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)

Why this has been a big week for the search for aliens

Space archaeology, radio signals from the far reaches of the universe and much more made headlines.

They're out there, and we're not alone. That's the bottom line from a busy week full of news about aliens. Yep, you read that right.

The possibility of alien life has long fascinated our collective imagination. Which is perhaps why stories about the proverbial little green creatures constantly rank among the most popular on our site.

And at the forefront of some of this research is Dr. Avi Loeb. The Israel-born theoretical physicist is the chair of Harvard's astronomy department. He's also the chair of the Breakthrough Starshot Advisory Committee. That's a $100 million project to find a new Earth for humans. The heavily funded group is actively searching for alien life with the hopes of asking the aliens if we could move to their planet in the event that something happens to ours. "We just need to think about the big picture and, you know, have a plan B," he told From The Grapevine.

Fans of our podcast will be familiar with Dr. Loeb, an alumnus of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. After all, he appeared on our first episode. In case you missed that conversation, you can listen to it again here:

Dr. Loeb is frequently in the news, but it seemed he was just about everywhere this week. Meteorologists have hurricane season. Sportscasters have the World Series and the SuperBowl. And, apparently, alien news has the end of September.

It seemed to start when Loeb published an essay in Scientific American about searching for relics and artifacts or relics 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.

A few days later, he gave a public lecture at Harvard about the search for life on other planets. He discussed, among other things, the feasibility of traveling to an alien planet and being welcomed into the intersellar club.

He then appeared on the premiere episode of a new science interview show called Event Horizon. In the interview, he talked about why the universe may be full of alien civilizations. The video, which you can watch below, went viral and has already been viewed nearly 40,000 times.

Loeb capped off the week by publishing a new scientific research paper in the Earth and Planetary Astrophysics science journal. In it, he and fellow Harvard professor Manasvi Lingam, explore the different types of elements that one might find on an alien planet.

But Dr. Loeb wasn't the only alien researcher in the news this week. If you cover the space beat, you'd have also discovered that...

  • Researchers at Penn State announced that we've barely begun to scratch the surface of our alien search. "They claim that the volume of our galaxy searched so far is roughly equivalent to a bathtub of water in the world’s oceans," wrote the New Scientist in its coverage.
  • NASA's TESS probe unveiled its first images from its quest to spot alien planets.
  • Astronomers at the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Research Center at the University of California, Berkeley detected dozens of mysterious radio signals from distant galaxy using one of the world's largest telescopes.
  • And a new report came out urging NASA to intensify its search for new planets and aliens.

So what does Dr. Loeb think about all these alien advancements? "One can imagine conditions for life that are better than those on Earth," he told us today. "But my guess is that once we will explore many other planets around other stars, we will feel very fortunate to be here. The situation will resemble dating where after exploring the alternatives, you realize how precious the person you ended up with is."

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Why this has been a big week for the search for aliens
Space archaeology, radio signals from the far reaches of the universe and much more made headlines.