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Home SCIENCE The humiliating truth behind Harvard astronomer’s alien spherules | by Ethan Siegel | Starts With A Bang! | Mar, 2024

The humiliating truth behind Harvard astronomer’s alien spherules | by Ethan Siegel | Starts With A Bang! | Mar, 2024

by California Digital News

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One of the very first spherules collected off of the ocean floor by Avi Loeb’s expedition to try to recover fragments of a suspected interstellar meteor. The actual nature of these spherules is almost certainly terrestrial, not extraterrestrial, and has nothing to do with the alleged meteor Loeb is chasing. (Credit: The Galileo Project)

Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb claimed to track down and find alien spherules on the ocean bottom. The sober truth is an utter embarrassment.

One of the most common, and unfortunately well-deserved, tropes is that of an arrogant physicist who shamelessly wanders into a field that’s new to them. Armed with their knowledge, experience, and problem solving abilities, they falsely believe that their lack of familiarity with an entire field of science is no obstacle to making meaningful contributions that the “mediocre” scientists working in that inferior field would have no chance at making. It’s such a common theme that xkcd made a brilliant comic years ago whose text reads:

“You’re trying to predict the behavior of <complicated system>? Just model it as a <simple object>, and then add some secondary terms to account for <complications I just thought of>.

Easy, right?

So, why does <your field> need a whole journal, anyway?”

Rarely is someone with this attitude humble enough to make any meaningful contributions in this new field, as they lack the fundamental attitude of being ready to learn what they don’t know while simultaneously being willing and eager to let go of their incorrect, previously-held misconceptions in favor of a more correct way of thinking. Instead, they typically stand in the way of the very good science being done by the experts in that field, and instead confuse an ill-informed general public even further, damaging the entire enterprise of science.

Continuing the long and storied traditions of physicists without shame in exactly this fashion, Harvard astronomer Avi Loeb dubiously claimed that:

  • an interstellar meteor struck Earth in 2014,
  • that meteor was possibly made of alien technology,
  • it landed in a specific place in the ocean,
  • and that his expedition recovered those fragments and determined that they are of alien origin from beyond our Solar System.

Unfortunately for Avi Loeb, actual scientists who understand how this type of science is done are on the…



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