How little we know
Harvard astrophysicists think Oumuamua, the pencil-shaped object that whizzed past Earth last year, might have been a probe sent to observe Earth.
“The theory is based on the object’s ‘excess acceleration,’ or its unexpected boost in speed as it traveled through and ultimately out of our solar system in January.
”'Considering an artificial origin, one possibility is that 'Oumuamua is a light sail, floating in interstellar space as a debris from an advanced technological equipment,’ wrote the paper’s authors, suggesting that the object could be propelled by solar radiation.“
Other experts don’t think the idea stands up:
”'I am distinctly unconvinced and honestly think the study is rather flawed,’ Alan Jackson, fellow at the Centre for Planetary Sciences at the University of Toronto Scarborough, wrote in an email. 'Carl Sagan once said, 'extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’ and this paper is distinctly lacking in evidence, never mind extraordinary evidence.’“
But even if Oumuamua is of boringly natural origin, it’s a reminder how little we really know. The fact we’ve never seen anything like it before shows we’re still at the very beginning of our understanding of the universe we inhabit.
We could spend the next thousand years or more developing ever-better technology, inhabiting Mars and exploring the possibilities of intergalactic space exploration.
…and yet we’re so narrow minded and short-termist in our viewpoint that we’re happy as a species to throw it all away by potentially wiping ourselves out through climate change and declining biodiversity
. We know enough to understand what could be our undoing, but are too obsessed with what we have right now to take effective action.
It makes me wonder if every advanced species has its limit – a maximum level of achievement it can reach before it burns itself out through its own inherent flaws.
I just hope we’re self-aware enough to save ourselves, explore the universe… and maybe even one day find out what Oumuamua really is.