March stargazing: in search of life beyond

March stargazing: in search of life beyond

One recent afternoon in February, as the midday slump was starting to set in, I did something that I rarely do: Logged in Twitter. There, amid the tide of political upheaval, non-sequiturs, and navel, I stumbled upon a surprisingly tense piece of science.

A new book titled Alien: the first sign of intelligent life by Avi Loeb, professor of astronomy at Harvard, had just been published. He is developing an article that Loeb published in 2017 with his colleague Shmuel Bialy in The Astrophysical Journal Letters. The main subject is a strange cigar-shaped object that entered our solar system in 2017 before returning to space at around 200,000 miles per hour. Scientists at the University of Hawaii who first detected the object dubbed it “Oumuamua,” a Hawaiian word that translates to “scout” or “messenger from afar.”

Most scientists have speculated that “Oumuamua was simply an oblong meteorite ejected from a distant star system and brought into our midst by the gravitational pull of the sun. Loeb, however, had other ideas. He suggested that “Oumuamua’s odd shape and highly elliptical orbital path – as well as the fact that it has accelerated …

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