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Summary

The world's most eminent scientist of space explains why he believes in extraterrestrial life.

Harvard's top astronomer lays out his controversial theory that our solar system was recently visited by advanced alien technology.

In late 2017, scientists at a Hawaiian observatory glimpsed a strange object soaring through our inner solar system. Astrophysicist Avi Loeb conclusively showed it was not an asteroid; it was moving too fast along a strange orbit and leaving no trail of gas or debris in its wake. There was only one conceivable explanation: the object was a piece of advanced technology created by a distant alien civilisation.

In Extraterrestrial, Loeb takes listeners inside the thrilling story of the first interstellar visitor to be spotted in our solar system. He outlines his theory and its profound implications: for science, for religion and for the future of our planet. A mind-bending journey through the furthest reaches of science, space-time and the human imagination, Extraterrestrial challenges listeners to aim for the stars - and to think critically about what's out there, no matter how strange it seems.

©2021 Avi Loeb (P)2021 Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Critic reviews

"Visionary." (Stephen Greenblatt) 

What listeners say about Extraterrestrial

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not what was expected

This is a really a rant against the state of the scientific community. While the issues are real, that isn't what the description said the book is about.

7 people found this helpful

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Not just about Oumuamua

A very thought intriguing not just about the object but how humans view their place in the universe as a whole. My scientific background is in biomedical science and obviously far from the field which is discussed here however, the data and interpretation of Oumuamua is an interesting view point (one which I do not share). Dr Loeb does put forward a fantastic point about cosmic modesty (one he has put forward before) which personally I believe is exactly how we should be thinking when we look toward the stars.

There a is a very simple track to follow that firstly humans thought we were the centre of the universe, then that got knocked back and then we thought we were the centre of the solar system ect ect. This book does in a less than subtle way point out the absurdity of that kind of arrogance in a more contemporary pov, i.e. we are not special.

The data presented for Oumuamua being ET here is interesting, but a tad too speculatory to be counted when one presents the evidence that Dr Loeb has put forth. However, such pov's should not be discounted as bunk or nonsense, they deserve a lot more attention than they currently are. Very well presented book, points presented which I considered more 'reaching' than any sort of data to prove the fact, but definitely something which helps bring attention toward a subject which should have a lot more credence thrown behind it. (4/5 (if one can put a number on such things!)

5 people found this helpful

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Harvard!!!

The book is good, however it would've of benefited from some plain English, it is written and read like it's only for the authors ears.

Try get past the opening of the book without hearing the word Harvard mentioned at least 20 times.

I do like the hypothesis just wish the book wasn't so egocentric.

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Where's the delete buttol?

Jibber jabber and garbage! A continuous talking one around in circles as this so called scientist desperately tries to convince the reader this story is worthy of being told. The information could have been written on half a sheet of A4 but oh no we are treated to a lengthy tale of boring self indulgent crap. Please audible give us refund button and a delete button.

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This could have been 20 minutes long

I found this book a tortuous dander through the musings of man who deems himself humble but who in reality is so full of his own self worth that he has tarnished an interesting theory with his own meanderings.

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  • DJ
  • 20-02-21

so little substance

whilst v interesting subject, main elements of the theory described in 1 chapter. in others , author either just repeats himself, criticizes scientists who don't agree with him, talks about his family history. regret purchasing.

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Amazing

Listened to this from start to finish in one day! Absolutely incredible. 5 stars.

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A long time to say not all that much

I am generally fascinated with this sort of thing – the discovery of alien artefacts – and I am absolutely fascinated with his Breakthrough Starshot idea. But herein, he takes a long time to say very little; to wit:
– how amazing it would be to discover an alien artifact
– that this is an alien artifact and I can prove it (he cannot)
– why we should continue to look
– not a lot else

He does NOT convincingly make the case that the rock known as Oumamoomoos is anything but a piece of rock thrown out of whack by some collision unimaginably far away, though he does have a good try. He certainly does NOT make an outstanding case that it's a solar sail, or whatnot.

In the end, one thing made me switch off. He says (over too many chapters) that humanity should shake free of shackled, prejudiced thinking – sort of "if you don't look you won't find." Fine, But then he illustrates this sort of thinking with a personal tale. A hotel stay in an ancient British town, where his room was too small, having been built centuries ago. "Why is it so small?'', says the eminent scientist. Receptionist: "Regulations say no buildings can be as tall as the old church spire". To which he witlessly replies (with not inconsiderable smugness): "Can't you just make the church spire taller"? What a prize tw@. If he is narrow-minded enough to think that it's perfectly acceptable to fuck about with historical monuments because Americans can't put up with low ceilings, his view on the origin of interstellar brickbats is, to me, null and void.

1 person found this helpful

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Fascinating!

philisophical, fascinating, aweinspiring, thoughtprovoking, unbelievable, terrifying.

it left me questioning our existence and our beginning.

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Brilliant read, thought-provoking, hope it inspires (and helps!) future generations of scientists

I bought this book on account of hearing Loeb being interviewed and having been fascinated by ‘Oumuamua in 2017 (if you’ve read Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C Clarke then ‘Oumuamua will not have passed you by unnoticed!).

I’m not a scientist but the fundamental questions in this book fascinate me and I appreciated hearing more about ‘Oumuamua alongside Loeb’s personal and professional views on the bigger picture (one might even describe it as Life, the Universe, and Everything...views of a Harvard Professor).

I recently read ‘The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity’ by Toby Ord and these two books complement each other really well, they share common ground.

This book has been published in 2021 and I hadn’t appreciated that the search for extraterrestrial life is still regarded as a less credible career path for young academics, and that it still does not compete well for resources versus other areas of scientific discovery. I hope this book goes some way to changing that.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Radim
  • 06-12-21

Personal story in first few chapters

I tried to get thru the first few chapters to the actual extraterrestrial part but most remained at the personal growing up as a Jew part. I read history books for that purpose, not astrophysics.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Maurice Peters
  • 08-09-21

Wrong title...?

Though I totally agree with the call of the author for scientists to leave their echo chaimber while practicing research, the topic in the title is more used to make his point on this fact rather then the core subject of the book. Independent, creative thinking should indeed be the core culture in the scientific community. Not forcing talented people to follow the ego of the already established scientists because otherwise their careers are doomed before they even start...

That said, this was not what I was expecting given the title. If you like to read a semi autobiography and an opinion on the subject above, then this is the book for you.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 23-06-22

Outstanding, inspiring with compelling evidence

Outstanding, educational and Inspiring. Every scientist should listen to this, and much of these same concepts relating to a scientist's humility and an evidence based approach regardless of current consensus should also be taught and practiced in our education system.

Compelling evidence is presented and thoroughly reasoned through. Besides Oumuamua and its analysis, this book also contains discussions of other potential evidences of life in our own solar system.

How would our world change if we had undeniable evidence another non human civilization and how might our focuses within science and education change? How would undeniable discovery of even primitive life on a another planet change these fields and how we use our resources and collaborate?

Very well read.

Outstanding audio book.

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  • Percy Ferry
  • 09-08-21

Credible call for openness and MORE evidence.

Avi Loeb makes a case for examining evidence and following it where it leads. Science should be about evidence and not unwarranted skepticism-as-identity posturing.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-03-21

Academically strong and opens doors

As a data scientist and astronomy geek myself, Avi’s message is preaching to the choir among those in the same wavelength but presents a compelling case for more creative thinking in the academic world.
Reads well, and I often caught myself knowing the term or uttering it before it being announced, giving me a cool confirmation that signals, math and philosophy are tightly entwined in investigating our relationship to the sky and experiences outside of pure theory brings the human center stage into why we may keep the extra terrestrial channels open, otherwise half the equation is simply omitted for unreasonably fearful scepticism that has marred the scientific community.