You know, why not?
A Harvard professor and a ranking Pentagon official walk into a bar and start talking about alien motherships — stop me if you've heard this one before.
Written by Harvard's firebrand UFOlogist Avi Loeb and Sean Kirkpatrick, the director of the Pentagon’s new All-domain Anomaly Resolution Office (AARO), which was created by President Joe Biden last year and tasked with studying unidentified aerial phenomena (UAPs), the paper explores the possibility that there may be a sizeable alien "mothership" — yes, they used that word — somewhere out there that sends tiny probes they call "dandelion seeds" out to learn about various planets. Including, they speculate, Earth.
Best known for his bold suggestion that 'Oumuamua, the strange object that flew by Earth in 2017, could be alien in origin, Loeb teamed up with Kirkpatrick to write in the paper that the theory was inspired both by that strangely-shaped interstellar interloper and by IM2, a small interstellar meteor that crashed to Earth six months prior.
"The coincidences between some orbital parameters of ‘Oumuamua and IM2 inspires us to consider the possibility that an artificial interstellar object could potentially be a parent craft that releases many small probes during its close passage to Earth, an operational construct not too dissimilar from NASA missions," the pair wrote.
"These 'dandelion seeds,'" they continued, "could be separated from the parent craft by the tidal gravitational force of the Sun or by a maneuvering capability."
Beyond his insistence that 'Oumuamua could be alien in origin, Loeb has also made waves for his newly-greenlit proposal to uncover yet another interstellar meteor from the Pacific Ocean and try to determine if it's artificial (read: extraterrestrial) — and last fall, he and his graduate astrophysics student Amir Siraj posited that IM2 is an "additional interstellar object candidate" in yet another preprint paper.
While it's worth noting that the latest paper is not an official Pentagon document, it's nevertheless continued evidence of a sea change in the official stomach for UFO and ET talk that a well-connected Harvard professor and a leading Department of Defense official could even attach their names to such a theory — and really, if it's a genuine line of inquiry, why shouldn't they?
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