This week, Harvard astronomer and ufologist Avi Loeb published a piece in The Debrief claiming that a meteor that crashed into the Earth in 2014 could be a piece of alien technology and arguing that it should be recovered from the bottom of the ocean for study. The wild claim earned coverage in tabloids like the The Sun and the Daily Mail, but otherwise continues Loeb’s downward trajectory. Last year, he was a media darling whose thoughts on UFOs appeared in every major publication and across the TV news landscape and stood on the verge of having his status as America’s UFO arbiter enshrined by Congress in federal law. Now, he’s headlining looney ufology conferences, appearing at cryptocurrency events, and publishing on fringe websites while spouting ersatz philosophy about aliens saving us all.
His current claim revolves around CNEOS-2014-01-08, a meteor that the U.S. Space Command determined this month was likely of interstellar origin, meaning that it came from another solar system rather than originating in ours. It is the first known interstellar meteor to reach the Earth.
For Loeb, who co-discovered the trajectory of CNEOS-2014-01-08 in 2019, the interstellar object on Earth represents an opportunity to recover a piece of another solar system and study its composition. While hunting for a tiny chunk of rock in the ocean would seem wildly impractical, Loeb’s pivot from scientific interest in the geology of other worlds to sci-fi lunacy is a wonder to behold:
The fundamental question is whether any interstellar meteor might indicate a composition that is unambiguously artificial in origin? Better still, perhaps some technological components would survive the impact. My dream is to press some buttons on a functional piece of equipment that was manufactured outside of Earth.
Has he never seen The Twilight Zone? You never press a button on alien technology!
Realistically, Loeb’s weird speculation is either an effort to raise funds by making a rock hunt seem sexy, or he is genuinely obsessed with the idea that aliens are mailing us interstellar Alexas.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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