The Harvard scientist on his search for alien technology, academic jealousy and why we must fund space exploration
Abraham Loeb, known as Avi, is a professor of astrophysics at Harvard University and he has done the unthinkable. He has repeatedly been willing to contemplate the existence of nonhuman technology and how it may explain certain perplexing astronomical observations that mainstream science struggles with. Loeb, 61, is the author of Interstellar: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Our Future Beyond Earth, a follow-up to his New York Times bestseller Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth. On the day we spoke, the US government was preparing to hold a House of Representatives oversight and accountability committee hearing on UFOs with retired air force officer and former intelligence official David Grusch, who turned whistleblower in June, claiming that the US government had retrieved pieces of crashed alien spacecraft.
When it comes to UFOs, why is it always a government cover-up? Why don’t astronomers see UFOs – aren’t they the people looking at the sky the most?
The government would be a natural first to recognise anything unusual in the sky or in crash sites because their day job is to worry about national security and to monitor the nearby environment. Astronomers always train their telescopes on very distant, slow-moving objects. They are not looking for anything fast-moving or nearby. So it’s possible that if anything unusual happened, the US government would notice it first.
Interstellar: The Search for Extraterrestrial Life and Our Future Beyond Earth by Avi Loeb is published by John Murray (£20). To support the Guardian and Observer order your copy at guardianbookshop.com. Delivery charges may apply