Extraterrestrial Book Summary - Extraterrestrial Book explained in key points
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Extraterrestrial summary

Avi Loeb

The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth

4.4 (178 ratings)
25 mins

Brief summary

"Extraterrestrial" by Avi Loeb explores the intriguing possibility of an alien origin of interstellar object 'Oumuamua', and argues for open-minded scientific inquiry.

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    ‘Oumuamua is unusual for visiting from beyond our solar system.

    October 19, 2017. The astronomer Robert Weryk is poring through data collected by the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System, or Pan-STARRS for short, a network of telescopes that sits atop the mountains of Maui, in Hawaii. As he looks at the day’s observations, he notices something strange.

    Pan-STARRS has picked up an object jetting away from the Sun at 58,900 miles per hour. At such speeds, the object is set to soon leave our solar system forever. Yet, the object’s trajectory is even more interesting. Judging by its path, it appears that it must have come from outside our solar system!

    Weryk is stunned. He’s just stumbled upon the first interstellar object ever detected by mankind.

    The key message here is: ‘Oumuamua is unusual for visiting from beyond our solar system.

    When Weryk delivered the news of his discovery to the International Astronomical Union, they dubbed the object ‘Oumuamua. This Hawaiian word roughly translates to “a messenger from afar arriving first,” or more simply, “scout.” It’s a fitting name, as ‘Oumuamua is the first nearby object – astronomically speaking – ever detected that does not have origins within our solar system.

    So, if ‘Oumuamua isn’t a local, where is it from? Well, we don’t know exactly. What we do know is that it comes from the direction of Vega, a star located about 25 light-years away. We also know that it entered our solar system on a hyperbolic trajectory. This means that it doesn’t orbit the Sun like an asteroid or comet, but instead, it comes from the outer reaches of space, passes by the Sun once, and then escapes off into space again.

    Prior to detecting ‘Oumuamua, astronomers had observed both objects within our solar system and objects very far away, like distant stars and planets. Yet, they had never seen an item from interstellar space pass through our solar neighborhood. Of course, they knew it was possible. Humans themselves have already launched five objects into interstellar space, including the Voyager, Pioneer, and New Horizons space probes.

    Since this initial discovery, scientists working at Pan-STARRS have already discovered several more interstellar objects swinging by our Sun. Yet, ‘Oumuamua still stands out – and not simply because it was the first object found. In fact, ‘Oumuamua has many particular qualities and unusual traits that leave scientists puzzled. We’ll look at those in the next blink.

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    What is Extraterrestrial about?

    Extraterrestrial (2021) is an examination of ‘Oumuamua, the first interstellar object ever detected. This provocative overview argues that this strange object could be a piece of alien technology. 

    Extraterrestrial Review

    Extraterrestrial (2021) by Avi Loeb explores the possibility and implications of encountering alien life beyond our planet. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers bold and thought-provoking ideas that challenge traditional notions about extraterrestrial life, sparking curiosity and stimulating the imagination.
    • With its scientific approach and reliance on evidence, the book presents a rational and logical argument, offering a fresh perspective on the subject.
    • Through Loeb's engaging storytelling, the book not only educates but also entertains, ensuring that readers are captivated and enthralled throughout their extraterrestrial journey.

    Best quote from Extraterrestrial

    If we dont merely entertain this thought but embrace it, we find ourselves confronting amazing possibilities.

    —Avi Loeb
    example alt text

    Who should read Extraterrestrial?

    • Amateur astronomers fascinated by ‘Oumuamua
    • Sci-fi fans interested in a little science fact
    • Anyone who wants to believe in life beyond Earth

    About the Author

    Avi Loeb is the Frank B. Baird, Jr., Professor of Science at Harvard University, chair of Harvard’s Department of Astronomy, and chair of the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies. He has authored more than 700 scientific papers on space, astronomy, and astrophysics.

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    Extraterrestrial FAQs 

    What is the main message of Extraterrestrial?

    The main message of Extraterrestrial explores the possibility of intelligent life existing beyond Earth.

    How long does it take to read Extraterrestrial?

    The reading time for Extraterrestrial varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Extraterrestrial a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Extraterrestrial is an intriguing read for those curious about the existence of extraterrestrial life. It presents thought-provoking ideas and challenges conventional thinking.

    Who is the author of Extraterrestrial?

    The author of Extraterrestrial is Avi Loeb.

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