In the event that Earth ceases to exist, some scientists are planning for our future. In the event that Earth ceases to exist, some scientists are planning for our future. In the event that Earth ceases to exist, some scientists are planning for our future. (Photo: Eva Cool / Shutterstock)

Harvard physicist: An alien spaceship might've flown by earth

Astrophysicist Dr. Avi Loeb says it's possible that it may have been a ship on a reconnaissance mission.

We don't mean to alarm you, but an alien spaceship was possibly on its way to Earth to learn about humankind. No, this isn't science fiction. It's reality.

And it's why Dr. Avi Loeb is trending across social media today. The Israel-born theoretical physicist is the chair of Harvard's Astronomy Department and, believe it or not, has spent much of his storied career searching for alien life. Indeed, he's the chair of the Breakthrough Starshot Advisory Committee, a $100 million initiative that is currently listening for signs of aliens.

So what's he talking about today? Well, you might recall that about a year ago, there was an odd oblong-shaped mystery object floating through space. Known as Oumuamua, it's believed to be the first interstellar object detected passing through our solar system. Scientists using some of the biggest telescopes on earth tried listening to it, to see if they could determine what it was. Perhaps it was a piece of an asteroid, perhaps it was something else.

An artist's impression of the first known interstellar asteroid, Oumuamua. An artist's impression of the first known interstellar asteroid, Oumuamua. (Photo: ESO/M. Kornmesser)

That something else may turn out to be an alien spaceship, which was perhaps on its way toward earth on a reconnaissance mission. That's the finding of Dr. Loeb and his post-doctoral fellow, fellow Israeli Shmuel Bialy. "The response ... has been truly remarkable," Loeb told From The Grapevine. "We submitted it for publication only a week ago. It was accepted for publication in The Astrophysical Journal Letters merely three business days later." That speed is quite unheard of in the scientific community, where peer-reviewed papers often take months, or even a year, before they are published.

Wanting to learn more, we traveled to Loeb's office on Harvard's campus. We turned on a tape recorder and let him speak about Oumuamua and his search for alien life, which you can listen to here:

Dr. Loeb, an alumnus of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, has been in the news a lot this fall. In September, he penned an essay in Scientific American about searching for relics and artifacts of dead civilizations in outer space. "Instead of using shovels to dig into the ground as routine in conventional archaeology, this new frontier will be explored by using telescopes to survey the sky and dig into space," he wrote.

He then published a new scientific research paper that explores the different types of elements that one might find on an alien planet. Just last month, he published another study explaining how aliens can travel throughout the galaxy on the backs of everything from meteoroids to space dust. At this speed, it's no wonder that he's written more than 500 scientific papers in his career.

Host Benyamin Cohen (left) interviews Dr. Avi Loeb (right) in his Harvard office. Benyamin Cohen (left) interviews Dr. Avi Loeb (right) in his Harvard office. (Photo: Courtesy)

As for today's news, he's open to hearing other suggestions. "I welcome other proposals, but I cannot think of another explanation for the peculiar acceleration of Oumuamua."

Ever the explorer, Loeb believes we should continue scanning the sky. "Looking ahead, we should search for other interstellar objects in the sky," he said. "Such a search would resemble my favorite activity with my daughters when we vacation on a beach – namely examining shells swept ashore from the ocean. Not all shells are the same, and similarly only a fraction of the interstellar objects might be technological debris of alien civilizations. But we should examine anything that enters the solar system from interstellar space in order to infer the true nature of Oumuamua or other objects of its mysterious population."

"It is exciting to live at a time when we have the scientific technology to search for evidence of alien civilizations," Loeb told us. "The evidence about Oumuamua is not conclusive but interesting. I will be truly excited once we have conclusive evidence."

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Harvard physicist: An alien spaceship might've flown by earth
Dr. Avi Loeb says it's possible that it may have been a ship on a reconnaissance mission.