The Galileo Project questions whether we’re ‘the smartest kids on our cosmic block’
A new scientific project, named the Galileo Project, has been launched to advance humanity’s search for signs of extraterrestrial life. Spearheaded by Harvard University, the venture will particularly focus on investigating artifacts that have potentially been left behind by extraterrestrial technological civilisations (ETCs).
These objects could provide clues about advanced civilisations based on the technology that they have developed, otherwise known as technosignatures. “The goal of the Galileo Project is to bring the search for extraterrestrial technological signatures from accidental or anecdotal observations and legends to the mainstream of transparent, validated, and systematic scientific research,” explain the researchers in a statement published July 26.
Harvard astrophysicist and co-founder of the project Avi Loeb adds that, given the recently-discovered “abundance of habitable-zone exoplanets” that could potentially house alien life, “the Galileo Project is dedicated to the proposition that humans can no longer ignore the possible existence of ETCs”.
“Science should not reject potential extraterrestrial explanations because of social stigma or cultural preferences that are not conducive to the scientific method of unbiased, empirical inquiry.”
Loeb also highlights the case of ‘Oumuamua, an interstellar object discovered passing through our solar system in 2017. Ominously named after the Hawaiian word for ‘messenger’, the object prompted speculation by Harvard researchers that it could be “a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth vicinity by an alien civilisation”.
“Based on astronomical observations, ‘Oumuamua turned out to have highly anomalous properties that defy well-understood natural explanations,” Loeb says in the Galileo Project announcement. “We can only speculate whether ‘Oumuamua may be explained by never-seen-before natural explanations, or by stretching our imagination to ‘Oumuamua perhaps being an extraterrestrial technological object, similar to a very thin light-sail or communications dish, which would fit the astronomical data rather well.”
Following the recent release of reports on Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) — including the unclassified Pentagon report on UFO sightings published in June this year — the scientific community needs “the determination to systematically, scientifically and transparently look for potential evidence of extraterrestrial technological equipment”, Loeb adds.
The Galileo Project will not speculate on previous UAP, alleged sightings, or informal reports, however. Instead, it will analyse data gathered as part of the venture, based on an existing understanding of physics. The international team working on the project includes the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and Frank Laukien, CEO of the scientific equipment manufacturer Bruker Corporation.
Summing up the importance of the Galileo Project, Loeb says: “The impact of any discovery of extraterrestrial technology on science, our technology, and on our entire world view, would be enormous.”