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Extraterrestrial – The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth by Avi Loeb

Extraterrestrial – The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth is written by Harvard astrophysicist Dr. Avi Loeb. I came across this book because my oldest sign is highly interested in space and I kept seeing blurbs about it. My expectations were high.

Dr. Loeb is definitely smart and has loads of credentials. We hear about these credentials repeatedly. This makes sense to a degree; he is building his case and showing he is not some crackpot. And I don’t think he is a crackpot by any means. His ideas may even prove true.

The premise of the book revolves around a fast-moving interstellar object captured by a telescope. The object earns the name ‘Oumuamua which approximately translates to “scout” in Hawaiian. Loeb explains all the oddities of this object and makes great points about how it is not an asteroid or comet. This leads to the theory that it is not a natural object and most likely was a large, flat object using light-sail technology.

All of this is fascinating, but the rest of the book is largely filler. Much of Extraterrestrial is not really about proving anything. It is about persuading science to invest in the theories of Dr. Loeb. These include more telescopes focused on searching for more objects like ‘Oumuamua and seeking extraterrestrial “signatures”. Also, Loeb wants more money put into developing light-sail technology, something he developed.

I believe that more money should be put into science, including these theories. Dr. Loeb makes great points that the scientific community, at least in part, has become to close-minded and full of factions. All reasonable theories should be researched. Consensus doesn’t always equal proof.

While my expectations were not quite met, I did learn a lot from this book. It may have been a bit overzealous to claim this shows intelligent life “out there”. But at the least it shows that new ways of thinking and dreaming should never be discouraged. Scientists should always keep open minds and think like children.