Avi Loeb, Professor of Science at Harvard University, joins us to discuss unidentified aerial phenomena and a recent US Government report assessing their existence and threat.
Topics discussed in this episode include:
- Evidence counting for the natural, human, and extraterrestrial origins of UAPs
- The culture of science and how it deals with UAP reports
- How humanity should respond if we discover UAPs are alien in origin
- A project for collecting high quality data on UAPs
1:41 Why is the US Government report on UAPs significant?
7:08 Multiple different sensors detecting the same phenomena
11:50 Are UAPs a US technology?
13:20 Incentives to deploy powerful technology
15:48 What are the flight and capability characteristics of UAPs?
17:53 The similarities between ‘Oumuamua and UAP reports
20:11 Are UAPs some form of spoofing technology?
22:48 What is the most convincing natural or conventional explanation of UAPs?
25:09 UAPs as potentially containing artificial intelligence
28:15 Can you give a credence to UAPs being alien in origin?
29:32 Why aren’t UAPs far more technologically advanced?
32:15 How should humanity respond if UAPs are found to be alien in origin?
35:15 A plan to get better data on UAPs
38:56 Final thoughts from Avi
39:40 Getting in contact with Avi to support his project
We hope that you will continue to join in the conversations by following us or subscribing to our podcasts on Youtube, Spotify, SoundCloud, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, or your preferred podcast site/application.
Lucas Perry: Welcome to the Future of Life Institute Podcast. I’m Lucas Perry. This is a follow up interview to the main release that we’ve done with Avi Loeb. After our initial interview, the US Government released a report on UFOs, otherwise now known as UAPs, titled, Preliminary Assessment: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena. This report is a major and significant event in the history and acknowledgement of UFOs as a legitimate phenomena. As our first interview with Avi focused on Oumuamua and its potential alien origin, we also wanted to get his perspective on UFOs, this report, his views on whether they’re potentially alien in origin, and what this all means for humanity.
In case you missed it in the main episode, we’re currently hiring for a Podcast Producer to work on the editing, production, publishing, and analytics tracking of the audio and visual content of this podcast. As the Producer you would be working directly with me, and the FLI outreach team, to help grow, and evolve this podcast. If you’re interested in applying, head over to the Careers tab on the Futureoflife.org homepage or follow the link in the description. The application deadline is July 31st, with rolling applications accepted thereafter until the role is filled. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out to email@example.com.
And with that, I’m happy to present this bonus interview with Avi Loeb.
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has released a preliminary assessment on unidentified aerial phenomena, which is a new word that they’re using for UFO, so now it’s UAP. So can you summarize the contents of this report and explain why the report is significant?
Avi Loeb: The most important statement made in the report is that some of the objects that were detected are probably real and that is based on the fact that they were detected in multiple instruments using radar systems, or infrared cameras, or optical visual cameras, or several military personnel seeing the same thing, doing the same thing at the same time. And so that is a very significant statement because the immediate suspicion is that unusual phenomena occur when you have a smudge on your camera, when there is a malfunction of some instruments, and the fact that there is corroborating evidence among different instruments implies that it must be something real happening. That’s the first significant statement.
And then there were 144 incidents documented but it was also mentioned there is a stigma on reporting because there is a taboo on discussing extraterrestrial technologies, and as a result only a small minority of all events were reported. But nevertheless, the Navy established in March 2019 a procedure for reporting, which was not available prior to that and the Air Force followed on that in December 2020. So it’s all very recent that there is this procedure or formal path through which reports can be obtained. And of course, that helps in the sense that it provides a psychological support system for those who want to report about unusual things they have witnessed, and prior to that they had to dare to speak given the stigma.
And so the second issue is of course we have objects, if some of them are real. And by the way, we only saw a small fraction of the evidence most of it is classified and the reason is that the government owns the sensors that were used to obtain this evidence. And these sensors are being used to monitor the sky, and therefore our national security importance and we don’t want to release information about the quality of the sensors to our adversaries, to other nations. And so the data itself is being classified because the instruments are classified, but nevertheless one can think of several possible interpretations of these real objects.
And I should say that CIA Directors, say like Brennan, and Woolsey, and President Barack Obama spoke about these events as serious matters so that, to me, it all implies that we need to consider them seriously. So there are several possible interpretations, one of course is that they are human made and some other nation produced them, but some of the objects behaved in ways that supersede our technologies, the limits of the technologies we have in the U.S. and we have some intelligence on what other nations are doing. And moreover, if there was another nation with far better technologies they would find themselves in the consumer market because there would be a huge financial benefit to using them or we would see some evidence for them in the battlefield. And at the moment we have a pretty good idea, I would argue, as to what other nations are doing technologically speaking.
So if there are real objects behaving in ways that exceed human technologies, then the question is what could it be? And there are two possibilities, either these are natural phenomena that occur in the atmosphere that we did not expect or they are of extraterrestrial origin, some other technological civilization produced these objects and deployed them here. And of course, both of these possibilities are exciting because we learned something new. So the message I take from this report is that the evidence is sufficiently intriguing for the subject to move away from the talking points of politicians, national security advisors, military personnel that were really not trained as scientists. It should move into the realm of science where we use state-of-the-art equipment, such as cameras installed on wide field telescopes that scan the sky. These are telescopes you can buy off the shelf and you can position them in similar geographical locations, and monitor the sky with open data, and analyze the data using the best computers we have in a completely transparent way like a scientific experiment.
And so that’s what we should do next and instead what I see is that a lot of scientists just ridicule the significance of the report or say business as usual, that there is no need to attend to these statements. And I think it’s an opportunity for science to actually clarify this matter and clear up the fog and this is definitely a question that is of great interest to the public. What is the nature of these unidentified objects or phenomena? Are they natural in origin or maybe extraterrestrial? And I’m very much willing to address this with my research group given proper funding for it.
Lucas Perry: Let’s stick here with this first point, right? So I actually heard Neil deGrasse Tyson on MSNBC just before we started talking and he was mentioning that he thought that there could have been hardware or software artifacts that could have been generating artifacts on these systems. And I think your first point very clearly refutes that because you have multiple different systems plus eyewitness reports all corroborating the same thing. So it’s confusing to me why he would say that.
Avi Loeb: Well, because he is trying to maximize the number of likes he has on Twitter and doubting the reality of these reports appears to be popular among people in academia, among scientists, among some people in the public and so he’s driven by that. My point is, an intelligent culture is driven or actually is following the guiding principles of science and those are sharing evidence based knowledge. What Neil deGrasse Tyson is doing is not sharing evidence based knowledge, but rather dismissing evidence. And my point is, this evidence that is being reported in Washington, D.C. is intriguing enough to motivate us to collect more evidence rather than ignore it. So obviously, if you look at the history of science, we often make discoveries when we find anomalies, things that do not line up with what we expected.
And the best example is quantum mechanics that was discovered a century ago, nobody expected it. It was forced upon us by experiments and actually, Albert Einstein at the time resisted one of its fundamental facets, entanglement, or what he called spooky action at a distance. That the quantum system knows about its different parts even if they are separated by a large distance such that light signals cannot propagate over the time of the experiment. And he argued that this cannot be the case and wrote a paper about it, it’s with his postdocs, it’s called the Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen experiment. That experiment was done and demonstrated that he was wrong and even a century later we are still debating the meaning of quantum mechanics.
So it’s sort of like a bone stuck in the throat of physicists, but nevertheless, we know that quantum mechanics holds and applies to reality. And in fact the reason the two of us are conversing is because of our understanding of quantum mechanics, the fact that we can use it in all the instruments that we use. For example, the speaker that the two of us are using, and the internet, and the computers we are using, all of these use principles of quantum mechanics that were discovered over the century. And my point is, that very often when you do experiments there are situations where you get something you don’t expect, and that’s part of the learning experience. And we should respect deviations from our expectations because they carve a new path to new understanding, new learning about reality and about nature rather than ridiculing it, rather than always thinking that what we will find will match what we expected.
And so if the government among all comes along with reports about unusual phenomena, the government is very conservative very often, you would expect the scientific community to embrace that as an exciting topic to investigate because the government is saying something, let’s figure out what is it about. Let’s clarify the nature of these phenomena that appear anomalous rather than saying business as usual, I don’t believe it, it could be a malfunction of the instrument. So if it is a malfunction of the instrument, why did many instruments show the same thing? Why did many pilots show the same thing? And I should clarify that in the courtroom if you have two eyewitness testimonies that corroborate each other you can put people in jail as a result. So we believe people in the legal system and somehow when it comes to pilots, who are very serious people that serve our country, then Neil deGrasse Tyson dismisses their testimony.
So my point is not that we must believe it, but rather that it’s intriguing enough for us to collect more data and evidence and let’s not express any judgment until we collect that evidence. The only sin we can make is to basically ignore the reports and do business as usual, which is pretty much what he is preaching for. And my point is, no instead we should invest funds in new experiment or experiments that will shed more light on the nature of these objects.
Lucas Perry: So the second point that you made earlier was that the government was establishing a framework and system for receiving reports about UFOs. So part of this and part of this document, is it true to say then there is also a confirmation that the government does not know what these are and that they are not a secret U.S. project?
Avi Loeb: Yeah, they stated it explicitly in the report. They said the data is not good enough, the evidence is not good enough to figure out the nature of these objects so we don’t know what they are. And by the way, you wouldn’t expect military personnel or politicians to figure out the nature of anomalous objects because they were not trained as scientists. So when you go to a shoemaker, you won’t expect the shoemaker to bake you a cake. These are not people that were trained to analyze data of this type or to collect new data such that the nature of these objects will be figured out.
That is what scientists are supposed to do and that’s why I’m advocating for moving this subject away from Washington, D.C. into an open discussion in the scientific community where we’ll collect open data, analyze it in a transparent way, not with government owned sensors or computers, and then it will be all clear. It will be a transparent process. We don’t need to rely on Washington, D.C. to tell us what appears in our sky. The sky is unclassified in most locations. We can look up anytime we want and so we should do it.
Lucas Perry: So with your third point, there’s this consideration that people are more likely to try and give a conventional explanation of UAPs as coming from other countries like Russia or China, and you’re explaining that there are heavy commercial incentives. For example, that if you had this kind of technology it could for example, revolutionize your economy and you wouldn’t just be using it to pester U.S. Navy pilots off the coast, right? It could be used for really significant economical reasons. And so it seems like that also counts as evidence against it being conventional in origin or a secret government project. What is your perspective on that?
Avi Loeb: Yes and it would not only find its place in the consumer market, but also in the battlefield. And we have a sense of what other nations are doing because the U.S. has its own intelligence and we pretty much know what the status of their science and technology is. So it’s not as if we are completely in the dark here and I would argue if the U.S. government reports these objects there is good evidence that they are not made by those other nations because if our intelligence would tell us that they were potentially made by other nations then we would try to develop the same technologies ourselves. And another way to put it is if a scientific inquiry into the nature of these objects allows us to get a high resolution photograph of one of them and then we see the label “Made in China” or “Made in Russia,” then we would realize that there was a major failure of national intelligence and that would be a very important conclusion of course, that would have implications for our national security.
But I doubt that this is the case because we have some knowledge of what other nations are doing and the data would not have been released this way in this kind of a report if there was suspicion that these objects are human made.
Lucas Perry: So the report makes clear then that it’s not U.S. technology and there’re also reasons that count against it being for example, Russian or Chinese technology because the incentives are aligned for them to just deploy it already and use it in the public sector. So before we get into more specifics about thinking about whether or not these are human or extraterrestrial in origin, I’m curious if you could explain a bit more the flight and capability characteristics of these UAPs and UFOs and what you feel are the most significant reports of them and their activity.
Avi Loeb: Well, I didn’t have direct access to the data, especially not the classified one and I would very much want to see the full dataset before expressing an opinion, but at least some of the videos that were shown indicated motions that cannot be reproduced by the kind of crafts that we own. But what I would like to know is whether when the object moves faster than the speed of sound for example in air, whether it produces a sonic boom, a shockwave that we see for example, when jets do the same because that would be an indication that indeed there is a physical object that is compressing air as it moves around. Or if it moves through water I want to see the splash of water and from that I can infer some physical properties.
And of course, I would like to have a very high resolution image of the object so that I can see if it has screws, if there is something written on it, either Made in China or Made on Planet X. Either messages would be of great importance. So what I’m really after is access to the best data that we have and obviously, it will not be released from the government because the best data is probably classified. But I would like to collect it through using scientific instrumentation, which by the way could be far better than the instruments that were on airplanes that the pilots were using or on Navy because these were designed to be in combat situations and they were not optimal for analyzing such objects. And we can do much better if we choose our scientific instruments carefully and design the experiment in a way that would reproduce the results with a much higher fidelity of the data.
Lucas Perry: There is so much about this that is similar to Oumuamua in terms of there being just barely… The imaging is not quite enough to really know what it is and then there being lots of interesting evidence that counts for extraterrestrial in origin. Is that a perspective you share?
Avi Loeb: Well, yes I wrote a Scientific American article where I said one thing we know about Oumuamua is that it probably had a flat shape, pancake like, and also if its push away from the sun was a result of reflecting sunlight it must have been quite thin and the size of a football field. And in that case, I thought maybe it serves as a lightsail, but potentially it could also be a receiver intended to detect information or signals from probes that were sprinkled on planets in the habitable zone around the sun. So if for example the UAP are probes transmitting signals, then the passage of such a receiver near Earth was meant to obtain that information. And Oumuamua for example, was tumbling every eight hours, was looking in all directions in principle for such signals, so that could be one interpretation that it was thin not because it was a lightsail, but because it served a different purpose.
And in September 2020, we saw another object that also exhibited an excess push away from the sun by reflecting sunlight and had no cometary tail. It was given the name 2020 SO and it was a rocket booster from a 1966 mission. It had thin walls for a completely different purpose, not having anything to do with it being a lightsail. So I would argue that perhaps Oumuamua had these weird properties because it served a different purpose and that’s why we should both try to get a better image of an object like Oumuamua and of the unidentified objects we find closer to Earth. And in both cases, a high resolution photograph is better than a 1,000 words, in my case better than 66,000 words, the number of words in my book.
Lucas Perry: In both cases, a little bit better instrumentation would have seemingly made a huge difference. So let’s pivot into again, this area of conventional explanations. And so we talked a little bit earlier about one conventional explanation being that this is some kind of advanced secret military technology of China or Russia that’s used for probing our aerial defenses. And the argument that counts against that again, was that there are military and economic incentives to deploy it more fully, especially because the flight characteristics that these objects are expressing are so much greater than anything that America has in terms of the speed and the agility. So one theory is that instead of the technology being actual, like they actually have the technology that goes that fast and is that agile, that this is actually some form of spoofing technology, so some kind of way of an adversary training electronic countermeasures to simulate, or emulate, or create the illusion of what we witnessed in terms of the U.S. instruments. So do you think that such an explanation is viable?
Avi Loeb: I mean, it’s possible and that’s why we need more data. But it’s not easy to produce an illusion in multiple instruments, both radar, infrared, and optical sensors because you can probably create an illusion for one of these sensors, but then for all of them it would require a great deal of ingenuity and then you would need a good reason to do that. Why would other nations engage in deceiving us in this way for 20 years? I mean, that would look a bit off and also, we would have probably found something, some clue about them trying to do that because they would have trained such probes or such objects first in their own facilities and we would see some evidence for that. So I find it hard to believe, I would think it’s either some natural phenomena that we haven’t yet experienced or suspected or it’s this unusual possibility of an extraterrestrial origin.
And either way we will learn something new by exploring it more. We should not have any prejudice. We should not dismiss it. That would be the worst we can do, just dismiss it, and ridicule it, and continue business as usual because actually it’s exciting to try and figure out a puzzle. That’s what detectives often do and I just don’t understand the spirit of dismissing it and not looking into it at all.
Lucas Perry: So you just mentioned that you thought that it might have some kind of natural explanation. There are very strange things in nature. I’m not sure if this is for example, real or not, but there’s a Wikipedia page for example, for ball lightning, and there’s also really weird phenomena that you can have in the sky if the lighting in the sky is just right, and where the sun is where you get weird halos and things. And throughout history there are reports of dancing lights in the sky or things that might have been collective hallucinations or actually real. In terms of it being something natural that we understand or it being something human made that we’re not aware of, what to you is the most convincing natural or conventional explanation of these objects? An explanation that is not extraterrestrial in origin.
Avi Loeb: Well, if it’s dancing lights it wouldn’t produce a radar echo. So as I said, I don’t have access to the data in each and every incident, but there are some fundamental logic that one can use for each of these datasets and figure out if it could be an illusion. If not, if it must be a real object, somehow nature has to produce a real object that behaves this way and until I get my own data and reproduce those I won’t make any statement. But I’m optimistic that given the appropriate investment of funds, which I’m currently discussing with private sector funders, that we can do it. And just to give you an example, if you wanted to get a high resolution image, like a megapixel image of a one meter size object at a distance of a kilometer, you just need a one meter telescope for that and observing it at optical light. And you will be able to see millimeter size features on it, like the head of a pin.
People ask why didn’t we see it already in iPhone images of the sky? Well, the iPhone camera is a millimeter or a few millimeters in aperture size and it’s too small. You can’t get anything better than a fuzzy image of a very distant object. So you really need to have a dedicated experiment, and I think one can do it, and I’m happy to engage in that.
Lucas Perry: You would also wonder that these things are probably… So if they were extraterrestrial in origin, you would expect that they would be pretty intelligent and that they might understand what our sensor capabilities are. So, I think perhaps that might count as evidence for why given that there are billions of camera phones around the planet that there aren’t any good pictures. What is your perspective on that?
Avi Loeb: If I had to guess, I would think of these systems as equipped with artificial intelligence. We already have systems of artificial intelligence that are capable of superseding human abilities and within a decade they will be more intelligent than people, we’ll be able to learn from machine learning, and adapt to changing circumstances, and behave very intelligently. So in fact, I can imagine that if another civilization had that technological development of more than a century, more than we did, they could have produced systems that are autonomous. It doesn’t make any sense to communicate with the sender because the nearest star is four light years away. It takes four years for a signal to reach even the nearest star and it takes tens of thousands of years to reach the end of the galaxy, the Milky Way.
And so there is no sense of a piece of equipment communicating with its senders in order to get guidelines as to what to do. Instead, it should be autonomous, it has its own intelligence, and it could outsmart us. We already almost have such systems. So in fact, we may need to use our own artificial intelligence systems in order to interpret the actions of those artificial intelligence systems. So it will resemble the experience of asking our children to interpret the content that we find on the internet because they have better computer skills. We need our computers to tell us what their computers are doing. And that’s the way I think about it and these systems could be so intelligent that they do things that are subtle. They don’t appear and start a conversation with us. They are sort of gathering information of interest to them and acting in a way that reflects the blueprint that guided whoever created them.
And the question is, what is their agenda? What is their intent? And that will take us a while to figure out. We have to see what kind of information they’re seeking, how do they respond to our actions, and eventually we might want to engage with them. But the point is, many people think of contact as being a very sort of abrupt and interaction of extraordinary proportion that is impossible to deny, but in fact, it could be very subtle because they are very intelligent. If you look at intelligent humans, they’re not aggressive, they’re often thinking about everything they do and select their actions appropriately. They don’t get into very violent confrontations often. We need to rely on evidence rather than prejudice and the biggest mistake we can make is the mistake made by philosophers during the days of Galileo. They said, “We don’t want to look through at telescope because we know that the sun moves around the Earth.”
Lucas Perry: We spoke a little bit earlier about Bayesian reasoning and Oumuamua. Do you have the same feelings about not having priors about the UAPs being extraterrestrial or human in origin? Or is there a credence that you’re able to assign to it being extraterrestrial in origin?
Avi Loeb: The situation is even better in the context of UAP because they are here, not far from us and we can do the experiment with a rather modest budget. And therefore, I think we can resolve this issue with no need to have a prejudice. Often you need a prior if the effort requires extraordinary funds, so you have to say, okay is it really worth investing those funds? But my point is, that finding the answer to the nature of UAP may cost us much less than we already spent in the search for dark matter. We haven’t found anything. We don’t know where the dark matter is. We spent hundreds of millions of dollars and at a cost lower than that, maybe by an order of magnitude, we can try and figure out the nature of UAP. So given the price tag, let’s not make any assumptions. Let’s just do it and figure it out.
Lucas Perry: If these are extraterrestrial in origin, one might expect that they are here for probing or information gathering. So you said there are reports going back 20 years, if they are extraterrestrial in origin who knows how long they’ve been here. They could have been sent out through nanoscale shots out into the cosmos that land, and then grow, and replicate on some planet, and act as scouts. So if this were the case, that they were here as information gathering probes, one might wonder why they don’t use much more advanced technology. So for example, why not use nanotechnology that we would have no hope of detecting? In one report for example though, the pilot explains it following him and they’re kind of like… It comes right in front of him and then it disappears, so that disappearing seems a bit more like magic, right? Any sufficiently powerful technology is indistinguishable to magic to a less advanced civilization. But the other characteristics seem maybe like 100 or 200 years away of human technological advancement, so what’s up with that?
Avi Loeb: Well, yeah so for us to figure out what’s going on we need more data and it may well be that there are lots of things happening that we haven’t yet realized, because they are done in a way that is very subtle, that we cannot really detect easily, because our technologies are quite limited to the century and a half that we developed them. So you are right, there may be a hidden reality that we are not aware of, but we are seeing traces of things that attract our attention. That’s why when we see something intriguing we should dig into that. It could be clues for something that we have never imagined.
So for example, if you were to present a cellphone to a caveman, obviously the cellphone would be visible to the caveman and the caveman would think, oh it’s probably a rock, a shiny rock. So the caveman will recognize part of reality, that there is an object reflecting light, that is a bit more shiny than a typical rock because the caveman is used to playing with rocks. But the caveman, initially at least, will not figure out the features on the cellphone and the fact that he can speak to other people through this rock. That’s what will take us a while to be educated about. And the question is, among the things that are happening around us, which fraction are we aware of with the correct interpretation? And maybe we are not.
Lucas Perry: Moving on a bit here, so if these UAPs, or Oumuamua itself, or some new interstellar object that we were able to find were fairly conclusively shown to be extraterrestrial technology, what do you think our response should be? It seems like on one hand this would clearly potentially be an existential threat, which then makes it relevant to the Future of Life Institute. On the other hand, it’s likely that we could do nothing to counter such a threat. We couldn’t even counter humanity probably 50 years from now if we had to defend ourselves against a 50 year old, wiser, more technologically advanced version of ourself. And on cosmological timescales you would expect that even a 1,000, 2,000 year lead would be pretty common, but also indefensible. So there’s a sense that also an antagonistic attitude would probably make things worse, but also that we couldn’t do anything. So how do you think humanity should react?
Avi Loeb: The question of intent is indeed the next question after you identify an object that appears to be of extraterrestrial technological origin. We should all remember the story about the Trojan horse that looked very innocent to the citizens of Troy, but ended up serving a different purpose. That of course implies that we should collect as much evidence as possible about the objects that we find at first and see how they behave, what kind of information they are seeking, how do they respond to our actions, and ultimately we might want to engage with them. But I should mention, if you look at human history, nations that traded with each other benefited much more than nations that went into war with each other. And so a truly intelligent species might actually prefer to benefit from the interaction with us rather than kill us or destroy us, and perhaps take advantage of the resources, use whatever we are able to provide them with. So it’s possible that they are initially just spectators trying to figure out what are the things that they can benefit from.
But from our perspective, we should obviously be suspicious, and careful, and we should speak in one voice. Humanity as a whole, there should be an international organization perhaps related to the United Nations or some other entity that makes decisions about how to interact with whatever we find. And we don’t want one nation to respond in a way that would not represent all of humanity because that could endanger all of us. In that forum that makes decisions about how to respond, there should be of course physicists that figure out the physical properties of these objects and there should be policymakers that can think about how best to interact with these objects.
Lucas Perry: So you also mentioned earlier that you were talking with private funders about potentially coming up with an action plan or a project for getting more evidence and data on these objects. So I guess, there’s a two part question here. I’m curious if you could explain a little bit about what that project is about and more generally what can the scientific, non-governmental, and amateur hobbyist communities do to help investigate these phenomena? So are there productive ways for citizen scientists and interested listeners to contribute to the efforts to better understand UAPs?
Avi Loeb: Well, my hope is to get a high resolution photograph. It’s a very simple thing to desire. We’re not talking about some deep philosophical questions here. If we had a megapixel image, an image with a million resolution elements of an object, if it has a size of a meter that would mean each pixel is a millimeter in size, the size of the head of a pin, you can pretty much see all the details on the object and try and figure out, reverse engineer what it’s meant to do and whether it’s human made or not. So even a kid can understand my ambition. It’s not very complicated. Just get a megapixel image of such an object. That’s it.
Lucas Perry: They seem common enough that it wouldn’t be to difficult if the-
Avi Loeb: Well, the issue is not how common they are but what device you are using to image them, because if you use an iPhone the aperture on the iPhone will give you only fuzzy image. What you need is a meter sized telescope collecting the information and resolving an object of a meter size at the distance of a kilometer down to a millimeter resolution.
Lucas Perry: Right, right. I mean that Navy pilots, for example, have reported seeing them every day for years, so if we had such a device then you wouldn’t have to wait too long to get a really good picture of it.
Avi Loeb: So that’s my point, if these are real objects we can resolve them, and that’s what I want to have, a high resolution image. That’s all. And it will not be classified because it’s being taken by off the shelf instruments. The data will be open and here comes the role that can be played by amateurs, once the data is available to the public anyone can analyze it. Nothing is classified about the sky. We can all look up and if I get that high resolution image, believe me that everyone will be able to look at it.
Lucas Perry: Do you have a favorite science fiction book? And what are some of your favorite science fiction ideas?
Avi Loeb: Well, my favorite film is Arrival and in fact, I admired this film long ago, but a few months ago the producer of that film had a Zoom session with me to tell me how much he liked my book Extraterrestrial. And I told him, “I admired your film long before you read my book.” The reason I like this film is because it deals with the deep philosophical question of how to communicate with an alien culture. In fact, even the medium through which the communication takes place in the film is unusual and the challenge is similar to code breaking, sort of like the project that Alan Turing led during the Second World War of the enigma, trying to figure out, to break the code of the Nazis. So if you have some signal and you want to figure out the meaning of it, it’s actually a very complex challenge depending on how the information is being encoded. And I think the film addresses it in a very genuine and original fashion and I liked it a lot.
Lucas Perry: So do you have any last minute thoughts or anything you’d just really like to communicate to the audience and the public about UAPs, these reports, and the need to collect more evidence and data for figuring out what they are?
Avi Loeb: My hope is that with a high resolution image we will not only learn more about the nature of UAP but change the culture of the discourse on this subject. And I think that such an image would convince even the skeptics, even people that are currently ridiculing it, to join the discussion, the serious discussion about what all of this means.
Lucas Perry: And if there are any private funders or philanthropists listening that are interested in contributing to the project to capture this data, how is it best that they get in contact with you?
Avi Loeb: Well, they can just send me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and I would be delighted to add them to the group of funders that are currently showing interest in it.
Lucas Perry: All right, thank you very much Avi.
Avi Loeb: Thank you for having me.