2018 items

select for full details Is interstellar object 'Oumuamua an alien space probe?'
The interstellar object 'Oumuamua could be a light-sail created by an alien civilization.'
By Hamish Johnston 7 Nov, 2018

That is the highly speculative conclusion of Shmuel Bialy and Avi Loeb of Harvard University, who say that the unexplained trajectory of the object as it travelled through the solar system could be the result of it being accelerated by sunlight.

In a statement about the research, Loeb says that it is "unclear whether 'Oumuamua' might be a defunct technological debris of equipment that is not operational any more or whether it is functional". Bialy and Loeb believe the object could be a light-sail, which would have used the radiation pressure of starlight - or perhaps even light from a giant laser - to reach the solar system. Japan's IKAROS mission, which launched in 2010, has already used a light-sail to accelerate a spacecraft using sunlight.

What is behind the decline in UFO sightings?
select for full details in an age of wild claims churned out by politicians, media and advertisers, perhaps people don't care as much any more
By Philip Jaekl 21 Sep, 2018

This month, the two major online sites for reporting UFOs - the National UFO Reporting Center and the Mutual UFO Network - both documented steep drops in worldwide sightings. The declines started around 2014, when reports were at a peak. They have since reduced drastically to 55% of that year's combined total, many UFO interest groups have folded, and numerous previously classified government documents have been disclosed.

Do these declines reveal that UFO interest is becoming a blip on the human cultural radar? Perhaps UFO and alien lore is seeming more like a reflection of human culture, tied to the space age, motivated by conquering new existential frontiers.

It might not be a coincidence that the term UFO (unidentified flying object) and some of the phenomena that surrounds it - abductions and impossible technologies - are relatively recent. Before the 1940s, reports of sightings of objects in the sky were extremely rare. Centuries of recorded history give no clear indication of any such activity. Then, at the predawn of the space-age, around the time of the Roswell conspiracy, UFO culture was born, giving rise to everything from Space Invaders to The X-Files.

select for full details Aliens Might Have Sent Cigar-Shaped Probe to Monitor Earth
In October of last year, a mysterious, cigar-shaped interstellar object fell through our solar system
By Eric Levitz 6 Nov, 2018

When the Pan-STARRS 1 telescope in Hawaii first discovered "Oumuamua" - the object's official nickname, meaning "a messenger who reaches out from the distant past" in Hawaiian - researchers assumed that it was an ordinary comet or asteroid. But the longer they observed Oumuamua, the more improbable that hypothesis appeared: After all, what kind of asteroid is ten times longer than it is wide, and suddenly accelerates in speed, for no discernible astrophysical reason?

A new paper from scientists at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics offers an answer: the kind of asteroid that is actually a solar-powered component of an alien spacecraft that broke off its mothership while investigating Earth's solar system.

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