“E pur si muove” (and yet it moves). The defying words Galileo Galilei whispered (or so the saying goes) after he was forced to officially recant from his claims that the Earth revolved around the sun, which went against the teachings of the Church. For the Italian astronomer and mathematician, it was either retraction or punishment at the hands of the Holy Inquisition –like what happened to Giordano Bruno, who was burned at the stake for the ‘heresy’ of suggesting a multiplicity of worlds endowed with life throughout the Cosmos. So certain were the cardinals who condemned Galileo that the world was the center of God’s creation, that it is said they went so far as to refusing to look through his telescope so they could see the truth with their own eyes.
Four centuries later, the legend of Galileo’s quiet rebellion has become synonymous with going against the academic establishment; a move that usually yields ostracism and the ruining of one’s career, but once every few generations rewards us with scientific revolutions which leapfrog our understanding of the natural world. Which is why it seemed like the perfect name for Avi Loeb’s newly announced scientific organization for the search of advanced extraterrestrial intelligences –and YES, it will also cover UFOs.
On its official website (hosted by the University of Harvard) the Galileo Project’s mission statement reads:
Given the recently discovered abundance of Earth-Sun systems, the Galileo Project is dedicated to the proposition that humans can no longer ignore the possible existence of Extraterrestrial Technological Civilizations (ETCs), and that science should not dogmatically reject potential extraterrestrial explanations because of social stigma or cultural preferences, factors which are not conducive to the scientific method of unbiased, empirical inquiry. We now must ‘dare to look through new telescopes’, both literally and figuratively.
At 12pm ET time today, Loeb and Frank Laukien (the project’s two cofounders) gave a live stream presentation and Q&A to introduce Galileo to the public. Laukien’s main background is in chemical biology, and he’s also the CEO of the Bruker Corporation (presumably, he’s one of their main financial backers at the moment); he labels himself as the “resident skeptic” although Loeb maintains everyone who is involved in the project –all academicians of different backgrounds and disciplines, but with a common denominator of impressive credentials– will approach the task with ‘absolute agnosticism’ and no preconceived ideas.
The Galileo Project will follow a three-prong approach during its initial stage:
- Obtain high-resolution, multi-detector UAP images, discover their nature. Loeb trusts that a mega-pixel image of UFOs from a close distance will be able to distinguish man-made objects from more exotic alternatives. Here it would be important to point out that both Loeb and Laukien don’t seem to believe in the other-worldly origin of the objects sighted by military pilots and/or civilians throughout the years. In one of the streaming’s slides Loeb mentioned the possibility that some UFOs might be new natural atmospheric phenomena we have yet to understand (like sprites), and Laukien mentioned how the instant acceleration reported in some UFO sightings is more indicative of an ‘electromagnetic phenomenon’ rather than a physical object.
- Search for and in-depth research on ‘Oumuamua-like’ interstellar objects. Loeb’s rise to fame is owed to his claim Oumuamua was artificial in nature (perhaps a giant solar sail sent by an extinct alien civilization), so it is only natural that Galileo will expand on his work and seek to settle this controversy, one way or another.
- Search for potential extraterrestrial civilizations’ satellites. Loeb didn’t expand on this point too much –I wonder if he’s ever heard the theories that Mars’ moon Phobos is an artificial object– but his slides mentioned the idea of using computer filtering systems in order to screen out ‘false positives’ from true anomalies. Given the fact that both the UAP task force’s preliminary report and the Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies have also explored the use of AI algorithms, it seems only natural we will see more integration of modern computing tools in the study of UFO anomalies in the future.
Some of the other highlights of the Galileo Project’s streaming were:
- Advocacy for complete transparency. Loeb and his colleagues vow their data and results will be widely available to the public, and published in reputable peer-reviewed journals –at least the ones that are not dogmatically antagonistic to the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligences beyond the parameters adopted by SETI, as Laukien pointed out.
- Classified data? No thanks! One of the most interesting statements made by Loeb is that his project will not rely on military personnel’s testimonies and government data, which always come with a lot of ‘no disclosure’ restrictions attached. Galileo seeks to have full control of the data they obtained, so that they can uphold the transparency they promise. This feels like a refreshing twist to all the building momentum within the UFO community in which the consensus has been oriented into demanding the US government to ‘disclose’ what they may or may not about UFOs.
- Stick to known Physics. For those who might be hoping Loeb would be ‘hip’ enough to entertain alternative ideas about zero-point energy drives, ‘stargates’ and the connection between the UFO phenomenon and human consciousness, this point may have felt like a bucket of cold water. But the fact is that these Harvard academics have no intention whatsoever of abandoning the safety net of orthodox physics in their search for ET –maybe they should have called it the Martin Luther Project?
- No retroactivity. Roswell? Rendlesham? Who cares! The Galileo Project has no interest in wasting time investigating old cases. Although somewhat disappointing, it’s easy to understand the rationale behind this approach, seeing how UFO data has a looong history of distortion and manipulation.
Avi Loeb claims they have raised $1.7 million dollars so far, but would like to gather ten times more in order to fully attain a comprehensive monitoring of the skies, through the use of earth-based telescope systems coupled with computer-based filters.
Despite its limitation in both scope and approach, the Galileo Project is an exciting new development in the ongoing saga of UFOs being adopted by the mainstream. It almost feel as if Avi is raising Galileo’s bony middle finger –which was turned into some sort of religious relic after his death– against not only SETI’s fat cats and astronomer colleagues of his who relentlessly criticized his theories about Oumuamua, but also against traditional UFO groups and all those who still profess that the only way to the get through the truth of the UFO mystery, is by pleading for more releases of government-sanctioned data.
Of course, I can’t help wondering what would happen if Galileo ends up tracking a true anomalous object –be that in Earth’s atmosphere or in orbit– and the US government asks them NOT to report it in the service of ‘national security’…