Avi Loeb, the chair of Harvard’s Astronomy Department, believes that the experience of first contact between humans and extraterrestrial alien life forms will be “shocking”.
Loeb, who has spent much of his storied career searching for alien life, has theorized that fast radio bursts, which are millisecond-long flashes of energy from the deep regions of the cosmos, could be messages from extraterrestrials. The theoretical physicist has also speculated about alien megastructures, and suggested that ‘Oumuamua‘, the first interstellar object ever observed which fascinated the science community since it was discovered in October 2017, may have been a probe sent by intelligent life elsewhere in the universe.
Now, in a new interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel, Loeb talks about the cosmos and what first contact would mean for human civilization.
According to the Harvard astronomer, if humankind were contacted by some extraterrestrial life form – and this is not just an idle fantasy: many scientists, including theoretical physicist and futurist Michio Kaku argue that the detection of alien life is more a question of when, not if – the experience could be one of the most extraordinary ones in human history.
“If you think about the history of humans, the perspective has changed as we have evolved – from a single individual to a family, a tribe, a country, and finally we even found other continents with people living there,” Loeb told Der Spiegel. “If we were now to find other beings beyond planet Earth, this would be the biggest step ever.”
When asked what first contact would be like, Loeb, who during the interview highlighted the fact that humanity now has “the necessary technology to answer the question of whether we are alone”, said that it’s almost impossible to predict how life could have evolved outside of Earth.
“I can’t tell you what this moment will look like,” he said. “But it will be shocking. Because we are biased by our own experiences. We imagine other beings to be similar to us. But maybe they are radically different.”
Reference: Der Spiegel