The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth
by Avi Loeb
published January 2021
ISBN: 9780358278146

Guys, I don't know anything about space, but I find it fascinating. So when a big-deal astrophysicist from Harvard announces that he's entertaining the hypothesis that an alien satellite blew past us a couple years ago, my ears perk up. I'm willing to listen.

I can't say I've spent a lot of time thinking about intelligent life beyond our planet, but apparently Professor Loeb has, and he's quite the storyteller.  

A few years ago, Loeb and a team designed a kind of space object called a light sail that, spurred by light, could travel absurdly far distances in a quick matter of time, going further than we ever thought possible during our lifetimes. Then, in 2017, a celestial object was spotted that looked an awful lot like what Loeb and his team had created, and it originated outside of our solar system.

He goes on to say that although there is not enough data to say conclusively what this object was, we should be entertaining the idea that it could be extraterrestrial technology.

The prose is measured, conversational, not at all tabloid-fodder. Rather than advocate for a theory of intelligent races of aliens, what he's really getting at is that the scientific community must maintain a sense of curious wonder as it approaches the unknown, taking risks to study less-popular theories. As someone far into a prestigious career, he has the standing to make these claims.

Extraterrestrial is filled with enough science to make you feel smarter having read it but not enough to make you feel dumb while reading. He comes across as someone I would be delighted to sit next to on an airplane and hear him talk about what he's working on.

Recommended for anyone who finds the expanse of space neat-o.