"Contentious" book claims Oumuamua was extraterrestrial spacecraft

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2021/01/06/contentious-book-claims-oumuamua-was-extraterrestrial-spacecraft.html

I’m still going with Galactus dookie.


A real life Rendezvous with Rama?


I had to re-read the title to work out that this wasn’t talking about Umami; the yeasty taste from out of space.


In HS I had a story idea where there was a 1:very big number chance that an old alien satellite just happened to come into view on a Hubble scan, and once they saw the blurry streak, they were able to image it and determine it was some sort of technology and headed near earth. The Space Shuttle was rigged with a sort of net to go out and catch it and bring it back to earth.

After fiddling around with it, the aliens came to take back their satellite.

I had a cool name for the title, but now I can’t remember it…


First adult SF novel I read. I think my mom was kind of annoyed since it was her Christmas present.

The scientist in me says it’s just an asteroid or similar body ejected from some other solar system. We should see bodies like that at the edge of the solar system periodically.

The science fiction writer in me says it’s certainly possible that it was a vessel of some kind, on a mission for some unknown purpose. In fact, we should not be surprised when the self-replicating artificial intelligences it released as it passed by make their way into the inner solar system to greet us…


“Pounded in the Butt by Space Junk”?


I wasn’t that edgy.

I think it was something like “Fallen Sky” or something like that… but considering the number of similar titles I am now aware of, that would have to be reworked…


It’s a pity that the artists of the recent monoliths didn’t time it so their discovery corresponded with the asteroid passing nearby (although that’s mixing Clarke’s works, I know)


The first real “science” I read, when I was about ten I think, was about Von Neumann’s self replicators (not the probes, but the concept). I note that seems to colour my response to stories of this nature. “Oh fer sure, totally reasonable!” . I will say that I had a hard time accepting the “comet outgassing” explanation of Oumuamua’s unexpected acceleration, just because it seemed unlikely the outgassing would be coaxial with the direction of travel. What I would accept is that the object was really out of reach of our instrumentation and too much is being extrapolated from too little data. But I’m going to buy Dr. Loeb’s book and I hope he’s right :slight_smile:
EDIT : to fix bad spelling

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I’ve been fascinated by Oumuamua since Earth’s encounter with it. One of the most intriguing things to me is that contrary to what the book quote implies “it was moving too fast along a strange orbit”, in actuality it was sitting almost at rest in relation to our neighborhood star cluster. We actually zoomed past it, not the other way around. So fascinating.


I have it on hold from the library; if I get a job I’ll break and down buy it first.

Although whether or not I’m happy about this depends on what our Oumuamua visitors came to do. I mean, if their replicators start to build a Dyson sphere or swarm inside Venus’s orbit to power the local OumuamuaVision contest that could be problematic.

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“Contentious” feels like poetic understatement, given what wild claims are being made based on incredibly scant evidence. I understand both the shape and the supposed acceleration were extrapolated from a couple measurements that actually didn’t provide good evidence for either, much less any claims based on them.

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I actually looked at it yesterday and, since it’s not released yet, thought I might wait to see some reviews… Dyson spheres? I think if we ever do encounter advanced aliens they would recoil from this concept as typical human excess :slight_smile: “leave no trace”, amiright? perhaps this would also explain the Fermi “paradox”…:wink:

When did “contentious” become a synonym for “stupid”.

Or maybe “‘contentious’” is…that makes more sense.

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First known interstellar object has properties different than solar system objects, so aliens.
Well, still better than when about 1000 planetary systems in, they found a configuration with only a 1-in-1000 chance of occurring naturally, so aliens.


There’s more detail on the evidence, in this somewhat uncomfortable interview. I think we can all agree, at least, that it’s a shame we saw it too late to go visit it.


Well, the Oumuamua-as-explorer model doesn’t really suggest the kind of species who would build a Dyson sphere or swarm, but my hypothetical aliens need the power! I’d expect, though, you’d find some species which left no trace behind, others that just throw their damn coffee cups out the window and a whole bunch in between. (Although maybe the no-tracers are less likely to accidentally off themselves. That’s why I throw my coffee cups on the floor of the car when I can’t use the reusable mugs.)

I’m more inclined to think the Fermi paradox is a function of evolution (i.e., it’s harder to get to complex multicellular life than we think). But it might also be the no-tracers. Regardless of whether or not Oumuamua is an alien vessel, we could have had thousands of quiet vessels like that go by in the last couple of millenia without noticing.


Man, I love that New Yorker font…my Mom used to get that magazine when I was a kid, very nostalgic .I haven’t read the interview yet, but I did scroll to the bottom where I noted the response to the “God” question. Spicy. “Too late to go visit it” . I recall wishing at the time SpaceX would have cobbled together a chaser for Oumuamua when they did their test of the Falcon Heavy instead of using an old car for ballast . Ah well


Or, harder to get intelligent or technological life. There were dinosaurs for a long, long time without them developing advanced intellect or technology, apparently. Although, the capabilities of some birds suggest to me some, perhaps the smaller, dinosaurs may have been smarter than we think :slight_smile: