We should send a probe. It’s doable.

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129 Responses to Oumuamua

  1. Smithie says:

    It would be a pretty interesting technical challenge, almost like a landmark flight or race. There would be a great deal of sport in it, especially if there were competitors.

    The cost of sponsoring such a race would be high, but why not ditch the Olympics which is becoming a globalist, mutant show, and put the money into this?

    • ChrisA says:

      Close down Nasa and use the money instead as a prize for the first person who get there. The savings each year compound, so the first year the prize is $20bn, the next year it is $40bn and so on. Pretty sure someone would figure out a way quickly to get there before Nasa would.

  2. sprfls says:

    What’s the probability it’s artificial, and how much would it cost to find out?

    • Zeinish says:

      Probability? We know nothing about natural interstellar objects, and nothing about artificial ones. Unknown unknowns.

      Cost? I found no estimates on Project Lyra sites, but there are some costs of comparable missions.


      • sprfls says:

        There’s always a probability, no matter how low-confidence, and we always know something. It’s like in a poker game when someone new just sits down, you get involved with them the first hand, and you have no idea what’s going on… but you still have to act. 🙂

        Point is if the probability is above zero then it’s worth spending a massive sum — it’s a no-brainer. If there’s no chance it’s artificial, it’s still worth pursuing, just with more measure.

        Seems like the cost would be reasonable anyways. Perhaps within the reach of a single mega-billionaire, cough Bezos cough. I can also see Larry and Sergey taking a shot… or maybe Putin could band together with a few oligarchs… the money is there and it should be done!

      • magusjanus says:

        a better question then to force the issue: gun-to-the-head what market odds do you put on it being artificial if a prob gets sent that can verify? more than 1%? less?

  3. pyrrhus says:

    Definitely worth the cost, and much more…which means the MIC will kill it.

  4. Zeinish says:

    Well, the mainstream media noticed too, so there is a chance.


    Now, just persuade some billionaire (or lottery winner) and we can roll!


  5. wontgetthrough says:

    when i first glanced at the animation, I thought “no way”. But the wiki entry ends with some people saying feasible. Which just proves that my impression of the scale of things, and/or the v you can pick up by doing multiple passby’s, is way off.

  6. JayMan says:

    I thought that right from the beginning.

    Also to Planet Nine if it’s ever confirmed.

  7. realist says:

    That’s the usual paranoia of homo sapiens: suspicion of a “hidden agency”.
    Most likely just bullshit.

  8. Eponymous says:

    Rendezvous with Oumuamua?

  9. ziel says:

    It would cost, what, about $5b? Peanuts – especially if it is a probe. Even if not, would be a great morale boost to show how we effectively we could mobilize to address a situation in space, unlike that depressingly pathetic attempt dramatized in “Deep Impact”.

  10. Ursiform says:

    The key would be to launch as soon as possible to keep the travel distance down. So replicate New Horizons to save design time and try to travel 2-3 times as far in 1-2 times as long. Maybe get Elon to contribute a rocket between his emotional meltdowns.

    But the chance of it not being natural is really very small. Undoubtedly cool anyway.

    • albatross says:

      I have no idea how to estimate the probability of it not being natural–we have no data, so the answer turns on our priors, but we know basically nothing that would let us set our priors.

      • Jim says:

        If it’s the first time we get a close-up view of a tangible object from outside our solar system it would be worth a lot to do that even if it turns out to be not terribly different from objects in our solar system. The weirder it appears to be and it seems to be rather weird based on what info we have available now the more interesting it is. If it has nothing to do with any intelligent beings it might still be a natural object of a type we have never seen before in our solar system. That would certainly be fascinating.

  11. Difference Maker says:

    A heretofore unknown space object hurtling at great speed brings the specter of asteroidal collision with Earth, no? Global elites will have to think twice about their programs and ensure that they are going to keep some capacity for detection and destruction in reserve

  12. ghazisiz says:

    The astronomers (https://arxiv.org/abs/1810.11490v2) suggest that this is the debris from an alien cargo ship — a solar sail twisting about as it hurtles through space. Rather than chasing after this one, it might be cheaper and more productive to develop higher resolution monitoring of space, so that we can identify more of these objects. An incidental benefit is that we would learn more about space.

    • J says:

      They calculate that to be a solar sail it should be much thinner. What is it made from?

    • David Chamberlin says:

      Interesting link. The PDF says the following.
      1)Oumuamua is the first object of interstellar origin observed in our solar system.
      2)It accelerated like a comet would driven by evaporating material but when it was closest to the sun it didn’t evaporate material so it isn’t a comet.
      3)The authors say it is too late to chase it with chemical rockets so all we can do is keep a look out for more such oddball objects. Obviously Cochran disagrees since he says we should send a probe after it.

      Reading the PDF it reminds me of Cochran’s idea. Self replicating robots setting up on a metallic asteroid and flinging off solar sails in every direction. I am guessing we never chase after Oumuamua with a probe but the cigar shaped stranger from another solar system that speeds up for no apparent reason will grow in fame over time.

      • J says:

        The artist’s representation misled everybody: it is not cigar shaped but a large and thin sheet-like object. May be it had a message written on it; we shall never know.

        • J says:

          It is a most interesting object. 16000 sq m surface, less than 0.3 cm thick, it must look like a very large wind sail. After it was accelerated by the Sun, it is out of our reach. We must be in the outlook for the next one. Should we be afraid? No, every creature that had the bad luck of coming in contact with humans ended in a zoo.

          • David Chamberlin says:

            I think you are drawing too many conclusions from what we know. However it is a really really interesting object. It’s shape is really weird, it’s speed is really weird, it’s original location, out of our solar system is unprecedented, and that it is speeding up like a comet but it isn’t a comet makes it a fascinating object that is worth pursuing to get a closer look at. But we won’t because Cochran doesn’t have his finger on what we spend our money on.

            Science is cautious.Interesting subject but don’t get ahead of the facts we know.

          • athEIst says:

            16000 sq m surface, less than 0.3 cm thick

            And you know this how? Must have been really tricky measuring that .3 cm.

        • Ethan says:

          Why do you say that? Wikipedia says its dimensions are cigar-like.

  13. crew says:

    I think it is a Kzin scout ship!

  14. akarlin says:

    We have been blithely emitting radio signals into space for more than a century now. If there’s hostile alien intelligences then our doom is already written into the stars.

    • crew says:

      What is the signal level going to be at Alpha Centauri?

      • crew says:

        If my calculations are correct, and this website is correct: https://www.pasternack.com/t-calculator-fspl.aspx

        The Free Space Path Loss at 4LY is 267dB.

        Since 3dB loss represents about half the signal level, 267db loss represents 1/(2^89) of the original signal, or 1.6*10E-27.

        That seems to ignore any losses in the atmosphere.

        So, a signal transmitted at 1MW would seem to arrive with 1.6*10E-21W, or something.

        Maybe I have it all wrong.

      • crew says:

        The noise floor at 20C suggests the SNR will be negative.

      • akarlin says:

        Not an issue if they’ve seeded the galaxy with probes.

        • crew says:

          Now you are in “how many angels can dance on the head of a pin” territory.

        • reinertor says:

          But maybe they didn’t for some reason. Or their probes just aren’t looking for us. I can write a few sci-fi novellas why, like maybe the probes were mostly used to detect hostile (military) activity (basically, not humans, but developed starfaring species – most likely, a different branch of their own civilization), but then they are looking for something very different, and so they miss humanity’s noisy signals. Radar is not designed to catch birds. (I know, in real life it often does catch them.) However, it might still not be the wisest idea for a bird to make itself noticed by the soldiers (or by civilians, or any other humans).

          I think the most likely attitude of an alien intelligent life form would be mildly benevolent indifference. In other words, I wouldn’t expect them to decide to exterminate us like in The Killing Star, but they might decide to reduce our numbers by, say, 80 or 99%, while making sure not to exterminate us all (like creating a reservation for 20 million humans or something). That’s mildly benevolent (i.e. better than total indifference), but we cannot expect more benevolence from an alien life form (or AI or something) next to which we are as dumb as a rat (or perhaps an ant) is next to a human. So it’s best to keep a low profile.

          • J says:

            It is not in our nature to hide. Humanity has a perfect record of victories.

            • reinertor says:

              Those victories were against apes and other dumb animals. If our enemies will be smarter than us, they will be much much smarter – it’d be a near impossible coincidence to meet aliens on a very similar level of intelligence as we are. They are either dumber (in which case they are at the level of chimpanzees, i.e. not intelligent at all), or smarter, and just five million years ahead of development would mean that the difference should be at least as much as the difference between us and chimps… Assuming some kind of brain augmentation and genetic engineering or AI could mean that the difference is as large as that between ants and humans – i.e. that not only do we stand zero chance of defeating them, but it will also be impossible to even meaningfully communicate with them. They will also show zero interest in us, except if we we become a nuisance to them, in which case they will simply eliminate us without us even noticing it.

              • gcochran9 says:

                “it’d be a near impossible coincidence to meet aliens on a very similar level of intelligence as we are”

                Not so. Play balance.

              • reinertor says:


                Pardon me, I don’t get it.

              • gcochran9 says:

                Some have pointed out that the odds are very high that this world is a simulation. Most of the simulations we make are games: it is plausible that this might be general.

                In games, the various players, factions, etc usually have comparable competence, comparable tech level, so that the game isn’t a walkaway, so that various players all have a chance. A fair fight. Play balance.

                If all the worlds are stages… Also answers the Fermi paradox: we’re near the beginning of the game, and naturally all the others are too.

                There are probably Forerunner remains, from which you can pick up tech advances, but Forerunners never really existed – just a game feature.

              • Jacob says:

                Every player species would have to cross two thresholds before encountering any of the others: not wiping themselves out once they invent WMDs, and not succumbing to dysgenics after they achieve industrialization. We’re only going to meet species psychologically equipped to triumph over both of those, maybe with a few hiccups.

                Also, if play balance can include anything from Grunts to the Flood, then any outcome is possible.

              • Zeinish says:

                Some have pointed out that the odds are very high that this world is a simulation.

                Not really. Why are there so much unnecessary details, both micro and macro? Why universe of 90 billion LY size? Why all the pointless zoo of subatomic particles? Why would any intelligent designer bother so much?

              • Irate eye rater says:

                “Why would any intelligent designer bother so much?”

                Perhaps they didn’t ‘design’ it. Maybe they just started with the physics and physical scope of the even larger, even more needlessly complex ‘real’ universe, and just trimmed it down until it was computationally managable rather that going out of their way to optimize.

              • gcochran9 says:

                Why did Adam have a navel?

              • Ilya says:

                This reminds me of Parfitt’s Selector Theory:

              • Jim says:

                The idea of the universe being a simulation created by transcendental beings is very similar to the beliefs of many religions that the universe is a creation of a God or gods. Also similar to the “intelligent Design” theories.

              • reinertor says:

                I’m not sure we can talk about odds regarding the origins of the universe.

                But the simulation is an interesting possibility. It might be a rookie level game, or the opponent might already be very good and experienced, or the world might get destroyed if we are too successful (because the player will quit playing). So I don’t think it’s much of a consolation.

          • Zeinish says:

            You all are reading too much science fiction. The only plausible fictional alien invasion was in the Hitchhiker Guide to the Galaxy, where Earth is disassembled for material to build interstellar highway, without anyone of Earth ever knowing what happened.
            This is the realistic,hard science scenario of alien encounter.

            • reinertor says:

              I agree that this could be a highly realistic scenario (not much different from what I wrote, though I wrote that they might want to preserve a few millions of us in a reservation or a zoo), but far from being the only realistic one. Because actually we don’t know.

              Anyway, we were talking about the possibility that they have not detected us yet, and are sending probes around. It’s possible, if they are not terribly concerned about us. In which case they might be sending probes around for other reasons, and some of those probes we might even notice (possibly Oumuamua..?), just as a bird might notice a super-stealth F-22 fighter jet (or a relatively low-tech propeller drone of the same military).

              And as I wrote, even if they don’t much care for us, it’s still wiser to stay as little noticed as possible. Which shouldn’t be impossible: insects can figure out how to stay as invisible to you as possible. They can’t hide if you actively try to get rid of them, but by keeping as low profile as possible they could minimize the possibility of an extermination campaign in your apartment against them.

              • J says:

                On the basis the sole presumed close encounter with a real space object, oumuamua, which probably is a light sail, I second Greg. Humans started spontaneously building light sails about ten-twenty years ago. Estimating the object’s home and the time it needed to arrive to our system, the alien civilization may be only a few thousand years ahead of us. Like the first Portuguese naos arriving at Onitcha, or Nagasaki (which they founded).

              • Ursiform says:

                How did “probably” show up here?

              • Zeinish says:

                Too late to hide, Earth have oxygen atmosphere for 600 million years, visible in its spectrum. No one showed up, so far.

                Either aliens are not interested in carbon based life, or there really are no aliens.

              • reinertor says:

                Either aliens are not interested in carbon based life, or there really are no aliens.

                It’s possible that aliens care about as much for life on Earth (or for Earth itself) as we do for an anthill. However, if the ants get annoying, we might decide to exterminate the anthill. The aliens might have a similar attitude to us. So keeping a low profile seems like a good strategy.

              • J says:

                The “low profile” survival strategy is illogical. We do not know what are the senses of the alien observers, so we cannot evade them. We presume that they monitor the universe using electro-magnetic vibration (like we do) when they may be blind to those waves and use instead gravitational waves or something we have yet to discover.

                BTW, it is fascinating how some ideas never die but keep re-appearing under different terminology. The idea that this is not the real world, that there must be a higher reality, has been reformulated. Currently it is said that this world is a simulation, an immaterial dream. Just like the Ancient Greeks imagined: the immortal gods playing us in their petty games and boredom. Some gods fight for Troy, Athena for the Achaeans.

    • Zeinish says:

      Is Our Civilization Detectable?


      The assertion of Loeb and Zaldarriaga (2006) that SKA can see leakage radiation at 100 pc (316 ly) is based on the assumption that the sources are continuous, so long integration times make the leakage detectable. However, this is not true of Earth leakage. Integrating over days to months doesn’t work when the TV station you’re observing is transmitting in your direction for a time typically ~hour, before it disappears around the limb of the Earth, as stated by Sullivan. Forgan and Nichol (2010) show that, even if Loeb and Zaldarriaga were right, the probability of detection is very low.

  15. Off topic here, but apropos of this site in particular. https://twitter.com/brogadishu/status/1058432774506344448 “Clown college doesn’t teach you to be a good clown. It just teaches you how to do well on clown tests.” Good thread.

  16. withallrespect says:

    Well sure. With Orion, all things are possible.

  17. harpersnotes says:

    If the Fermi Paradox is due to the Prometheus movie scenario then the probe should be designed with a view toward capturing the technology without activating it in order to develop countermeasures. (Being proactive is not without some immediate existential risk, of course.)

  18. We should turn out all the lights and pretend to be out–like when the JWs come around. Imagine our alien neighbors picking this moment to come around for a look see> How embarassing! Lets all pretend we’ve gone and maybe they’ll come back in an aeon or two

  19. ChrisA says:

    I wonder if the sail dropped off a small self replicating robot? Maybe we will find out soon.

    My guess though this is a false alarm – I suspect we live in a branch of the multiverse where we are the first in our light cone to develop an interstellar potential civilization. If this wasn’t the case the Earth would have already been colonized and we wouldn’t be here to wonder about where the aliens are. The odds of two nearby civilizations both evolving at the same time are astronomically (pun intended) small. So first evolver gets dibs on all potentially life friendly planets.

    • athEIst says:

      Including the planet of the slower civilization. So they will be exterminated.

      • ChrisA says:

        My point is that there is very unlikely to be a slower civilization. If the aliens had arrived here on earth anytime except for in the last 100k years all they would have found would have been at best smart monkeys. Even if they did the most ethical thing imaginable and created large zoos for these monkeys they wouldn’t have been allowed to evolve into humans because most of the forcing factors would be absent.

    • Zeinish says:

      Colonize what? Advanced interstellar civilization would have as much need for planets as we have need for caves.

  20. Patrick Bateman says:

    Hey Greg,

    Off topic, but curious to know what you think about this:

    • Zeinish says:

      Well, avoiding war is one of the perks of high IQ score. Smart people get draft deferments or get diagnosed with bone spurs, and morons are sent to die.

    • JerryC says:

      It doesn’t really make a lot of sense. The problem in Vietnam was not grunts being too dumb to win unit-level battles with the enemy.

      • bomag says:

        His point was that when troops start getting too dumb, they start killing themselves and own troops at an unacceptable level; thus an added parasitic problem becomes identifying and shepherding such troops in the field (when they should be screened prior to the field, but Elites must elite.)

      • Greying Wanderer says:

        from WW2 and onwards is there a consistent pattern of higher IQ armies out-competing lower IQ even down to the squad level? dunno but personally i’d be surprised if there wasn’t.

        • Ursiform says:

          “The Navy is a master plan designed by geniuses for execution by idiots. If you are not an idiot, but find yourself in the Navy, you can only operate well by pretending to be one. All the shortcuts and economies and common-sense changes that your native intelligence suggests to you are mistakes. Learn to quash them. Constantly ask yourself, “How would I do this if I were a fool?” Throttle down your mind to a crawl. Then you will never go wrong.”
          ― Herman Wouk, The Caine Mutiny

          • Pincher Martin says:

            Great quote.

          • gcochran9 says:

            “The Caine Mutiny” is a really pernicious book.

            • Ursiform says:

              Pray tell why it’s pernicious, Greg. Seems generally consistent with the occasional story my father was willing to tell from his time in the Navy, 1944-45.

              • gcochran9 says:

                Because the lesson of the book is that you should go along with the fools at the top. The key action is set in the typhoon that Halsey led the fleet into in 1944 – as opposed to the next time he led the fleet into a typhoon, in 1945. Not to be confused with the Battle off Samar, where he let the Japanese confuse him into leaving the landing forces largely unprotected, so that people like my uncle Frank had to attack the Yamato with a destroyer escort.

                A tradition in full flower today. The fools at the top don’t suffer for their mistakes.

            • Pincher Martin says:


              You might be right. I’ve never read it. But that’s still a great quote.

          • Greying Wanderer says:

            well maybe so at higher levels of command or complexity but my experience with particularly scary dudes of a military persuasion is they had very fast reflexes which i think is supposed to correlate with IQ to a certain extent? at squad level i’d imagine fast reflexes would be possibly the single best asset to have.

  21. Simonless Panther says:

    https://www.centauri-dreams.org/2018/10/29/on-oumuamua-thin-films-and-lightsails/ says it’s not doable at this point, why do you disagree?

    • Zeinish says:

      It is definitely doable.


      It is demonstrated that based on currently existing technologies such as from the Parker Solar Probe, launchers such as the Falcon Heavy and Space Launch System could send spacecraft with masses ranging from dozens to hundreds of kilograms to 1I/’Oumuamua, if launched in 2021. A further increase in spacecraft mass can be achieved with an additional Saturn flyby post solar Oberth maneuver.

      If you are too lazy to read the paper:

      Short way, using Jupiter flyby only:
      Launch April 30 2021, arrival April 23 2029. Spacecraft mass: SLS 122kg, Falcon Heavy 37kg

      Long way for patient people, using Jupiter and Saturn flyby:
      Launch April 30 2021, arrival September 7 2049. Spacecraft mass: SLS 1329kg, Falcon Heavy 399kg

      SLS is not going to happen in 2021, or any other year, so it leaves Falcon Heavy. So, everyone must put pressure on Elon Musk

  22. g wood says:

    If Oumuamua is a light sail, that’s really bad news. It means that EM drives, Mach effect drives, Alcubierre warp drives, etc. don’t work.

    • crew says:

      Have you read The Mote In Gods Eye?

      Maybe the Moties are just in a bad place!

    • David Chamberlin says:

      I don’t think so. It could be an economic decision. Maybe the cost of letting loose 1000 light sails is the same as 1 higher technology inter stellar ship. Maybe the risk is too high and few make it so multitudes of cheaper light sails is the best way to get a closer look at other solar systems.
      If we want to explore beyond our solar system maybe this is the best way.

      • J says:

        Liu Cixin (The three body trilogy) proposes that Alcubierre warp drive consumes tri-dimensional space and destroys the universe. That would be the ultimate ecological disaster, worse than Rapanui’s deforestation.

    • reinertor says:

      Finding a human car doesn’t mean humans have no supersonic flight. Maybe they use all of these technologies simultaneously, each in its own niches.

    • David Chamberlin says:

      We cannot explore our 200 billion star galaxy with vehicles that make our billion dollar fighter jets look like cheap Chinese toys. It isn’t economically possible. If we are going to ever get out there and take a close look at umpteen gazillion interesting solar systems Captain Kirk and the starship enterprise isn’t the way. It has to be done on the cheap and mass produced.

      The best idea I can think of came from Cochran. We aren’t there yet technologically but it could be done. Pick an asteroid that is metal rich and set up self replicating robots on it that fling solar sails in every direction. Sci fi movies are worthless for informing you what is out there. We aren’t the cowboys and aliens aren’t the Indians. I like a scary movie too but all we are going to find if we look long enough is pond scum, not boogeymen. Nobody gives a rat’s ass about our planet, if they did then they would have set up camp sometime in the last half billion years when we finally had a planet that could evolve complex life.
      Fermi’s Paradox said it simply and the book “Rare Earth” https://www.amazon.com/Rare-Earth-Complex-Uncommon-Universe/dp/0387952896 explained it in detail.

      • gcochran9 says:

        “It isn’t economically possible” – easy, actually. Self-replicating probes.

        • Ilya says:

          Dr Cochran, it would be great if you could do a blog post on this sometime or maybe discuss it more throughly in an interview. I know you had an article on Edge.org about it, but it would be nice to get more details.

          It seems, to have even a semi-workable self-replicating machine, would require a Manhattan Project scale investment. I’m, personally, as a systems software engineer, interested in event-driven paradigms. Working on a bootstrappable Harel statechart and associated generators, that describe a real-world self-replicating system — that would be uber-cool. I think building a robot like this would entail having a great many sensors and effectors that would, in turn, require orchestration to tie them all together coherently and to enable the whole thing to be useful for more than just self-replication. I can see already that the software would be an interesting challenge. But that’s just one part.

          Do you see the energy source as primarily coming from the Sun? Maybe a concentrating solar power station with laser/maser power transmitting attachment, to supply the self replicating rock-eating drones? Self-replication like this would also need a capability of producing solar elements, batteries, computing elements, maybe entire chipsets and their interconnects, even if very primitive. Hence, some of the machines would need to have a miniaturized CMOS foundry. It boggles my mind how many production systems would have to be miniaturized to enable something like this. It seems that said production systems should be distributed among individual drones, to enable a pipeline like synchronization and modularity. In other words, a colony of such machines would entail having different kinds of machines with different specializations. I’m also curious about what materials would be required for extraction when they “eat rock.”

          Please correct or add if I’m wrong.

          I’m willing to take it on faith that this is doable. But in order to help evangelize it, and being an almost self-replicating evangelist is one of my talents, this Westhunt minion needs a bit more conjuring.

  23. biz says:

    Whitey on Oumuamua

  24. crew says:

    We should organize a crowd funding event for this.

    10M people who each donate $100 should be enough and would be an amazing event!

  25. Wazoo says:

    Somewhere, Arthur C. Clarke is smiling.

  26. dearieme says:

    You should send a probe into the House of Representatives. Has their average IQ risen or fallen after this election? Does it matter a hoot?

  27. Paper of the Harvard guys: https://arxiv.org/pdf/1810.11490.pdf
    Page 4:
    “Since it is too late to image ‘Oumuamua with existing telescopes or chase it with chemical rockets (Seligman & Laughlin 2018), its likely origin and mechanical properties could only be deciphered by searching for other objects of its type in the future. “

  28. Off Topic - Ancient Brazilian Skulls says:


    “Notably, our study includes data from individuals such as those from the Lapa do Santo site who have a cranial morphology known as “Paleoamerican,” argued to indicate two distinct New-World-founding populations (von Cramon-Taubadel et al., 2017). Here, we test directly the hypothesis that a Paleoamerican cranial morphology was associated with a lineage distinct from the one that contributed to other Native Americans (whether the proposed Population Y or another).”

    “Funny looking skulls” (Cochran term) at 9,700 years before present tested; no Onge related ancestry. Form a clade with Clovis culture from North America.

    Later Surui and Karitiana with Onge related ancestry are different from earliest Brazilians and no continuity.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Completely offtopic, but 10 kya samples from Brazil show the Austronesian signal in paper.

  30. J says:

    We have been hypnotized by the idea of aliens, but it also possible that ‘Oumuamua is some kind of “dust bunny”, that is, an aggregate of space dust that instead of forming a ball, has been flattened like a “pitta”, the Israeli flat bread. Centrifugal force could do it. Alternatively, it is Zeus on the Olympus practicing discus throwing.

  31. ghazisiz says:

    We have all been trained to avoid entertaining certain hypotheses. This might have began with Hume, who argued that one should only invoke a miracle as a cause when all other causes have been excluded. Today we are bound about with prohibitions when we make hypotheses. We cannot attribute differences in racial outcomes to genetic differences, unless all other possible causes have been excluded. We cannot attribute the attempted coup in Turkey to the CIA, unless all other…etc. We cannot invoke aliens. Overall, I’m with the program, but it is fun to consider the unthinkable, when the unthinkable seems particularly likely.

    • Jim says:

      I’m not sure that Hume believed that a “miracle” could ever be invoked as a cause, at least not in Hume’s notion of cause (not very widely accepted) which is essentially that of “constant conjunction”. For Hume, I think, a miracle is an event for which no cause is known or even plausible.

  32. Henry Scrope says:

    Even if its only 1 chance in 1000 that it’s alien then it’s more than worth the money spent. Even the confirmation that aliens once existed, that alone, without any contact or technology capture, changes everything.

    • reinertor says:

      My priors tell me the chances are way lower. Closer to 1 in 1,000,000.

      • ghazisiz says:

        And the probability that we can catch up to it and conduct an investigation sufficient to establish its artificiality, what would that be?
        This could be a moment that the future remembers as the beginning of awareness. But it is not likely to be the moment where the truth is known.

  33. Sinij says:

    So say we intercept it and determine it is 100% artificial (and harmless). What next? Orbital platforms choke-full of nukes pointed in all directions? Bunkers under mountains? 90% production into space tech?

    If it is artificial, I don’t see a way we can hope to get un-f**ed.

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