There's an Embarrassing Explanation for Those "Alien Fragments," Researchers Claim

Seismic Find

Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb raised eyebrows when he claimed that metallic fragments — or "spherules" — his team recovered from the bottom of the Pacific Ocean could be evidence of alien technology.

Those spherules, he maintains, came from a meteor dubbed IM1, which originated from outside our solar system and was announced, in an effort led by Loeb, as the first interstellar object known to fall to Earth.

Loeb claimed to have located the exact site of the meteor's impact using seismic data. But that data, according to Benjamin Fernando, a planetary seismologist at Johns Hopkins University, has an embarrassingly mundane explanation: it was simply a passing truck.

"It was an ordinary truck, like a normal truck driving past a seismometer," Fernando told The New York Times. "Not being seismologists, the Loeb team may have misunderstood the data. In reality, all they did was find a truck."

Keep on Truckin'

Loeb has published several papers documenting these seemingly out-of-this-world findings. Annoyed that the Harvard scientist was giving seismology a bad name, Fernando fired back by leading his own study last fall that took a second look at Loeb's data. His findings were presented this week at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston, Texas.

"We looked at two weeks of data around the time of this event. We saw hundreds of similar signals like the one Loeb studied," Fernando told NYT. "If there are hundreds, they can't all be meteors. Of those hundreds of signals, most occur during daylight hours."

"So, from analyzing the data, it looks to us like the signal is much more likely to have come from a truck turning off the main road, driving past the seismometer near the hospital and then driving the other way," he added."There was no meteor involved whatsoever."

Expert Consultation

If Fernando is right, it couldn't be a more humiliating outcome for Loeb and his alien-hunting crew. What they recovered from the bottom of the ocean, then, is more than likely random detritus of Earthly origin.

Of course, other skeptics of Loeb's work had already made that case, arguing that the spherules were merely fallout from nuclear tests or plain old coal ash.

Just as he rebutted those claims, though, we suspect Loeb will soon come out with spicy new evidence to back his alien theories (he already has another expedition in the works). Maybe he'll learn from the two 'bigger lessons' Fernando had to offer.

"One, If you want to do seismic analysis, it's ideal if you check with a seismologist first," Fernando told NYT. "The other is, it's not aliens."

More on aliens: Pentagon Says It Has No Record of Reverse-Engineered Alien Technology