Harvard Research Ignites Alien Probe Frenzy

In October 2017 astronomers at Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii, spotted a mysterious fast moving cigar shaped object. They named it Oumuamua, Hawaiian for “messenger from afar arriving first” or “scout”.

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Artist’s impression of the first interstellar asteroid/comet, “Oumuamua”. This unique object was discovered on 19 October 2017 by the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii. Credit: ESO/M. Kornmesser

For 3 months the roughly 400 metre long object blazed through our inner solar system at a staggering 26 kilometres per second. Mystified astronomers didn’t know what to make of Oumuamua, Without a debris trail it couldn’t be a comet, void of discernible trajectory it wasn’t an asteroid. Enter the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, in a new paper submitted to the Astrophysical Journal Letters, researchers dangle the possibility Oumuamua is a “lightsail of artificial origin”.

Oumuamua may be a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilization,” the paper’s authors wrote.

The object’s “excess acceleration” when it traveled through our solar system and its peculiar trajectory distinguishes it from comets and asteroids, the researchers explained.

For example, the object’s movement is not determined by the gravitational pull of the sun or planets, as is the case with asteroids. Scientists have also been unable to concretely identify it as a comet because it lacks a tail or “coma” around it.

To explain its movement, the report’s authors, Abraham Loeb, a professor and chair of astronomy, and Shmuel Bialy, a postdoctoral fellow, argue that Oumuamua’s non-gravitational acceleration may be explained by solar radiation pressure.”

Solar radiation pressure is key to Harvard’s lightsail hypothesis.

If radiation pressure is the accelerating force, then Oumuamua represents a new class of thin interstellar material, either produced naturally, through a yet unknown process… or of an artificial origin,” the authors wrote.

If the interstellar object is as thin as astronomers estimate it to be, Loeb and Bialy suggest it could be a light sail, which is conceived as able to harness light or solar energy from the sun to propel a spacecraft.”

If Oumuamua is a lightsail floating in interstellar space, it could have been ejected from a planetary system as “space debris” from equipment that is no longer operational.

“This would account for the various anomalies of Oumuamua, such as the unusual geometry inferred from its light-curve, its low thermal emission, suggesting high reflectivity, and its deviation from a Keplerian orbit without any sign of a cometary tail or spin-up torques,” the paper states.

Although it’s “extremely thin,” the researchers said the object could survive interstellar travel over galactic distances and withstand collisions with gas and dust grains.

Bold, italic content above credited to Jackie Dunham,  CTV linked below –


In a world of televised ancient alien theory, blog fueled extraterrestrial existence and self proclaimed definitive authority on cosmic visitors, it’s tempting to jump on the Harvard said so bandwagon. Not so fast people! Settle down, look at the facts and understand Harvard isn’t declaring Oumuamua an alien probe. It is saying there’s a lot we don’t understand and wouldn’t it be cool if this were the case. Either way, we’re talking about it and that’s good enough for me.


Alien Life By 2025 – NASA

On Tuesday April 7, NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan spoke at a panel discussion on water in the universe. Stofan boldly stated “there will be strong indications of alien life within a decade and definite evidence of it within 20-30 years”.

“We know where to look, we know how to look” – Ellen Stofan

Exhale now if the possibility created notions of wide eyed “greys” or Starship Trooper “bug” armies. Life must first be seen from microscopic perspectives – confirmation of other-worldly life will likely arrive as microbes eking out existence right under our noses.

Simply looking for evidence of water in our solar system holds promise of life. We know that half of Mars was once covered in liquid ocean – likely for a billion years until the atmosphere degraded. Data from the Hubble Telescope suggests Jupiter’s moon Ganymede hides a saltwater ocean beneath thick icy exterior armor. Likewise Jupiter’s iconic moon Europa, and Saturn’s Enceladus.

Without a shred of doubt, confidence that irrefutable evidence of alien tenacity will manifest itself in my lifetime is unshakable. Pondering implications of such certainties leave me hopelessly buoyed, incapable of wiping a childish grin off my face.


Dyson Sphere

In 1960, physicist/astronomer Freeman J. Dyson had an idea – perhaps we were going about looking for extraterrestrial life the wrong way. His paper, published in Journal Science – Search For Artificial Stellar Sources of Infrared Radiation, proposed searching for cosmic signatures of solar energy collection. Instead of waiting for faint “pings” generated by radio signals, why not search for solar system sized energy collection structures.

Dyson asked us to ponder the obvious – very little solar energy actually strikes our planet, what if we could collect that energy as a power source? Why not look for evidence of advanced cosmic civilizations based on probabilities they knew how to trap and use solar power?

A Dyson Sphere – as described on the website http://www.sentientdevelopments.com/2012/03/how-to-build-dyson-sphere-in-five.html

“It would consist of a shell of solar collectors (or habitats) around the star. With this model, all (or at least a significant amount) of the energy would hit a receiving surface where it can be used. [Dyson] speculated that such structures would be the logical consequence of the long-term survival and escalating energy needs of a technological civilization.”

This next link explains Dyson’s theory in ways I couldn’t hope to make better sense of..

Dyson would be pleased to learn science has finally taken notice. Plucked from the pages of science fiction, serious science is exploring his theory as fact.


Goldilocks Zone

The Goldilocks zone – not too hot, not too cold, but just right.  Goldilocks, also known as “habitable zone”, is that sweet planetary orbit Earth holds in our solar system. Science searches the cosmos for planets capable of supporting life as we know it. Star systems with Earth-like planets positioned not too far, not too close,  just maybe at a perfect distance to have liquid water and harbor life.

On January 6, astronomers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center announced 8 new Goldilocks planets. Two stand out as the most promising Earth-like discoveries to date. Kepler 438b and Kepler 422b orbit red dwarf stars smaller and cooler than our sun. 438b is 12 percent larger than Earth, orbits its sun once every 35 days, has a 70% chance of being rocky, and resides 470 light years from home. 422b, 1,100 light years away, is a third larger than Earth, orbits its sun every 112 days with a 60% chance of a rocky surface.

Hard as it is to ponder seemingly impossible distance and probability of life, it’s only a matter of time before science announces extraterrestrial life.



Europa Has Plate Tectonics

“Plate tectonics” – “Plate” a geologic term for large slab of rock, and “Tectonics”, part of the root in Greek for “to move” – put them together – suddenly ocean currents, weather patterns, and an average global temperature of 54 degrees Fahrenheit start to make sense. Science accepts the theory of moving plates of rock – 7 major and over a dozen minor plates, making up the Lithosphere. A 100 Kilometer deep  (give or take, here and there) outer crust  floating about on hot layers of  upper mantle.

Tectonic plates couldn’t exist without water. As our world took shape billions of years ago – water was the single factor capable of setting life in motion – accretion settled down, planet Earth announced she was here to stay – it was water that set our unique set of circumstances in motion. There’s a lot of it beneath the surface – perhaps as much as an entire ocean – pooled, saturating, running and generally messing around with otherwise solid stone. Our planet was precisely the proper size to form and cool – not too fast, not too slow, but just right. Mars tried to develop tectonics, science speculates it had an atmosphere and magnetic shield for a cosmic blink, but ultimately proved too small (hence cooled to fast) to make it in the long run.

Plate tectonics are tricky – on Earth they are credited with formation of mountain ranges (the Andes and Himalayas for instance), geographic barriers responsible for trapping moisture, continental drifts and collisions (Antarctica separating from Australia – hence redirection of ocean currents) or volcanic eruptions which released trapped carbon dioxide gas leading to global warming.

Plate tectonics are the reason we have earthquakes – ever drifting sections of the planet grind against each other, exert unimaginable pressure as one plate attempts to overtake another – inevitably very bad days follow. Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, monsoons, hurricanes – all products of our unique tectonic designation. I could write pages about Earthly tectonics, but ask  you trust me when I tell you – they are the reason we exist. At the moment, I have Europa on my mind.

Europa is the 6th closest of Jupiter’s 63 moons. It caught Galileo’s attention in 1610 (a ponder in itself – why this moon Galileo?). Of interest to NASA since the early 70’s, modern science suspects Europa’s smooth icy surface hides a liquid ocean – data from the Hubble telescope indicate “plumes” of water vapor spewing from a suspected underground source. Earlier this week, researchers S.A. Kattenhorn and L. M. Procter published findings culled from Hubble images indicating tectonic movement on Europa. Using images from Hubble, they concluded Europa’s surface appeared to move about, much like our own – a conclusion with only one explanation – plate tectonics.

Plate tectonics rely on water, water is the one and only constant needed to support life. We’ve long believed Earth was unique regarding tectonics and the ramifications of liquid water  in relation to supporting any form of life. Pondering Europa as a planetary body with plate tectonics means it’s possible life exists beneath the surface.


NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory has conceptualized a mission dubbed “Europa Clipper”, with an optimistic launch in the next 10 years. Despite a daunting 2 billion dollar price tag, NASA is asking the scientific community to submit suggestions by October 17, 2014 for instrumentation or investigative approaches to determine once and for all if Europa has what it takes to support life.

“Life” is complicated. Plate tectonics  may be tricky, yet one thing remains unshakeable – life exists on Earth due to tectonics – we owe it to ourselves to investigate that possibility on Europa.

Fermi Paradox

In 1950 physicist Enrico Fermi posed a question pointing to the contradiction of probability for extra-terrestrial civilizations and the lack of contact with such civilizations. His pondering is known as the “Fermi Paradox”. In 1961, Frank Drake tried to come up with the statistical answer using a mathematic equation. Drake assigned values for rate of star formation in the galaxy, fraction of those stars with planets, fraction of those that would develop life, of those – the fraction with intelligent life, fraction of intelligent life willing and able to communicate, and expected lifetime of intelligent civilizations.


It doesn’t take a physicist to figure out flaws in Drake’s formula; how can anyone determine the lifetime of any given civilization or possibly understand definitions of cosmic life. We’ve only glimpsed at our solar system, haven’t set foot on the moon in decades, Voyager 1 has taken 36 years to travel 19 billion Km. give or take a few million – and is still about 11 billion Kms. from our sun. There are billions upon billions of stars in the universe; almost incomprehensible, despite attempts such as “picture all the grains of sand in the world – remove one – that’s our sun”.

Science, religion and philosophy toss the paradox around – all searching for a definitive “solution”. Science equates likelihood of an “encounter” to a fly travelling from one end of a football field to the other – a person reaching up and grasping at the air – there’s a chance they could grab the fly. Religion, steadfast and unwavering that no proof of extra-terrestrial life “proves”  God put us here. (Apparently a lot of Christians missed a memo from the Vatican that extra-terrestrial life is possible as there is no limit to God’s power)

I’ll close by pondering how lovely it would be if we could simply focus on discovery and knowledge. Imagine understanding dark matter, black holes or the fourth dimension. Debating Fermi’s Paradox is a worthy diversion; an entertaining way to stretch your mind. Buckling down to the business of pure science will change lives – forget “ancient aliens”, I want parallel dimensions.


Guilty Pleasure

I’ll come clean and admit a guilty pleasure – I’m addicted to television, not just any TV, specifically the History and Discovery channels. My PVR is set to record anything about the universe, ancient history, aliens, or conspiracies. The first two are easy to digest, the last two – not so much. Far from being a conspiracy or alien nut there’s still plenty of thought provoking ponders to sift through.

Ancient Aliens has sent me along the research path countless times. The show becomes tiresome, and I hardly ever make it to the end, but along the way I do pick up questions that are difficult to answer. Not for an instant do I think we are alone in the universe, nor do I believe Hitler escaped in an alien time capsule, the Sasquatch is an alien, or ancient Egyptian and Maya kings travelled through a star gate to distant worlds. I do wonder how precisely cut stone weighing up to 100 tons could be quarried miles away and transported across river valleys to the top of mountain peaks, then set in place so precisely you couldn’t slip a hair between them. It plants a smile on my face to know pyramids in Mexico are lined with Mica quarried 3000 miles away in South America. Rather than alien intervention I believe in lost civilization; I’m certain thousands of years history pre-date our accepted historical timeline.

Conspiracy Theory with Jessie Ventura or Brad Meltzer’s Decoded are way out there. Just the same; I thank them for my knowledge of the Alaska triangle and Bohemian Grove. While reassured that George Patton wasn’t murdered, I’m not buying that copper from the Great Lakes fuelled the Bronze Age or the Knights Templar hid the Holy Grail in America.

Anything you ever wanted to know about the universe is waiting for you on television. Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman, The Universe, Known Universe, Cosmic Front – it’s all there. For the first time in my life I “get” string theory, know the difference between White Dwarfs and Red Giants, understand why tossing a cast iron frying pan into the sun would create a super nova, and that one day the universe will run out of hydrogen and go dark. Aftermath and Life After People have shown me what would happen if the world ran out of oil, the earth stopped spinning, we had no moon, or were hit by a massive asteroid.

I fall asleep listening to Monarchy by David Starkey or Neil Oliver’s The World After Stonehenge; something about a British accent that sends me off to sleep. In my corner of the world we have the Knowledge network; commercial free programs like The Story of India, Spice Trails – chronicling the early spice trade, or Brazil with Michael Palin.

Admitting my guilty pleasure is not a source of shame. I’m smart enough to take things with a grain of salt, put them in perspective, or use my research skills to learn more. In all honesty i would be lost without a voice to put me to sleep every night.