of aliens. The work continued from the SETI Institute in California and surrounding high-profile scientists – but nothing. Theoretical physics has determined that alien life is likely, but that is still just a theory.
We may not find anything because we do it wrong, researchers suggest. In a conference paper from 2018, Colombano suggests that the search for extraterrestrial intelligence is based on "estimated assumptions" that might hold them back: that interstellar travel is unlikely, that extraterrestrial civilizations use radio waves, that other life must be based on carbon, and that UFOs are Never visited the earth. He advocates discarding these dusty beliefs and allowing sociologists to imagine how foreign societies could evolve, physicists who run space-time speculation, and energy and technologists to model ways in which technology could evolve in other civilizations ,
According to Bower, lenders and academic institutions prefer scientific research with a certain type of pedagogy. "To seek something in science that you want to know, we look for something, and when we find it, we learn it, and if we do not find it, we learn something else," he said. The mere search for someone else's life is too binary: if you do not find it, you have nothing.
For Donderi as a psychologist, it is cognitive dissonance that holds the search for other intelligences in suspense. "People are defending themselves against unpleasant things," he said. In other words, those who report seeing UFOs will question themselves afterward, and scientists will balk at conclusions that point to aliens.
Given the recent reports that the Navy is creating guidelines for reporting unidentified objects, speculation about UFOs and extraterrestrials is not going to happen anywhere soon. And researchers expect more data on interstellar objects when the Large Synoptic Telescope in Chile in 2022 starts operation. Don Donderi concludes that the evidence is increasing and that cognitive dissonance is currently collapsing. "[W] We are at the beginning of the change," he explained.
In the meantime, Loeb wants to revise his ideas on "Oumuamua" as soon as more data is collected. "I address this topic scientifically as well as any other," he said. And here patience and hard work come into play. "We learn the answers to these questions," said Bower. "Even if we do not find any little green men waving to us." Her work has appeared in The Globe and Mail, University Affairs, JSTOR Daily and other publications.
This article was originally published on Undark. Read the original article.