Around the world, telescopes were quickly aimed toward ‘Oumuamua’s path, and scientists dove into the data.
One of them, Avi Loeb, the chair of Harvard University’s astronomy department, published a paper in the following year theorizing that the object could be artificial.
The threat of being written off as a kook can loom large for researchers, especially young ones.
A lot of academics “won’t touch it with a 10-foot pole,” said Don Donderi, a retired associate professor of psychology at Mc Gill University in Montreal who now teaches a non-credit course called “UFOs: History and Reality” in the school’s continuing education department.
He’s concluded that life elsewhere could be quite common, and others in his field back him up.
“We used to say that life is incredibly rare and we’re lucky to live on a habitable planet,” he said.
The people who speak at UFO conferences “aren’t all equally good enough,” Donderi said.
Meanwhile, those engaged in the search through bona fide organizations have come up with minimal results.
In October 2017, a telescope operated by the University of Hawaii picked up a strange cigar-shaped object (artist rendering below), which had slingshotted past the sun at a more-than-brisk top speed of 196,000 miles per hour.
Scientists at the university dubbed it ‘Oumuamua, Hawaiian for scout, and at first labeled it an asteroid, then a comet, but agreed that it came from another solar system.