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

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jennypenny
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Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

Post by jennypenny »

If anyone reads the book, let me know what you think (especially the physicists/scientists). It's heavy on philosophy and biography in addition to the information about the anomaly, but enjoyable.

I find it amusing that it's possible our first modern encounter may have gone mostly unnoticed.

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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

Post by Lemur »

I've heard about this book only because a friend of mine is a big conspiracy / UFO enthusiast. The book talks about the Author's speculation that the 2017 asteroid ʻOumuamua is a potential alien craft known as a solar sail. Some more information here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%CA%BBOumuamua

The general scientific consensus seems to be that this is a natural object but who knows. I'm not a :geek: by trade so like OP...would be interesting if others want to chime in.

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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

Post by jacob »

There's a rule in astrophysics to the effect that if anything is physically possible, it exists somewhere in the universe. [Theoretical] astrophycisists thus revel in building "possible models" for just about any observation whether realistic or not. Evaluating the realism comes down to astronomical confirmation which follows from seeing other similar objects or more detailed observations that confirm/reject some of the working hypotheses. This usually takes years and decades.

For a similar example, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PSR_B1919%2B21

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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

Post by theanimal »

The author was interviewed on both Joe Rogan's and Lex Fridman's podcasts in the past couple weeks. I'd recommend checking them out. I haven't read the book.

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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

Post by CS »

That's the sort of physics done on the back of an envelope over a beer with colleagues. It's the confirmation that's hard, as Jacob said.

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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

Post by jacob »

Key point here is that possible "does not equal" probable.

The counter argument is that "Pascal's Wager" -> More research funding given how important this would be even if the probability is [astronomically, ha!] tiny.

Yes, the light zooming across the sky could be a superhero with superpowers but it's more likely to be a commercial commuter plane. Consider that tumbling interstellar space rocks are normal and that a tumbling space craft would make it rather hard to deploy a solar sail ... (thus failing the "reasonable alien"-test) ... But anyway, I haven't read the book yet (it's on hold now) or followed the story much.

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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

Post by chenda »

@classical_liberal Yes like the widespread assumption that consciousness is an emergent property of matter, despite intriguing evidence that the reverse is true. It's apparently very taboo to discuss this is scientific circles.

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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

Post by Campitor »

jacob wrote:
Tue Jan 26, 2021 2:09 pm
Yes, the light zooming across the sky could be a superhero with superpowers but it's more likely to be a commercial commuter plane.
In his defense, he said the object wasn't behaving normally like other known celestial objects and warrants investigation; that it could be an alien built artifact is 1 of many possibilities. What is getting Loeb tied into knots is his colleagues' complete lack of curiosity regarding an object which exhibited behavior not usually seen in other celestial bodies.

His observations:
  • The object is traveling at a velocity greater than an object that could have originated in our solar system.
  • It's not a comet because of a lack of a comet tail; there was no observed debris or gas coming from the object.
  • It couldn't have been a rock because it exhibited an extra push which is only seen in comets as the ice is vaporized by sunlight.
  • Its brightness was changing by a factor of 10 or more as it moved which indicates a flat geometry.
Here is the layman paper he published on the object:https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/~loeb/Oumuamua.pdf
Here is his scientific publication on the object: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1810.11490.pdf
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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

Post by jacob »

Okay, this is not a hill I'm gonna die on or desire to spend much time defending.

The actual publication accords with the "back of the envelope"-type models I spent my [short] career refuting/getting inspired by building more elaborate computational models to match actual observations.

I'll refer/punt to https://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0310368 (intelligent layman level)

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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

Post by jennypenny »

Sorry @jacob, I wasn't trying to tee you up. I actually thought you might like the book since it's as much about his biography and philosophy on life as it is about Oumuamua. I haven't heard him in any podcasts though, only read the book this morning, so I don't know what he's emphasizing in interviews. I still think you might like it. It resonated a little with things we discuss here. He's definitely trying to defend his reputation but I still found him interesting, and a decent writer.

@chenda -- Have you watched 'Surviving Death' on Netflix? For some reason, I thought of you when watching it. It's a fair treatment of different aspects of the issue, with some of it coming off as bunk and some of it more ... intriguing.

@all -- When reading the book, I was most struck by the box in which even scientists find themselves trapped. It's a terrible trend in society. I felt the same watching 'In Search of Greatness' on Amazon last week. David Epstein (The Sports Gene, Range) was criticizing things like combines, saying that true greatness comes from people who don't fit the mold -- who use their ingenuity, creativity, and a realistic assessment of their abilities to push themselves to greatness. I dunno ... seemed related to me.

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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

Post by chenda »

@jennypenny - Thanks for the recommendation, definitely sounds like my sort of thing : )

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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

Post by Campitor »

I watched several of Avi Loeb's interviews including the 1+ hour conversation with Lex Fridman. He comes across as genuinely curious.

For the record I don't believe Oumuamua has anything to do with advanced alien life. My only interest in the object is its extra-solar origin and it's currently unexplained behavior/properties.

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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

Post by IlliniDave »

If this is the object I think it is, I saw a reasonably interesting attempt to explain some of it's behavioral differences compared to "regular" comets. I don't have a reference and wasn't engrossed while it was on, but the hypothesis was that some of the atypical behavior was a result of changes to ice that would result from long exposure to interstellar radiation, tested by some terrestrial lab experiments. The only attempts I've seen to tie it to alien life have appeared in the MSM where I apply a modification to the Reagan doctrine: verify, never trust. Nevertheless I'd be interested to hear what people think of the book. In the coming months I expect to see a surge in my available-for-reading time, and I intend to break out of the pattern of light reading I do for relaxation (mostly popular fiction).

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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

Post by jacob »

jacob wrote:
Tue Jan 26, 2021 3:09 pm
I'll refer/punt to https://arxiv.org/abs/astro-ph/0310368 (intelligent layman level)
I finished the book. I'll refer to the above link to describe what I would consider a general crisis (is there a less strong word for crisis? malaise? frustration?) in astrophysics. This book +1s some of this frustration. Also see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Trouble_with_Physics

The problem with physics is that its golden age ended with the cold war and the standard model. Since then I'll bravely posit that not much of comparable value has been done. Physics has been in a "winter"-period for almost 50 years---someone transported from 1970 to 2020 would not have their mind blown in the same way that someone going from 1890 to 1940 would have. Instead the field has devolved into highly competitive careerism focusing more on boosting one's publication record (sheer quantity of papers that are interesting to only 5 other people in the world) and winning grants by doing the "safe thing": "We propose to <use already known to us> method to investigate <something we've basically already done> ... and therefore request $$$ to cover N postdocs and M grad students (for an expected harvest of X papers and Y talks that will look good on their/my resume/tenure application)".

Oh yes, also something about aliens. Seriously, this is exciting stuff and why people get into astro-* in the first place. It's just that people will find themselves pursuing the next decimal point on some measurement soon enough instead of thinking grand thoughts.

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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

Post by Alphaville »

jacob wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 9:31 am
Instead the field has devolved into highly competitive careerism focusing more on boosting one's publication record (sheer quantity of papers that are interesting to only 5 other people in the world) and winning grants by doing the "safe thing": "We propose to <use already known to us> method to investigate <something we've basically already done> ... and therefore request $$$ to cover N postdocs and M grad students (for an expected harvest of X papers and Y talks that will look good on the resume/tenure application)".
it's not a science thing but an academia problem; the same happens in the humanities but only worse because no objective proof of anything is required.

this situation i attribute to the practice of governing/managing from statistics and public relations. in mapping out this reality, art did it best; and so there's little as illuminating and entertaining as watching all five seasons of "the wire." to me, the best realist novel of our century so far.

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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

Post by Qazwer »

That is a general statement in all fields. Wow this a cool finding - best minds are working on it - why can’t we get one of those great blank here? Student wow this is the coolest I should study it - to we really need to flush out all the details of the giants in this field they had great ideas but never ....- to eventually yeah that was pretty cool 50 years ago, the conclusions of its argument have been worked out but have you checked out - if you want to teach about it go for it but no one cares about just teachers so you will have to justify yourself somehow - student now I thought this stuff was cool but now that I get into it I probably should run away as it’s just cannabilizing
itself

Humanities is no different from the sciences in that

Heard about this new deep learning thing?
How about applying statistics/graphics to journalism?

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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

Post by Campitor »

A JPL article about : https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/our-solar ... peed-boost

Their explanation seems plausible and tempers the "it's an alien craft" hypothesis, however I can see how its unexplained change in direction and speed would appear artificial. We'll never know. I guess the only proof will ever get is if an alien lands in D.C. with his giant robot.

PS - this is when I would love to be a billionaire. I'd have a world class telescope array and give it over to the alien life astrophysicists to see what they find. I'd let Avi Loeb run it. Even if little green men aren't discovered, it would be interesting to see what else they find.

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Re: Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth, by Avi Loeb

Post by jacob »

Campitor wrote:
Mon Feb 22, 2021 12:49 pm
PS - this is when I would love to be a billionaire. I'd have a world class telescope array and give it over to the alien life astrophysicists to see what they find. I'd let Avi Loeb run it. Even if little green men aren't discovered, it would be interesting to see what else they find.
Kinda covered in the book: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakthrough_Starshot

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