With considerable distress, nuts the world over are following a learned argument about the possibility that a cigar-shaped object, 800 metres long, which passed through the solar system last year was a spacecraft — a lightsail, to be specific. In a paper accepted by the Astrophysical Journal of Letters, Abraham Loeb, who heads the Department of Astronomy at Harvard, and his colleague Shmuel Bialy, argued for an “exotic scenario” — that the object, named Oumuamua (Hawaiian for “scout”), may have been an alien space probe intentionally sent our way.
But scientists are sticklers for evidence and swear by academic caution. To the dismay of Area 51 nutters, these conservative spoilsports have ganged up to scupper the theory, and are dryly debating if it was an asteroid or a comet. But let us suppose that the conservatives are wrong (it is extremely unlikely) and Oumuamua were indeed an alien probe. In that case, while our astronomers were gazing upon it, it would have been gazing upon us. This could explain why it carried on across the solar system, instead of stopping by.
Imagine the broadcast spectrum, which it would have made contact with first. Bhangra, dub and churchy stations competing with Shostakovich and Snoop Dogg in the radio band. Indian TV anchors yelling out their paranoias, opening mouths so wide that the viewer can see the uvula. The internet a cloud of alternative facts and native lies, fanned by hordes of trolls. If it had reached earth orbit and hovered over our part of the world, the most outstanding sign, literally, of the human race visible would have been a colossal statue on the Narmada river. Should we be surprised that no space alien has come our way, though cosmology predicts that life is everywhere?