Search for Meaning

Spirituality addresses the physical distress of human existence. It adds missing aspects to our lives. And it shares a common thread with space exploration.

THE MOST FRUSTRATING FACT OF LIFE is that we are short lived. Spirituality attempts to supplement our fragile nature by adding the notion of something permanent beyond us.

Interestingly, the same premise is also offered by the vastness of the cosmos. Launching self-learning machines into space in the form of…

Non-Human Intelligence

Scientific progress may accelerate when artificial intelligence (AI) explores data autonomously, without the blinders imposed by human prejudice. On the other hand…

THE BEST PUBLIC POLICY is shaped by scientific evidence. Although obvious in retrospect, scientists often fail to follow this dictum. The refusal to admit anomalies as evidence that our knowledge base may have missed something important about reality stems from our ego.

The mainstream of physics routinely embarks on speculations…

Ignatius Forum, Our Future in Space

Science and religion can come together when discussing extraterrestrial civilizations. Panelist Avi Loeb files this first person report.

My visit to the Washington National Cathedral on November 10, 2021 started with a tour guided by its Dean, Randy Hollerith, who showed me the fragment of a lunar rock brought to one of its windows in 1974 by Apollo 11. …

Galileo Project

Recognizing our humbling cosmic circumstances might be shared by others should motivate a search for extraterrestrial equipment near Earth.

THE MAIN LESSON I LEARNED from practicing astronomy for several decades is that the Universe inspires modesty, curiosity and calm. Given the huge scale of the cosmos and our unprivileged place within it, our circumstances bear little significance in the overall scheme of things.

The most meaningful pursuit is to…

What’s Next?

Science offers the privilege of maintaining our childhood curiosity and answering fundamental questions based on evidence.

HUMANS RESEMBLE SEASHELLS on the beach. Each of us is born with different colors and shapes but rubbing too often against each other erodes us to an indistinguishable appearance. The regression to the mean wins when we lose our childhood curiosity and dismiss questions to which we have no answer.

Space exploration by many miniaturized, low-cost probes would allow us to explore diverse landscapes and find life forms that were never imagined.

RELIGIOUS SCRIPTS ASSERT that humans were created in the image of God. But if our life originated in the laboratory of an advanced scientific civilization, then this would be the image of its scientists.

But even in the more likely situation that our life originated spontaneously from a soup of…

Our Coming Space Odyssey

The human body was not selected by Darwinian evolution to survive long-duration space travel. What form should our avatars in space take?

THE NEW HORIZONS SPACE PROBE carried 30 grams of Clyde Tombaugh’s ashes to commemorate Tombaugh’s discovery of Pluto in 1930. The package is no different in its information content than 30 grams of cigarette ashes, since Tombaugh’s unique genetic information was burnt up and never loaded on board. A proper…

Thinking Ahead

Finding equipment sent by other civilizations would require a new protocol for immediate engagement. Unlike radio signals, we’ll want to act fast.

Previous protocols for possible contact with extraterrestrial intelligence were mostly inspired by the possibility of detecting radio signals from planetary systems around distant stars. Given that the nearest star system, Alpha Centauri, is 4.4 light years away, such signals would require a decade or more for a round trip conversation…

Stand Outs

Science is a learning process. Anomalies are nature’s way of teaching us something new. First, we have to look for them.

My mother said that when she saw me in the hospital room with all the other babies born that day, I was looking all around the room with open eyes as if I was wondering about the world that I was just born into. In her words, I looked very…

Avi Loeb

Avi Loeb is the Frank B. Baird Jr Professor of Science and Institute director at Harvard University and is the bestselling author of “Extraterrestrial”.

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