Letters from Earthlings and Beyond

Avi Loeb
6 min readAug 14, 2023

A lot is happening right now. My new book Interstellar is scheduled to be published at the end of August 2023, celebrating the theme of the preliminary results in the analysis of the spherules from the first recognized interstellar meteor, IM1, collected by an expedition that I led recently to the Pacific Ocean. We just invited guests to the first performance of a new play titled “A Piece of Sky” by the playwright Josh Ravetch, about this research that will take place in a month. At the same time, a new sculpture and a new song are being prepared, inspired by the same research. Over the past few days, TV reporters from Poland, Bulgaria and Israel covered this research extensively. The public attention is a good sign, signaling that the public cares about science when it resonates with its interests. To appreciate this interest, I attach below excerpts from two out of many more similar messages that I had received over the past 24 hours.

The latest message came from a university student in Colorado who wrote: “Professor Loeb, I am reaching out personally to Thank You for being bold enough to be a true scientist who rules nothing out and seeks out evidence to prove your theories. Some subjects are really hard for the human race and life outside of our planet is one of these theories that even science tends to shy away from, but not you! You are doing such important work with the Galileo Project, I wish you and your team continued success on your search for life outside the planet Earth. The term Space Archaeology is very exciting to me as an Archaeologist and I believe finding scientific evidence of life outside of our planet will be something that will change the human race forever, hopefully for the better! Again, thank you for your efforts!”

Another message came from a business person in Texas and said: “I’m a 40-year old male, married with two boys ages 8 and 10, living in Dallas … I come from an average middle-class family, and I’ve had to work hard to get where I am today. I wanted to quickly share my background and convey that I’m not anyone particularly important or notorious, nor am I in politics or academia. I have followed you closely in the news, on podcasts, and in the general realm of astronomy, physics, space… I see how active you are with the public, but I am also aware you receive criticism from some of your scientific colleagues, who seem to cringe at your persona and some of your public statements on science. I wanted to simply tell you that you are on the right track, and the world needs you to keep being you. The public adores you actually, and it is only your scientific colleagues that try to criticize you. Science, like virtually every other aspect of modern life, has buried itself in its own coffin, its own box, its own prison. These prisons in aspects of our society have been built by the very people entrusted with maintaining their disciplines and caring for them. I think these rigid ‘boxes’ came to be through good intentions and growth of knowledge. The more advanced a society becomes, the more stringent the rules become, the more developed a discipline is, the more foundational knowledge will box it up. Having said that, this world has ‘lost its magic.’ It feels oppressive to many. It feels like we are expected to get in line, shut up, and do what we are told. Don’t upset the apple cart. There’s nothing new under the sun. There’s nothing left to explore and discover. It feels like science is its own worst enemy, held back by a hierarchy that demands compliance and incremental discovery, not earth-shattering progress. But, you are exactly what this world needs. I’m not a scientist, but I’m science-minded. I have a keen interest in all-things science related. I love learning about astronomy, physics, biology, pharmacology, math, and history… It is all quite fascinating. You have personally helped foster my interest in these topics. I want to thank you for that. I also want to thank you for being who you are. Thank you for not stepping in line and giving in to these people who try to cut you down. You are showing us it’s ok to think big and to take a scientific chance. You capture our imagination. You get us excited, but you still back it up with the proper scientific method. It’s ok to speculate when making a hypothesis. It’s ok to say something unlikely is still quite possible. It’s ok to dream big here. Please don’t back down. What you’re doing is deeper than just science. Our world has grown cold, too concise, too scientific, and that magic I used to see is disappearing with nihilistic science. It’s very sad. Too many people are weighed down by the gravity of the materialistic world we live in. Keep up your great work, Avi! Millions support you and want to keep seeing you in the public. Keep doing you and I’m confident more scientists will follow suit. We won’t make our next earth-shattering discovery until we learn to take scientific risks again and think outside the box… Yes, science is a science, but deciding which science to pursue is an art more than anything. Getting to the scientific method is an art and a journey. We get there using our imagination of what’s possible. Thanks, Avi! Keep it up and I wish you the best of luck. We support you. Don’t back down. You and scientists like you will make the next breakthrough. Take care, Avi.”

In a podcast interview today from Germany with Ariane Sommer titled “Superhumanize”, I noted that human instincts are rooted in zero-sum games from our distant past when we were forced to fight for limited resources and territory on the surface of the terrestrial rock that we call home. Space offers an abundance of real estate and inspiration for the future of humanity to exceed its past limitations. As of now, most of our funding for space is motivated by commercial revenues, national pride or national security. My mental image of superhumans is that their space exploration is driven by curiosity about the unknown.

Here’s hoping that the discovery of a package from cosmic neighbors at our doorstep will serve as a wake-up call to replace our obsession with zero-sum conflicts by an infinite-sum ambition. When it comes to the grand scales of space and time in the cosmos, the human species is an infant, born merely a few million years ago on a common rock and failing to appreciate the proper perspective about its place in the Universe. As soon as we will start to seek the infinite-sum endeavor of curiosity-driven space exploration, we will fulfill our promise for becoming a truly intelligent species.

The initial step is trivial. We just need to check the content of fast interstellar meteors. Perhaps some of them include letters from a postal address beyond Earth.


Avi Loeb is the head of the Galileo Project, founding director of Harvard University’s — Black Hole Initiative, director of the Institute for Theory and Computation at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and the former chair of the astronomy department at Harvard University (2011–2020). He chairs the advisory board for the Breakthrough Starshot project, and is a former member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology and a former chair of the Board on Physics and Astronomy of the National Academies. He is the bestselling author of “Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth” and a co-author of the textbook “Life in the Cosmos”, both published in 2021. His new book, titled “Interstellar”, is scheduled for publication in August 2023.



Avi Loeb

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