Avi Loeb At It Again

Discussion in 'Astronomy, Exobiology, & Cosmology' started by exchemist, Aug 29, 2023.

  1. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    He seems to have dredged up some sub-millimetre spherical nodules at the site of a meteorite in the sea and claims their composition is not readily explicable. Unclear to what degree he may be trying to imply they may be artifacts of alien intelligence, but he seem to be doing little to damp such speculations.

    I await the arrival of Magic Realist and Yazata with amusement…….

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  3. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Like identifying interlopers that merely pass through the solar system, it is interesting to search for potential interstellar meteorites on Earth. And try to recover remains, and determine to whatever extent possible if that's what they really are. But it seems an overzealous leap to repeatedly promote the idea that these objects could be artificial in origin. There's arguably a thin line (i.e., it can get out of hand) between sensationalistic opportunism and merely trying to rattle a taboo a tad with respect to a community never considering a statistically unlikely prospect at all.

    But at least he seems to only make one brief mention of possible ET technology in his medium-dot-com piece; and the Galileo Project account of the expedition contains none at all (if bottom references to one of his books and the purpose of GP itself is excluded). No doubt the MSM news articles at large play it up to the hilt, though, with Loeb probably accommodating them with plenty of unbridled speculations in that specific context.

    The IM1 Spherules from the Pacific Ocean Have Extrasolar Composition

    EXCERPT: The interstellar origin of IM1 was established at the 99.999% confidence based on velocity measurements by US government satellites, as confirmed in a formal letter from the US Space Command to NASA. The fireball light curve showed three flares, separated by a tenth of a second from each other. Prior to entering the solar system, IM1 was moving at a speed of 60 kilometers per second relative to the Local Standard of Rest of the Milky-Way galaxy, faster than 95% of all stars in the vicinity of the Sun. Based on the fact that it maintained its integrity at an impact speed on Earth of 45 kilometers per second down to an elevation of 17 kilometers above the Pacific Ocean, its material strength must have been tougher than all 272 space rocks documented by NASA in the CNEOS meteor catalog, including the 5% minority of them which are iron meteorites.

    - - - - - - - -

    Spherule analysis finds evidence of extrasolar composition

    EXCERPTS: These spherules also exhibit iron isotope ratios unlike those found on Earth, the Moon and Mars, altogether implying an interstellar origin. The loss of volatile elements is consistent with IM1’s airburst in the Earth’s atmosphere. [...] “The “BeLaU” composition is tantalizingly different by factors of hundreds from solar system materials, with beryllium production through spallation of heavier nuclei by cosmic-rays flagging interstellar travel,” said Avi Loeb.

    [...] Avi Loeb is the leading author on the expedition team's paper (linked here), submitted for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. The spherules will continue to be analyzed by four laboratories around the world, at Harvard University, UC Berkeley, the Bruker Corporation, and the University of Technology in Papua New Guinea (Unitech, PNG), using the most advanced instruments of their kind.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2023
    exchemist and Yazata like this.
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  5. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    And they are reporting that they believe that they have found physical traces of an interstellar meteorite here on Earth. They cite several independent reasons for believing so, including satellite data from the US Space Command suggesting an incoming unbound hyperbolic orbit and composition subtly unlike known solar system meteorites.

    It's an interesting scientific discovery that doesn't justify ridicule.


    The point to be made here is that when it comes to the nature and explanation of what is observed, we are considering the hypothetical possibility space from which possible explanations might potentially come. We aren't talking about conclusive scientific explanations at this early point. That would be premature.

    Here's what Loeb writes about the possible origin of this proposed interstellar meteor in the very good Medium-dot-com piece. I colored it brown to indicate it's not my words. And I highlighted the only comment about possible ET technology in bold. ("IM-1" is their name for Interstellar Meteor 1)

    Since IM1’s spherules melted off the surface of the object, the enhanced Be abundance may represent a flag for cosmic-ray spallation on IM1’s surface along an extended interstellar journey through the Milky-Way galaxy. This constitutes a fourth indicator of an interstellar origin for IM1, in addition to its high speed, its heavy element composition and its iron isotope ratios. Some of these indicators can be used to identify an interstellar origin of historic meteorites for which no information is available about their orbital velocity relative to the Sun.

    The high material strength inferred for IM1 can potentially be tested experimentally by assembling a material mix based on the “BeLaU” composition, with proper compensation for lost volatile elements.

    The “BeLaU” abundance pattern could potentially be explained if IM1 originated from a highly differentiated crust of an exoplanet with an iron core. In that case, IM1’s high speed of ~60 kilometers per second in the Local Standard of Rest of the Milky-Way galaxy and the extremely large number of similar objects per star, 10 to the power of 23, inferred statistically for the population of meter-size interstellar objects , are challenging to explain by common dynamical processes.

    The “BeLaU” overabundance of heavy elements could have instead originated from so-called “r-process” enrichment and fragmentation of ejecta from core-collapse supernovae or neutron star mergers. However, the “BeLaU” pattern also displays a so-called “s-process” enrichment which must have originated from an independent origin, such as Asymptotic Giant Branch (AGB) stars. A more exotic possibility is that this unfamiliar abundance pattern, with uranium being nearly a thousand time more abundant than the standard solar system value, may reflect an extraterrestrial technological origin. These interpretations will be considered critically along with additional results from spherule analysis in future work.

    The highlighting of the second to last sentence in the exerpt above is by me.

    That's it. As much as "journalists" might want to run with that one sentence and transform it into the narrative, Loeb is merely noting that it remains among the possible explanations and hasn't conclusively been excluded yet. I think that he is correct in doing that.

    Last edited: Aug 30, 2023
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  7. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    Well done, you have found not only 2 more informative sources than the ones I could find, but also an embedded link to the paper they are submitting for peer review.

    The graph of elemental composition is very interesting and remarkable, showing as it does a virtually complete set of lanthanides plus Th and U, all at concentrations 100x what would be expected for carbonaceous chondrites. What I don’t follow, not knowing much about this, is why he compares this meteorite to a chondrite rather than an iron type meteorite.

    I notice that he omits from the draft of the paper his rather wild reference (in the medium.com article) to space trash from an alien civilisation.

    I’ll be interested to see the reactions to it when the paper is published.
  8. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    A recent quizzing of him conducted by a (left-wing) news/opinion pop outlet, for whatever it's worth...
    - - - - - - - - - - - -

    (interview) Astrophysicist Avi Loeb discusses UFOs, alien life and his controversial interstellar research

    SEP 6, 2023: . . . Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb went to the press with a spectacular claim: His research team had combed the ocean floor for remnants of a meteorite that broke apart over the Pacific in 2014, uncovered spherules of molten droplets and determined that they had originated from outside our solar system.

    This isn't the first time Loeb has made such an extraordinary claim. [...] Salon spoke to Loeb about his new research, his new book and some of the controversy surrounding his work... (MORE - details)
  9. exchemist Valued Senior Member

    This is all rather unsatisfactory. The entire interview fails to describe exactly what Loeb's claim is that they are discussing.

    It does not seem to me specially remarkable that Loeb claims the meteorite originated from outside our solar system. The speed (>solar escape velocity) tends to corroborate that. The extraordinary claim surely, is the suggestion - in some reports of what he has said to some media people - it could be trash from an alien technology. That is the bit that needs justifying.

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