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It wasn’t an asteroid: they’re dull and rocky, and often round, and it was shiny and elongated. It didn’t have a comet’s bright gassy tail. And it seemed to accelerate away from the sun as it left us, propelled in a straight line. Astronomers called it ‘Oumuamua, meaning ‘scout’ – and, says Prof. Avi Loeb of Harvard University, we should take seriously the possibility that it was just that: “a fully operational probe sent intentionally to Earth’s vicinity by an alien civilisation”.

Renowned for his work in the physics of black holes and dark matter, he has now written a challenging book, Extraterrestrial, bringing the ‘Oumuamua data together. “I’m not arguing we know for sure it was an artificial object. I’m saying it’s a reasonable plausibility based on the evidence.”

You can watch this free event from here, through the YouTube link which will be coming shortly, or you can also go to the Science Festival’s YouTube channel

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