Avi Loeb has a CV any academic would envy. He is the Frank B. Baird Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard, with more than 1,000 published research papers and a series of prestigious chairmanships. But in recent years, Dr Loeb, 61, has burst out of academia by arguing that some extraterrestrial objects might be proof of alien intelligence. 

His 2021 bestseller, Extraterrestrial, argued that Oumuamua, a mysterious object spotted by a telescope in Hawaii in 2017, “must have been designed, built and launched by extraterrestrial intelligence.” His new book focuses on another object, a meteorite that broke up over the South Pacific in 2014. He believes his analysis proves that it, too, is evidence of alien minds at work. 

Loeb’s views have made him both a figurehead for believers, and a pariah among many in his field. But when we meet over Zoom from his office in Massachusetts, he is unwavering. 

“Many of my critics are bloggers, or popularisers of science,” he says. “They haven’t written a single scientific paper. I’ve written more than 1,000. It’s similar to commentators telling football players how to pass the ball. How dare they? Who are they to tell me I’m not practising science?”

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