Avi Loeb on Ukranian “UFOs”, Common Sense, and Looking for the Unexpected

Avi Loeb of the Harvard University astronomy department has published his analysis of the “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena” reported by Ukranian astronomers in “Unidentified aerial phenomena I. Observations of events”. Prof. Loeb’s analysis is “ ‘Down to Earth’ Limits on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in Ukraine”. Its abstract is short and sweet.

A recent report by astronomers about Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) in Ukraine (arXiv:2208.11215) suggests dark phantom objects of size 3–12 meters, moving at speeds of up to 15 km/s at a distance of up to 10–12 km with no optical emission. I show that the friction of such objects with the surrounding air would have generated a bright optical fireball. Reducing their inferred distance by a factor of ten is fully consistent with the size and speed of artillery shells.

Later in the interview, he notes that astronomers and other observers frequently see only what they looking for and expecting to see. For example, there could be a substantial flux of objects passing through the solar system at relativistic speeds (for example, “supernova bullets”, or alien probes like those being developed by Breakthrough Starshot) and we would never know it because we have no instrument that could detect them and nobody is building such an instrument because there’s no reason to expect them to be there.

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