Close Encounters with Harvard Astrophysicist Avi Loeb

By The Temple Emanu-El Streicker Center: Spring 2021 (other events)

Tuesday, July 27 2021 11:30 AM 12:30 PM

For decades, rumors and speculation about alien visitors have been chatter confined to crackpots, UFO hunters and Area 51 conspiracy theorists. But when the longest-serving chairman of the Astronomy Department at Harvard declares that we have clear clues that we’re not alone in the universe, it’s time to take the possibility seriously. 

Does that sound like science fiction?

That’s what many astrophysicists thought until Oumuamua appeared on terrestrial telescopes in 2017, a 100-meter-long object that didn’t look and behave like a comet or asteroid. While most dismissed the possibility that they were seeing alien technology, Professor Avi Loeb insisted that no other explanation was logical and that we needed to mount a vigorous search for our neighbors on the cosmic street. 

Why are scientists so reluctant to take Loeb’s hypothesis seriously? Isn’t it the height of hubris to cling to the belief that life developed only here on Earth when half of our Milky Way galaxy’s stars have planets similar enough to ours to sustain life? And what can we learn about ourselves and our world by studying space archaeology? 

In his electrifying Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life beyond Earth, Loeb addresses those critical questions, and he joins us to discuss them and this exciting scientific frontier.

Moderated by Faye Flam, journalist and host of the podcast “Follow the Science”

The Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University, Avi (Abraham) Loeb is the author of eight prior books and hundreds of scientific papers. Until recently Chair of Harvard’s Department of Astronomy and member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, he is an elected fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and the International Academy of Astronautics. A native of Beit Hanan, Israel, he serves on the Advisory Board of Einstein: Visualize the Impossible, an immersive digital platform, at his alma mater, The Hebrew University.